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.

What we heard: Wabash Community Centre consultation

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More than a dozen people sitting and standing around a consultation table in a meeting room at the Sorauren Fieldhouse.

Community members debate options and ideas at one of four tables during the community centre consultation. Each table focused on different themes.

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.

Capturing ideas.

Next Steps

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.

Have your say in community centre consultations

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Interior view from ground-floor level down to basement level – 2009 concept plan

Dear Neighbours,

As you may already be aware, the Wabash Community Centre to be located in Sorauren Park will soon be a reality. The City of Toronto approved the $40M in funding as part of its 2017 capital budget and is preparing for the preliminary design phase to begin in early 2019 – with shovels in the ground planned for 2020 and doors opening as early as 2022.

With momentum building, the FOSP board thought it important that we lead our own strategic initiative to engage directly with the community to seek interest and participation in planning your ideal community centre. Learn more about our January 31, 2019 consultation here.

Our independent initiative is to be complementary to the public consultation process led by the City of Toronto. Our goal is to align to their process and consultation timeline, and to submit a formal FOSP document that has been developed with direct community input.

Over the past couple of years, we’ve heard from many in the community who have expressed a want to “have their say” in shaping how the community centre is designed and built, and how it will serve the people once opened.

So, if you are interested in contributing your time, energy and talents, please review our strategic framework and sign up.

Our consultations will be focused on these areas of interest: Design Excellence, Heritage, Town Square, Aquatic Facilities, Programming, Governance/Operations and Centre/Park Integration.

If you would like more information, feel free to contact us by using the contact form.

Regards,

Board of Directors,
Friends of Sorauren Park

Province cancels additional funding for aquatic facility

Dear Neighbours,

On May 7, 2018 the Ministry of Infrastructure Ontario publically announced its pledge of $3.3M towards a proposed $10M Sorauren Park Aquatic Centre. The Friends of Sorauren Park (FOSP) had submitted a proposal in March 2018 to access a new culture and recreation funding stream made available through a tri-lateral program between the Federal and Provincial governments and the City of Toronto.

The proposed Sorauren Park Aquatic Centre was to feature a multi-lane, 25-metre lap pool, a leisure pool, a spa / therapeutic pool and gender neutral changing rooms which would have allowed full accessibility for all patrons – similar in scope as the Regent Park Aquatic Centre currently in operation on the east side of the city.

Our objective for seeking funding was to ensure the Wabash Community Centre, whose $40M budget was approved by the City of Toronto in its 2017 capital budget, would be sufficiently funded to include public swimming facilities.

Weeks after the recent provincial election, the FOSP was informed via a phone call from an official at the Department of Infrastructure Ontario, that the funding for the Sorauren Park Aquatic Centre had now been cancelled due to the changing budget priorities of the government.

To be clear, this decision does not affect the in-progress development of the Wabash Community Centre which the City of Toronto is set to move to the preliminary design phase in early 2019, with shovels in the ground planned for 2020 and doors opening as early as 2022. The City’s Facilities Master Plan, released in 2017, called for pool facilities at the Wabash Community Centre.

In our continued conversations with federal government representatives, there continues to be a commitment by them to prioritize support for some funding that could contribute to enhancing the Wabash Community Centre.

We will keep you updated as to any further developments.

Wishing you and yours a very Happy Holiday season.

Regards,

Joel Campbell, President
Board of Directors
Friends of Sorauren Park

First Community Centre consultation July 10

FLYER_WabashCC_rev2

The City has announced the first public consultation for the new Wabash Community Centre at Sorauren Park. It will take place July 10, starting at 6 p.m., at Bishop Marrocco / Thomas Merton Catholic Secondary School at Bloor and Dundas.

Please attend to provide your input and show your support for the new centre, for which the community has been advocating since the early 1990s, most recently by the Friends of Sorauren Park.

The City has budgeted $40 million for the project. The province recently promised an additional $3.3 million towards aquatic facilities.

Here is the message from Councillor Gord Perks:

Hello Friends,

The City of Toronto is building a new Community Centre on Wabash Avenue, located just east of the fieldhouse in Sorauren Park on the site of the old Linseed Factory.

This is very exciting.

Please join me for a meeting with community members and City of Toronto Parks staff to discuss the Wabash Community Centre.

Community input is essential when deciding how best to improve public spaces and this meeting will serve as a great opportunity to hear from you.

This will be the first of many community consultations.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Bishop Marrocco / Thomas Merton Catholic Secondary School
1515 Bloor Street West, Staff Room, Rm. 331

Please see the flyer for more information. This site is accessible.

If you have any questions or are unable to attend the meeting and wish to share your concerns, please do not hesitate to contact my office at councillor_perks@toronto.ca .

Look forward to seeing you on July 10th at Bishop Marrocco for the first of many community conversations.

Sincerely,

Gord

Councillor Gord Perks
Ward 14, Parkdale High-Park

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