Councillor Gord Perks’s office brought good news to local residents assembled at the annual general meeting of the Wabash Building Society last week: funding for the long-awaited Wabash Community Centre is “secure.”
A representative from the Councillor’s office delivered the news to about 40 people at the public meeting (the Councillor was in a City Council meeting that went late). The funding is set out in the City’s 10-year capital plan (Parks, Forestry and Recreation). Funding for the Wabash Community Centre is slated during the 2017-2023 period, for a total of $34 million covering design and construction.
An article in the Parkdale Villager, “City commits $34 million to new Wabash Community Centre,” provides more coverage.
While the news is encouraging, members of the community-based Wabash Building Society (WBS) pointed out the community centre has been a line item in the City’s budget since at least 2000. 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 WBS will not stop advocating.
The most recent plan is contained in a 2009 report, Wabash “Green” Community Centre Feasibility Study, prepared by Oleson Worland_Taylor Smyth architects in joint venture for the City and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.
Building on previous studies, the 2009 plan would mostly retain the footprint, exterior and layout of the abandoned 40,000 sq. ft. linseed oil mill on the Wabash Avenue site, adjacent to the park. The interior and mechanicals would be completely rebuilt.
The plans include a gym space, several multipurpose rooms, recreation and culture rooms, youth lounge, cafe, and third-floor event space with walk-out terrace.
It’s expected more design consultations will be held with the community in the upcoming months to update the plans to reflect a changing neighbourhood.
The City has already invested about $3 million in the site, with the property purchase in 2000 and environmental remediation in 2004.
Other portions of the linseed site have been redeveloped thanks to community efforts led by the Wabash Building Society. WBS campaigns have raised or leveraged approximately $750,000 since 2006, to create the Sorauren Park Fieldhouse (2008) and Sorauren Town Square (Phase 1, 2014).
The fence on the old industrial site is now pushed back to the old linseed oil mill, leaving one piece of the Sorauren Park vision to be completed. Stay tuned.