The design firm behind Evergreen Brick Works and the new Don Lands Public Realm plan has now been contracted by the City of Toronto to prepare the final design for the Sorauren Park Town Square.
The Planning Partnership has been brought on to draw up the final concept for the lands located off Wabash Avenue between the Fieldhouse and the old Canada Linseed Oil Mills plant, which is vacant.
The Wabash Building Society is a volunteer-run, non-profit corporation dedicated to the expansion of Sorauren Avenue Park into the adjacent land formerly occupied by the Canada Linseed Oil Mills Company. The society has worked for many years to, piece-by-piece, transform Sorauren Park. The Wabash Building Society spearheaded the development of the Sorauren Park Fieldhouse, which opened May 2008.
Their current campaign focuses on building a new Town Square in the fenced off land just east of the Fieldhouse.
“We are early in the design process and we wanted to meet with you to share first impressions,” said David Leinster with the Planning Partnership. “Hopefully we will bring a new layer of vitality to the town square project.”
Leinster, a planner and landscape architect with The Planning Partnership, has worked on urban revitalization projects in communities across North America. He has prepared public realm master plans for both the Regent Park and Lawrence Heights revitalization projects. Currently, he is leading a team of consultants on the West Don Lands public realm master plan for Waterfront Toronto, the site for the 2015 Pan Am Village.
He said it was important to look at the design of the town square in the context of Sorauren Park and the future context of the vacant and rundown Linseed Oil factory building. The hope of the Wabash Building Society is that the large industrial building could someday become a community space. Leinster said the future development of that building could be as simple as framing it up to make it safe, lighting it and opening it up in a style similar to the Brick Works.
“Raw building spaces as community spaces are becoming more popular,” he said. “The precedent being Wychwood Barns Park, the success of that park is in the inherent relationship between the buildings and the park.”
Leinster and other representatives from The Planning Partnership met with members of the Wabash Building Society on Feb. 12 to hear about their history with the square and what they would like to see in the park design. The group said they would like to see the space be multi-functional, include spaces for adult activities, as there is a children’s park already in the area. They want a space for the Sorauren Park Farmers Market, outdoor sinks and a pizza oven.
The Wabash Building Society is in the midst of the Sorauren Town Square Campaign. They need to raise another $75,000 by May 1 in order for a $125,000 Live Green grant they received to kick in. The group needs to raise matching funds to get the $125,000 from Live Green and they currently have raised in the area of $57,000.
The next step in the process, Leinster said, will be to develop a detailed concept and then there will be a public meeting to present the plans. That meeting will likely be in March and the group hopes the presentation of the plans will help them to raise the money needed by May 1.
For more on the Wabash Building Society or to make a donation to the Town Square Campaign, visit www.buildwabashnow.org/