The City of Toronto invites professional Canadian artists (including artist teams) to submit their Expression of Interest to the first stage of a competition for an integrated public artwork as part of the Wabash Community Recreation Centre and surrounding park improvements.

The art component of this revitalized public space will be selected through an open two-stage competition, with a net budget of approximately $385,000 plus HST. The project budget includes all costs directly associated with the artwork: all fees for design, fabrication, installation, engineering and professional services, insurance, travel and other incidental expenses.

Deadline for submissions: January 15, 2024 at noon.

Ward: Parkdale-High Park

Project Background

The City of Toronto is planning a new community recreation centre at the southeast corner of Sorauren Park, adaptively reusing the existing former Canadian Linseed Oil Mills Ltd. building (1910). Led by the City of Toronto and designed by Diamond Schmitt Architects and PMA Landscape Architects, the project will include seating areas, a reading garden, community plaza, and sacred fire ceremonial space. The building is sustainable and has a low environmental impact; it has a green roof, solar panels, and employs mass timber. The four-story community recreation centre will include two pools, universal washrooms, multi-purpose rooms, event spaces, a double gymnasium, two terraces and a running track. Connecting the various spaces is a multi-level lobby and atrium.

Sorauren Park is a vital component to the densely populated neighbourhoods of Parkdale, Roncesvalles, Little Portugal and High Park-Swansea. The facilities, which includes two tennis courts, a soccer field, a baseball field, a walking trail, and a dogs off-leash area, serve as a place recreation and connection. As a central community hub and proximity to schools, the park tends to cater to young families and with numerous activities catering towards youth.

The local community is active, engaged and involved. Since the surrounding area (Parkdale – High Park) was identified in 1999 as one of five under-served areas, several improvements have been made to the Park through the efforts of the local community and Friends of Sorauren Park. These improvements include renovations to the Fieldhouse in 2008 and the construction of the Town Square in 2014, which serve as a point of connection for the community, housing numerous community events throughout the year, including the popular Sorauren Farmers’ Market.

A defining feature of the area are the tracks of the Canadian National Railway that cut along the eastern side of the park. With the selection of the “Angler” building design, the new community centre will be situated close to the West Toronto Railpath’s potential future expansion to Sorauren Park of a pedestrian bridge, which would allow for greater access for pedestrian access between the west and east side of the tracks as well as the multiuse path.

The surrounding area is a mix apartments buildings built before 1980 and pockets of residential homes built before 1960. The density of high-rise buildings creates a multicultural population with a sizable population of residents born outside of Canada who speak Polish, Spanish, Tibetan, Russian, Portuguese and Ukrainian.

In preparation for the next phase of the community recreation centre the architects are finalizing detailed designs and obtaining approvals. This phase is anticipated to be completed and tendered in 2024 with construction starting the same year. The building is anticipated to be completed in 2027 with updates to be provided throughout the process. Learn more about Wabash Community Recreation Centre.

The communities of the Williams Treaty First Nations, Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation, the Huron-Wendat, Six Nations of the Grand River Territory, Kawartha Nishnawbe First Nation and the MĂ©tis Nation of Ontario all have connections to this territory.

Public Art Opportunity

The experience for users of this new community recreation centre will include a project by a professional artist or an artist-led team, selected through an open national competition with a budget of approximately $385,000 plus HST. The project budget includes all costs directly associated with the artwork: all fees for design, fabrication, mechanical, electrical, structural and engineering drawings, and installation, as well as contract administration, travel and other incidental expenses.

There is an opportunity to install a new public artwork in the four-story atrium of the entrance lobby. The piece will welcome visitors and staff to the community recreation centre and will serve as an intuitive wayfinding device. While no specific theme will be provided to the shortlisted artists, they will be encouraged to consider flow, continuity, and expand on the project’s vision of inclusion, community-building, environmental stewardship and historical consideration (both settler and Indigenous).

Due to the many safety and maintenance requirements of the building, artists must be prepared to meet and work collaboratively with City staff and contractors to develop and refine proposals according to these parameters, which will be further specified in the Terms of Reference for shortlisted artists.

The artworks must be unique. Editioned works or versions of existing works will not be considered. Architects and design studios are not being considered for this project.

Community Engagement and Mentorship

As a requirement of the competition, shortlisted artists will need to submit a community engagement plan as part of their proposals.

While not mandatory, the selected artist(s) will be strongly encouraged to take on a public art mentee after the contract is awarded. Applicants do not need to propose a mentee at this stage.

Competition Format

This is a two-stage, open, national competition for professional artists born or living in Canada.

Per the Canada Council’s guidelines, a professional artist is defined as someone who:

  • has specialized artistic training, not necessarily in academic institutions
  • is recognized as a professional by their peers (artists working in the same artistic tradition)
  • has a history of public exhibitions
  • has produced an independent body of work.

The Public Art Strategy PDF outlines the City’s commitment to public art created for, and with the input of, Toronto communities, and to create opportunities for artists of diverse backgrounds, experience and practice. We welcome submissions from Indigenous, Black, and racialized artists and artists with relevant experience who may not have previously worked in the public realm.

A specially convened Selection Panel composed of arts professionals and community members will be established for this competition. Their final decision will be informed by each submission’s ability to meet the evaluation criteria, community consultation results, and additional feedback from community members and advisors.

Stage 1

Request for Expression of Interest: November 1, 2023 to January 15, 2024

The Selection Panel will review all submissions and identify a shortlist of a maximum of five (5) artists, based on artistic excellence and demonstrated or perceived ability to create and execute an innovative, engaging public artwork that is complimentary to the overall design scheme and context.

Stage 2

Request for Concept Proposals: February 13 to April 10, 2024

The shortlisted artists will be notified in early February and invited to submit a conceptual design proposal. A detailed Terms of Reference project document will be provided to help shortlisted artists prepare their proposals. Proposals are due on April 10, 2024 at noon. Shortlisted artists will be paid a fee of $1,500 plus HST for this stage.

The artwork proposals will go through feasibility reviews and community consultations. Shortlisted artists will attend an interview and present their proposals to the Selection Panel on June 7, 2024. The panel will receive evaluation criteria specifically tailored to this site. They will choose a finalist whose vision for the site best suits the overall scope of this project and has the ability or perceived ability to conceive and realize a public artwork on this site.

Project Timeline

Stage 1

November 1, 2023: EOI released to public

January 15, 2024 at noon: EOI deadline (open 10 weeks for artist applicants)

By February 9, 2024: Artist notifications

Stage 2

February 13, 2024: Terms of Reference released to shortlisted artists

April 10, 2024 at noon: Design proposals due (eight weeks for proposal development)

April 11 to June 5, 2024: Community consultations, feasibility reviews, jury reviews

June 7, 2024: Artist presentations

By June 28, 2024: Artist notifications


Professional Canadian artists are invited to respond to this EOI by submitting a single .pdf document and include:

  • CV (one for each team member, if applicable).
  • Artist statement outlining interest in project, demonstrating relevant experience, ability, and general artistic approach. Do not include proposals at this stage.
  • Maximum 10 images of work, with caption including title, materials, dimensions, location, and commissioning body (if applicable). Audio and visual files may be provided via URL.
  • Names and contact information for two references (preferably from recent projects).
  • Submissions must be received by noon on January 15, 2024.

Email submissions to: [email protected]

  • Please use subject line: [last name], [first name]_Wabash
  • Submissions must not exceed 20 MB total size

For questions, please contact Katriina Campitelli, Public Art Officer, and Rachel Wine, Public Art Consultant at [email protected].

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