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The 519 proposes a new LGBT sports & rec centre

“We know that when we address the barriers that LGBT people face, we help to make sport and recreation more accessible for everyone who may feel excluded.” —Maura Lawless

The 519 submitted a report to City Council in November, which, if approved, will mark the first official step in building a new sports and recreation centre for the City of Toronto.

The proposed facility will focus on the lesbian, gay, bi and trans communities while also providing much-needed community recreation space for residents in the new West Don Lands community. The project is being developed in response to the demand for additional recreation facilities created by shifting demographics and increased density in the downtown area.  The report requests authority for staff of the City of Toronto and The 519 to begin negotiations with Infrastructure Ontario on the Wheel and Foundry Complex near Underpass Park and Corktown Commons.

“The 519 Sports and Recreation Project demonstrates global leadership on LGBT inclusion, building on the success of our internationally-renowned programs and services,” says Tyler Fleming, chair of the 519 board. “The new community centre will be the first of its kind anywhere in the world, providing a welcoming, inclusive space for Torontonians, and particularly LGBT people to participate in sport.”

“This project builds on Toronto’s long history of diversity and community development by providing a truly inclusive place where Torontonians can gather and be active together,” says Maura Lawless, executive director of The 519.

“We look forward to developing a facility that the entire city can take pride in.”
The proposed community centre is estimated to cost $100 million and will be funded in large part by private donations. It is anticipated that two-thirds of the cost of the project will be contributed by individual and corporate donations, and that investments from municipal, provincial and federal governments will account for one-third of the project cost. Once built, the facility will be owned by the City of Toronto and operated by The 519, an agency of the city.

Above and beyond the proposed facility, The 519 has steadily expanded their involvement in sports and recreation through programming, training and capacity-building activities.  As trustee of the PrideHouseTO initiative, The 519 is working with more than 15 organizations to celebrate and promote LGBT communities during and leading up to the 2015 Pan Am/Para Pan Am Games in Toronto.