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.
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.
The Friends of Sorauren Park are holding a consultation January 31, 2019 on the plans for the Wabash Community Centre. This is the first step in our efforts to aggregate community input and formulate a summary report to submit to the City of Toronto later this year.
Sign up to attend… your responses will help us greatly to plan the event. If you signed up earlier, no need to do it again… we’ll be in touch.
The all-volunteer, non-profit Friends of Sorauren Park, incorporated as the Wabash Building Society, has advocated for the enjoyment and completion of Sorauren Park since 2006. Among our accomplishments: Fieldhouse (2008), Town Square (2014), Bake Oven (2017) and festivals, outdoor movies and the natural ice rink, among other free programs.
The consultation will take place at the Sorauren Park Fieldhouse starting at 7 pm, January 31. Sign up today!
The Friends are undertaking this community-driven public consultation process to parallel efforts of the City of Toronto. The community effort will be meaningful, organized, transparent and respectful. The resulting findings and recommendations will be presented to the broader community and the City.
Are you aged 14 to 18?
Do you need volunteer hours?
Are you looking for a way to get involved in the community and give your ideas about the new Wabash Community Centre, create events, run festivals and outdoor movies, or just help out?
Meet up at the Sorauren Park Fieldhouse at 7 pm on Wednesday, January 23 and we’ll get started!
Please click the Going button on our Facebook event so we know to expect you and can order pizza and drinks. Yes! There will be free pizza!
Brought to you by the Friends of Sorauren Park.
Questions? Contact us.
The City has announced the first public consultation for the new Wabash Community Centre at Sorauren Park. It will take place July 10, starting at 6 p.m., at Bishop Marrocco / Thomas Merton Catholic Secondary School at Bloor and Dundas.
Here is the message from Councillor Gord Perks:
The City of Toronto is building a new Community Centre on Wabash Avenue, located just east of the fieldhouse in Sorauren Park on the site of the old Linseed Factory.
This is very exciting.
Please join me for a meeting with community members and City of Toronto Parks staff to discuss the Wabash Community Centre.
Community input is essential when deciding how best to improve public spaces and this meeting will serve as a great opportunity to hear from you.
This will be the first of many community consultations.
Tuesday, July 10, 2018
6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Bishop Marrocco / Thomas Merton Catholic Secondary School
1515 Bloor Street West, Staff Room, Rm. 331
Please see the flyer for more information. This site is accessible.
If you have any questions or are unable to attend the meeting and wish to share your concerns, please do not hesitate to contact my office at email@example.com .
Look forward to seeing you on July 10th at Bishop Marrocco for the first of many community conversations.
Councillor Gord Perks
Ward 14, Parkdale High-Park
Toronto City Council has voted to start work this year on the Wabash Community Centre at Sorauren Park.
Work will begin with a modest $50,000 budgeted for pre-engineering. That will be followed by design in 2018 and 2019, with shovels in the ground planned for 2020, towards a 2022 or 2023 opening. Total project budget is $32.4 million.
“After 17 years on the books and many years of community advocacy before that, this is wonderful news,” said Joël Campbell, chair of the all-volunteer Friends of Sorauren Park. “This is a milestone.”
The Friends of Sorauren Park recently concluded its “Unlock the Community Centre” awareness campaign, the latest in a long series of actions to advocate for the centre.
The project is included in Parks, Forestry and Recreation’s capital budget and plan, which City Council approved Wednesday, February 15, 2017, as part of the overall City budget.
The most recent plans for the community centre, prepared as part of a 2009 feasibility study, would convert the abandoned Canada Linseed Oil Mills building next to the park into a 40,000 sq. ft. community hub with a gym (shown above), multipurpose rooms, studios and fitness rooms, youth space, kitchen and third-floor event space with a rooftop terrace.
Follow us on social media @SoraurenPark, our website and this newsletter for updates and news on design consultations.
Friends of Sorauren Park would like to thank Councillor Gord Perks, along with previous Ward 14 councillors Sylvia Watson and Chris Korwin-Kuczynski, who all moved the project along at various stages at City Council.
Most of all, thanks to the community, which has advocated ceaselessly for the community centre since the early 1990s. Never stop believing.