FOSP endorses Wabash design option 5 “Angler”

aerial diagram, looking north over the park, showing the "Angler" option nestled against the rail corridor, with additions behind and partially on top of the existing Canada Linseed oil mill building.
Screen shot showing option 5, the Angler, from City survey of design options. Visit toronto.ca/WabashCRC to take the survey and have your say.

The City has unveiled for public comment five site design options for the new Wabash Community Centre at Sorauren Park. From May 5 to May 31, you can complete the City’s survey seeking feedback on the five options. The City will also be holding a virtual public meeting May 11 at 6:30 pm via Zoom to review the design options. Take the survey or register online for the public meeting at the City’s Wabash Community Centre project page.

Because the programming plan, including a pool, requires more space than what is available at the site of the old Canada Linseed Mill property at 40 Wabash Avenue, all five design options have an impact on the park.

The board of directors of the non-profit Friends of Sorauren Park (FOSP) has voted to support option 5, called “the Angler” by the City’s design consultants, Diamond Schmitt Architects. While none of the options is perfect, No. 5 the Angler has many advantages in the opinion of FOSP, including:

  • least impact on the park, tucking the community centre along the back
  • preserves the Town Square and Fieldhouse, in which the City and community have invested more than $1 million and which are key elements of the park
  • the only design that preserves the full grassy slope facing the Town Square and creates an integrated hardscape/softscape community event space, enhancing the way the park is used for outdoor movies and performances (remember the Tragically Hip concert simulcast and Raptors playoff games?!)
  • preserves the popular (and growing) tree grove including the serviceberries near Wabash Avenue, and many other trees cared for by Adopt-a-Tree volunteers in 2014 and 2015
  • speaks to the reality of the rail corridor that cuts the park on an angle, and to the angled Robert Watson condo building north of the park, part of the neighbourhood vernacular
  • the fourth building block tucks neatly into the landscape of the park along the railway creating a “wedge” that becomes a clear focal point on the park side, and an entrance space on the rail corridor side, with the potential for a “great lobby” that invites community interaction
  • accommodates all the City-mandated community centre program plans
  • creates interesting roof space options
  • maintains the circular flow of the park and provides easy access to a planned future footbridge crossing the tracks and connecting the park to the West Toronto Railpath
  • retains and integrates the industrial heritage features of the linseed building
  • aligns with the preferred design principles already outlined by Friends of Sorauren Park and confirmed through FOSP-led community consultations and survey (1,200 responses)

“We’ve looked closely at the options, and while there are always site compromises in a constrained space, in the end there was little debate among the directors,” says Joël Campbell, chair of Friends of Sorauren Park. “Design option 5, the Angler, was the clear winner for us. We look forward to continuing the collaboration with the City and the design consultants as work progresses through the design process.”

That process is continuing through multiple stages, including the current survey and May 11 virtual public meeting. See more details on the City’s Wabash Community Centre project page; excerpt below. We encourage you to get involved.

Virtual Public Meeting

  • May 11, 2021
  • 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Attend the virtual public meeting to learn about the site design options and share your feedback.

Two ways to join:

  1. Online
  2. By calling 647-558-0588 and using meeting ID: 816 1425 3169. A participant ID is not required

Online Survey

May 5 to May 31, 2021

Complete the online survey to learn about the site design options and share your feedback.

A survey link will be posted on May 5, 2021.

You can also request a hard copy of the survey in the mail by calling 416-642-6605 or e-mailing klamparero@swerhun.com.

Public meeting May 11 for new community centre

Photo of old brick linseed factory, bright sunlight on the west wall
The old linseed mill at 40 Wabash Avenue, the site of the future community centre

Mark your calendar: The City of Toronto will be holding a virtual public meeting May 11 at 6:30 pm to review site design options for the new Wabash Community Centre at Sorauren Park. Register online at the City’s Wabash Community Centre project page.

The City and its architects, Diamond Schmitt, will unveil proposed plans for how the new centre will fit into the site. Because the programming plan requires more space than what is available at the site of the old Canada Linseed Mill property at 40 Wabash Avenue, there will be an impact on the park.

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Farmers’ Market opens May 24

Three volunteers with the Farmers' Market, wearing their face masks, stand behind a sign outlining the COVID-19 rules for attending the market, taken at the 2020 market outdoors on the Sorauren Town Square.
The Farmers’ Market ran outdoors in the summer of 2020 under COVID-19 protocols.

Note: An earlier version of this article referenced a May 3 opening date. The Market will not open on May 3, and instead will open May 24.

The Sorauren Farmers’ Market is planning to open on Victoria Day, Monday, May 24, outdoors on the park’s Town Square. The Market’s normal outdoor schedule is 3 – 7 pm every Monday.

In normal years the Market moves from its winter home indoors at the Sorauren Fieldhouse to its outdoor home in the park in late May. Pandemic conditions prevented the winter market from opening this past season, replaced by the Farm Box program which has now wrapped up.

