The City has announced the start of the next round of public consultations for the forthcoming Wabash Community Recreation Centre at Sorauren Park. An online public meeting is scheduled for November 3 from 6:30 to 8:30 pm, and a new online survey will also begin November 3.Continue reading
Public Meeting May 11 for new community centre
Mark your calendar: The City of Toronto will be holding a virtual public meeting May 11 at 6:30 pm to review site design options for the new Wabash Community Centre at Sorauren Park. Register online at the City’s Wabash Community Centre project page.
The City and its architects, Diamond Schmitt, will unveil proposed plans for how the new centre will fit into the site. Because the programming plan requires more space than what is available at the site of the old Canada Linseed Mill property at 40 Wabash Avenue, there will be an impact on the park.
You can join the May 11 Zoom meeting by video or audio. The City will also be running a survey from May 5 to May 31. This is just one step in the public consultation process, as more consultations will be held as the design becomes more developed.
The Friends of Sorauren Park have advocated for retaining the Fieldhouse and the Town Square, site of the weekly Farmers Market, outdoor movies, community festivals, pumpkin sale fundraisers, ad hoc ball hockey and pickleball games, fitness classes, skateboarding, the best place to learn how to ride a bike in Toronto, and more. The community and the City have already invested more than $1 million in the Fieldhouse and Town Square.
FOSP also supports retaining the industrial heritage features of the linseed mill as much as possible. The community has supported these positions through FOSP-led community consultations and a survey.
Here are the key details for the City consultation from the Wabash Community Centre project page:
Virtual Public Meeting
- May 11, 2021
- 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Attend the virtual public meeting to learn about the site design options and share your feedback.
Two ways to join:
- By calling 647-558-0588 and using meeting ID: 816 1425 3169. A participant ID is not required
May 5 to May 31, 2021
Complete the online survey to learn about the site design options and share your feedback.
A survey link will be posted on May 5, 2021.
You can also request a hard copy of the survey in the mail by calling 416-642-6605 or e-mailing email@example.com.
City starts community centre consultations Sept 22
The City of Toronto and its consultants are starting public consultations for the new Wabash Community Centre at Sorauren Park, starting with a Virtual Town Hall on September 22.
In addition to the Town Hall, there will be other ways to get involved, including Small Group Discussions on September 28 (online), a survey, and subscribing to project updates. All details are posted on the City’s project website.
The City consultations follow community-led consultations hosted by the Friends of Sorauren Park. The results of those consultations have been shared with the City, and FOSP will support and participate in the City consultations.
Make sure to have your say at this exciting time in the decades-long effort to develop the Wabash Community Centre!
Community Centre “on track” according to city budget
New City of Toronto budget documents show the Wabash Community Centre project at Sorauren Park is “on track” as the city’s Budget Committee and, eventually, City Council work to approve the annual budget and 10-year plan in February.
The public documents appear to have been prepared earlier in 2019, as the city subsequently announced the architects for the project, Diamond Schmitt Architects, have been hired from a short-list of four firms.
The documents reveal an assessment of the condition of the existing building at 40 Wabash Avenue (the old linseed mill) has been completed, along with a Draft Cultural Heritage Evaluation and environmental studies. These reports have not yet been released to the public.
The budget indicates the city invested $285,000 in the project in 2019, presumably on these studies and project management costs. A further $1.084 million is budgeted in 2020, for design costs. The total project budget is $40 million.
Though the documents indicate the project is “on track,” expected completion has been pushed from 2023 to 2024.
No updated design plans have been released for the centre. The last feasibility study, with concept plans, was completed in 2009, thanks to collaboration between the City and Friends of Sorauren Park. However, those plans did not include a pool. A pool was subsequently added to the program plan in the city’s 2017 Facilities Master Plan for recreation facilities across the city.
The Friends of Sorauren Park expect the city will announce public consultations with the architects this year. The Friends have already started a consultation process, and more than 1,000 residents have completed a Community Centre survey. The Friends will publish the full results later this winter.
“The community has had more than twenty years now to envision what this great building could become. The Friends of Sorauren Park is passionate about continuing its role as the voice of our neighbourhood on this. We look forward to working closely with world-renowned Diamond Schmitt to bring our community’s vision to fruition,” said Joël Campbell, chair of the non-profit Friends.
Preliminary results from the survey show overwhelming support for preserving the park’s Town Square. The community centre project puts the Town Square at risk as it has been identified as within the “development zone” for the new centre. The Friends of Sorauren Park stands for preserving the Town Square as the “outdoor community centre,” supporting the Farmer’s Market, outdoor movies, festivals, pumpkin sales, and other active and passive uses. (See the video.)
