All posts by Dawn

Indoor Public Space Blog Reviews our April 16th – Junction Commons Townhall

[ It’s great when other people do such a good job of reviewing our events. Thank you Matthew for the review and for introducing us to your Foundation for Indoor Public Spaces. Our organizations share many aims. ]

[ Reprinted from the Indoor Public Space blog]

by Matthew Lie-Paehlke

On Wednesday April 16, I attended a townhall meeting about the ‘Junction Commons,’ a proposed community space on the site of a vacant police station in the Junction neighbourhood of Toronto. A volunteer task force has been developing a vision of the Junction Commons, collaboratively, over the past 18 months. Even as some members have come and gone, the idea has carried itself along. The current vision for the site is a building which contains accessible public space for events, programs and socializing with one floor of revenue-generating rental space that will cover the costs of the entire building.

The Junction Commons task force won a Trillium grant to hire Urbanmetrics and ERA architects to complete a feasibility study. The big news at the recent Town Hall was that the study (which should be available on the JCP website soon) found that it would be possible to renovate the building to create both community space and income-generating rental space. The study also concluded that the rental income would be sufficient to cover the building’s maintenance and staffing costs and pay off a bank loan for the renovations (app. $3.5 million). Because it would be difficult to cover the costs of purchasing the property outright and still maintain sufficient public space, the task force is currently negotiating a long-term, low-cost (like $1 a year low) lease from the City of Toronto.

The task force envisions the Junction Commons as a community hub. Referring to earlier research on Community Hubs, the JCP task force described a community hub as a space which intertwines the following objectives: service delivery, place-making and community building. The Junction Commons will be a place where people can obtain services, a space that’s comfortable and attractive, and a space where local people can gather, get to know one another and pursue collective objectives. The JCP task force is seeking to make the Junction Commons financially sustainable, so that it won’t be reliant on government funding – a valid concern in these times of global ‘austerity.’

Early renderings of potential designs, produced by Ryerson planning students, were on display at the Town Hall. The task force has also held design charettes with local people throughout the neighbourhood in order to better understand their needs for the space. From the various activities, programs and events suggested in these charettes, the task force developed five ‘pillars’ of the Junction Commons:

ARTS – The Junction Commons will be a site for the discussion, production and experience of theatre, music and visual arts.

FOOD – The Junction Commons will be a place where people can come together to eat and cook. It will be equipped with a community kitchen and host a farmers’ market.

HEALTH – The Junction Commons will be a space for exercise, dance, yoga and a site for the provision of health services. The University Health Network was mentioned as a possible anchor tenant.

COMMUNITY BUILDING – The Junction Commons will be a space for both casual conversations and community meetings.

LOCAL EXCHANGE – The presence of so many different people in the Junction Commons makes it an ideal site for local development and learning. It will be an excellent site for co-working, public lectures, skills exchanges, sharing and local trade.

209 Mavety Street from Google Streetview, with a little photoshop spice.

At the outset, creating a commons requires real initiative and effort from one or more individuals, but as the idea and project grow and more people are drawn in by the vision, the work can be distributed. Hundreds of people have come to JCP meetings and townhalls. Thousands have signed a petition to delay the sale of the property until the completion of the feasability study. It would be difficult, if not impossible, for a for-profit company to produce a space like this. It will be possible to fund the public space within the Junction Commons from rental income, in part, thanks to the efforts of so many volunteers. Eighteen months of planning, design and outreach by a private development company would be extremely expensive — as it stands however, the JCP will only have to cover the cost of the physical renovations. The JCP is currently looking for new volunteers to step up and help to shoulder some of the load. The task force has formed a non-profit organization and will soon be electing a volunteer board. If you live in the Junction – especially if you have legal, marketing or accounting experience – consider becoming a Junction Commoner and volunteering your time.

After the presentation of the feasibility study and the preliminary plans for the space, a member of the West Junction Historical Society took the stage and spoke passionately about the importance of open and accessible ‘third places‘ — spaces which are neither home nor work — in building a community. As access to schools and churches becomes more tightly controlled, it becomes harder and harder for ordinary people to find places to gather and discuss community initiatives. The self-sustaining, community-driven model developed by the Junction Commons Project is one possible solution to this problem.

