Eight years after the Bathurst Jewish Community Centre in Toronto was torn down, UJA Federation of Greater Toronto finally broke ground on the “long-awaited” expansion of the Prosserman Jewish Community Centre on the Sherman Campus at Bathurst Street, north of Sheppard Avenue.
On Oct. 15, about 470 community members joined Mayor John Tory and York Centre MP Michael Levitt for the groundbreaking ceremony for the Sheff Family Building in the Prosserman JCC parking lot at 4600 Bathurst St.
The Sheff Family Building, which will house the expanded Prosserman JCC, filling the hole on the property left by the Bathurst JCC, is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2019, said Lisa Morrison, UJA Federation’s vice-president of capital development.
This is the second phase of the Sherman Campus development, which is part of UJA Federation’s $400-million Tomorrow Campaign that has also produced the Joseph and Wolf Lebovic Jewish Community Campus in Vaughan, Ont.
Phase 1 of the Sherman Campus project, the Donald Gales Family Pavillion, was completed in 2009 and is home to the Lipa Green Centre for Jewish Community Services, as well as the offices of JIAS and Jewish Family & Child.
Tory, who was on hand at the groundbreaking to offer his congratulations, said community centres are an important part of the city’s neighbourhoods.
“It’s where we come together as a city. This centre will provide a sense of community, bring neighbours together and connect people by acting as a space for recreation and community gatherings,” Tory said.
Levitt, who spoke on behalf of Amarjeet Sohi, the federal minister of infrastructure and communities, said the Canadian government – which earmarked $10.2 million in matching funds from the New Building Canada Fund in 2016 – recognizes the role that community centres play in promoting healthy, thriving communities.
“The government of Canada recognizes that strategic investments in public infrastructure – including funding for sports and recreation projects like this one – will create growth for the middle class and ensure that our communities will remain among the best places in the world to live, work and raise a family,” Levitt said.
Phase 2 of the Sherman Campus has a price tag of more than $70 million. The plan is to erect the building and redevelop the outdoor spaces, Morrison said, adding that about $5 million still needs to be raised.
‘It’s where we come together as a city.’
The fully completed Sherman Campus, which will include the 106,000 sq. ft. state-of-the-art Sheff Family Building, will offer programs, including swim and fitness classes, youth groups and a summer camp.
“Our family is thrilled to be playing such an important role in this exciting project,” said Gerald Sheff.
“We’re so proud to be naming the Sheff Family Building, because we know it will be a beacon of light for our community for generations to come.”
Bruce Leboff, UJA Federation’s chair, said he is proud to be part of a community that understands the importance of a Jewish community centre.
“The programs and facilities that will be available on this remarkable campus will not only strengthen minds and bodies, but the community as a whole.”