2005 Archives

21 Oct. 2005
City receives just one proposal for Wabash under RFP process; soccer stadium would receive $9.8 million in City funding

We’ve been informed the City has received only one formal proposal for developing the Wabash site to include a new community centre, under the RFP process set up earlier this year. (See stories below and in the archives.)

The proposal still has to clear the City’s internal review process before any further consideration—including a public meeting—is given to the project. If the proposal does not meet the City’s rigorous financial criteria, for example, it likely won’t go forward.

However, if the proposal does meet the City’s criteria, the RFP calls for a public meeting to be held to consider it. The meeting would be facilitated through Councillor Sylvia Watson’s office. Stay tuned for developments.

Meanwhile, the City may approve this month, after no public consultation, a payout of $9.8 million in cash and $10 million in land for a new 20,000-seat soccer stadium to be built at Exhibition Place. Here’s the news about the stadium from Councillor Watson’s Ward 14 newsletter:

“A soccer stadium at Exhibition Place?

“On October 20, the Policy and Finance Committee endorsed a plan to build a professional soccer stadium at Exhibition Place. Councillor Watson has expressed concern about the terms of the deal and the process which was followed. She’d like your opinion on the matter before it goes to City Council next week.

“What is proposed?

“A 20,000 seat stadium to be located just south of the Food Building at Exhibition Place. The total cost of building the stadium is $72.8 million. The federal government would contribute $27M, the provincial government $8 and the City $19.8M ($9.8M in cash and $10M in land). The remaining $18M would be paid by Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd (MLSE), $8M in cash and $10M to be recovered from the sale of naming rights.

“The City would own the stadium but it would be managed by MLSE for 20 years. The City would pay MLSE $200,000/year to operate the stadium. MLSE would be entitled to up to 40% of the parking fees generated by stadium use. The City and MLSE would equally share in any operating loses (after the first $250,000 which would be covered by MLSE).

“There will be no property taxes payable by the stadium.

“Preliminary estimates suggest that over the lifetime of the 20 year management agreement, the City might recover $9.9 million. However a financial and risk analysis has not been done by City staff.

“The Process

“The usual process for similar projects is for the City to issue a Request for Proposal (RFP). An RFP is a public call for interested developers to submit plans to develop a project according to specifications set out by the City. The City chooses the best project among the responses that it receives.

“For example, the future Wabash Community Centre is currently going through the RFP process to look for an appropriate partner to help build the community centre. The City doesn’t have the funds to build it and has called for proposals that require a private developer to fund the cost of building the centre. In return, the City will allow the development of a portion of the site for private development.

“An RFP process was not carried out for the proposed soccer stadium or the 20 year management agreement with MLSE. There has been no public consultation about the location, cost or support for the stadium.

“City Council will decide whether to proceed with this project at its October 26-28 meeting. Do you have any concerns about the process and or the deal as we know it?

(End of newsletter item.)

The Wabash centre had been in City capital spending plans for years, and kept getting pushed back and back to the point where the RFP process was considered as an alternative. Thousands of local residents have signed a petition for the centre. More than 500 residents participated in a recent survey to determine what our community centre should encompass. Countless other residents have been involved in the planning and fundraising for our community centre since the mid 1990s, if not earlier. We have been told repeatedly that the City can’t afford our new community centre. A new soccer stadium that primarily benefits a private company suddenly gets $9.8 million in City funding (if approved), along with another $35 million of our tax dollars through other levels of government. The private company that would be paid by the City (e.g. us) to run the stadium will not pay property taxes. Ward 14 property assessments, which help determine property taxes, went up an average of 14% to 18% in the last assessment, with many homeowners reporting increases of more than 20%. The average across the City was 12%.

Residents with an opinion on the latest turn of events can write Councillor Watson at councillor_watson@toronto.ca, or Mayor Miller at mayor_miller@toronto.ca

5 October 2005
Banner up on building; City evaluating developer proposals for Wabash centre

After plowing through a lot of red tape at City Hall, the Wabash Community Centre banner was finally erected on the old linseed oil factory building in August.

The banner is visible on the north side of the building. Best viewing spots are from the tennis court, soccer field and even the Dundas Street bridge. We’ve also heard from commuters on the Georgetown GO train that the banner looks greats from the train speeding by the park.

The banner was paid for by community donations, including money raised at 2004’s Father’s Day Wabash Brunch Bash. Councillor Sylvia Watson helped Wabash committee members navigate the City Hall bureaucracy; the usual fee for a sign permit (about $600) was also waived.

Meanwhile, the September deadline for developers to submit their proposals for the Wabash project has passed. We are still awaiting details, but we know from the RFP process (see below) that the City will evaluate the proposals according to the criteria set out in the RFP. It will then select the best three proposals based on that criteria and present them to the community at a public meeting, either late this year or early next year. The RMRA has tenatively scheduled a “Wabash Community Centre Master Plan” meeting for Jan. 31, 2006 at 7:30 p.m. at Fern Avenue Public School.

Watch this space for more news as we get it.

21 July 2005
Wabash banner unveiled

The spiffy new banner promoting the Wabash Community Recreation Centre was unveiled in July, first at Councillor Sylvia Watson’s community BBQ on July 10 and then at the Sorauren Park Festival on July 16.

Hung on the tennis court fence, the banner will eventually be erected on the old linseed oil factory on Wabash Avenue, once all city permits have been approved later this summer.

