The current vision for the Wabash Community Centre and Sorauren Park Master Plan is encapsulated in the 2009 “Wabash Green Feasibility Study,” authored by Oleson Worland_Taylor Smyth Architects in joint venture, published by the City of Toronto with generous support from the City and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.
The comprehensive report received much community input at various stages. It also built on previous work, especially a 2003 study on the feasibility of converting the existing, abandoned 40,000 sq. ft. linseed oil mill building into a community centre.
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 2003 feasibility study was conducted following several years of community advocacy and needs assessments. The project has been a line item in the city’s capital plan since 2000, continuously delayed until recently.
Today, thousands of new people have moved into the area through redevelopment, with thousands more expected in coming years. In the city’s 2004 Recreation Facilities Report, the Wabash Community Centre was listed as the No. 7 priority, with a proposed completion “in the 2005-2009 timeframe.” Of those seven projects, four have been completed and two are under way, leaving Wabash as the last.
The 2009 vision is exciting. It not only calls for a modern, LEED-rated construction, but also for a beautiful space using the old building. It would deliver standard community centre amenities (though not a pool), while maximizing the building’s existing layout to include things such as a third-floor event space with roof terrace to generate revenue.
The Wabash (Parkdale) Community Centre currently sits in the City’s Capital Plan for 2017-2023, after many years of delays, largely due to amalgamation.
In the meantime, the “baby steps” approach by the Friends of Sorauren Park has led to the successful development of other parts of the Wabash property, including the Sorauren Fieldhouse (2008) and the Town Square, opened in July 2014 in the vacant space between the Fieldhouse and the linseed factory. These successful developments once again prove the need for a new community centre in a rapidly growing and diverse community.
Below are some of the images and plans from the 2009 report (note the current Town Square plan — see above — has changed somewhat from the earlier plans below).