[ Reprinted from the Indoor Public Space blog]


“Principles of Good Governance”, by George Elliott Clarke, Poet Laureate of Toronto

Principles of Good Governance*
In Memory of Two Eminent Torontonians:
Dr. Sheela Basrur, OOnt (1956-2008)
& Mr. Charles Roach, LL.B (1933-2012)

I—Background Paper
1)  Educate the electorate.
2)  Illiteracy rots Democracy.
3)  Equality? Fine schools, fine teachers, in every district.
4)  The Citadel of Reason? The Library.
5)  Quote Scripture; cite History; recite Poetry.
6)  Do not plague the people by shouting opinions.
    Do not demonize opponents.
    Do not mislead or confuse.
    Produce Facts.
7)  Honesty is State Treasure.
8)  A governor’s speech must be as clear as water.
9)  Clarity is a branch of Charity.
10) To be decisive,
    First be incisive.
11) Judgment must be as cool as steel, as sharp as steel.
12) To convince is better than to conquer.
13) Complaint is Revelation.
14) News perpetually startles,
    Yet its truths are ancient:
    To the Perceptive.
15) Do not pander; also, do not puff up superiors.
16) Flattery is bribery; it is slush.
17) Excuses enshrine Cowardice.
18) Remember: Great Thought leaps upward—
    To try to discern Divinity.

II—On Lawmaking 
1)  Political success? A silver tongue and a heart of gold.
2)  Elected? Serve the people.
3)  Sobriety, Punctiliousness, Generosity, and Intelligence:
    These qualities demand allegiance.
4)  Ethics is a scythe,
    Separating the correct from the corrupt.
5)  Even the bad governor envies good policies.
6)  The heedless governor is soon headless.
7)  Good laws set themselves good examples.
8)  Extremism only serves thermometers.
9)  Excess disguises Dysfunction.
10) Egoism is Insufficiency.
11) Envy dreams up conspiracies.
12) Err in one law?
    Correct it in the next.
13) The law suit never fits—
    Unless it’s a straitjacket.
14) First, comprehend Justice;
    Then, apprehend criminals.
15) Dust dwells and swells—
    When the broom is stayed.
16) Police secrecy equals Sedition.
17) Citizens must be activists;
    Lest they be oppressed.
18) Plant vineyards, not prisons.
    Plant vineyards; cart home the city wine.

III—On Economy
1)  The Treasury is for the citizens’ convenience.
2)  Sacrosanct is Renminbi.
3)  Capital flows;
    Labour pools.
4)  Greatness? Public works, public art.
5)  Spend: Do not let potholes become sinkholes.
6)  Beauty demands Maintenance.
7)  When in Debt, build.
    When in Doubt, build.
    Paper Wealth is air:
8)  Diversity rouses Beauty.
    (Light does not discriminate.)
9)  Nurture
    Arts & Culture—
    To richly prosper.
10) Create, profit; save, invest;
    Create, profit; save, invest.
11) To secure heaven, help the lowly.
12) Benevolence staves off Violence.
13) Charity engineers Miracles.
14) Plutocracy vomits black bread, black flags,
    and black batons.
15) Arms dig Deficits.
16) Spending should be like planting,
    Never like eating.
17) Taxation should be transfusion,
    Not vampirism.
18) Squander revenues, spark revolts.
19) Paltry is that government careless of Poetry.

IV—On Beauty
1)  Youth creates; Age preserves.
2)  Revere children; respect elders.
3)  Sun is balm; rain is ointment.
4)  Light allows no doubt.
5)  Good Style wins popularity;
    Good Deeds inspire reverence.
6)  Be a Caesar to allies and a Sphinx to adversaries.
7)  Beauty escapes Chastisement.
8)  Good wine precedes good Poetry.
    Good wine succeeds good Poetry.

*By George Elliott Clarke, Poet Laureate of Toronto (2012-15). Note: The poem riffs on Confucius (via Pound), Machiavelli, Sun Tzu, several T’ang Dynasty and Song Dynasty poets.

Used  with permission by the Junction Commoners who found much wisdom in these words.

You’re Invited: Junction Commons Townhall #2

Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Masonic Temple (151 Annette St, Toronto, ON M6P 2N7)
Free Tickets: (you can still show up at the event without a ticket but registering helps us prepare the event)

We’re celebrating!

