Toronto getting a futuristic new building for the Tamil community
Toronto's Tamil community had grown from just a few hundred in the 1980s to over 105,000 as of the 2016 census, the city now supporting one of the largest Tamil-speaking communities outside of India and Sri Lanka.
This growing population is spread across the region, though northeast Scarborough is home to the highest concentration of Tamil speakers in the city, and it is in this area that a shining new amenity is in the works for the Tamil community.
A vacant site at 311 Staines Road in the Morningside and Finch area was acquired by the City of Toronto in 2007.
Initially intended to remain "naturalized," this site was later identified as the perfect location for a new $30 million (the Canadian government has granted the project $26.3 million) Tamil Community Centre.
The city and Tamil Community Centre (TCC) are moving forward with a land lease agreement that will permit the TCC to build a shining new landmark for the Tamil community.
An initial 30-year lease term with the laughably low annual rent of $1 plus HST will be up for extensions if both parties agree.
Replacing what is now little more than an overgrown field along the Rouge River, the TCC has revealed a pre-design study showing a concept of how the site could be used to create a new landmark capable of addressing a lack of community services for Toronto's Tamil population.
The concept design includes a main building, a field with the Tamil letter "ழ" traced into the landscape, and a children's playground.
All elements have been designed to reflect the Sangam landscape, a poetic device in classical Tamil Sangam literature that weaves in geographic features representative of mood. Examples include Kurinci, mountainous regions representing union, and Mullai, forests associated with waiting.
With a shape evocative of a ship run aground, the main building would contain cultural components like a library, archives, and a museum. A transition between opaque and translucent materials is meant to represent what the TCC website describes as "a symbolic gesture of people's minds clearing as they look homeward."
An accessible green roof up top would offer elevated views over the adjacent Rouge National Urban Park.
With a concept plan revealed, the next step for the project is an upcoming town hall on October 13, where members of the community can learn more and share feedback about the plans.
If all goes according to plan, the TCC expects to break ground on the new facility in September 2023, with an estimated opening of August 2025.
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