About wabashbuildingsociety

Volunteer Chair, Wabash Building Society, Toronto, Canada

Community centre funding “secure” for 2017-2023

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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

Councillor Gord Perks’s office brought good news to local residents assembled at the annual general meeting of the Wabash Building Society last week: funding for the long-awaited Wabash Community Centre is “secure.”

A representative from the Councillor’s office delivered the news to about 40 people at the public meeting (the Councillor was in a City Council meeting that went late). The funding is set out in the City’s 10-year capital plan (Parks, Forestry and Recreation). Funding for the Wabash Community Centre is slated during the 2017-2023 period, for a total of $34 million covering design and construction.

An article in the Parkdale Villager, “City commits $34 million to new Wabash Community Centre,” provides more coverage.

While the news is encouraging, members of the community-based Wabash Building Society (WBS) pointed out 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 WBS will not stop advocating.

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 multipurpose rooms, recreation and culture rooms, youth lounge, cafe, and third-floor event space with walk-out terrace.

It’s expected more design consultations will be held with the community in the upcoming months to update the plans to reflect a changing neighbourhood.

The City has already invested about $3 million in the site, with the property purchase in 2000 and environmental remediation in 2004.

Aerial map showing how park was built in phases: main park 1995, Fieldhouse 2008, Town Square 2014, Community Centre 2017-2023 plan

The main park was opened in 1995, the Fieldhouse in 2008 and the Town Square in 2014.

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 (Phase 1, 2014).

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. Stay tuned.

Wabash Community Centre update April 2 with Councillor Perks

With the opening of the Sorauren Town Square last July, one piece of the Sorauren Park vision — dating from the late 1980s — remains: the proposed Wabash Community Centre on the old linseed oil mill property.

Come get a status update on the Wabash Community Centre project on Thursday, April 2 at the Sorauren Park Fieldhouse, starting at 7 p.m. Councillor Gord Perks along with community members will be in attendance.

This is public meeting also serves as the Annual General Meeting of the Wabash Building Society, your community non-profit in support of Sorauren Park and the community centre.

It’s a great opportunity for getting involved in community life. Refreshments will be served.

Poster for public meeting on the status of the Wabash Community Centre

THANK YOU! Town Square opens to blue skies and dancing

Photo of adults, kids, taking over new Town Square space under blue skies with future community centre in the background

Residents flock into the new Town Square after the official opening. Photo courtesy Erin Hatfield

Phase 1 of the new Sorauren Park Town Square — Toronto’s newest magical public space — opened July 7 to rave reviews and under blue skies despite the day’s rain.

While the Farmers Market bustled and soccer players hustled on the park’s sports field, the Square was officially opened by Parks staff removing fencing, on cue from Councillor Gord Perks, who gave welcoming remarks.

Prior to the opening, Company Blonde Dance Projects performed an initiation dance on the Square. Chander Chaddah, a board member from the Wabash Building Society, thanked Square supporters and gave a brief history. The Wabash Building Society is the non-profit community group that initiated and shepherded the project in collaboration with Parks, Forestry and Recreation and funding groups.

After the fence opened, everyone was invited to join a Zumba dance on the Square. Meanwhile, the new all-volunteer Adopt-A-Tree crew, led by coordinator May Haslam, furiously attended to the 40+ new trees and hedges with plenty of water.

Visit the Parkdale Villager website for story and photo.

Photo of gravelly field in front of the old linseed factory on Wabash Avenue beside Sorauren Park

BEFORE: the derelict and off-limits industrial land prior to the new Town Square and green spaces

SPECIAL THANK YOU to these supporters:

Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation: Alex Mut, Peter Didiano, Peter White, Lennox Morgan, Trena Cesario, Rob Richardson and many other PFR staff

Live Green Toronto: Jeff McCormick and staff

TD Friends of the Environment: Carolyn Scotchmer and staff

Toronto Parks and Trees Foundation: Jayne Fry and board

Sound system: Natalie Waddell and Jorge Miguel

Company Blonde Dance Projects

Diane, the awesome Zumba instructor

The Planning Partnership: Town Square designers

Sorauren Farmers’ Market

Roncesvalles-Macdonell Residents’ Association, which started the Sorauren Park initiatives many, many years ago

The many Phase 1 donors listed on the website and now on the Phase 1 donor banner posted in the park on the east-side fence

Phase 2 fundraising is now under way to furnish the Square with benches, a bake oven, an iconic trellis from which to hang movie screens, donor walls and art, and more. Learn about the Buy a Bench program (limited benches available), how to get a tax receipt, and how to join the donor wall.

