The 519 Church Street Community Centre

News News


A New Community Centre Focused on Sports and Recreation

June 11, 2014

Following ongoing negotiations and discussions with key stakeholders, City Council passed a motion today calling on the Government of Canada to join the City and the Province of Ontario in the development process.



The 519 in December 2013, City Council approved a report which marked 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,” said 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,” said Maura Lawless, Executive Director of The 519. “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.  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, which is 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 over 15 organizations to celebrate and promote LGBT communities during and leading up to the 2015 Pan Am / Para Pan Am Games in Toronto.

What People Are Saying About The 519 Sport and Recreation Project


“I am incredibly excited to welcome The 519’s new sport and recreation centre to our community. The partnership model of this facility will help build a stronger neighbourhood in the West Don Lands.  The capital funding arrangement is remarkable, with the City providing new, innovative community recreation space at a fraction of the cost.”

Pam McConnell
City Councillor, Ward 28

“I am very excited to see such a community focused, thoughtful and ground-breaking project coming to Toronto. I’ve witnessed and experienced the many joys of physical activity and sport as well as the ways it can be exclusionary and inaccessible; The 519 community sport and recreation centre will showcase the opportunities inherent in truly inclusive sport and recreation. I look forward to supporting The 519 and the City of Toronto in moving forward this game-changing project. Congratulations to The 519 for continuing to be a pioneer in LGBT community development and to the private donor for their remarkable vision and generous spirit.” 

Dr. Bruce Kidd, OC
Former Olympian and Warden of Hart House at the University of Toronto

“Healthy neighbourhoods rely on public space to gather, to organize and to come together and this is particularly true for the "instant neighbourhood" that the West Don Lands will become after the 2015 Pan Am / Parapan Am Games. The proposed facility brings a strong focus on inclusion, diversity and connection, all important ingredients in building community. I’m looking forward to working with The 519 to make this community centre a reality.”

Cynthia Wilkie
Chair, West Don Lands Committee

“The 519 has a special place in my heart and I am delighted about this new initiative. Access to positive sports, recreation and cultural spaces can make such a difference in building strong healthy communities and The 519’s model of public-private partnership provides a fabulous framework for this kind of development.  I look forward to working closely with the campaign cabinet to ensure philanthropic support for this vital initiative.”

Salah Bachir
Honourary Patron of The 519 and President and CEO of Cineplex Media

“Sport and recreation is vitally important to the health and well-being of our communities.  The proposed community centre, with an emphasis on LGBT sport and recreation, will create safe and welcoming spaces for our community, one that is traditionally marginalised in sport, to get out and play.  The new centre will also be invaluable in supporting the community-based amateur sport and recreation organisations that make it happen.  I’m excited by the opportunities to strengthen LGBT sport and recreation that this project will offer!”

Shawn Sheridan
Chair, OutSport Toronto

“We recognize that sport is not just about physical and mental health, but also a means to advance culture and human rights.  As the premier global organization for LGBT sport, GLISA is excited to see Toronto leading the way with the world’s first LGBT athletic facility and we are privileged that this major step for inclusion is taking place in the country in which we were founded.  In the face of the homophobia and transphobia we still experience globally, Toronto’s new community centre will be an example for the world of what inclusion through and throughout sport can accomplish.”

Daniel Vaudrin
President, Gay and Lesbian International Sport Association

For media inquiries, or to schedule an interview with a member of The 519 Sport and Recreation Project team, please contact:

Matthew Cutler
Director, Strategic Partnership Initiatives
T: 416.355.6798

For information on The 519's other Sport and Recreation Initiatives, please contact:

Barb Besharat
Senior Specialist, Sport and Recreation
T: 416.392.6874