Community centre shutdown near Yonge and Eglinton to last a year and a half

The North Toronto Memorial Community Centre, a longstanding neighbourhood hub that runs swimming and fitness classes as well as arts programs from early morning until night, will close in September 2017 for major fixes to the building — a project that's expected to last 18 months.

Vines growing through a wall just one of the repair issues

Major repairs will shut down the North Toronto Memorial Community Centre for 18 months. (Lorenda Reddekopp/CBC News)

A longstanding North Toronto neighbourhood hub that runs swimming lessons, fitness classes, and arts programs from dawn until dusk, will close in September 2017 for major repairs — a project that's expected to last 18 months.

And now, those who use the North Toronto Memorial Community Centre — from kids to seniors — are wondering where they'll go for the programs they depend on. 

The complex, located at 200 Eglinton Ave. W. between Avenue Road and Yonge Street, needs numerous repairs, according to Coun. Christin Carmichael-Greb, who represents Ward 16, Eglinton-Lawrence.

For example, while the outer west wall may look nice in summer, with vines and greenery snaking up the wall, she said it's a different story inside the building.

Vine from outside now grows inside the building

"The vine has actually gone through the mortar and into the building," Carmichael-Greb told CBC Toronto, "so there's extensive work that needs to be done."

She said the facility was originally scheduled to close in June, but the city pushed back that date to minimize problems over the summer, when the centre is used for camps and outdoor swimming.

Now, the city is looking for replacement facilities, including other community centres, schools and churches, where programs can be run during the closure.

Carmichael-Greb compared the building, which she said is close to 25 years old, to an old car.

"If you don't do the regular maintenance and keep it running, then it's going to shut down and you're not going to be able to use it." 

Some people who use the facility didn't realize it was scheduled to close.

Robin Butler calls the Centre 'a bit grungy' but was disappointed to learn it'll shut down for a year and a half. (Lorenda Reddekopp/CBC News)

"I'll be very disappointed," said Robin Butler after his weekly afternoon swim in the centre's indoor pool.

Butler said he started using the facility the day it opened, and admits it needs work.

"It is a bit grungy. It does need spicing up a bit."

Repair budget more than $9M 

A spokesperson for the city's Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department said the repair budget approved by council is $9.25 million.
The renovations will include a new roof and skylight, new plumbing, upgrades to the pool and improvements to accessibility.

The city is hosting a public meeting at the North Toronto Memorial Community Centre on May 17 to give more information about the renovations and plans to relocate programs.