The Ontario Trillium Foundation funded Feasibility Study for converting the old police station 209 Mavety into a Community Hub is now complete.

Come out and hear what we discovered, what we’re planning and how you can help.

Let’s make this a real community hub event. Come share refreshments with your neighbours and get involved with this great community project.

We still need volunteers for the event and to help out with the Junction Commons in general. If you’d like to be involved in any of these drop us a line,  We will be building a board for the freshly minted Junction Commons not for profit society over the next few months and we are looking for some passionate new members who have board experience or are willing to learn. Please forward this information on to people you know who might be a good fit.

Free Tickets: (you can still show up at the event without a ticket but registering helps us prepare the event)

Facebook: JunctionCommonsProject
Twitter: JunctionCommons
Townhall hashtag: #JunctionTownhall
To volunteer or ask questions:

Download, print and share the big poster: Townhall_big_poster_2014-04-16-sizefixed

and the handbills: Poster 02a-mini-sizefixed

Next public meeting: Thurs March 6, 2014 SMASH 7:30-9:30

Was your news years resolution to do something for your local community? Or maybe you’ve been curious about how the Junction Commons Project really works from the inside? Or perhaps you’ve got mad skills in grant writing, marketing, community engagement, or you want to learn from people that do?

Well this Thursday, 7:30-9:30 at SMASH 2880 Dundas West, is the time to come out to a public JCP meeting and share your best self with us. We’ve got a fresh feasibility study and we need help getting ready to share it with the neighbourhood at a Townhall in late March/ early April.  We need your vision, experience, and open mind.

If you can’t come to this meeting do let us know if you are interested in helping us build the vision for 209 Mavety this year.  Email with a note or any questions you have about what’s involved. * Also forward this email to anyone you know who lives in the area and might be interested in getting involved.

*Right now the core team meets 12 hr/ month (3 hr x 4 meetings), and working groups meet less but communicate a lot via email. 

Jonah Schein MPP for Davenport and big JCP supporter, comedy night

Our MPP to the East,  Jonah Schein  for Davenport, has been a big supporter of the Junction Commons Project as well as one of the first MPPs to take the need for electric clean train development along the West Rail Corridor seriously. He previously worked for The Stop Community Food Centre as a civic engagement coordinator, and understands how to help citizen initiatives like the Junction Commons Project succeed.

If you are interested in keeping him around why not go to March 4th comedy fundraiser touted as “a special night in support of the pro-environment, pro-community and pro-having-a-good-time elected representative of Davenport, NDP MPP Jonah Schein!” Continue reading Jonah Schein MPP for Davenport and big JCP supporter, comedy night

Map of Graduation Rates in GTA. Junction Average.

St. Michael’s research project analyzes the overall health of 140 Toronto neighbourhoods, Junction rated average released a story today on Toronto neighbourhood health indicators released by St. Michael’s hospital.

“The hospital’s Centre for Research on Inner City Health spent the last year developing a new tool that grades every neighbourhood in the city on 15 measures of health and well-being: everything from education to voting rates, the number of healthy food stores and the rate of premature deaths.

“Researchers used 11 databases, extracting information and then geo-coding it, for example, based on postal code, to reveal precise details on neighbourhoods. Most of the information has never before been available drilled down to such a local level.”

The report identifies the area known as the Junction Area ( #90 in the above city neighbourhood map ) to be average in almost all indicators. We are sandwiched between have neighbourhoods to the south and west, and have-nots to our north and  east. We know the neighbourhood is undergoing rapid gentrification as well, so this is an important time to ask where will all the old time residents go if the housing and business rents continue to skyrocket.

And where will all  the new residents coming into developments like Heintzman Place and the new Duke residence find healthcare, community space and be able to meet their neighbours from diverse backgrounds. Right now our only meeting places are coffee shops lining Dundas West.  On the other hand we know the Junction is very walkable, as long as you don’t need to cross the street anywhere along Dundas,  Keele or Annette.

