Tag Archives: Junction Commons Project

Faces of the Junction Commons

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linda o. nagy
“i live on Medland Street and have been in the Junction for 10 years. i have a background in communications and editing. on any random day you will find me telling people how fabulous this neighbourhood is and why they should live, shop or play here. i’m active in the Junction Commons governance and government relations committees, and am currently the president of the board of directors.”

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Transmission from the JCP

While the JCP continues to wait for news on our application for a Trillium Foundation grant that will fund our feasibility study, we are active in seeking out other grant opportunities, as well as kickstarting a grassroots funding drive in the neighbourhood. To this end you will see members of the JCP at various events, including the Ryerson Design Students opening (see earlier post for details) and the Farmers Market. You’ll be able to find information about the Junction Commons Project, speak to members involved with the group and even make a small donation. Right now we just need a bit of funding for printing, website costs and various administrative fees. But this is also good groundwork for us to lay for a future, multi-level funding strategy which is the necessary way to go in a climate of reduced government social spending.

While a decision has yet to be made about the future of 209 Mavety Street, we continue to set up meetings with various community groups and are always open to requests for information or attendance at local meetings. We have been in touch with the city’s community revitalization office about our project and have been keeping Councillor, Sarah Doucette apprised of our progress. We also continue to gather the information necessary to make our case to the city to keep 209 Mavety Street in community hands. This is important work that’s essential to our future success in establishing a much-needed community hub in the Junction.

JCP members have also been attending various community meetings at the request of local organizations that want to know more about the project. We shared the guest spot at a recent Junction BIA meeting with some folks from TAS Development who are responsible for the new condo development at Dundas West and Indian Grove. This company takes a specific interest in the Junction so we should take a specific interest in them as well and what they plan to do. We were also warmly received by the West Bend Residents Association and they agreed that we could contact them again when we start the feasibility study to see in what way they could participate. Next week we will be meeting with the Vice Principle at Lucy McCormick School to bring them up to speed on the project and see how what we envision can be inclusive of their community. We have many more organizations to approach and we hope to speak with as many as possible in the coming months. In the process the JCP is learning a lot about the Junction, and that, in essence, is what it’s all about.

Transmission from the JCP General Meeting

Two important meetings have passed since an update has been written. The first one was on March 20 and this was geared specifically towards meeting with residents of Mavety Street who have particular concerns around the creation of a community hub across the street from where they live. As a community initiative the JCP is making extra attempts to inform and include Mavety residents in this process. It was unfortunate that more JCP members were unable to attend the meeting however, the report back was that overall it was productive in helping the JCP understand some of the concerns that some Mavety folks have. This was just the first meeting of what we hope will be many more opportunities for discussion.

While we have had communications with Mavety residents that support the idea of a community hub (several have signed our petition), these are some of the concerns raised at the meeting:

  • Some residents would like to see the street become more residential. They feel this would serve to clean up the look of Mavety Street.
  • Some pointed out that there is already a fair amount of community infrastructure, with the nearby fire station and correctional services facility.
  • Some Mavety residents wondered what types of services would be offered and who those services would cater to.
  • Others expressed hesitance with accepting government money for programming, as it could lead to programming being dictated to, rather than generated by, the local community.
  • Some residents discussed the impact the community hub may have on property values.
  • Some residents are concerned that the area remain safe and crime-free.

Apparently many Mavety folks were under the impression that the JCP was a done deal – and this is not the case at all. We are still waiting to hear on funding to do a feasibility study and still need to make our case known to City Council on June 17th. In other words, there is still a very real possibility that City Council could decide to move the property to their real estate division (Build Toronto), in which case the building would very likely be sold to a private developer.

The Junction community is diverse and we expect to hear quite a broad range of ideas as to what a community hub might do and how it would look during the consultation process. This is just the beginning of what is hopefully and engaging community wide forum.

At last weeks meeting we continued our discussion on the constitution, a very important document that will clarify the power structure of the JCP and its relation and accountability to the community at large. We had decided at a previous meeting to finish our basis of unity, or manifesto in order to clarify some differences over the constitution. The group perceives the needs to balance (what some feel to be) altruistic goals with pragmatic realities of achieving a broad base of support in the community. While some want the language to be incisive and specific to the realities of the challenges that we face on the neighbourhood level of life in a large global and gentrifying city like Toronto, others feel that language needs to be positive, clear and accessible, and that people need not be alienated at the outset. While everyone feels passionate about their perspectives a check in at the end of the meeting proved that everyone was ok with the process. We hope these sometimes heated discussions are productive. After all this talk, a committee was struck to take all the perspectives and suggestions offered at the meeting a work on a second draft of the basis of unity and to finish the constitution. Finally, we put a timeframe on the finalization of the basis of unity and the constitution as we need to get on with other important work.