The banner was paid for by community donations, including money raised at 2004’s Father’s Day Wabash Brunch Bash. Councillor Watson raised another $700 for the community centre fund at her BBQ.

Meanwhile, the deadline for developers to submit their proposals for the Wabash project has been extended to September 12. See more about this process below.

Special thanks to volunteers Susan Vandendam and Eric Turcotte for their work on the banner, and to Stephen Hutchings for the illustration.

1 July 2005
Fundraiser and Festival at Sorauren
Wabash BBQ fundraiser July 10
Sorauren Park Festival July 16

On Sunday, July 10 from 1 to 4 p.m., Councillor Sylvia Watson will be hosting a BBQ and fundraiser for the new Wabash Community Recreation Centre to be built adjacent to Sorauren Park.

Come out to the park for food, music, and to learn the latest about the plans for the centre. The city has issued its long-awaited “request for proposals” to third-party developers (see news below), and plans from various groups are being drawn up for the Aug. 12 RFP deadline. Learn about the RFP at the BBQ.

Donations to the new Wabash fund over $25 will receive a tax receipt. For more information write to councillor_watson@toronto.ca.

Then return to the park on Saturday, July 16 for the annual Sorauren Park Festival, this year featuring another great line-up of music, comedy, games, food and a movie under the stars (Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times).

Organizers have recruited some of Toronto’s best musicians for the festival, and Parks and Rec will once again provide great kids’ games. For the full schedule, visit http://www.soraurenparkfestival.ca.

6 June 2005
Wabash hits the news:
RFP issued, banner to be erected, feasibility scenarios on exhibit, Environment Day scheduled for the street

After over a decade of discussions, setbacks and community advocacy, the City has finally released a request for proposals for the new Wabash-Sorauren community recreation centre.

“This is a huge step forward in bringing this long-awaited community asset to reality,” said Councillor Sylvia Watson. “I have worked hard with City staff and the community for the last 18 months and am delighted with this progress.”

The City is accepting proposals that place most or all of the upfront capital costs on the developer undertaking the construction of the facility. In return, the City will allow the development of a portion of the site for private sector use. While the land on the site would remain the property of the City, the developer would be responsible for maintaining the community recreation centre.

The official document outlining the scope and design considerations of the public/private partnership, has been posted on the City’s web site at http://www.toronto.ca/tenders/pdf/9155_05_7164.pdf. The RFP closing date is August 12, 2005.

Developers interested in submitting an RFP are also required to attend a meeting at 10:00 a.m. on June 16, 2005 in Committee Room #3, Toronto City Hall, 2nd Floor, 100 Queen Street West, Toronto.

In other Wabash news…

The Build Wabash Now Committee will soon erect its “Build Wabash” banner on the old linseed oil factory on the site. The banner, funded with money raised at last year’s Build Wabash Father’s Day Brunch Bash (see the archives), is awaiting final City approval.

The three scenarios developed in the 2003 feasibility study by Oleson Worland_Taylor Smyth Architects are on special exhibit at City Hall, for submissions to the City of Toronto Architecture & Urban Design Awards. There is a lot of good work on display. The Wabash CC presentation is to the left as you enter from Nathan Phillips Square.

Environment Day is here again! On Thursday, June 9 from 4-8pm, join Councillor Watson on Wabash Avenue for Environment Day. Pick up your free leaf compost, drop off donations for recycling or disposal, or purchase one of the many environmentally-friendly products offered for sale.

23 February 2005 (updated 8 March 2005)
Survey results are in!
And new Wabash fund gets $200,000

There was tremendous response to the Wabash Survey circulated through the neighbourhood and available on the web site over the last several weeks.

Read the write-in votes and comments

More than 500 surveys were returned. Respondents were asked to rank proposed community centre amenities in order of importance to them, Rank 1 being the highest priority, and so on down to Rank 5. And here are the results:

The Build Wabash Now Committee, part of the Roncesvalles-Macdonell Residents’ Association, will use the survey results in its discussions with the City of Toronto. The City will soon be issuing a “Request for Proposals” on the Wabash site, inviting third- developers (private or not-for-profit) to develop the site in a way that will include the new community centre.

The survey results will help ensure the community has input into any final development approved for the site.

The Build Wabash Now Committee is monitoring the RFP process closely and will continue its discussions with city officials and politicians. Watch this site for updates.

Thanks to all who completed the survey, and thanks to these retailers who agreed to have the “Wabash polling station” set up in their establishments:

The Film Buff
High Park Library
Kennel Café
Pollocks Home Hardware
Scooter Girl
Second Cup

Thanks also to those hardy volunteers who staffed the Wabash kiosk on Roncesvalles one cold February Sunday to distribute surveys to residents.

In other important Wabash news, Councillor Sylvia Watson has arranged for a new fund to support the Wabash development. The Wabash Community Centre Project Reserve Fund is now accepting private, tax-deductible donations for the capital costs of building the Wabash-Sorauren Community Centre.

“We have a good start with the agreement by Sorauren Loft Corp. to pay $200,000 into this fund in Planning Act Section 37 benefits,” said Councillor Watson. “I’ll be looking for more development fees to add to this wonderful community project.”

Please contribute what you can to the building of your neighbourhood community centre. The sooner a significant amount of contributions start rolling in, the sooner the community centre will be a reality. Cheques can be made payable to City of Toronto with a notation that the funds are for the Wabash Community Centre Project Reserve Fund.

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