a Word from our Chair – Willow Arts Collective

Dear OCA members

I am writing to update you on the matter of the proposal for Eco-Garden and Recreation Centre at the Willow Street site of the old circus, a matter which has evoked a lot of strong opinions, often based on lack of information or misinformation, from all quarters.

In our 5 August Newsletter, a report on the event at the Willow Rd property was run alongside a petition calling on the City to give the Willow Arts Collective a lease for its project.

Unfortunately, and it was very unfortunate, this petition was run without the qualifier that was mean to accompany the petition. What should have run above the petition was the following text:

The OCA was approached to consider supporting a proposal for an Eco-Garden and Recreation Centre at the Willow Street site of the old circus, under the title of the Willow Arts Collective. 

The principles of the proposal are to turn the site into a site for an innovative community project involving an urban vegetable farm, a Heritage and Culture center, and a recreational facility, co-located with a living environment.

The OCA Management committee agreed to the principle contained in the proposal but asked for more details, and the proposal will be further developed to see what the implications are and come back to the Man Comm at a later stage.

Supporters of the proposal have started a petition which you can sign at …

The OCA has not called on residents of the City to grant the WAC a lease, nor has it taken a final position about the proposal. It most certainly not taken any position about the court case currently ongoing.

The OCA’s position regarding the WAC proposal going forward is to recognize and welcome the principles of the project that speak to the vision for Observatory developed by the OCA and partners over the past years, to support a feasibility study and to commit to wider consultation, not just around the WAC proposal but a precinct plan for the whole area, which is what we wanted last year when we approached the City first for information – information which continues to be denied to us and to the Observatory community.

We acknowledge that there was a failure of communication on the part of the OCA which has contributed to much of the current clamor about the project. We can only apologize for that. It has not been helped by different parties claiming the OCA did certain things or that the OCA took certain positions which it did not.

Our current newsletter sets out

  1. Exactly what position the OCA has taken thus far on the WAC proposal in its official communication with WAC;
  2. Our response to the City’s Media Release of the 12th August which flagrantly misrepresents the OCA.

There will be a multiplicity of opinions about this issue, all of which must be heard. It is early days in the discussions and I can only appeal to OCA members and to the public to separate facts from innuendo and misrepresentation.

Warm Regards
Leslie London – OCA Chair