Earlier this month, about 175 heritage advocates assembled in Toronto for ACO's annual awards ceremony, where it was announced that Kitchener's The Working Centre would be the recipient of the 2018 A.K. Sculthorpe Award for Advocacy.
This award "recognizes an individual, group or established non-profit organization which at a critical point has achieved exemplary success in a significant heritage crisis" in a manner that demonstrates "leadership in the field, integrity and the ability to be inclusive and communicate the value of heritage conservation to others."
Founders Stephanie and Joe Mancini were there to receive the award. They were told that the jurors were amazed to learn that The Working Centre had quietly renovated eight historic buildings over a 20-year period, repurposing them for public benefit while retaining their heritage feel. In so doing, they've shown "that it's possible to have adaptive reuse without gentrification."
Nothing demonstrates this better than the most recent of these projects: the creation of eight one-bedroom units for persons risking homelessness at 256 King Street East. That's the building where I work, providing resources for media arts projects. Part of its long legacy is having functioned, back in the 1940s, as the home of the first Canadian Tire store outside Toronto.