Toronto City Council today approved the first part of a two-stage limited design competition for the design and development of a new visitor orientation centre at Fort York National Historic Site. The competition, which will be administered by Toronto Cultural Services under the advice of a steering committee and professional advisor, will be open to Canadian and international architects and teams with experience working with historic sites such as Fort York.

The pre-construction phase includes the design competition process, design development, and all components required to prepare for construction tender. A federal grant in the amount of $617,000, through the Department of Canadian Heritage Cultural Spaces Canada Program, will be applied to the Phase One budget.

The Phase Two construction cost of the visitor orientation centre is estimated at $15 million and is contingent upon receipt of funds from other orders of government and private sector fundraising through the newly formed Fort York Foundation. If a firm commitment of funding from various sources can be secured, the project will be tendered for construction as early as possible in 2010, with a building completion date of December 2011. This would allow for exhibit installation and commissioning for a June 2012 opening that will coincide with the launch of Toronto’s Commemoration of the War of 1812 Bicentennial program.

“The need for a visitor orientation centre at Fort York has been identified as a missing component of the site for well over 25 years. The upcoming Bicentennial of the War of 1812 presents us with an unprecedented opportunity to fully restore and upgrade Fort York National Historic Site as a major City of Toronto legacy project,” said Rita Davies, Executive Director of Cultural Services. “By giving the green light to proceed with the pre-construction phase of the project, Council recognizes the important role that Fort York played not only in Toronto’s – but also in Canada’s history – and that the Fort and its buildings still have an important story to tell us today and for generations to come,” Ms. Davies continued.

Toronto is Canada’s largest city and sixth largest government, and home to a diverse population of about 2.6 million people. It is the economic engine of Canada and one of the greenest and most creative cities in North America. In the past three years, Toronto has won numerous awards for quality, innovation and efficiency in delivering public services. Toronto’s government is dedicated to prosperity, opportunity and liveability for all its residents.