Ainslie and Centennial College try to save the Guild Inn

The Guild Inn currently sits boarded up and abandoned in Guildwood Park, but it may have a future after all.

Negotiations over the next few months between The Guild Park Advisory Committee (GPAC), and Centennial College will hopefully resurrect the former private residence, public hotel, museum, and art colony, originally built in 1914.

The goal is to transform the historic buildings into a Culture and Heritage Institute, under the Centennial’s School of Hospitality, Tourism and Culture.

Paul Ainslie, the local city councilor for Ward 43 (Scarborough East), who created GPAC in May 2007, proposed the initiative to the city at the end of September. The plan passed a vote by Toronto’s government management committee, and was approved at the last city council meeting.

Local residents walk through Guildwood Park and explore the historic buildings of the abandoned Guild Inn.“When I ran for City Council, the revitalization of the Guild Inn was part of my platform,” Ainslie says. “Prior to that as a local resident, I’ve wanted to see the building re-opened since the city closed it in 1999.”

According to Ainslie, the city’s Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, Economic Development, Facilities and Real Estate, Parks Department, and Legal Services will now work with the college on an official Letter of Intent to be brought to city council in 2009.

Centennial College hopes to have a degree program in Tourism and Culture based out of the historical property, which dates back to 1914 and Scarborough’s roots. They will have hospitality-based courses that will actually tie into attracting tourism through restoration of the local heritage in the Guild.

“Not only do we want to educate the students,” says Shyam Ranganathan, Dean of Centennial’s School of Hospitality, Tourism and Culture. “We want to provide active preservation, and engage the local community by bringing to life the art and culture of the past.”

The local community definitely supports the idea of money and conservation being brought into Scarborough. GPAC, which includes city staff, the Guildwood Village Community Association, the Guild Renaissance Group, and a heritage expert, had multiple proponents inquire about the property, including a group from Ottawa called Westeinde Windmill Developments.

“I wanted to ensure the community had a voice, not just the city staff,” Ainslie says.
“We had five groups approach us. Centennial College heard from private citizens about GPAC[…]We found much common ground and have been proceeding from there.”
Ainslie says besides moving Centennial College’s executive office of their Cultural and Heritage Institute to the grounds, there are also plans to construct a boutique hotel and a conference center. There are a couple of restaurants in the works as well that could bring plenty of economic potential to the area.

Melanie De Sa, of east Scarborough had her wedding photos taken at the Guild Inn (located at 191 Guildwood Pkwy) and knows many friends in and around the Guild neighbourhood who are devastated by the current shape of Guildwood Park.

“My husband Randy and I definitely have a personal connection with the park, as do many people who had their special day there,” she says. “But more than that, as someone from the area I’d like to see a piece of Scarborough’s history saved while we still have it, there’s so much unique character and beauty in those buildings.”

If completed the revitalized Guildwood Park is expected be re-opened in 2010.