Category Archives: news

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]

Advertisements

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

Map of Graduation Rates in GTA. Junction Average.

St. Michael’s research project analyzes the overall health of 140 Toronto neighbourhoods, Junction rated average

Thestar.com 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:

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!

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.


CRAIG & MADILL

(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.)

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.

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.

Yes in My Back Yard (YIMBY) | The Stop Community Food Centre

Yes in My Back Yard (YIMBY) | The Stop Community Food Centre.

Would you like to grow your own food, but don’t have space to garden? Do you have a backyard that you would like to put to use?

The Stop Community Food Centre’s Yes In My Back Yard (YIMBY) program connects people who would like to garden but don’t have the space, to people who have space in their yards they are willing to share.

Backyard gardening is a great way to access fresh, organic veggies for a lower cost, contribute towards a healthier environment by reducing chemical inputs and pollution caused by the industrial food system, and grow things you might not be able to find at the grocery store – all while getting exercise, fresh air, and the satisfaction of watching food grow!

In fact, gardening is one of Canada’s most popular outdoor recreational activities. But here in Toronto not everyone can go right out and start digging – many people would like to garden but live in apartment buildings or do not have access to yard space suitable for growing food. And yet others have access to a yard but do not have the time, interest, or the physical ability to maintain a vegetable garden. Some just like the idea of co-operating with others to create a garden together. Whatever the motivation for participating, YIMBY is working to build community and strengthen relationships between people who might not have otherwise met.

The Stop acts as a connector, helping to set up garden sharing matches. We also offer a tool lending library, free gardening workshops to enhance your skills, some free seedlings, a community seed exchange, and opportunities to meet and learn from other gardeners. YIMBY connects people to garden in the neighbourhoods around The Stop’s two locations, The Green Barn at Christie and St. Clair, and our centre at Davenport and Symington. This area extends roughly from: Bloor up to Rogers/Vaughan Rd and Bathurst over to Dundas W./Old Weston Rd.

If you’re interested in the YIMBY program, please contact Liz Curran at 416-651-7867 ext. 27 orliz@thestop.org

7 YIMBY Yes In My Backyard Toronto

16 February 2013: YIMBY Festival at Toronto Reference Library! Free! Fantastic!

7 YIMBY Yes In My Backyard Toronto.

The YIMBY! Festival provides a social space for people and groups involved in grassroots, locally-driven community development to gather, exchange ideas and strategies to effect change, and imagine their future city. It’s a chance to celebrate achievements and identify new challenges and opportunities, in an atmosphere focused on listening, learning and engaging.

The YIMBY festival was founded by Christina Zeidler in 2006 as a result of her work with neighbourhood groups who were responding to widespread unchecked development in Toronto’s Queen West Triangle. She realized that many neighbourhood groups were unfairly labeled as NIMBYs (Not In My Back Yard).

YIMBY is about promoting the role of neigbourhood groups as a positive force for change, who seek developments and projects that enhance the quality of life of the community, and bring the vitality that meets local needs.

This one-day event invites community groups from across Toronto to turn the table on politicians and policy makers, to educate them and each other about the issues that face each community. This is an opportunity for neighbours to meet neighbours, residents to meet politicians and politicians to meet community groups in the spirit of people coming together for positive change.

Walmarts historic first strike: American workers are on the move | Amy Goodman | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk

Walmarts historic first strike: American workers are on the move | Amy Goodman | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk.

This is very heartening news. Who knows if this will spread to Canadian Walmarts – or even the one that services the Junction. If you feel compelled to support you can donate to support a worker (no union, no strike fund): https://www.wepay.com/donations/dont-let-walmart-silence-workers-support-worker-leaders-who-are-calling-for-change

Yeah workers!