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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New rules affect parks; dog park, playground closed

UPDATED APRIL 3: The City of Toronto has announced sweeping new rules in the battle to fight COVID-19 that affect the public’s use of parks.

“Today, the City of Toronto announced that all City-owned playgrounds, sports fields, basketball and tennis courts, off-leash dog parks, skateboard and BMX parks, picnic areas, outdoor exercise equipment and other parks amenities, as well as parking lots attached to its parks system, will be closed effective immediately, in the City’s continuing efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19,” says the official press release.

It is also now illegal under provincial statute to congregate in groups of five or more. And under a new City order, “Any two people who don’t live together, who fail to keep two metres of distance between them in a park or public square, can receive a $1,000 ticket – the maximum set fine available. Officers could issue higher tickets that would be subject to the courts where fines could go up to $5,000 upon conviction.”

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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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Farmers Market closed, park permits cancelled for now

The COVID-19 pandemic has led the City to cancel all permits for parks and City buildings including the Sorauren Fieldhouse as a public health precaution. As such, the Sorauren Farmers Market has announced it will be closed starting March 16 until at least April 5.

The park itself is open and is a great place to enjoy the outdoors while practicing appropriate social distancing. Some of these outdoor games from Wired magazine may do the trick.

We’ll post any updates concerning the park and park programs as we get them. Also follow @SoraurenPark on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Information on affected City services is continually updated on the City of Toronto website.

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.