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Q: Why did a “T.W. Curry Community Centre” sign appear at the corner of George and Prince?

It’s hard not to notice the big white letters on the big green building as you climb the hill on Prince approaching the lights at this popular corner. They appeared last month. While the sign isn’t anything special; it doesn’t glow, throb, or sparkle like Elon Musk’s new ‘X’ sign in San Francisco, but it does have Thirders wondering what it’s all about. After all, there is a crematorium on the top floor of the big green building. However, the main floor has a very different history than the penthouse and the big stack atop it. Before the province took over private ambulance services, the funeral home stored its ambulances there and the space provided additional support for the funeral home. In earlier days this made a lot of sense for T.W. Curry because the original funeral home was located across the street on George St. (now a vacant lot).

More recently, the space has been used as a meeting space for the CNIB, and during the Thanksgiving flood, a displaced spin class used it to stay in shape. But now the funeral home has decided to officially use the space “like a church hall,” says T.W. Curry Parkview Chapel manager Andrew Chapman. The sign went up to let the community know that the space is there for us to use. Chapman says it will be available to charities and non-profit groups that could benefit from such a space. “A lot of service groups shrink, diminish, and disappear in part because they don’t have the resources” to continue to fulfill their mandates, he says. Chapman said it made sense to make the space accessible this year as T.W. Curry is celebrating its 100th year of serving Thirders. “It’s a way to give back to the community,” he says.

Although Chapman’s history with the company is short, he is very familiar with the history of the funeral home; its original owners; and its importance to many in the community. He admits that the space might be limiting to some groups but believes that the funeral home has two independent spaces that some groups can make good use of. There is one mediumsized room that could host a group’s AGM, a small fundraiser, board meetings, or even a small dance class. Currently, the room has a boardroom-style table and chairs, a kiosk for serving beverages, and extra tables and chairs around the room. Chapman guesses that it is about 600 square feet. The smaller space has an odd configuration but one that could be just right for a group needing some office space or semi-privacy rooms to conduct its work. It has a couple of little nooks that would be just right. A small empty space takes up most of the room and it is outfitted with furniture that was obviously once used in the funeral home. A sofa, formal table, and chairs adorn the main area of the room.

Chapman acknowledges that it is early days for the planning of the space and notes that the use of the space will be guided by the regulations for funeral homes set out by the province and the municipality. With that said, he invites any (appropriate) group wanting to arrange access to the space to reach out to the funeral home. Happy 100th!

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