Opening right on schedule, Grace Chinese Gospel Church of North York now boasts a new gymnasium and food pantry.
The $1.5-million project saw an empty 8,000-square-foot warehouse transformed into a wheelchair accessible gym that houses a basketball court, volleyball courts, six badminton courts and table tennis. A stage will be used for musicals and theatrical performances, along with space for community gatherings, at 201 Tempo Ave.
The gym was made possible by a $500,000 Ontario Trillium Foundation grant in September 2011. For the next year, the church fundraised for the remaining $1 million, with $400,000 raised to date.
Plans to turn the space into a gymnasium have been in the works since 2004 but were put on the back burner due to financial constraints, Dr. Tat-Kwan Wong, project co-ordinator, said during the official gymnasium launch at the church Friday, Dec. 21.
Landscaping, the parking lot and curbing of the building have also been upgraded. Energy saving features include extra building insulation, natural lighting from windows, high-efficiency heating and air conditioning units and ceiling fans for air circulation.
A non-profit, volunteer-based food pantry service opened in October and operates the first and third Saturday of each month.
“Today the new gym is a reality,” Wong said, adding community groups can book the gym for a nominal hourly rate. “It’s a timely Christmas present to our community. Let us all make this gym a Christmas present that keeps on giving.”
Willowdale Councillor David Shiner praised the work the church has done, calling it phenomenal.
“It’s a warm, friendly, inviting addition that you have provided to the community,” he said. “It says what great work the church does.”
Eight community partners will benefit from the new gymnasium by running various programs out of the space. Partners include Hong Fook Mental Health; St. Paul L’Amoreaux Centre; Grace Christian School of North York; Five with D.R.I.V.E. Foundation; Across U-Hub; Parent Child Resource Centre; Christian Wushu Fellowship; and Heavenly Melody Gospel Ministry.
For booking information visit www.gcgcny.org