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.