See you at the Town Square!

Town Square Phase 1 opening July 7 – you’re invited!

New Town Square nearing completion. Full site will include new lawn and 50 new trees

New Town Square nearing completion. Full site will include new lawn and 50 new trees

Mark your calendars: the community celebration to mark the opening of the new Sorauren Park Town Square, Phase 1, takes place Monday, July 7 at 6 p.m. (NOTE: This is a new date, postponed from earlier posts due to construction delays.)

To usher in Toronto’s newest public space, the Town Square campaign’s “take down the fence” theme will be enacted with a ceremonial de-fencing. Please join your neighbours as we collectively “take down the fence” using a long rope we’ll all grab onto. One, two, three… pull!

This phase of the Town Square is possible because of the awesome support and donations from the community. Every dollar counted, and leveraged funding from other sources including a major contribution from Live Green Toronto, support from TD Friends of the Environment, large donations from Howard Public School and The Little Paper’s Little Festival, crucial support from Councillor Gord Perks, and many other donations.

Special shout-out to Chander Chaddah, who has supported the Sorauren Pumpkin Sale for many years and made major donations to the Town Square campaign to mark his 25 years in business in the neighbourhood.

Of course, none of it would be possible without Parks, Forestry and Recreation, which not only provided base funding, but also enthusiastically supported the community campaign and believed in the project. Credit also to the designers, The Planning Partnership.

The opening event will feature music and dance on the Square. The Farmers Market will also be running on its usual Monday schedule at the park, and soccer will be in full swing. Expect a fun, busy time!

The end of Phase 1 marks the start of the Phase 2 fundraising campaign to finish the square with park furniture, a bake oven, and a major architectural feature: the trellis that will connect the Fieldhouse to the future community centre (old linseed factory). The trellis will serve as an iconic gateway to the park and provide practical functions such as mounting for an outdoor movie screen, the future donor wall, lighting, shade and cool things we haven’t even imagined yet.

Please come on July 7.

Town Square Phase 1 construction ramps up

Heavy equipment grading the exposed ground at the town square site
Grading for the new Town Square. View looking south to Wabash Avenue
Toronto-20140317-00398
The Town Square site used to be the location of flaxseed elevators that feed stock to the mill (in the background). The flaxseed came by rail up a spur along Wabash Avenue

With the sort-of better weather, construction on the new Sorauren Park Town Square has swung into high gear. Heavy equipment is grading the site in preparation for landscaping this spring.

Phase 1 of the Town Square is scheduled to open this summer… stay tuned for opening event news. Construction has started thanks to generous donors from the community, grants from Live Green Toronto and TD Friends of the Environment, support from Councillor Gord Perks, and financial and project management from Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation.

The Town Square is located on Wabash Avenue between the Sorauren Fieldhouse and the old linseed mill building (and future community centre). Phase 1 includes:

  • grading the site
  • installation of mostly permeable pavers for the square
  • shade and ornamental tree plantings… approximately 50 new trees
  • roughed-in electrical service for events and lighting in the Square
  • a new sidewalk on the north side of Wabash Avenue
  • additional bike locking rings

Once this phase is completed, the site will become part of the park.

But, with your support, there’s more to come in Phase 2:

  • a signature trellis feature connecting the Fieldhouse to the linseed factory, serving as a gateway into the park and providing practical features such as mounting for a movie screen
  • new park benches
  • park lighting
  • garden features
  • a bake oven

Phase 2 fundraising has begun, but more is needed! You can donate any time, but watch for a formal kick-off of the Phase 2 campaign coming soon.

None of this would happen without the ongoing support and generosity of the community.  A big thank-you to everyone who has donated to the Phase 1 campaign. A special thank-you to Chander Chaddah, who made a sizable donation to mark his 25th anniversary as a real estate agent in the Roncesvalles neighbourhood. Everyone who donated $100 or more is listed on the virtual donor wall (eventually to become a permanent donor wall). Your donations make a difference!

Sorauren Town Square construction signs
Town Square coming soon… new construction signs erected by City