Developers have already begun redeveloping the Galleria Mall with a mixed-use condominium development containing thousands of new condominiums. The mall is already partially lost, and the adjacent Wallace Emerson Community Center is next to face demolition.
Although developer Almadev will construct an eye-catching new replacement park and community center on the site to compensate for the loss of current neighborhood amenities, these plans will not replace a popular local ice rink, a loss that has proven to be a stumbling block for local residents.
This is what the mixed-use community that will replace Toronto’s Galleria Mall will look like https://t.co/PSwBMAKCnp #Toronto #GalleriaMall
— blogTO (@blogTO) March 16, 2021
Plans include an ice rink and a small recreational skate pad, but with no dedicated spot for shiny hockey in the approved future, community residents have organized to save their local ice rink before they close at the end of the year is finally closed winter season.
Residents in the Dufferin and Dupont area have fought hard to raise local awareness of the loss of the rink – now in their 40s.
Toronto’s Galleria Mall is finally being demolished https://t.co/eQ9pI0Ilmi #Toronto pic.twitter.com/6N4qANOcXD
— blogTO (@blogTO) February 6, 2020
Local resident Jared Westreich tells blogTO that prior to an article published last January, “the vast majority of rink users had no idea that the rink would not be replaced as there were no public consultations over the winter and the plans were not published anywhere were on site.”
Among the actions taken by community residents, Westreich launched a petition last winter that has since garnered over 4,300 signatures, while similar campaigns are using the power of social media to gain traction.
It’s an issue that has drawn the attention of both the current and former councilors for the community.
Former Ward 9 Davenport Councilwoman Ana Bailao has earmarked $250,000 in area development fees to design and build a new rink pending a feasibility study by the parks department.
It’s a torch passed to newly elected councilwoman Alejandra Bravo, who championed the pledge to keep a hockey rink in the community and has since worked with city departments to advance those plans.
The fight has gone from an uphill battle to a confident fight for locals, and Westreich tells blogTO that “rink users are confident that hockey facilities can be included in the plans,” citing a summary of the 2018 consultation that a Spare rink included in the mix.
The future of the rink remains uncertain for now, although the community is planning a celebration of the local facility’s 40th anniversary this winter.
Whatever happens to Wallace Emerson’s rink, its soundscape was immortalized by a brilliant player who recorded an album of ambient sounds from a game played at the rink.
Who needs those relaxing lo-fi study blends when you can listen to the sounds of a morning hockey game while sipping on a grainy concoction of coffee and powdered hot chocolate?