The Future of Farquharson
Since 1954, Farquharson Arena has been an important place for recreation in Old South. Nestled between Tecumseh Public School and London South Colligate Institute, countless children and adults alike have laced up their skates over the years and enjoyed the arena’s twin rinks. My family and I have also been frequent visitors. I have watched in awe as my daughter honed her skating skills, quickly surpassing my own (admittedly limited) abilities on ice.
But with its small dressing rooms, lack of shower facilities, and a design that makes it difficult to adequately insulate, Farquharson Arena is approaching the end of its useful life. The City has continued to invest in the facility but its age has limited what can be done to meet the current standards for arenas. These investments have ensured that the arena will remain operational until at least the 2022 / 2023 season when the new Southeast community centre and arena complex is expected to be completed. And so, through the Parks and Recreation Master Plan, the City is beginning to contemplate what the future holds for our community at the Farquharson site.
Last year, we asked you to let us know what recreation opportunities were important to you and many commented on the value of Farquharson to the neighbourhood. You can find a report on “What we’ve heard so far” at the City’s website at http://getinvolved.london.ca. This spring, a draft of the updated Parks and Recreation Master Plan will be presented to city council for consideration based on the extensive feedback we received. It will also be shared with the community for one more round of consultation. The final draft of the plan will then likely be returned to council for passage this summer.
Funding has been set aside for redevelopment of the Farquharson site to help better serve the community as either a multi-use community space or as an activity-specific centre. Your input will be essential as to what form the new space will take. While there are numerous challenges to maintaining Farquharson as-is, the building is structurally sound and of a suitable size for redevelopment. Nothing is off the table and community engagement will form a core part of the work to identify community needs and discussion of options for the building.
Once the precise timing of completion of the new Southeast community centre project is known, the City will begin engagement activities with residents, current facility user groups, stakeholders, and other potential partners to determine the best use of Farquharson arena. These consultations will likely occur in late 2020 or early 2021. So, while it’s still a bit down the road, I hope you’ll start thinking about your ideas for an exciting space that can continue to bring our community together for years to come.