City committee discusses naming of East London community centre at public meeting

A July 2019 photograph depicts the east facade at the north entry of the upcoming community centre. Maclennan Jaunkalns Miller / City of London

City councillors and residents living near a new community centre in London’s east end weighed in on the future name of the facility at a community and protective services committee meeting on Tuesday.

City staff have suggested the building be called the Community Centre on Wavell for the time being, referencing its location on Wavell Street and leaving the facility open to sponsorship opportunities down the road.

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But residents have something else in mind, according to Ward 2 Coun. Shawn Lewis.

“Overwhelmingly, ‘East Lions’ was something people wanted to see in the name,” said Lewis, who conducted online polling to gauge feedback from local residents. “They wanted to see the tradition — and the reason the park is there in the first place — be reflected in the naming of the community centre.”

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He made the comments during Tuesday’s public participation meeting.

“I had 479 online engagements over the naming of this, and by far and away, ‘East Lions’ in the name was a top request from people,” Lewis said.

The new community centre will be equipped with an aquatics hall, a gymnasium and a multicoloured facade on its exterior.

A report from city staff indicates the project’s current name, the East Community Centre, has created confusion among residents due to the existing East London Library and the nearby East London Planning District.

The upcoming facility will be located in the Argyle district, but city staff have advised against using Argyle in the centre’s name to avoid confusion with the existing Argyle Arena.

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Managing director of London’s Parks and Recreation Scott Stafford told the committee that his department might be able to work out a name that includes East Lions.

“I think there is a possibility for a hybrid name that we can look at, and I think you work with the potential sponsor to reach that,” Stafford said.

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Public feedback will now be analyzed by city staff before final decisions come up for a vote by councillors.

Construction on the project began in November 2017, and according to the city’s website, the facility is expected to be open early in 2020.

— With files from Andrew Graham

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