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What About Wabash?

While the debate about gentrification in TO continues, many areas are receiving substantial funding to renew derelict sites across the city. The Distillery District was nothing but haunted halls used by film crews a few years back. Now the Brickworks will attempt to model the Distillery's success but with a more arts and eco-friendly community. Twenty million in funding will help to get the ball rolling on the site beside the DVP.

Yesterday, a new announcement of funding came in the tune of 3 million dollars, this time to restore Wychwood's TTC repair "barns" into what'll become known as Artscape's Green Arts Barns, offering a safe-haven to not-for-profit arts groups like The Storytellers School of Toronto and the Salvador Allende Arts Festival for Peace as well as environmental groups such as LEAF (Local Enhancement and Appreciation of Forests) and Citizens' Environment Watch.

Fortunately for everyone, environmental and arts causes are getting attention. They seem to have become as chic as Brad Pitt in his Gucci glasses pretending to build homes in India. But what about community centres? Are they not the centre of the community? And what about Wabash?

Just off Sorauren, close to Roncesvalles, two abandoned buildings sit on one side of a park just waiting for some love and attention. Years ago they housed a Linseed factory, now they are part of a plan for the future Wabash Community Rec Centre. One plan's price tag is $13 million and would include a full reno but no pool. For an extra $7 mil the building would be fully-restored along with the addition of a swank new clubhouse and a place for kids to play Marco Polo.

For some reason though, the project has been struggling for funds since day one, even though this area of Toronto desperately needs a place like this. Up until now, residents have been buying a brick at a time to help build Wabash. Just like the Revue Theatre, it was the residents who decided Wabash should be saved, but it would be great to hear that some level of government would step up to support the project or maybe Brad Pitt can come by and lend a hand.

image: Kevin Steele


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