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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Sorauren Farmers Market reopens July 6

Wear your masks at the Market

After many months of closure due to the pandemic, the Sorauren Farmers Market got the green light and will reopen in Sorauren Park at the usual time, 3-7 pm on Mondays on the Town Square.

COVID-19 means farmers’ markets will look and feel a little different with special physical distancing and hygiene protocols. You might not be able to see the smile on your favourite vendor’s face because of their mask, but please know they have missed you and are very happy to see you!

To comply with Public Health recommendations please note the following:
● Shop quickly, ideally one person per household
● If you are unwell, stay home
● Wear a mask
● Maintain a safe distance from others, be patient and kind – this is challenging for everyone
● Please pre-order with vendors online – this way you can visit the pre-order pick-up window for a speedy visit
● Follow the one-way direction of the Market
● Please do not touch the food – your vendor will pack for you
● No eating in the Market area – take your food and eat at home or in the park.

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Dog park open, tennis courts soon, as rules evolve

Household groups of up to five people can enjoy the park together, while maintaining six feet of physical distance from others.

The City of Toronto has revised its public health rules governing parks in the midst of the coronavirus crisis. At Sorauren Park, that means the off-leash dog park is now open, with the tennis courts opening by May 23 or soon afterwards.

Casual use of the soccer field and baseball diamond are allowed, for example by a family or household group. But no organized sports or games are permitted. No park permits are being issued.

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Give to fight COVID in our neighbourhoods

The Friends of Sorauren Park are urging everyone who is able to donate to local charities and social services on the front lines of the battle against COVID-19, and who are caring for those most affected.

The board members of FOSP have each made a gift to the St. Joseph Health Centre Foundation. We’ve all spent time at our local hospital, and many of our kids were born there. Now is the time to support this vital community institution and the dedicated staff who work there, keeping us healthy.

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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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Wabash Community Centre “on track” according to city budget documents

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

New City of Toronto budget documents show the Wabash Community Centre project at Sorauren Park is “on track” as the city’s Budget Committee and, eventually, City Council work to approve the annual budget and 10-year plan in February.

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Be heard… take the Community Centre survey

Sorauren Park Town Square At Risk!! from JbyJ Video Production on Vimeo.

With the exciting news the city has hired Diamond Schmitt Architects to work on the design for the new Wabash Community Centre, now is the time to provide your input on plans for the new facility at Sorauren Park.

For example, did you know the park’s Town Square and Fieldhouse may be threatened? These critical park amenities, built in part through community donations and which make possible the Farmers Market, the outdoor movies, the Pumpkin Sale, community events like the Tragically Hip screening, and more, have been identified as inside the “development zone” for the new community centre. Help inform an innovative design for the new community centre that responds to all community needs by taking the survey.

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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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What we heard: Wabash Community Centre consultation

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.

Job posting: Summer student for Sorauren Park!

For the full job description, qualifications and application details, read on.

For the second year, the Friends of Sorauren Park will be hiring a summer student to help advance park programming and administration. The position is funded primarily by the Government of Canada Summer Jobs Program. The application deadline is June 18.

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Register for June 4 community centre update and survey results

Birds-eye view drawing of the old brick linseed oil mill building, re-imagined as the Wabash Community Centre
2009 concept plan for Wabash Community Centre by Oleson Worland_Taylor Smyth architects, in joint venture

Join us June 4 at 7 pm for a special online presentation of the results of the Sorauren Park (Wabash) Community Centre public consultation undertaken by the Friends of Sorauren Park.

More than 1,100 community members answered our survey… thank you! The presentation will also include ideas and opinions gathered through meetings and by write-in feedback from many community members about this exciting project in Sorauren Park.

We’ll also showcase the official positions of the Friends of Sorauren Park, and provide an update on the project.

Due to COVID, the June 4 event will be presented as a webinar using the Zoom platform. Register now and we’ll send you the link and instructions.

We’re using Eventbrite for registrations and you may need to sign in with your Eventbrite or Facebook account. If you are having any trouble registering, contact us.

The June 4 event will focus on the community-driven consultation process through the Friends of Sorauren Park. The City will be undertaking its own public consultations in collaboration with project designers Diamond Schmitt Architects, which FOSP will also support. Those consultations have been delayed because of COVID.

City Council approved the Wabash Community Centre budget in 2017 and since then has undertaken preliminary studies, engineering and hired the architects.

Register now to join the live presentation on June 4 at 7 pm.