St. Lawrence Community Recreation Centre March 2024 Update

Last year, I provided an update to residents about the failure of the chiller system and subsequent roof repair required at the St. Lawrence Community Recreation Centre (SLCRC). 


Last year, I provided an update to residents about the failure of the chiller system and subsequent roof repair required at the St. Lawrence Community Recreation Centre (SLCRC). 

Staff has been working to provide a timeline for repairs, and have now updated me on that work. I am disappointed to report that despite my efforts to expedite this work, construction will not begin until fall 2025. This means that cooling systems will not be in place until 2026, leaving two more summers without air conditioning within the facility.

As residents may be aware, the chiller system within the SLCRC failed in the fall of 2022. When looking to replace that system, concerns were raised that the existing roof would not be able to handle the weight of a new chiller. The result was a loss of air conditioning during the summer of 2023 which raised health concerns and displacement of some summer programming. I had expressed to City staff that funding for the replacement of the chiller and structural improvements to the roof should go forward during this year’s budget, with a plan to finish construction before the summer 2025 season. Unfortunately, this aggressive timeline was not feasible.

Staff at Parks, Forestry and Recreation has expressed to me that the earliest that construction can begin is Q3 2025. They are in the process of hiring a designer to complete the design work before the end of the year and start the construction procurement process in 2025. This procurement process will take a few months but the construction is anticipated to begin in the fall of 2025. They believe the work–both roof repair and chiller installation–could be done before the summer of 2026. 

These long timelines are unfortunately dictated by the City’s procurement process for work of this scale. There are important historical reasons in the City why procurement undergoes a very robust process, and while disappointing, I accept staff’s assurance that this is the most realistic timeline available. 

Notwithstanding construction impacts and potential extreme temperatures, there are no plans to close the SLCRC over the summer months. For the safety of both patrons and staff, internal temperatures will be monitored on a room-by-room basis and safety procedures will be in place to manage heat stress. A communications plan is also being created to help notify both staff and residents should the SLCRC need to close due to extreme temperatures. 

In the meantime, registered and drop-in programming will continue to operate, including aquatic programming, as scheduled. For those that can travel further, the new FitnessTO membership program will allow patrons to access programs and services at any other City of Toronto facility. Of note however, the squash courts at the SLCRC are unique within the Toronto-East York Community Recreation District, so members will need to travel outside of the downtown to access other City-owned squash court facilities.

For those with concerns about high temperatures, the City will be allowing patrons to temporarily pause their fitness and squash memberships, or obtain a pro-rated refund where applicable. The City will also be offering free one-month membership extensions upon request this summer.

While dealing with two more summers of high temperatures inside the centre is unfortunate, there is positive news. 

Both the Older Adult and Youth Lounge multi-purpose rooms at the SLCRC will be cooled by temporary ductless air systems. The local St. Lawrence Co-operative Day Care will also have all four of its classrooms cooled by temporary ductless air systems, ensuring regular operation for parents and their children. Summer camp programming, like last year, is being accommodated at the new One Yonge Community Centre to minimize disruption.

Like last year, the current issue with the chiller does not extend to the SLCRC’s heating systems, which remain fully functional. This means that there should be no service disruptions and hopefully no temperature-related impacts once the weather cools down again in the fall. 

I know however that this will still leave many with a lot of questions about the SLCRC and its operations until repairs can be completed. I’ve asked staff to host a virtual public information session on Wednesday, May 8th, to allow residents to ask questions and learn more about the upcoming work. When further information becomes available, I will share it on my Toronto Centre Projects website so you can be kept up to date. 

While this was not the update I was hoping to provide the community, I hope it will provide some assurance that repairs will be coming, and allow you and your family to plan around this unfortunate disruption this summer and next. Should you have any other questions or comments, please make sure to reach out to my office. 

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