A roller rink sounds charming, but in City Hall's committee room 2 last week (March 8) the changing times finally caught up with long-stalled plans to resurrect the youthful vibe of the historical Terrace.
In a Jarvis Street condo, the empty shell of a rink that was supposed to replace the Mutual Street facililty, which was demolished in 1989, has been collecting dust for the past 10 years. The 13,000-square-foot ground-floor space will give off a decidedly finer air than disco balls and Donna Summer when the Academy of Performing Arts Centre takes it over.
"Times have changed," says Frank Clarke of Toronto Community Housing Corporation , which owns the property.
The proposed theatre north of Dundas will come complete with an arts café, dance studio and theory rooms.
It's a facelift for a low-income neighbourhood, says area councillor Kyle Rae . "It's a great opportunity for a building that's been an embarrassment for 15 years."
George Warner of the Terrace Committee , a group of former Terrace employees pushing for a roller rink, says it's dandy the city want to build an arts centre, but it has a snootier feel.
He's angry the city pulled the plug on the $3 million needed to make the new rink a reality years ago. He remembers city council agreeing to build the roller rink in response to an outcry from tenants when the old Terrace on Mutual was torn down to make room for condos.
"We lost a world landmark," says Warner. "It could have been a viable space. A performing arts centre makes you think of money and fees and the higher echelon. What's an inner-city kid going to think of that?"
Former city councillor Olivia Chow , who for two years led the fight to save the Terrace, recalls it as a happening spot in the 70s.
"There are so few spaces for young people downtown that are affordable and safe to hang out in," she says. "You could exercise and still meet girls and boys."
Kurt Franklin, a planning consultant representing the mystery developer behind the project , says the centre will be modelled after a facility in Chicago that helps young people in low-income neighbourhoods.
A few years will pass before the centre's doors open, but residents can breathe easy, says Franklin. "We're not touching any of the housing aspects whatsoever."