Supports Design Excellence
Supports sustainable/regenerative building and energy systems
Supports top-floor event space as proposed in the 2009 concepts plans, Green Feasibility Study
Supports preserving the existing trees in Sorauren Park
Supports preserving the industrial heritage of the site as much as possible
Supports preserving the chimney as an iconic feature (used in our logo) and potential chimney swift habitat
Supports preserving the train shed
Supports aquatic facilities at the WCC
95% of 2005 survey respondents (500+) supported aquatic facilities
Supports all-ages accessible programming
Supports programming that reflects the needs and make-up of the community, e.g. large number of artists
Supports creation of Community Kitchen (Commercial Kitchen for community use)
Supports Community Key Access, a principle that (for example) allows the FOSP to operate the natural ice rink, outdoor bake oven, gardening and other programs, in accordance with City policies such as booking and permit requirements
Supports preserving the Sorauren Fieldhouse and enhancing its functionality (e.g., as the “headquarters” and winter location for the Farmers Market) by integrating needs into the new Community Centre, e.g. park-level storage
Naming of Community Centre:
Supports a discussion around the naming of the Community Centre that reflects the community and its heritage.
Diamond Schmitt Architects hired for Wabash Community Centre
The City of Toronto has hired one of Canada’s best-known architecture firms to design the new Wabash Community Centre at Sorauren Park. Diamond Schmitt Architects was awarded the work after an open bid process. Councillor Gord Perks confirmed the news at the November meeting of Friends of Sorauren Park.
What we heard: Wabash Community Centre consultation
What does the community want in the new Wabash Community Centre (WCC) coming to Sorauren Park? After 20 years of lobbying and fundraising for park development, the Friends of Sorauren Park and the Wabash Building Society have developed more than a few thoughts on this! But first, FOSP wanted to hear from the community.
So, in January, it held a public open forum to collect ideas and seek consensus on development plans for the new $40 million centre to be built by the City of Toronto.
The January forum was just the first of several opportunities to have your say through this independent, community-led process. The City will conduct its own consultations, which FOSP looks forward to participating in.
Here’s what we heard in January – distilled into 10 main themes (in no particular order):
1. More than ever, there is an overwhelming consensus that the community wants the construction of a pool but also wants more details on how that would affect the building design, Town Square, and park. FOSP position: Supports aquatic facilities at the WCC.
2. The Town Square is where we enjoy the Farmers Market, Outdoor Movies, and festivals. It’s where kids learn to ride their bikes and play ball hockey and is in integral part of the neighbourhood. FOSP position: Protect the Town Square, built through FOSP advocacy and fundraising, as the “outdoor community centre.” Supports the Farmers Market and other Town Square programming including outdoor movies, festivals, pumpkin sales, informal gatherings and play.
3. The existing building is an important part of the industrial heritage of the neighbourhood. FOSP position: Supports preserving the industrial heritage of the site as much as possible. Supports preserving the chimney as an iconic feature (used in our logo) and potential chimney swift habitat. Supports preserving the train shed.
4. Great interest in sustainable building design and successful integration of the new community centre into Sorauren Park and its existing infrastructure, amenities and programming. FOSP position: Supports Design Excellence. Supports sustainable/regenerative building and energy systems. Supports preserving the existing trees in Sorauren Park, many of which have been cared for by volunteers.
5. The community is very excited about the prospect of a foot bridge connecting Wabash to the West Toronto Railpath. FOSP position: Supports the southern extension of the West Toronto Railpath and future bridge connection into Sorauren Park, connecting communities.
6. Community Access and partnership arrangement – community-based governance. FOSP position: Supports Community Key Access, a principle that (for example) allows the FOSP to operate the natural ice rink, outdoor bake oven, gardening and other programs, in accordance with City policies such as booking and permit requirements. Supports keeping the Fieldhouse as a base for many park activities and ensuring the new community centre also supports park life, e.g. with grade-level storage for park needs.
7. Many great opportunities for unique programming with many special interest groups keen to be involved – Dance, Argonauts Rowing and water polo, to name a few. FOSP position: Supports all-ages accessible programming. Supports youth programming and engagement.
8. Youth have a special interest in quiet “hanging-out” spaces and also in creative and educational style maker labs, cooking classes and other so-called “dirty studios”. FOSP position: Supports programming that reflects the diverse needs and interests of the community, not necessarily the “cookie cutter” commmunity centre program. Supports the new SParkLAB Youth Council (Sorauren Park Leadership Advisory Board)
9. Diversity and cross-generational inclusion. FOSP position: Supports diversity, inclusion and accessibility for all. Supports incorporating indigenous history/art/culture in the spirit of truth and reconciliation
10. Excitement about the inclusion of amenities such as a commercial-grade community kitchen, a retail café, and a roof-top event space. FOSP position: Supports creation of Community Kitchen and various spaces for events, conferences, and/or meetings. Supports a discussion around the naming of the Community Centre that reflects the community and its heritage.
In the coming months, Friends of Sorauren Park will conduct a community survey to gauge additional feedback. The City will also be hiring a public engagement company to hold consultations as part of the design process, which will be led by an architectural firm to be hired by the city through open tender. For alerts to add your voice, subscribe to Sorauren Park News email newsletter and follow SoraurenPark on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Have Your Say Now
Send us your thoughts and we’ll compile them for our next report.