Combining Block 31 schools, community centre would save costs

Dennis Hanagan —

Toronto’s school boards and the city have a plan for the big whole in the ground known as Block 31 at the CityPlace condo complex, southwest of Front and Spadina. A public school, a Catholic one, a community centre and a daycare totalling 150,000 square feet with a likely height limit of 5 storeys is the idea they’re putting forward.

At a late February community consultation meeting at Fort York’s new Visitor Centre

YMCA Green Roof

YMCA Green Roof

Downtown Councillor Joe Cressy, whose Ward 20 includes CityPlace, told The Bulletin that extensive growth in the former railway lands adds urgency to the project.

“Here we are with enormous density … but we haven’t built the community centre, the childcare facilities, the schools to support building a neighbourhood,” Cressy said. “When the railway lands were first designed and rezoned … it was always set out that we would need additional green space like Canoe Landing Park but also the facilities to support it,” he said.

“The East Precinct of King-Spadina (over to University) 11 years ago had 350 people. Today it has nearly 12,000 people. In a couple of years that’ll be closer to 20,000,” Cressy said.

Funds for Block 31, which is south of Fort York Blvd. and east of Canoe Landing Park,

Block 31 Site Plan

Block 31 Site Plan

have been collected from development fees over the past 20 years. Cressy, city officials and school reps spent a day at the centre with charts, photos and pamphlets to tell local residents about the plan and hear what programs and activities they would like the community centre to provide.

Peter Duckworth-Pilkington of ZAS Architects on Wellington St. W. called the project a “unique facility” serving a vertical neighbourhood.

“We’re really hoping that this would be a focus for activities and coalesce the community … really build up the community,” he said. “We really see ourselves as another piece of the puzzle of this community. What we’re really trying to determine right now is shape and how that puzzle needs to fit with the other elements in the community.”

The schools would have Kindergarten to Grade 8 and the daycare would accommodate 52 children.

Combing the four facilities will allow sharing of resources where possible to save on construction and operating costs, says Duckworth- Pilkington. “This is unique in having these four community partners come together so that we can get those efficiencies and we can build a better facility for less.”

Howie Dayton, Toronto’s director of community recreation, says the community centre would include a sports gym, a fitness studio space, a multi-purpose meeting room and a space for children. As well as CityPlace Dayton said the centre would also serve residents in neighbouring Liberty Village which doesn’t have a community centre.

“We see this as a walk-to site. There’s not going to be a ton of parking here,” said Dayton. The city and school boards hope construction can start in 2016 to have the complex completed by 2019.

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