City Council votes yes to Wabash Community Centre

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Gym

Interior view from ground-floor level down to basement level

Toronto City Council has voted to start work this year on the Wabash Community Centre at Sorauren Park.

Work will begin with a modest $50,000 budgeted for pre-engineering. That will be followed by design in 2018 and 2019, with shovels in the ground planned for 2020, towards a 2022 or 2023 opening. Total project budget is $32.4 million.

“After 17 years on the books and many years of community advocacy before that, this is wonderful news,” said Joël Campbell, chair of the all-volunteer Friends of Sorauren Park. “This is a milestone.”

The Friends of Sorauren Park recently concluded its “Unlock the Community Centre” awareness campaign, the latest in a long series of actions to advocate for the centre.

The project is included in Parks, Forestry and Recreation’s capital budget and plan, which City Council approved Wednesday, February 15, 2017, as part of the overall City budget.

The most recent plans for the community centre, prepared as part of a 2009 feasibility study, would convert the abandoned Canada Linseed Oil Mills building next to the park into a 40,000 sq. ft. community hub with a gym (shown above), multipurpose rooms, studios and fitness rooms, youth space, kitchen and third-floor event space with a rooftop terrace.

Follow us on social media @SoraurenPark, our website and this newsletter for updates and news on design consultations.

Friends of Sorauren Park would like to thank Councillor Gord Perks, along with previous Ward 14 councillors Sylvia Watson and Chris Korwin-Kuczynski, who all moved the project along at various stages at City Council.

Most of all, thanks to the community, which has advocated ceaselessly for the community centre since the early 1990s. Never stop believing.

Birds-eye view of the old brick linseed oil mill, re-imagined as the Wabash Community Centre

2009 concept plan for Wabash Community Centre by Oleson Worland_Taylor Smyth architects, in joint venture. The plan would use the footprint and exterior of the old linseed oil mill. This view looks south-east with Wabash Avenue and the homes on Lukow Terrace in the background

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City budget update: Wabash Community Centre

Gym

Interior view from ground-floor level down to basement level. Artist’s rendering from 2009 Green Feasibility Study

If the proposed City budget passes in its current form, it would contain good news for the community: work on the Wabash Community Centre would officially begin later this year.

The Friends of Sorauren Park continue to monitor City Hall as this year’s budget moves through committee to an eventual vote at Council in mid February.

The 2017-2026 capital budget and plan for Parks, Forestry and Recreation includes a total of $32.4 million for pre-engineering, design and construction of the new facility that would be located on Wabash Avenue beside Sorauren Park.

Pre-engineering work would start this year, with $50,000 budgeted. Design would continue the following year, with another $400,000 budgeted. Design and construction would then continue until 2022.

This week, Chander Chaddah, a volunteer board member of Friends of Sorauren Park since 2006, spoke to the budget committee during public consultations about the importance of the proposed centre to the community. He highlighted recent and upcoming growth in the neighbourhood, and the fact the Wabash Community Centre is the next centre to be built according the City’s 2004 plan for new recreation facilities. The community has been advocating for the centre since the early 1990s.

Not including the investment in Sorauren Park, the City has already invested $3 million in the Wabash site, including $2 million for land purchase in 2000 and a $1 million environmental clean-up in 2004.

Following this week’s budget committee, Ward 14 Councillor Gord Perks issued the following statement:

Friends,

Good news. Reading through the draft budget I’ve noticed that the Wabash New Community Centre completion date has advanced by six months into 2022. At a guess, this means doors open mid-2023.

Also, the community can take credit for reducing some of the expected costs. Parks Capital staff reviewed the project, and  the Wabash ‘Green’ Feasibility Study completed in 2010 was high enough quality that some City pre-planning costs could be avoided.

I’ll keep my eye on this. But, in the meantime feel good. All those hours of neighbourhood work are paying off.

Gord

The Councillor also provided this snapshot comparing the 2016 budget to the 2017 proposed budget:

2016vs2017_wabashcc

The 2009-2010 Green Feasibility Study was funded by a $100,000 grant secured by Friends of Sorauren Park from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, and a matching $100,000 from the City. It contains the most recent concept plans for the centre which would re-purpose the old 40,000 sq. ft. linseed oil mill on the site.Follow this site, subscribe to our newsletter or follow @SoraurenPark on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for updates.

Join the Unlock the Community Centre campaign

Unlock the Community Centre

Hundreds of keychains with supporter names on the fence outside the future community centre. Growing every day!

Hundreds of keychains with supporter names on the fence outside the future community centre. Growing every day!

The City of Toronto has pledged $34 million to build our New Community Centre by 2023, starting 2017.