Follow Sorauren Farmers’ Market on social media for updates, or visit the Market website. The Market is produced by the Sorauren Farmers’ Market Association.

A letter from the Sorauren Hosers

Evening scene lit by park lights, a lone man with a hose floods the natural ice rink at the park.
The rink is flooded every night at 9 pm by volunteer Sorauren Hosers, and weekend early mornings, when conditions allow.

February 5, 2021

Dear Friends of Sorauren Park, Neighbours of Roncesvalles, Parkdale, High Park, WDW, Junction, Bloor West & Brockton,

We are the Sorauren Park Hosers. A dedicated group of ice enthusiasts who love nothing more than to build a rink for everyone to enjoy. Our group floods the rink at Sorauren Park 9 times a week, logging in over 60hrs of volunteer work to keep the rink quality up and the ice surface safe. That is on top of the scores of hours needed to create over 3 inches of ice just to cover footprints.

The Hoser Crew loves seeing the community enjoy our hard work. This year it was even more important to us to build a usable rink to help offset all the shutdowns and restricted access to recreation due to COVID-19.

Unfortunately, those restrictions also affect our community supported, free-use natural ice rink. The City of Toronto has passed the responsibility of monitoring compliance of the safe use rules onto the Hoser Crew. We have been informed that By-Law officers may be following up to confirm those rules are being respected. Signs have been posted around the rink, but in case you missed them allow us to share them here:

  • NO SHINNY (provincial orders also prohibit practicing, no hockey sticks)
  • MAXIMUM 25 people
  • STAY 2 METRES APART except for members of your own household
  • WEAR A MASK

The one rule we all struggle with the most is “No Shinny”. There is nothing more enjoyable than an afternoon of Shinny with your friends and family. The Hoser Crew loves a good game too. Remember the 2019 Hoser Celebrity Shinny game? That was the most fun that we, as a collective team, have had together in the many years that we have been building this rink.

Over the last couple of days the Hoser Crew has been conversing on how to encourage the community to respect safe use of our hard work. Many of us have had to remind shinny players of the rules and have pointed to the signs outlining the City’s guidelines. Unfortunately, the shinny games continue and we now have to take some additional steps to prevent the potential for fines, rink shutdown or both.

This weekend the Hoser Crew will be redesigning the rink experience by creating snow islands in the middle of each of the two pads. These islands will create more of a skating trail to encourage physically distanced skating and discourage shinny. With the warmer weather Thursday and Friday this seems like the right time to rethink our COVID-era rink. The surface is in pretty bad shape and it will take at least 40 to 50 hrs. of labour Friday, Saturday and Sunday to get it back to where it was last weekend.

From the bottom of our Hoser hearts we thank you all for taking the time to read this message. We also thank you in advance for helping us out by respecting the rules of use. Let’s hope that next season we can all gather again around the rink with a fire, pizza, hot cocoa and enjoy a celebrity shinny game amongst this city’s greatest community!

Drone shot showing Sorauren Rink, snow-covered park and town square, the linseed building and Toronto skyline in the background including CN Tower
Our patch of ice, maintained by volunteers with the support of Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation. Photo by Oliver Vollmer.

Sorauren Park 25th Anniversary doc now on YouTube

If you missed the debut of our special anniversary documentary on Facebook Watch Party, fear not… you can watch the half-hour doc on YouTube any time you like.

25 Years of Community Building: The Story of Sorauren Park, captures great archival footage from the early 1990s when the community was fighting for the park. See interviews with advocates, then and now, talking about the early days and what the park has become. Other volunteers tell the story of the park and its role as a community hub, including through the pandemic.

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Sorauren Stories: Artists of Sorauren released

Artists Leslie Norgate and Michael Gerry are featured on two episodes of Sorauren Stories: Artists of Sorauren

Sorauren Park’s 25th Anniversary video series, Sorauren Stories, continues this month with the release of Artists of Sorauren Park, two short episodes featuring painters Michael Gerry and Leslie Norgate.

Both local residents, Michael and Leslie have found inspiration in the people, nature, buildings and moods of Sorauren Park.

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City starts community centre consultations Sept. 22

A City of Toronto video invites you to get involved in planning the new Wabash Community Centre at Sorauren Park

After a COVID delay the City of Toronto with its consultants and architects is starting community consultations for the new Wabash Community Centre at Sorauren Park.

The first event is a Virtual Town Hall on September 22 from 7 to 8 pm. Virtual small group discussions follow on September 28, and an online survey will run from September 14 to October 5. All details including registration information is posted on the City’s project page. Look under “Get Involved.”

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Take the Tree Tour of Sorauren Park

Join Dakoda, Cedar and Jon for the Sorauren Park Virtual Tree Tour, a series of eight special short videos

Did you know Sorauren Park is home to one of the few surviving elm trees in Toronto? Do you know which tree in the park evolved to proliferate through a special relationship with mastodons? Do you know which park tree is a Great Tree of Peace for the Haudenosaunee Confederacy?

