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.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friends of Sorauren Park Rally Community Support to “Unlock” the proposed Wabash Community Centre
TORONTO, ON – February 13, 2017 – The Friends of Sorauren Park (FOSP), the non-profit organization dedicated to the completion and enjoyment of Sorauren Park, announced today the successful end of its Unlock the Community Centre campaign, launched in 2016, to rally community support around the City’s pledge to invest $34-million in building the Wabash Community Centre.
More than 2,000 residents and students from neighbourhood schools purchased keychains, decorated them and hung them on the fence next to the long-abandoned flaxseed factory – the proposed site for the new Wabash Community Centre. Local businesses including Scooter Girl toy store and Sunny Joes coffee shop supported the effort by making keychains available for purchase in-store.
“The Unlock the Community Centre keychain awareness campaign was inspired by the ‘Love Locks’ on the Pont des Art in Paris,” noted Joël Campbell, the Chair the FOSP Board. “We wanted to show a visual representation of community support and raise awareness. With thousands of keychains now on the fence, we are delighted with the results,” added Campbell.
The local community has been advocating and campaigning for the community centre since the early 1990s, and it has been a project on the City’s books for at least 17 years. During that time, FOSP has raised or leveraged approximately $750,000 for park development including the Fieldhouse and the park’s Town Square. The Wabash Community Centre is currently included in the City of Toronto’s proposed capital budget scheduled to be voted on by council at its upcoming Feb. 15-16 meeting.
“We are encouraged that we are in the proposed budget and that the development process is scheduled to begin later this year. With completion scheduled for 2022, one year earlier than expected, residents are very excited that the Wabash Community Centre is closer to reality,” said Campbell.
About Friends of Sorauren Park (FOSP)
The FOSP, formerly known as the Wabash Building Society, is an all-volunteer community non-profit dedicated to the completion and enjoyment of Sorauren Park. In partnership with Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation and many supporting organizations, the FOSP has been a key advocacy group successfully lobbying the government to fund the establishment of Sorauren Park, the building of the Fieldhouse and the Town Square. Through its continued community engagement, fundraising and awareness efforts, the FOSP was instrumental in convincing the City of Toronto to allocate $34-million from its capital budget for the construction of a new community centre slated to begin the design phase in 2017 and opening to residents in 2023. http://www.soraurenpark.com Twitter, Facebook and Instagram: @SoraurenPark
Friends of Sorauren Park (FOSP). Stephen Dorsey, Director T. 647-938-5449 E. Stephen@dorseystudios.ca
If the proposed City budget passes in its current form, it would contain good news for the community: work on the Wabash Community Centre would officially begin later this year.
The Friends of Sorauren Park continue to monitor City Hall as this year’s budget moves through committee to an eventual vote at Council in mid February.
The 2017-2026 capital budget and plan for Parks, Forestry and Recreation includes a total of $32.4 million for pre-engineering, design and construction of the new facility that would be located on Wabash Avenue beside Sorauren Park.
Pre-engineering work would start this year, with $50,000 budgeted. Design would continue the following year, with another $400,000 budgeted. Design and construction would then continue until 2022.
In early January, Chander Chaddah, a volunteer board member of Friends of Sorauren Park since 2006, spoke to the budget committee during public consultations about the importance of the proposed centre to the community. He highlighted recent and upcoming growth in the neighbourhood, and the fact the Wabash Community Centre is the next centre to be built according the City’s 2004 plan for new recreation facilities. The community has been advocating for the centre since the early 1990s.
Not including the investment in Sorauren Park, the City has already invested $3 million in the Wabash site, including $2 million for land purchase in 2000 and a $1 million environmental clean-up in 2004.
Following this week’s budget committee, Ward 14 Councillor Gord Perks issued the following statement:
Good news. Reading through the draft budget I’ve noticed that the Wabash New Community Centre completion date has advanced by six months into 2022. At a guess, this means doors open mid-2023.
Also, the community can take credit for reducing some of the expected costs. Parks Capital staff reviewed the project, and the Wabash ‘Green’ Feasibility Study completed in 2010 was high enough quality that some City pre-planning costs could be avoided.
I’ll keep my eye on this. But, in the meantime feel good. All those hours of neighbourhood work are paying off.
The Councillor also provided this snapshot comparing the 2016 budget to the 2017 proposed budget:
The 2009-2010 Green Feasibility Study was funded by a $100,000 grant secured by Friends of Sorauren Park from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, and a matching $100,000 from the City. It contains the most recent concept plans for the centre which would re-purpose the old 40,000 sq. ft. linseed oil mill on the site.
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UPDATE: Thanks everyone for making the 2016 Pumpkin Sale a record breaker! More than $2,900 was raised to support free programming at the park, including outdoor movies and the natural ice rink, plus capital improvements with Parks, Forestry and Recreation. Special thanks to Chander Chaddah for once again donating all the pumpkins and organizing a great community event.
Pumpkins! Face-painting! Hot chocolate! Apple cider! Community centre campaign keychains! Friends of Sorauren Park t-shirts!
The annual Pumpkin Sale fundraiser for Friends of Sorauren Park takes place Saturday, Oct. 22, from 9 a.m. till noon on the Sorauren Town Square.
Get your pumpkins for Halloween and, of course, the annual Pumpkin Parade at Sorauren Park (the day after Halloween). Pumpkin purchasers will also receive a keychain to add their family’s name to the Unlock the Community Centre campaign to support the development of the Wabash Community Centre beside the park. With a crucial City budget vote coming this winter, it’s vital to add as many keychains to the fence, our visual petition, as possible.
You can also warm up with hot chocolate and apple cider, and have your face painted. We’ll also be selling the spiffy-new Friends of Sorauren Park t-shirts. Be a Friend!
Once again the Pumpkin Sale is generously sponsored by Chander Chaddah, Broker, Sutton Group Associates Brokerage. All proceeds go to the non-profit Friends of Sorauren Park to support free programming and capital improvements in park in partnership with Parks, Forestry and Recreation. Thanks Chander!
Want to “sign our petition” for the new community centre at Sorauren Park? Want updates on the Outdoor Movie series? Want to get involved in community life?
Visit the Friends of Sorauren Park booth at the Roncesvalles Polish Festival this Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 17-18. Our volunteers will be set up on Roncesvalles near Grenadier Avenue, between 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. each day.
At the booth, you can get your keychain to add to our special “Unlock the Community Centre” awareness campaign for the new Wabash Community Centre adjacent to the park. We’re creating a visual petition with thousands of keychains affixed to the fence outside the old linseed oil mill, the site for the new community centre. Add your family name this weekend!
At the booth, you can also:
- get details on the Sept. 24 Outdoor Movie screening of E.T.
- get details on this year’s Pumpkin Parade and Pumpkin Sale
- sign up for Sorauren Park News
- learn how to get involved in community life by joining the non-profit Friends of Sorauren Park
Plus, you’ll enjoy everything the Polish Festival has to offer! Roncesvalles Avenue will be closed throughout the weekend and taken over by the festival featuring food, music, merchants, displays and fun activities.