This report is especially interesting to us at the Junction Commons Project because we’ve been researching our neighbourhood in detail over the last 5 months, both through community meetings and by considering census driven reports like this one. We’ve been told by the local Health Links that West Toronto is a Health Desert, meaning we don’t have enough health care providers  to serve the current and anticipated future populations. We think part of the 209 Mavety site would be a perfect central location for this kind of Health care service delivery. And we can see as churches and other public spaces get bought up for condo conversions that preserving spaces like 209 Mavety that are centrally located, on transit lines and  beautifully built, for public use is going to be a high priority for Toronto residents who want to build a liveable, walkable, economically fair and healthy city.

We’re in talks with some health providers right now about this possibility and will be giving you more details in the coming weeks about the very positive conclusions of our feasibility study.  We’ll be doing a call out for more volunteers to run for our board in the next year, and will be inviting you all out to another town hall in the next 4 weeks or so – where we will release the findings of the feasibility report, and ask for your feedback and help to get 209 Mavety converted into a functional Community Hub for the Junction and surrounding areas.

The St.Michael’s executive summary of the report concludes:

“Urban HEART @ Toronto paints a picture of a city where many people are doing quite well, but too many others are at risk of falling behind. It also reveals a picture of a city where people in each local neighbourhood are connected to — and depend on — the health and well-being of those around them.

“Examining multiple indicators across several domains serves as a powerful reminder that assessing the success of our city involves a complex and inter- connected matrix of individual factors.

“While this rich source of data helps us to identify which neighbourhoods in our city need a closer look, that’s just the first step in building stronger neighbourhoods. The next step is for governments, funders, and community organizations to use this information to develop effective strategies for local renewal.

“One of the key learnings from Urban HEART @ Toronto, and the relationship we can see between various indicators, is that it’s not effective to focus on a single issue. Every aspect of neighbourhood health must be considered and interpreted in relation to all other indicators. That’s why neighbourhoods across our city need a coordinated, comprehensive strategy for renewal that involves multiple aligned efforts.

“The good news is that Urban HEART @ Toronto will enable this kind of collaboration among multiple partners, improving their ability to target issues and improve access to opportunities across all neighbourhoods. Ultimately, this tool will provide an evidence base that organizations can use to close the gaps between Toronto’s neighbourhoods and ensure Toronto meets its full promise: a city of thriving neighbourhoods, where every resident has the same opportunity for a healthy and successful life.

Reports referenced in this blog post:

JCP member and Ryerson architecture prof Taymoore Balbaa behind documentary series at Bloor Cinema

Taymoore Balbaa has been a dedicated member of the Junction Commons team. You may have seen his students’ work envisioning a renewed 209 Mavety on display along Dundas West in June 2013. He’s now running a documentary series at Bloor Cinema on behalf of the Toronto Society of Architects.

Let us know in the comments below if you’d like to see these kinds of documentaries shown in the Junction. We at the JCP have been learning a lot about the city bylaws, architecture, design and how people are building vital community spaces across the world. Documentaries are a great way to have public discussions about these issues. 

Oppositions: Architecture On Film

This series offers insights into the role of design in the built environment by presenting pairings of films that have opposing themes related to issues of design and cultural development.  Each film pairing will be followed by a brief discussion moderated by the Toronto Society of Architects.

Continue reading JCP member and Ryerson architecture prof Taymoore Balbaa behind documentary series at Bloor Cinema

Jane’s Walk is Recruiting Neighbourhood Choreographers!

Neighbourhood Choreographers are local community members who choreograph at least 2 or more Jane’s Walks  in their neighbourhood. Working with friends, family, neighbours and community groups, they find local people to offer unique and diverse Jane’s Walks that give a voice to their community. Continue reading Jane’s Walk is Recruiting Neighbourhood Choreographers!

Toronto City Council finally earmarks billboard levy for arts funding. Bravo!

The good people behind have been working on this issue since 2001. Talk about diligence. Thanks to them Toronto will soon raise it’s arts funding to $25 per person making us more in line with similar big cities in the world.I hope the JCP won’t have to work this long and hard to see results. – Dawn

Continue reading Toronto City Council finally earmarks billboard levy for arts funding. Bravo!

An architect’s perspective on the current 209 Mavety site

In case you weren’t one of the 72 people who saw Graeme Stewart’s presentation at the Junction Townhall …

As part of ongoing research and analysis of the Junction Commons Project site at 209 Mavety St, consultant Graeme Stewart of ERA Architects recently presented details of the site’s history at the JCP’s November town hall.

