A place for citizens to gather and socialize, the Western North York Community Centre will replace a much smaller recreation centre to deliver new amenities to a dynamic mixed neighbourhood north of the 401. Currently, this area lacks a public social-gathering space; home to a community of established families of Italian descent and another of more recent immigrant families, it has very few points for these two groups to intersect. When it opens in 2024, the Centre will foster opportunities for creativity, health, and well-being, improving quality of life for every resident.
The City purchased the Centre’s suburban property from the Catholic School Board—a disused post-industrial site just west of a large high school. This larger campus is bounded by medium-density single-family residences to the north and south, light industry to the east, and a forested river to the west, making it an interruption in the residential neighbourhoods to the north and south. The completed Centre will create a new passage linking these areas, with a cantilevered section at the south end forming a covered area at the primary street address; here, an outdoor play area and forecourt will serve both the centre and the adjacent school. There’s also potential to connect the site to the Humber River Recreational Trail to the west, knitting the Centre to its neighbours in three directions.
Running north–south from one end of its long site to the other, the structure and its adjacent park space thus follow a linear path-like program, with an interior focused around a large lobby with tiered floors; a narrow footprint allows for natural ventilation and light to penetrate throughout the building, while appropriately scaled outdoor green spaces line the eastern side of the building, facing the school.
Still in planning, the final program is expected to include an aquatics centre, a gym, a walking track, a fitness centre with individual studios, community multipurpose rooms, and a licenced childcare centre. The Centre has its sights on an ambitious Net Zero Energy goal, set by the City; if this is achieved, it will make the Centre the first freestanding community centre with a pool in North America to attain Net Zero status.