Expand your knowledge of the trees of Sorauren Park by taking the new Sorauren Park Virtual Tree Tour, hosted by our young interviewers Dakoda and Cedar, with special guest expert Jon Hayes of the High Park Nature Centre. The series highlights six special trees, with an introduction and conclusion, and is part of the 25th anniversary celebration of Sorauren Park.

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Sorauren Park life now on YouTube

Visit our new YouTube channel… new videos added regularly.

Since we can’t show movies in the park this year, the Friends of Sorauren Park are making our own movies, and bringing them to screens across the neighbourhood and around the world.

Sorauren Stories is our 2020 summer video program, starting with the ongoing Dogs of Sorauren Park series, a new People of Sorauren Park series, and the upcoming Trees of Sorauren Park and 25th Anniversary special. Videos will appear on all Friends of Sorauren Park social media platforms, and will also be compiled on our new YouTube channel, with closed-captioning.

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Sorauren Stories comes to a screen near you

For a summer like no other, the Friends of Sorauren Park have launched a fun new program to enjoy and learn about the park while keeping everyone safe. Sorauren Stories is a series of videos and video events about the park, its people and pets, its natural history, its human history, and its power to inspire.

The series is rolling out across Friends of Sorauren Park media platforms including Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, our website and newsletter, with interactive elements in the park itself.

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Community centre survey results and presentation

The Friends of Sorauren Park presented the results of its Wabash Community Centre survey and consultation process June 4 at FOSP’s first-ever webinar.

More than 100 people registered for the event which was also attended by Councillor Gord Perks and City staff.

FOSP chair Joël Campbell and directors Stephen Dorsey and Donna MacMullin walked participants through the survey results. (View the full presentation deck.) Almost 1,200 community members responded to the survey.

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Support the businesses that support Sorauren Park

Image of heart over aerial photo of Sorauren Park and neighbouring communities

Over the years many local businesses have supported the programming, activities and projects that make Sorauren Park a treasured part of the community. They’ve done this with cash sponsorships or donations, in-kind donations of goods or services, or other types of support.

Now is our time to support them (even more!) to keep our community strong and ready for a return to normal, whatever the new normal looks like. Use our directory below to support our supporters, and check business status.

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Railpath extension final design protects for link to Sorauren

Map from West Toronto Railpath final design showing future link to Sorauren Park
Railpath extension includes provision for future bridge into Sorauren Park

The final design for the southward extension of the West Toronto Railpath continues to include a provision for a future bridge into Sorauren Park. A February 26 public meeting in a packed room at Museum of Contemporary Art showed the plans in maps and diagrams.

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Diamond Schmitt Architects hired for Wabash Community Centre

Photo of old brick linseed factory, bright sunlight on the west wall

The old linseed mill at 40 Wabash Avenue, site of the future community centre

The City of Toronto has hired one of Canada’s best-known architecture firms to design the new Wabash Community Centre at Sorauren Park. Diamond Schmitt Architects was awarded the work after an open bid process. Councillor Gord Perks confirmed the news at the November meeting of Friends of Sorauren Park.

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Sorauren Rink closed for the season

Photo of the natural ice rink as it melts and turns to water under warm grey skies. Surrounded by snowbanks.
I’m melting…

The warmer temperatures have brought an end to this year’s season at the Sorauren natural ice rink.

Special thanks this year to:

Everyone who came to enjoy the rink and followed the extraordinary public health rules.

Teenagers and kids of all ages: not having shinny sucked! We recognize the sacrifice made by all players. Shinny will rise again. Thanks to the many teenagers who helped on flooding and shovelling crews.

Parks, Forestry and Recreation staff: The COVID rules meant a new level of collaboration with year, with City staff opening up the Fieldhouse at 9 pm nightly and 7 am on weekends to provide access to water and heated storage for the hoses. Thanks for the late nights and early mornings.

Returning sponsors: Scooter Girl Toys, Snap Fitness High Park and especially this year Chander Chaddah, Sutton Group Associates. They support the rink financially (and in spirit) so that we can purchase replacement hoses and boards, erect additional signage, and pay for volunteer recruitment efforts like the cool toques. #ShopLocal

Sorauren Hosers Rink Crew: the volunteers who make it happen every year. “The Sorauren Hosers are a highly organized crack squad of ice-masters,” says the West End Phoenix. This year it was more important than ever for the Hosers to get the rink established, knowing it’s a friendly outlet for community physical and mental health. They’ll be back next winter.

View of the frozen natural ice rink surrounded by snow banks and showing the snow banks down the middle that turned the rink into a skating trail, a special design for 2021 COVID season. Blue skies with clouds.
February 20, 2021
2021 Rink Sponsors

Please stay off rink during thaw

The Sorauren natural ice rink is closed during this (and every) thaw. Please stay off the surface during this time. Footprints create damage that delays restoration of the rink surface when it gets colder.

The all-volunteer Sorauren Hosers Rink Crew is hoping the blanket of snow will help insulate the surface for a return to action when temperatures drop.

This has been a great season and with a little luck we hope to extend it as long as possible. Thanks for your help!