COVID-19 UPDATE: Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, our community consultation process will take place virtually to comply with public health guidelines. Click here to learn more.

Public Consultation for the Future of the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts

Toronto City Council has “endorsed the replacement of the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts with a new re-imagined centre as a state-of-the-art cultural and civic hub for the City’s creative communities and the community at large”.

The St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts redevelopment project Is a longer-term infrastructure stimulus project and aligns with the Mayor’s plan for recovery. The current investment in the project is minimal and focused on community consultation and planning thereby not drawing from much needed immediate recovery funding. The project will deliver on four main pillars highlighted in the report from the cultural roundtable for the Mayor’s Task Force on Economic Support and Recovery:

1. Provide equitable and inclusive access;
2. Invigorate the arts and culture work force;
3. Provide 21st century digital infrastructure; and
4. Strengthen a diverse neighbourhood.

The COVID-19 crisis, has highlighted the need for enhanced digital capabilities for arts organizations across the city. The Centre will be the first digitally enhanced 21st century facility in the country that will capture live streaming, recording and broadcasting.

The St. Lawrence Centre is in a poor state of disrepair and is not AODA compliant. The building condition audit for the STLC is in excess of $40M worth of repairs and needed AODA corrections. The current building has not kept current with industry-wide standards, is inaccessible and has a massive deficiency in public space. The Covid-19 crisis has highlighted the need to not only assist the recovery of the arts and culture sector but to invest in the city asset to redefine its usage for the community and the city at large.

The newly imagined Centre will answer the long-term goal of providing an accessible, uniquely flexible civic cultural centre with ample public spaces that will serve the broad cultural sector and serve the neighbourhood and communities of Toronto. The consultation Is Intended to determine the needs the community In order to determine a business plan that will deliver on these needs. Consultation includes provision of space and diverse programming to balance access with financial sustainability.

Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access (IDEA)

We recognize the imperative to include representatives from under-represented marginalized communities and to view this consultation through a lens of inclusion, diversity, equity and access.

On September 15, 2020 Dr. David Mowat and Saäd Rafi submitted their report COVID-19 Impacts and Opportunities to the City of Toronto. The report contains a series of recommendations to focus the City’s recovery and rebuilding efforts including applying an equity lens to place-making opportunities.

The authors note that, “Various governments have recognized that investments in infrastructure will be critical for Toronto’s and Canada’s recovery to COVID-19. Any stimulus funding for infrastructure should support Toronto’s effort to build back better and prioritize investments that support key priorities – all through an equity and resilience lens.”

We support this vision and commit to a public consultation process that is designed to be transparent, respectful and welcoming to all with a particular emphasis on engaging underrepresented communities.

Public Engagement

TO Live and CreateTO have been directed to engage in a public consultation process to re-imagine the Centre and to report back to City Council with a building program, business model and funding strategy to support an inclusive and visionary civic solution.

KerrSmith, an independent third-party facilitator, has been retained to assist in developing and executing a community engagement, facilitation and communication strategy that will assist the public in understanding the process for this undertaking. Feedback received through this process will support the development of a vision, design principles and design brief that will inform the building program.

TO Live is in a key position to assist in the recovery of both the arts and culture sector and the economy at large as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic and focus on restoring, rebuilding and reimagining the City. This is an extremely timely opportunity to begin a transformational initiative that will galvanize the cultural community, as well as stimulate the local economy and neighbourhood businesses creating a cultural corridor from Yonge to Parliament streets.

For more information about the City Council decision, please refer to the staff report:

http://app.toronto.ca/tmmis/viewAgendaItemHistory.do?item=2020.EX12.6

Broad Project Goals

The purpose of the consultation is to create a preliminary building program for a reimagined St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts.

The process will deliver a Design Brief that includes:

  • Project Vision
  • Design Principles
  • A Functional Building Program
  • A Demonstration Plan and a Site Plan

STLC Site Overview

The St. Lawrence Centre property is a 0.4 ha site in downtown Toronto located on Front Street opposite Berczy Park. It is situated in a high-density mixed-use neighbourhood benefitting from nearby transit facilities, in particular Union Station. Bounded by Front Street East to the north, Scott Laneway to the south, Scott Street to the west, and historic Financial District to the West, it is a cornerstone in the St. Lawrence neighbourhood and represents a transformational opportunity to imagine a cultural corridor for the city.

