City hiring architects for Wabash Community Centre

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The old linseed factory site at 40 Wabash Avenue in Sorauren Park will soon be home to the new Wabash Community Centre. The banner was erected in 2004 after the first fundraiser.

The City has issued a formal Request for Proposals for architectural services for the new Wabash Community Centre at Sorauren Park, a milestone in the decades-long campaign to bring a community centre to the site.

“The neighbourhood has evolved since the original leaders started lobbying for this, and the need for a rec centre has continually increased,” says Joël Campbell, Chair of the non-profit Friends of Sorauren Park. “We’re thrilled that our time has come and are so looking forward to identifying, cultivating, and pursuing our community’s vision for this exciting project.”

Proposals from bidders are due May 14. The winning bid will be chosen by the City after a qualification check and evaluation of many factors including past experience and price. A viewing copy of the 155-page RFP is available on the City’s purchasing website.

The RFP essentially asks architectural firms to send in their resumes. Firms must have experience building community centres, aquatic facilities, and also have heritage experience because of the existing buildings on the site. The City also intends the building to be Net Zero Energy: “a building that produces as much renewable energy as it consumes when measured at the site on an annual basis, while maintaining an acceptable level of service and functionality.”

The scope of work for the winning bidder will include several community consultations. Only after this process starts will actual design options be put forward, for further community review. The process is expected to take until mid-2021 before construction begins later that year, according to the RFP document. Final designs will also be evaluated by the City’s Design Review Panel.

In addition to the City-led consultations, the Friends of Sorauren Park has been holding consultations, which will continue in the months ahead. The results of the first FOSP-held community consultation have been published. FOSP will soon issue a community-wide survey, and comments are welcome any time through our comment box. FOSP meetings are also held the first Thursday of every month at the Sorauren Park Fieldhouse at 7 pm, all invited.

City Council approved the budget for the community centre in 2017, currently pegged at about $40 million.

The first community fundraiser for the Wabash Community Centre was held June 2004 (not a typo) at Lula Lounge on Dundas. It raised funds to pay for the banner on the old linseed factory at 40 Wabash Avenue, the property purchased by the City in 2000 for the purposes of the community centre. The banner helped stake a claim. The claim is soon about to pay dividends.

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