Category Archives: events

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]

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You’re Invited: Junction Commons Townhall #2

7-9pm
Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Masonic Temple (151 Annette St, Toronto, ON M6P 2N7)
Free Tickets: http://junctioncommons.brownpapertickets.com (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, junctioncommoner@gmail.com.  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: http://junctioncommons.brownpapertickets.com (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: junctioncommoner@gmail.com

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

and the handbills: Poster 02a-mini-sizefixed

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

First Community Charrette done!

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About 15 people gathered at the Annette Library last night for the first of a series of public ‘charrettes’ – brainstorming sessions on what a community hub might be. We started out with the question: What would you like to find at a Community Hub? What would bring you there,   what would you like to have access to that you do not have in this community?

A lot of ideas got written down on sticky notes and posted on a sheet of paper and then we went around with markers and put dots  on the 5 ideas we liked the most. The top three  were:

Community Garden
Food and Kitchen
Community Arts

When asked to elaborate on each of these ideas a vision emerged that included a roof garden and a hydroponic set up in the basement where food was grown. A seed bank  where seeds could be traded. Also, a map of yards in and around the Junction where there was urban farming space available.  The food that was harvested could go to the community kitchen where people could come and make collective meals, eat together and maybe watch tv or a movie. Classes in nutrition, how to cook healthy on a budget and for a single person, or cooking classes for kids. Also, storytelling about food histories, and educational events on where food comes from. As for the arts, ideas ranged from renting affordable studio space, opening a gallery, having art drop in space accessible to all age groups… the art that was discussed ranged from visual arts to dance, music and the art of yoga!

The second question that was asked was: What ideas do you have for generating income to support the community hub?

The ideas touched on the three areas: community gardens, kitchen and the arts. Ideas for special events such as bringing in celebrity chefs to do cooking classes as a fundraiser, organizing Junction cook-offs where people pay to participate, or finding sponsors for the community garden. On the art side ideas ranged from renting live/work space to artists to developing a residency program that was funded by an arts council. Facilities such as a gallery or music studio could be rented out… these are just a few of the ideas that came up.

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Community consultation begins: developing a charette model

On Thursday night core members of the Junction Commons Project met with interested local residents for an evening of creative play. We rolled out the kraft paper and coloured pencils and let loose. Using the “Charrette method” for urban design with a guiding hand from Dawn Buie acting as facilitator, we harvested lots of great ideas, and a vision began to take shape. A Community Hub ….looking for a home… possibly the old police station on Mavety St?
 
The evening resulted in a short hand version of the “charrette process” which we can take to the to the far reaches of the community to sow awareness of the Hub and reap opinions, ideas and support from a diversity of Junction residents. 
 
Public sites where you can take part, likely in local cafe’s, libraries, and schools, will be announced soon.  
2013-10-10 Charette postits at SMASH-1

Next Meeting – community consult begins!

A charrette may be just what the Junction needs to help develop creative new ideas to bring new purpose to 209 Mavety St. as well as ways of implementing them. Please come to 2880 Dundas St. West this Thursday and bring your ideas and energy.

Junction Commons Project would like to invite you to the next JCP community meeting this Thursday, October 10th

at SMASH Gallery 2880 Dundas St. West 7-9pm!!

Transmission from the Junction Commons Project

The JCP has continued to lay the groundwork for the next phase of the work to be done which is the feasibility study. In June, members of the Task Force met with Build Toronto to discuss the status of the building. Build Toronto doesn’t have any pressing or detailed plans for the site at this time and the Junction Commons Project will likely have enough time to complete our feasibility study. This is great news for us! Meanwhile, we await official news from Trillium; there should be an announcement any day now.

Members of the JCP have also been visiting other city community sites. Scarborough Arts (who are looking for a new space) held a public consultation in which JCP members were participants. This gave them experience with some public consultation techniques. At the meeting with the Riverdale Community Hub director, we learned how important it is to work hard to access ‘disenfranchised’ parts of the community in the feasibility study process. At the Lucy McCormick School meeting we learned that there would be both limitations to as well as the possibility of great exchanges between the students and teachers there and the surrounding community through the JCP. Lucy McCormick has a great gardening program which we thought had potential to extend into exchange relations with the community. We also had members in attendance at a recent city organized meeting called Making Space for Culture to discuss art resources available in Ward 13 as well as needs that might exist. There was much time spent listing cafes that show art as well as other for rent spaces available such as Swansea Town Hall and the many churches that are eager to expand their cultural role. JCP members present spoke about the need for community space that had a further reaching cultural mandate than rental space for display and performance, but that supported a multi-scale arts engagement such as affordable studio space, possible artist residencies, open studio workshops for community based arts practices as well as exhibition space… Also, engaging experimental and multi-media arts projects such as garden or food art!

Once we hear about the Trillium grant we will (presuming a positive outcome) be moving forward with the feasibility study, so make sure to sign up to this blog for further details on getting your perspectives heard and included in the Junction Commons Project.

Spur Toronto | The Bottom Line

The Bottom Line

Now that the economy has become a water-cooler subject, The Bottom Line—Spur’s Toronto edition—looks at the intersection of money, politics, art and ideas, and asks how we might reimagine their connections in our society.

About Spur

Spur is Canada’s first national festival of of politics, art and ideas, to be launched in April 2013 by Diaspora Dialogues and the Literary Review of Canada.

Spur will be an annual festival designed to engage Canadians in a feisty, nation-wide search for ways forward on the most current of issues. It is multi-partisan, forward-looking and solutions-oriented—spurring ideas into action.

Spur Toronto | The Bottom Line.

Stop Line 9: Toronto

Stop Line 9: Toronto.

It’s interesting to know that Enbridge is hoping to appropriate the Line 9 pipeline that passes through Toronto (from Sarnia and Montreal) as a part of a larger plan to get Tar Sands oil from Alberta to Montreal for global export. While the pipeline doesn’t pass through the Junction, but through more northern neighbourhoods, this is certainly an environmental issue we should all be aware of as a spill would affect the water system in Toronto as a whole. Visit the site linked above for more info on how to get involved in resisting the pipeline. This is also a way to stand in solidarity with First Nations, those currently most affected, and to join in on the larger movement against Tar Sands oil.