Qmunity community consultations identify LGBT needs for new centre

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      B.C.'s queer resource centre Qmunity is gearing up to develop its new 10,000-square foot West End community centre after receiving a $10 million grant from the City of Vancouver in December 2013.

      Although a specific site for the building has yet to be identified, Qmunity sought to better understand the needs and priorities of the various local communities they serve. Consequently, the 36-year-old organization (previously known as the Centre) conducted a series of community consultations with the help of the SFU Centre for Dialogue, starting in May 2015.

      The consultations included feedback from community partners, interviews with stakeholders, a one-day community dialogue, eight small sessions for specific LGBT communities, and a survey (both online and printed). Over 750 people participated.

      The results of the consultation were compiled in a report released on February 23.

      The main priority expressed by participants was on being inclusive of and accessible to diverse identities, including gender, sexual orientations, race, ethnicity, age, abilities, and more.

      However, they also understood that Qmunity faces a challenge in balancing programming for specific interest groups while maintaining all-inclusive access.

      Accordingly, many participants envisioned Qmunity as playing a role as a facilitator of connections between organizations and as a hub for services, information, and relationships, rather than seeking to meet all needs and over-extending their resources.

      Concerns about geographic and physical accessibility were also raised. The current location at 1170 Davie Street (near the rainbow crosswalks at the Davie and Bute street intersection) is on a second floor without an elevator, which prevents access to those with physical disabilities.

      While participants were enthusiastic about a new West End centre, they also expressed interest in spaces being created throughout the Lower Mainland and the province, in addition to a strong online presence, where less queer services, organizations or visibility may exist. Participants in the trans small-group session talked about the need for support to be made available in particular for suburban and rural residents.

      Community members also prioritized health-related services, including expanding free counselling services and a health clinic.

      Another area of emphasis was providing support for youth and marginalized populations, particularly for those facing challenges meeting needs for food, housing, and employment.

      Outreach and visibility outside of LGBT communities was also noted as an important priority.

      An advisory committee for the Building Qmunity project, created in January 2015, includes partner organizations such as Vancouver Coastal Health, Health Initiative for Men, PFLAG, LOUD Business Association, Out on Screen, Queer Arts Festival, the Vancouver Public Library, Our City of Colours, BOLDFest, AIDS Vancouver, Vancouver Pride Society, and many more.