The current St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts, is a 9,300 m2 facility that houses:

  • a proscenium stage with 868 seats;
  • a 499 seat town hall space;
  • a 111-square-metre rehearsal hall for workshops, classes, and small events;
  • Two lobbies and one lounge with licensed bars for receptions.

Some of the most interesting architecture in the city can be found in the St. Lawrence neighbourhood. Near to the STLC is notable landmark Flatiron building. Toronto’s first city hall was built on the southwest corner of King St. East and Jarvis Street. This building was damaged by fire and replaced in 1854 by the elegant neoclassical St. Lawrence Hall.

This neighbourhood is a mixed-income, ethnically diverse community including a mix of affordable and subsidized rental housing, co-ops, condominiums and single-family homes.

The St. Lawrence neighbourhood is located in Ward 13 Toronto Centre and is represented by Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam.

 

Project Partners

TO Live

TO Live is a non-profit charitable arts organization and an agency of the City of Toronto. Our venues include Meridian Hall (formerly the Sony Centre), St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts and the Meridian Arts Centre (formerly Toronto Centre for the Arts). TO Live is at the heart of creative Toronto, presenting an unmatched breadth of entertainment, spaces for artistic expression, and a commitment to Toronto’s diverse community.

CreateTO

CreateTO was formed in 2018 as the City of Toronto’s new real estate agency. The organization brings together stakeholders, partners and community members to ensure the best use of the City’s real estate assets for today and tomorrow. CreateTO manages the City’s $27 billion real estate portfolio, develops City buildings and lands for municipal purposes and delivers client-focused real estate solutions – ensuring a balance of both community and economic benefits.

Neighbourhood Partners

The engagement process will include consultations with three groups.

St. Lawrence neighbourhood residents

Toronto’s St. Lawrence neighbourhood has a vibrant and diverse population with mixed- use spaces and a mixed-income community. This family friendly area of downtown features apartments and subsidized rental accommodation, with co-ops, condominiums and individually owned houses. It is an engaged population with a wide range of interests, concerns and civic involvement.

The St. Lawrence Market Neighbourhood Association is the local neighbourhood association.

www.slna.ca

The St. Lawrence neighbourhood is a vibrant and thriving neighbourhood…We look forward to what is next for the St. Lawrence Centre for increasing programming for the City as a whole….Locally speaking these venues area an anchor for public realm and stitch together Berczy Park, the St. Lawrence Market. This an important gateway for our community.”

Suzanne Kavanagh, Chair, St. Lawrence Neighbourhood Association

 

St. Lawrence neighbourhood businesses

Over the years, the St. Lawrence neighbourhood has transformed from its early industrial era to a hub for culture, entertainment, business and real estate. This urban pocket blends commercial and retail, local and global, old and new, resulting in an animated, eclectic atmosphere that draws an equally diverse crowd. This area features lively restaurants, hotels, shops, artists’ hubs and the famous St. Lawrence farmer’s market attracting worldwide visitors.

The St. Lawrence Neighbourhood BIA is a representative of the local business community.

www.stlawrencemarketbia.ca
www.oldtowntoronto.ca

The St. Lawrence Market Neighbourhood has been blessed to have two of the city’s premier theatres within our catchment area…Their presence has a large influence on all aspects of our area and BIA: Tourism, restaurants, retail, residents, new developments and commercial properties to name a few…We need them, and we need them operating at capacity. They are an integral part of recovery who will respond to the task by getting artists and arts companies back to work, and reconnecting with their audiences.”

Al Smith, Executive Director, St. Lawrence Market Neighbourhood BIA

 

Performing Arts and Culture Community in Toronto

Toronto is a global centre in the creation, production and performance of the performing arts.

No other city in Canada has the variety or breadth of offerings. The community is a very important contributor to the economy and cultural landscape. The performing arts is a vital sector to the people of Toronto and its economy with 70 per cent of Torontonians regularly attending, volunteering, or donating to the arts. Many performing arts organizations offer programs for the community, including youth, artists, adults and at-risk/equity groups.