Ever since the controversial expansion of Brampton City Hall, known as the West Tower, opened in 2015 the city has been trying to fill the street-level spaces with private tenants.

While the city has managed to fill some of the space, 7,510 square feet is still vacant, and it turns out that vacancy is about to come in handy.

The city plans to temporarily occupy the space with three ventures that were partially outlined in the Brampton 2040 Vision approved back in May.

The most important of these ventures will likely be the Economic Development Office’s Centre for Innovation (COI). There are plans for a COI with the new joint Ryerson-Brampton Library centre on George Street, and this will provide a temporary space until the new building is constructed.

Institutions like COIs are common with new post-secondary partnerships; Wilfrid Laurier University set up a temporary Innovation Centre in Milton in 2014.

The COI will be a one-stop shop for people to set up new businesses in the city. It will include a new incubation and coworking space, events, and access to mentorship, networking, and other resources. With news about a new angel investor network being available for local entrepreneurs, there’s never been a better time to set up a business in the city.

The West Tower ground floor will also include an Urban Design Studio and a Civic Innovation Lab.

The Urban Design Studio is being spearheaded by Planning and Development, to encourage developers in the city to make sure any developments are not just functional, but also beautiful. During the Brampton 2040 visioning exercise, city officials heard that residents were tired of the city looking ugly and that an effort must be made by all parties to make sure any new developments look nicer.

The Civic Innovation Lab will be the public’s interaction space with city staff in order to support ongoing efforts for the 2040 vision plan, and continue the unprecedented community engagement efforts of the last year.

Most of the vacant space is allocated for the COI. Funding to renovate will cost $1.3 million, which comes out of the General Rate Stabilization Reserve.

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