Metrolinx signs $50 million deal to build Islamic centre while Thorncliffe Park neighbours fight Ontario Line rail yard

20 overlea blvd
The current 20 Overlea Blvd. site (Google Maps)

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Ontario Construction News staff writer

Metrolinx has announced a $50-million deal to help build a new religious and community centre in the Thorncliffe Park neighbourhood where neighbours are opposing plans for a controversial rail yard.

The agreement with the Islamic Society of Toronto is to convert an existing community centre as part of the Ontario Line project to make major upgrades to the group’s facility at 20 Overlea Blvd. The new centre includes larger and more extensive prayer spaces, new religious services and facilities, a mezzanine area that will provide bigger and better prayer spaces for women, as well as a business centre, gymnasium and education spaces.

“Transit has always been a catalyst for community building, development and growth,” said Metrolinx President and CEO Phil Verster. “Helping the Islamic Society of Toronto deliver on their vision for a new, bigger Islamic Centre will bring benefits to the community far beyond the positive impact the new Ontario Line subway will bring.”

Plans for 20 Overlea Blvd. include:

  • a facility approximately five times larger than the current facility at 4 Thorncliffe Park Drive, to support a growing community
  • a range of new facilities that will provide space for youth activities, basketball court, educational programs, and better and improved prayer spaces for women
  • ensuring businesses and organizations stay in the community with up to 24,000 sq. ft. of additional business centre space dedicated for as many as 19 other businesses and organizations from the community whose properties are impacted by Ontario Line plans
  • facilities that, for the first time, enable the mosque to provide an Islamic funeral service in the Thorncliffe Park community

“This will bring to life the dream that we have had for our community for the past two decades. This collaboration with Metrolinx will deliver a better and bigger facility for our growing community,” the Islamic Society of Toronto leadership said in a statement.

“We can’t wait to bring more prayer space for women, more recreational and educational spaces for our children, youth and seniors and more spaces for local businesses and organizations.”

The Ontario Line is a 15.6-kilometre, 15-stop subway line will run from Exhibition Place, through the heart of downtown, and all the way to the Ontario Science Centre, including stops in Thorncliffe Park and Flemingdon Park.

A maintenance and storage facility for the 44 Ontario Line trains is also planned for Thorncliffe Park, however, it is being opposed by neighbours.

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