We need you to Show Your Support to ensure this remains a priority project for our neighbourhood.

Get your keychains at:

  • Joe’s Cafe, corner of Sorauren and Fermanagh
  • Scooter Girl Toys, 187 Roncesvalles Avenue

We also sell the custom keychains at our booth at various events during the year. Buy your keychain (suggested $5 donation) and place it on the fence outside the old linseed oil mill on Wabash Avenue at Sorauren Park… joining the other keychains already there.

Funds raised support the continued efforts of the non-profit, all-volunteer Friends of Sorauren Park to enhance the Sorauren Park experience including Movie Nights in the Town Square, construction of a Pizza Oven (permit submitted), operation of the Natural Ice Rink and much more.

For notices on events where you can buy your keychain, subscribe to our monthly newsletter, follow us on Twitter, or check the Upcoming Events calendar on our home page.

The community centre has been under discussion since the late 1980s, and a line item in the city’s capital budget since 2000, continuously delayed. Over those years, thousands of new people have moved into the area through redevelopment, with thousands more expected in coming years.

Proposed City budget includes Wabash Community Centre

Gym on basement level of Wabash Community Centre, from 2009 study

Gym on basement level of Wabash Community Centre, from 2009 study

The City of Toronto’s proposed capital budget for 2016 and beyond appears to have good news for the future Wabash Community Centre by Sorauren Park.

The “40 Wabash Parkdale CC” community centre project remains in the proposed Parks, Forestry and Recreation budget for the years 2017 to 2023. Final design studies would start in 2017, with shovels in the ground by 2020.

40 Wabash refers to the street address of the old linseed oil mill by Sorauren Park, purchased by the City 15 years ago for repurposing into a new community centre.

The proposed budget still needs to be approved by City Council at its meeting starting Feb. 17.

The budget reinforces the commitment made by Ward 14 Councillor Gord Perks at the annual general meeting of the non-profit Wabash Building Society in April 2015. The total cost of the community centre is estimated at $34 million, including design and construction. The City has already invested about $3 million in the site, with the property purchase in 2000 and environmental remediation in 2004.

The community centre has been a line item in the City’s budget since at least 2000. The dream for a community centre by Sorauren Park goes back to the late 1980s, prior to the opening of the park itself in 1995. The first feasibility study was conducted 12 years ago, following several years of community advocacy and needs assessments.

Since that time, thousands of new people have moved into the area through redevelopment, with thousands more expected in coming years. In the city’s 2004 Recreation Facilities Report, the Wabash Community Centre was listed as the No. 7 priority, with a proposed completion “in the 2005-2009 timeframe.” Of those seven projects, four have been completed and two are under way, leaving Wabash as the last.

The most recent plan is contained in a 2009 report, Wabash “Green” Community Centre Feasibility Study, prepared by Oleson Worland_Taylor Smyth architects in joint venture for the City and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.

Building on previous studies, the 2009 plan would mostly retain the footprint, exterior and layout of the abandoned 40,000 sq. ft. linseed oil mill on the Wabash Avenue site, adjacent to the park. The interior and mechanicals would be completely rebuilt.

The plans include a gym space, several large and small multipurpose rooms, recreation and culture rooms, dance studio, youth space, cafe, and third-floor event space with walk-out terrace.

“This is great news, and we look forward to kick-starting the design process with the community in 2016,” said Joël Campbell, volunteer chair of the Wabash Building Society.

Other portions of the linseed site have been redeveloped thanks to community efforts led by the Wabash Building Society. WBS campaigns have raised or leveraged approximately $750,000 since 2006, to create the Sorauren Park Fieldhouse (2008) and Sorauren Town Square (2014-2015). These successful developments once again prove the need for a new community centre in a rapidly growing and diverse community.

The fence on the old industrial site is now pushed back to the old linseed oil mill, leaving one piece of the Sorauren Park vision to be completed.

Sign up to the Sorauren Park News e-newsletter and follow us on Twitter for updates.

Sorauren Pumpkin Parade Nov. 1

pumpkins-everywhereThe annual Sorauren Park Pumpkin Parade takes place the evening of Sunday, Nov. 1, the day after Halloween. Bring your jack-o-lantern to the park, line it up along the path, and enjoy the parade!

The 11th annual Parade is produced by you, and sponsored by Councillor Gord Perks and the Wabash Building Society.

This year, volunteers are required the day after the parade to help pitch the retired pumpkins into the City-provided composting bin. Please come to the park on Monday, Nov. 2 at 10 a.m. with your wheelbarrows, wagons and gloves to help out.