‘Some Great Ideas’ by Edward Keenan

A JCP member recently came across the book ‘Some Great Ideas’ by Edward Keenan which she wanted to share with the JCP community:

I recently came across a really good book by Edward Keenan. There is a lot of the Junction material in his book because the author turns out to live here. The title is ‘Some great idea ‘and the book talks about Toronto’s past and present. It has some moments where the events described are incredibly current and parts of this book read like our manifesto (basis of unity). I think that our project (JCP) is we on the right path and its timing is perfect.

Here is a review (just a small piece) of the book by Angela Hickman. I picked this passage because it talks about one thing that many people notice: how divided the larger area where we live is.

‘Keenan has been a journalist in Toronto for over a decade (and grew up here to boot), and while I wouldn’t say he’s unbiased, I would say that he’s fair. His personal stories, whether from reporting or his personal life, are illustrative of both how the city works and how it doesn’t, and that dichotomy is often jarring. Take, for example, Keenan’s story of moving from one ward to its neighbour across the tracks. His family moved only a couple of blocks – easy walking distance from their old apartment (Dundas St. and Pacific Ave – KK) and found themselves in an entirely different version of the city. I see these changes every day on my way to and from work. I get on the subway in a dense, walkable city neighbourhood and get off in a neighbourhood of busy four-lane roads and a whole lot of cars. In my case, both of these neighbourhoods are middle class, but they demonstrate very different planning philosophies.

But these differences – this diversity – are Toronto’s strength, Keenan says. Diversity of income, race, urban landscape, age, gender, background, etc. is what makes Toronto such a liveable city. In recent years, however, that diversity has become increasingly divided. The city as whole remains diverse, but its neighbourhoods less so, as development downtown pushes up prices and low income residents are pushed farther out, where there are lower levels of the services they would most benefit from. It’s a problem Keenan says, but not one without solutions (and, to his credit, he offers numerous workable ideas as starting points).’

You can read the full review here: http://www.chbooks.com/reviews/books-under-skin-thinks-some-great-idea-should-be-every-nightstand-city

 

2.      Here is another very insightful piece from the time when the Junction started to change. http://readingcities.com/index.php/toronto/comments/the_junction_hip_arts_hangout/

Transmission from the JCP General Meeting – March 12

We are in the process of changing our regular meeting night from Wednesday’s to Tuesday’s, but in the process there was a communication mishap with Smash which left us locked out. We ended up having to relocate the meeting to the Axis basement. We left a rather wilted sign on the door of Smash, so hopefully anyone who showed up late could find us. Luckily, we had the basement at Axis to ourselves, it was relatively quiet and the waitress was very helpful and attentive in checking on our beer requirements. We appreciate the extra effort she made to come all the way down there.

Over beverages we continued the discussion from last week on the constitution, an important document that we don’t want to rush. There still seems to be a lot of questions unresolved. It was decided that we needed to go back to an earlier document which we had never finished, our basis of unity or manifesto, in order to help us clarify the decisions about the constitution that we need to make.

This week a few of us JCP members also went to a JRA meeting to give a talk about the Junction Commons Project: the history, whose involved, what has been envisioned so far, and where we are at in the process of obtaining 209 Mavety as a space. As we were presenting our case I could just see the project blossoming in my mind as a very distinctive site that redefines the Junction within Toronto as an exciting and engaged neighbourhood. We fielded a bunch of questions, but overall the response seemed very positive. One JRA member identified herself as a Mavety resident and she said she thought a community hub was a good idea but that she would like to see some greening of that side of the street, and we agree.

This is at least the fifth Mavety resident to either speak to us or sign a petition is support of the project. We have been very concerned to connect with Mavety residents from the start and have dropped letters off inviting them to meetings twice and plan to continue with regular hand delivered updates. The last letter we dropped let them know that this weeks meeting (Wednesday March 20th) will be dedicated to a discussion with Mavety residents. We hope we meet some new people from the street.