Recreation in Hillcrest Village
The Hillcrest Community Centre is located in the Hillcrest Public School on Bathurst Street. This facility includes an indoor pool and a gymnasium. Just north of the Hillcrest Community Centre is the Wychwood Public Library, which offers year round programs for the neighbourhood children.
Hillcrest Park, perched atop the Davenport escarpment at the south perimeter of this neighbourhood, offers a spectacular view of the city skyline and Lake Ontario. This park has a wading pool, a children's playground, and four tennis courts.
Hillcrest residents have been instrumental in donating their time, money and resources to the development of the Artscape Wychwood Barns, which involved the conversion of the historic Wychwood TTC streetcar repair barns on Christie Street south of St. Clair.
Artscape Wychwood Barns is a 60,000 sq. ft. multifaceted community meeting place that encompasses live/work space for artists, as well as seasonal festivals, a farmers market, a greenhouse and a community bake-oven. The park’s greenspace includes a natural ice rink, playing fields, a stage, chess tables, beach volleyball, a water play area and children’s swings and climbers.
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ARTSCAPE WHYCHWOOD BARNS A NEIGHBOURHOOD SUCCESS STORY
Artscape Wychwood Barns ; the name is catchy, but what does it all mean. Is it an art studio ? Is it a farm ? Is it a neighbourhood ? If you answered all of the above you would be on the right track. Speaking of tracks this community space is situated on the former Toronto Transit Commission streetcar repair barns located on a 4.3 acre site between Wychwood Avenue and Christie Street, south of St. Clair Avenue.
It seems the former Wychwood TTC Barns outlived their usefulness to the TTC with the advent of more sophisticated facilities resulting in the Barns remaining derelict and vacant beginning in the 1980s. The Barns continued to be a blight on the surrounding neighbourhood until 2007 when Artscape a not- for-profit urban development organization that revitalizes buildings, neighbourhoods, and cities through the arts, began a massive restoration on the Barns.
It was Artscape’s vision for the reuse of the The Wychwood TTC barns that spearheaded the restoration of the five attached brick buildings on this site. These structures built between 1913 and 1921, encompassed 60,000 square feet of space.
A project this size would require the support of more than one organization. The Stop Community Food Centre joined forces with Artscape and following a lead donation from the George Cedric Metcalf Charitable Foundation the partnership expanded with the support of the Taddlewood Heritage Association, Friends of a New Park, the Wychwood Heights BIA, and the Hillcrest BIA. Local City Councilor Joe Mihevec also championed this project.
Proving that things can get done quickly when there is a will and a way the Artscape Wychwood Barns was completed in 2008, with the official opening in November of the same year. Drawing on community building initiatives across North America and Europe the Artscape Wychwood Barns integrates a lively mix of uses that interplay with each other.
One primary use has been the creation of dwellings within the Barns for 26 artists and their families. Additional tenants include: the Association for Native development in the Performing and Visual Arts, the Helene Comay Nursery School, Latino Canadian Cultural Association, Latin American-Canadian Arts Projects, Locval Enhancement and Appreciation of Forests, New Adventures in Sound Art, the Stop Community Food Centre, Storytelling Toronto, Theatre Direct Canada, and the Wychwood Barns Community Association.
Artscape Wychwood Barns is surrounded by a new city park with a beach volleyball court, a fenced in off-leash dog area, a children’s play area with a water feature, picnic tables, numerous tree and shrub plantings, and circulation paths; some of which trace the former streetcar tracks.
Completing the master plan for this innovative community initiative is the Green Barn Farmers’ Market which features 35 – 40 vendors selling organic foods including the likes of wild strawberry jam, honey, dried chestnuts and Ontario black walnuts just to name a few of the tantalizing treats offered each Saturday from 8am to 1pm in the summer and then from 9 am to 12 noon when the market moves indoors in the winter.
People flock to the Green Barn Farmers’ Market held every Saturday at the Artscape Wychwood TTC Barns
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