Town Commons Update

This is the latest overview of the town commons for Tantramar, part of our business plan that is progressing:

In 2005 the Atlantic Wildlife Institute (AWI), based in Cookville, began looking at building office space for its Wildlife Emergency Response Network, to be located in Sackville. Discussions over the past year have indicated a need and a desire for individuals and organisations to share space to further several initiatives aimed at sustaining this community economically, culturally and environmentally.

These discussions have led to the idea of a physical space with a key difference: a place for the community to build, a gathering place for emerging businesses to form partnerships and friendships, and an appealing setting to think and interact with other creative people.


The objectives for our Commons are:

  • Foster cooperation between entrepreneurs and non-profit organisations.
  • Provide space for the increasing number of environmental and cultural organisations in our area who need a more permanent address.
  • Reduce the barriers to self-employment .
  • Bolster the establishment of a diverse cultural space to attract and retain a large number of creative people in the Tantramar region.
  • Provide home-based businesses with a place for local networking.

Research, innovation & culture – a cooperative endeavour

Three vital sectors of the community are excited about sharing a flexible space and will form the key elements to its culture. These are the environmental, cultural and entrepreneurial sectors; key parts of our local community and economy.

The Atlantic Wildlife Institute forms the core of the environmental pillar, promoting learning and awareness of the direct links between environmental health and human wellness through its work in wildlife rescue, rehabilitation and research. It is joined by other environmental organisations who are looking for shared space.

A lively community of artists and artisans will form the cultural pillar of the commons and reinforce local galleries and artists by providing a space for education and artistic expression.

The entrepreneurship pillar will see innovative ideas taken into action by providing a space for independent working professionals to meet and develop new business models, consult with clients, and enjoy a social space that reflects the energy and innovation of the new world of work.

A New Town Square or Third Space

If a community is to thrive in the Internet Age, it must be attractive to knowledge workers. Recent data [PDF] show that environmental and cultural factors are critical in attracting and retaining knowledge workers.

These workers need to be connected to other knowledge workers so that they can stay creative. They need to have constant access to fresh ideas. One way to attract knowledge workers is to offer the right physical space and connections.

Because many knowledge workers are not employees, they don’t need conventional office space. Many are starting to create their own alternative spaces in cities such as London, Toronto, Vancouver and Charlottetown.

Beyond the Caf̩ РDesigning the Space

The design of the Commons building will create flexible, multi-purpose spaces to accommodate the needs of its members. Its design will encourage the flow of ideas between diverse disciplines. The aim of the Commons is to provide a space so that individuals and organisations have an opportunity to try out new ways of working, creating and learning together.

We foresee these spaces as fundamental to the complex:

  • Shared office space for use by all members, including meeting rooms, common areas, workspace and Internet access
  • Learning space for members to teach and share with others.

We expect that space use will change with the needs of the members but initial discussions within the community and with other commons show many options:

  • A local consultant booking a weekly meeting room.
  • A farmer from outside town using office space on bi-weekly trips to Sackville.
  • A solar energy consultant exhibiting the use of solar heat for the building’s hot water.
  • A dance instructor giving lessons in the loft learning space.
  • An artisan mentoring novices.
  • A group of independent professionals gathering to discuss business issues and ways of sharing resources.
  • A retired teacher tutoring students.
  • University researchers working with a local environmental group on a joint study.
  • Students and graduates using a sponsored membership to explore how to start a new business.
  • Use of the learning space for a “reciprocal learning network” (a parallel initiative in Sackville).

Individual Membership – Common Space

Members of the Commons will manage themselves as a cooperative and be afforded space within the Commons. No member will have dedicated space, as this is not an “office space for rent” model. Only individuals will be members of the Commons. Non-profit organisations will be provided with a number of individual memberships as well as some space that they may have to share with other organisations.

One Response to “Town Commons Update”

  1. Eric Tusz-King

    Hi Harold,

    Is it you or me that has moved from Sackville; or is it that we just don’t recognize each other, because it has been that long. How are you?

    I was in St. Andrew’s, NB last weekend sharing with a group there who want to do something very similar to our effort, with just as much diversity as we have, although they have an historic building in which several of the groups are now operating. I was asked in several ways what was happening on our project and gave them enough information to satisfy them, but felt out of date with my understanding of what is going on.

    Could you provide me with such an update, for my use? I will send something to them as appropriate and with respect to confidentiality of our project.


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