Diocesan Centre undergoes changes

The front doors of the Diocesan Centre at 135 Adelaide St. E.

Upgrades include signage, technology

By 
 on October 1, 2017
Photography: 
Michael Hudson

Over the past several months, changes have been emerging around the Diocesan Centre to help staff, clergy and volunteers with their work. These changes – some subtle and some obvious – are reshaping both the building and some of the work that happens inside.

Some of the changes to the building itself are small, but Susan Abell, ODT, the diocese’s interim chief administrative officer since last November, is enthusiastic about their impact. “What we’ve done are things I’ve seen done in other workplaces, and the whole intent is to make it more functional for the people who work here or who come here,” she says.

One of Ms. Abell’s favourite projects has been improving signage around the building, starting with the front doors. At her suggestion, the blue diocesan logo was added to the window, and the street number was given much greater prominence. The coats of arms above both doors were also repainted, and planters with colourful flowers were added outside the main entrance.

“When I first came, I remember thinking, ‘What is that sort of yellow brick building?’ The crests shine kind of like a beacon now. It’s not only to houseclean; it’s also to identify that this is a part of the Anglican Church in downtown Toronto,” she says. “We’re working to be part of the neighbourhood, to be seen as neighbours.”

Inside, offices and cubicles are now equipped with nameplates featuring each staff person’s name and department. “It gives people a place that’s theirs. It’s not about ownership; it’s identifying this is the person and this is the work that’s being done in this space,” says Ms. Abell.

Signs have also been added to make the washrooms on each floor more visible, while new directories on the second and third floors help visitors orient themselves when they step off the elevator.

Other efforts are more involved, including plans to give the boardroom a much-needed technical upgrade. Funded by an Our Faith-Our Hope grant, the meeting space will be fitted with a complete audio and video system to help people see and hear each other better.

“It’s more than just cosmetic; it’s improving the acoustics in the room,” says Pamela Boisvert, secretary of Synod. “Right now if it’s a larger gathering, if you’re at one end and someone is speaking at the other end, you just can’t hear them.” Almost 100 meetings were held in the boardroom in 2016, with both internal and external groups using the space.

The upgrade will include speakers suspending from the ceiling, along with hand-held microphones. The video component will include either a built-in projector or a smartboard. The hope is that this technology will allow for video conferencing.

“I think this is one area that we’ve really lagged behind in terms of technology,” says Ms. Boisvert. “What we’re planning for the boardroom is typical in any other boardroom, so this is just to bring us up to the modern day.” She hopes the upgrades will be installed and in use by the end of the year.

Some of the building updates have been far more low-tech. Several of the second-floor meeting rooms are now equipped with whiteboards, and each room has a clock to help schedules stay on track. The Diocesan Centre roof was also replaced during the summer, a much-needed repair.

Ultimately, Ms. Abell expects that a review will be conducted within the next year to evaluate the needs of staff and others in the diocese and determine how the Diocesan Centre might change to accommodate them. “We’re in an amazing place, the geography, having the trees around, and the park. I think it’s got a lot of positives in the environment,” she says. “Now we need to go to another level.”

Among staff, a few titles have been changed to better reflect the work being done in certain departments. In administration and property resources, David Badian, formerly manager of property resources, is now director of property resources. Pamela Boisvert has been appointed secretary of Synod, after serving as interim secretary for several months. In human resources, Amy Talbert’s title is now manager of human resources.

The biggest change is yet to come, with the hiring process currently underway for an executive director. This new position will take over from the former chief administrative officer role. The executive director will provide leadership to all departments in the Diocesan Centre and work closely with Archbishop Colin Johnson to implement Growing in Christ, the diocese’s strategic plan. The role is expected to be filled later this fall.

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