Category Archives: media

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.

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

JCP does press conference and officially receives Trillium grant

The press was invited to report on the JCP as it receives it’s Trillium grant with political representatives in attendance:

November 11, 2013


Community centre study moves ahead in the Junction neighbourhood!

A collaborative grant for a feasibility study on 209 Mavety St. was officially launched on November 8th in front of 209 Mavety St.   The Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) provided the funding through a joint application from the Junctions Commons Project (JCP) and Silver Circle – West Toronto Services for Seniors (SC-WTSS)

In 2011, the Toronto Police Service Division 11 moved from its former location at 209 Mavety Street to a new facility.  This unoccupied two-story building is approximately 60 years old and 25, 000 square feet.   In the latter part of 2012, a group of residents grabbed the opportunity to talk to the community about the future of the former Division 11 building.  They formed the JCP to help focus their efforts with the intent of converting the building into a community space that provides area residents a place to meet, work, play and participate in various community activities.

The Photo-Op  marked the official launch of the OTF funded feasibility study and to bring all levels of government together in their support of this project

“I would like to recognize the province for keeping the money flowing into our communities and West Toronto Services for Seniors for supporting this local initiative.”

Cheri DiNovo MPP Parkdale – High Park

From Left to Right:  Lynn Bishop – JCP taskforce, Brent Potts – Board member SC-WTSS, Thom Burger – Executive Director SC-WTSS, Jonah Schein – MPP Davenport, Peggy Nash – MP Parkdale High Park, Cheri DiNovo – MPP Parkdale High Park, Graeme Stewart – ERA Architects, Sarah Doucette – City Councillor Ward 13, Peter Thoma – Partner in Urbanmetrics Inc.

“This is the best kind of community project, where the community is on board from the beginning.   We need more public spaces for people to come together that are accessible and affordable and open to the community.”

Jonah Schein MPP Davenport

UrbanMetrics Inc, lead by area resident Peter Thoma, have been retained to lead the feasibility study and are already beginning to consult with the Junction community to assess the various services and activity needs and gaps in the area.

Work is already under way to consult with the Junction community to assess the various services and activity needs and gaps in the area.   Individuals can participate in an online survey through

” I’ve been very impressed with the outreach to the community and the dedication of the Junctions Commons Project group.”

Sarah Doucette, City Councillor Ward 13

“The Ontario Trillium Foundation funding is so significant. We needed someone with quite a breadth of experience to lead the study, and getting the support of the Ontario Trillium Foundation allows us to hire this expertise which in turn means we can leverage the incredible volunteer energy in this neighbourhood for good purpose.”

Lynn Bishop, JCP Taskforce

“Kudos to the Junction Commons Project a group of engaged community members who care about their neighbourhood… and then using the levels of government- municipal, provincial and federal, to make the vision happen.”

Peggy Nash, MP Parkdale – High Park






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.