In the 1940s and ‘50s the block surrounded by Keele, Dundas, Annette, and Mavety was redesigned to function as a public services precinct for the Junction, complete with police, fire, and postal facilities. The Junction Commons Project seeks to carry forward this legacy in the form of a facility serving a broad range of public and community amenities for the Junction neighbourhood.

The building at 209 Maverty, formerly Toronto Police Station Division 11, has been vacant since 2011. It is a two-storey-plus-basement facility designed by Toronto-based architecture firm, Craig & Madill made up of partners, Henry Harrison Madill (1889-1988) and James H. Craig. Both men played a leading role in the University of Toronto’s faculty of architecture from the 1920s through the ‘50s. Other examples of Craig & Madill’s work include understated modernist buildings such as the Grand & Toy offices in Don Mills, and the YMCA Etobicoke. (See the full list at end of this article)

The building’s design is a good example of the civic modernism characteristic of many of Toronto’s post-war public schools, libraries, and other municipal buildings. It is a strongly rhythmic design in a varied material palette of flagstone, glass, brick, marble, concrete, and terrazzo.

The 25,974-sq.-ft. building was declared surplus by the City of Toronto, but the transfer of the property to Build Toronto for disposal or sale has been deferred to allow the Junction Commons Project to propose other community uses for the site.

ERA and urbanMetrics have been hired by the Junction Commons Project to develop a feasibility study that will help identify multiple ways the building can be reconfigured. Because it was designed as a police station, the challenge is to re-purpose the space so it fits the needs of the community and the yet-to-be-determined project budget. ERA and urbanMetrics are analyzing spaces such as the jail cells, offices, common areas, and exterior spaces such as the courtyard, to begin to define a set of productive constraints and opportunities.

The project represents an exciting challenge in the adaptive reuse of a modernist building, a practice we are only beginning to see today, as Toronto’s inventory of modernist architecture becomes available for reconsideration.


(works in Toronto)

  • FARMER BROS. PHOTOGRAPHERS, Spadina Avenue near College Street, store, 1912 (Toronto b.p. 35980, 12 July 1912)
  • FAIRVIEW BOULEVARD, near Broadview Avenue, residence for Dr. H. Armstrong, 1912 (Toronto b.p. 36503, 8 Aug. 1912)
  • CARHARTT-HAMILTON COTTON MILLS, Queen Street East near Sumach Street, factory, 1916 (Const., ix, March 1916, 98)
  • ASTLEY AVENUE, residence for Charles Fell, 1916 (inf. Toronto Chapter, Architectural Conservancy of Ontario)
  • ST. CLAIR AVENUE WEST, at Glenholme Avenue, block of stores and apartments, 1923 (Const., xvii, April 1924, 131, illus. & descrip.)
  • LYTTON BOULEVARD, at Heather Street, residence for David O. Roblin, 1923 (Const., xvii, April 1924, 121, illus.)
  • PLAYTER BOULEVARD, residence for George P. Price, 1924 (dwgs. at Univ. of Toronto, Fisher Library, Miller Coll., 578)
  • GLEN GROVE AVENUE, at Yonge Street, residence for Dr. Frank S. Park, 1924 (Const., xviii, May 1925, 163-4, illus. & descrip.)
  • INGLEWOOD DRIVE, residence for an unidentified client, 1924 (Const., xviii, May 1925, 162-63, illus. & descrip.)
  • GLEBE ROAD UNITED CHURCH, Glebe Road at Tullis Drive, 1925 (Centenary Anniversary of Glebe Road United Church 1850-1950, 4)
  • ST. CLAIR APARTMENTS, St. Clair Avenue West at Avenue Road, 1925 (Const., xix, May 1926, 156-9, illus. & descrip.; R.A.I.C. Journal, iii, May-June 1926, xvii, illus. in advert.)
  • THE 400 AVENUE ROAD APARTMENTS, Avenue Road at Edmund Avenue, 1926 (C.R., xl, 23 June 1926, 606-7, illus. & descrip.,; 17 Nov. 1926, 1101, illus.; R.A.I.C. Journal, May 1927, xvi, illus. in advert.)
  • INGLEWOOD DRIVE, residence for Maxwell C. Purvis, 1928 (C.H.G., v, Aug. 1928, 27, illus.)
  • NORTH YORK, Earl Haig High School, Princess Avenue at Kenneth Avenue, 1929-30; addition 1947 (Toronto Star, 26 Aug. 1930, 8, illus.; R.A.I.C. Journal, viii, March 1931, 80, 94, illus.; xxiv, Oct. 1947, 366, illus.)
  • PALACE PIER, in Sunnyside Park, Lakeshore Boulevard West, 1930; demol. (Telegram [Toronto], 12 March 1930, 11, illus.)
  • UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO, Varsity Stadium, Bloor Street West at Devonshire Place, 1929-30 (Toronto Star, 8 Nov. 1929, 8, 12, illus. & descrip.)
  • UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO, major addition and new facade for the Mill Building, for the Faculty of Applied Science, 1930 (Telegram [Toronto], 13 Sept. 1930, 10, illus.; Toronto Star, 19 Sept. 1930, 33, descrip.)
  • STRACHAN AVENUE, at Ordnance Street, City of Toronto Police and Fire Department Garage, 1932 (C.R., xlvi, l3 April 1932, 412; R.A.I.C. Journal, x, March 1933, 55)
  • NORTH YORK, Willowdale United Church, Kenneth Avenue near Church Avenue, 1932 (C.R., xlvi, 20 April 1932, 54, t.c.)
  • DOMINION PUBLIC BUILDING, WEST TORONTO, Keele Street at Annette Street, 1935-36 (R.A.I.C. Journal, xiii, Nov. 1936, 207-9, illus. & descrip.; xiv, Feb. 1937, 22, 24)
  • CANADIAN NATIONAL EXHIBITION, Bandshell, 1936; restored 1983 (C.R., l, 2 Sept. 1936, 775-7, illus. & descrip.; inf. Mr. H. Madill)
  • ST. PAUL’S PRIVATE SCHOOL FOR BOYS, Deloraine Avenue near Yonge Street, 1938 (Toronto Star, 17 June 1938, 30, descrip.)
  • NORTH YORK, Lansing United Church, Bogert Avenue near Yonge Street, 1949-50 (inf. United Church Archives, Toronto)

