New Vaughan JCC almost ready to open
TORONTO — The Schwartz/Reisman Centre – the Jewish community centre (JCC) being built on the Joseph and Wolf Lebovic Jewish Community Campus in Vaughan – will open officially Oct. 14. But the centre, located at 9600 Bathurst St., north of Rutherford Road, will be open for some programs June 1 and will be the new home of Centre Camp this summer.
The day camp, which was housed near Avenue Road and Lawrence Avenue West following the closing of the Bathurst Jewish Community Centre in 2009, has been renamed the Jack and Pat Kay Centre Camp.
The new 200,000-square-foot, $51-million building in Vaughan is adjacent to the Anne and Max Tanenbaum Hebrew Academy of Toronto’s Kimel Family Education Centre. It includes a kosher café, three saltwater swimming pools (one outdoor and two indoor), a daycare centre, two full-size gyms, a conference centre, multi-purpose rooms, and underground parking for 350 cars, as well as an above-ground lot with 100 spaces.
In addition to JCC facilities, the building will also house the Koffler Centre of the Arts, Jewish Family & Child, JIAS, JVS, Circle of Care and a Mount Sinai Hospital wellness centre on the third floor.
Reena will be leasing space to run its adult programs in the centre as well.
David Sadowski, executive vice-president, Jewish Community Properties of Greater Toronto, describes the building as a “community mall” with the JCC as its anchor tenant.
The three-storey building was designed by Guela Solow-Ruda, who also designed the adjacent TanenbaumCHAT building.
The Schwartz/Reisman Centre features “an enormous amount of glass,” and virtually all the components are Canadian-made, including limestone walls from a small quarry in Owen Sound, Sadowski said. He added that the east wall (facing Bathurst) is designed so that the building can be expanded outward. A theatre complex would be the last piece to be built, he said.
Sadowski also noted efforts to make the building inclusive. “You’ll see a lot of wide corridors,” he said, adding that the number of washrooms for people with disabilities is above the required code.
As well, the centre has adult change tables and a Snoezelen room, which is geared to people with a variety of special needs, noted Carol Seidman, director of UJA Federation of Greater Toronto’s Tomorrow Campaign, which helped raise the money to build the facility. The room is “a place of calming down, it’s very therapeutic and we’re really proud to have one,” she said.
Seidman added that the centre has been built with money from donors and both the federal and provincial governments. “Every one of the [donor] gifts is a unique story. There are opportunities at every level to get involved.
“I think there’s a misunderstanding that, unless you have hundreds and thousands or millions of dollars, you can’t participate.” She added that all gifts are payable over five years, and some are relatively modest amounts.
The centre and the surrounding Lebovic campus is one of three Jewish campuses that have been or are being built as part of what started as a $150 million campaign, Seidman said. “We changed the goal to $400 million, and we’ve raised $300 million.”
The other two campuses are downtown and on Bathurst just north of Sheppard Avenue.
This past January, more than a year after the Bathurst Jewish Community Centre (BJCC) was torn down, construction had yet to begin on the building that will replace it, and federation officials were saying it won’t open until 2016. Construction on the new JCC is set to start in 2013, but fundraising for the $110-million complex was about $40 million short as of the beginning of this year.
In Vaughan, the 50-acre Lebovic campus was purchased 12 years ago for $6 million, with funds donated by 44 families, Seidman said.
Sherry Kulman, executive director of the centre, said it has 1,350 individual members so far. “We are exceeding our targets,” Kulman said. She expects to have more than 1,600 members by the time the centre opens, and said that the centre is financially viable.
Individual membership costs $69 a month, while a family membership is $144 per month. In addition to full membership, partial memberships are also available, such as pool and gym only.