People in Fredericton got their chance on Thursday to weigh in on the sometimes controversial decision to redevelop the New Brunswick Exhibition Grounds.
The future of the more than 12 hectares of downtown land has been source of friction, especially between the city and the people who run the New Brunswick Provincial Exhibition there.
John Coates lives in the area, and said he likes what the property offers now and doesn't want to see the area change dramatically.
"I've always liked this area because it's wide open and there's lots of different activities here and there's very few places in Fredericton that offers the space and capacity for large events," he said, adding that the building on site offers an affordable option for user groups renting space.
Judy Coates agreed with her husband and said there's a need for more space in the city for youth groups.
But the couple said, regardless of what happens, something needs to be done on the site to help address affordable housing.
"It would be a shame for this to go forward with some kind of housing without a significant amount of low income housing, or efforts for some of the homeless individuals in town," John said.
Affordable housing has been suggested for the site by people in the community closely connected with the homeless population.
Warren Maddox of Fredericton's Homeless Shelters attended the open house session, and agreed that affordable housing should be on the site.
"Building affordable housing in a way that allows rent supplements to take place through the province that aren't going to be something that they are going to have a problem funding."
Maddox said he would like to see the definition of what affordable housing means mandated into the plan.
"Ultimately, if you leave it up to a business model, they're going to go with what's going to be most profitable."
Maddox said he was impressed with the City's approach to redeveloping the land.
"This really is an opportunity of a lifetime for downtown Fredericton," Maddox said. "It's good to see that the process is open as opposed to just putting out tenders for developers."
Fredericton resident Dennis Van Den Heuvel said he would like to see a multi–use approach to the property.
"If we could include some recreation and sports space would be fantastic — a place where we could host large–scaled events would be great," he said.
Van Den Heuvel believes the land is big enough to accommodate a mix of ideas and hopes the final plan will include some green space.
"I would like to see some of the agricultural space updated, possibly some green areas and the ability to have some urban agriculture."
There's an online survey available online until Oct. 12 as part of the public consultation.