(works outside Toronto)

  • PEMBROKE, ONT., Collegiate Institute, 1925-26 (Pembroke Standard, 30 April 1925, 1, descrip.; C.R., xl, 8 Dec. 1926, 1158-9, illus. & descrip.)
  • NEWMARKET, ONT., York County Hospital, 1926-27 (R.A.I.C. Journal, viii, June 1931, 28, 32-3, illus. & descrip.)
  • WINDSOR, ONT., Windsor Court Apartments, Ouellette Avenue at Hanna Street, 1926-27 (R.A.I.C. Journal, vi, Feb. 1929, 68; March 1929, 101, illus.; dwgs. at Windsor City Archives, RG4-18)
  • NEWMARKET, ONT., residence for Frank Denison, 1927 (C.H.G., v, Jan. 1928, 30, illus.)
  • BEAVERTON, ONT., Public School, c. 1929 (Year Book of the Toronto Chapter-Ontario Association of Architects, 1933, 81, illus.)
  • KINGSTON, ONT., residence for Rev. John D. Ellis, Frontenac Street, 1929 (C.H.G., vii, March 1930, 32, illus.)
  • UXBRIDGE, ONT., Thomas Foster Memorial Temple, 1935-36 (R.A.I.C. Journal, xiii, Dec. 1936, 225-9, illus. & descrip.; xiv, Feb. 1937, 22)
  • STREETSVILLE, ONT., Public & High School, 1937 (C.R., l, 16 June 1937, 33)
  • BRAMPTON, ONT., Ontario Mental Hospital, Administration Building, 1938; Nurses’ Home, 1937-39 (C.R., li, 4 Jan. 1938, 28; dwgs. at OA, RG 15-13-2)
  • RED ROCK, ONT., school for the Nipigon School Board, 1946 (C.R., lix, Aug. 1946, 157)
  • BELLEVILLE, ONT., Hastings County Home for the Aged, 1950 (R.A.I.C. Journal, xxix, Dec. 1952, 362, illus.)
  • MARMORA, ONT., High School, 1950-51 (R.A.I.C. Journal, xxx, Jan. 1953, 20, illus.)