Updated Sep 13, 2017 (Originally Published Sep 11, 2017)
The Magna Centre is a magnificent facility.
It is a modern community centre with wonderful amenities, the heart of which are its four hockey rinks. One rink is Olympic sized with seating.
I chose this facility for the fall 2017 York Region PHP and Laravel meet-ups because of lessons learned from our first meet-up season; and, because of time pressures.
Like so much of this year for me, my plan to do a deep scoping of York Region facilities for the meet-ups over the summer just did not go according to plan. Our home, and home office, renos were consuming and worthwhile (see my "I''m Back"
post). Labour Day approached, and I went with the one facility that I knew that had most of what I was looking for.
Check out this map of York Region:
York Region is huge! A larger land area than Toronto.
A Big Lesson I learned from our inaugural York Region PHP season is: Go North! The meet-ups were concentrated in the south central-ish area of York Region, which was too south for some attendees.
Most of York Region's population is in the south on the border with Toronto. I figured that most of our attendees would be from the south, so as long as attendees could easily traverse laterally east-west, the meet-ups should be in York Region's south end. Well, the bulk of York Region's population may be due south, but PHP devs are all over, including in the north.
My goal is to get north and west, to get closer to the cluster of devs in the Barrie area. Barrie is not in York Region. However, the top end of York Region is to the east of Barrie, just on the other side of Lake Simcoe, so geographically thinking about the Barrie area is reasonable.
There are two major north-south highways: the 400 is on the west side, and the 404 is on the east side. There is one major highway going east-west, and that's the 407. A fun aspect of the 407 is that it charges the highest toll fees in North America. Highway 7 is a highway in name only in York Region, as are many other east-west roads with the word "highway" in their name. Things to take into account.
Those in the Barrie area will be coming down the 400. Having them exit at Davis Drive and heading to the Upper Canada Mall area, at Yonge Street, seems like a good idea. Except that the area is becoming more and more congested. I am told that the stoplights are brutal on the new VIVA area east of Yonge.
The Magna Centre is in Newmarket, which is good. It is on the 404 side, not the 400 side, which is not so good, but it is on Mulock Drive which should be an easier west-to-east traversal than Davis Drive (is it?).
We need to have meet-ups in venues where getting into the building is easy, getting into the actual meeting room is easy, and where going to the restroom is easy. We've had attendees trying to get access to buildings after-hours in the middle of winter. We've had attendees locked out of the meet-up after going to the restroom, and then knocking on the door to get back in.
All the downtown meet-ups I've gone to are in corporate offices. Practically all of them are open concept, so despite the meet-ups being conducted in specific areas of the office, there are no physical barriers preventing attendees from going to areas that are private. Attendees are mindful of open-yet-private areas, and corporate hosts usually have staff at the meet-ups who keep on eye on things. I've never heard of any incidents.
Also, there were "open-yet-private" issues last season that I am happily avoiding this fall by not contemplating corporate offices as venues.
The Magna Centre is a great choice for what I wanted. So I booked all our fall meet-ups there, and I paid the room rental fees.
The one downside to the Magna Centre is that one of the meeting rooms we will be in has a glass wall giving a fabulous view of the hockey rink.