Tower Neighbourhood Renewal

Introduction:

The East Scarborough Storefront has been working to build social infrastructure in the Kingston Galloway/Orton Park community for the past 10 years. The Storefront’s major strength is its ability to align partners to achieve collective impact on a variety of local issues. With the Tower Neighbourhood Renewal project outlined in this proposal, The Storefront proposes to use its ability to facilitate dynamic partnerships to bring residents, professionals and local property owner together to improve the livability of a local tower block. This pilot project is intended to:

  • Build a foundation for effective partnership with CAPREIT
  • Establish a model for resident leadership within the 4000-4010 Lawrence E Tower Block
  • Utilize our Community Design Initiative model to facilitate resident led design of outdoor space at 4000-4100 Lawrence and The Storefront as one “neighbourhood”
  • Reduce barriers to neighbourhood planning by working with the City planning department around zoning, transportation, storm water management, solid waste and recycling management with a goal either change bylaws or to have them waived for this project
  • To use learnings and relationships developed as part of this project to a) Embed resident voice as a part of the culture at the CAPREIT property at 4000-4010 b) begin exploring more substantive resident led changes to the Tower Buildings at 4000-4010 themselves c) help CAPREIT to embrace community partnerships elsewhere d) be a demonstration site that clearly shows the possibilities of using the power of collaboration, the wisdom of residents and innovative thinking to make tower blocks more livable.

Take a look at ‘The Tower Community That Could’ a documentation of how the Tower Neighbourhood Renewal initiative at 4000/4010 began, the steps we took to ensure that authentic resident leadership is at the heart of all our endeavours, and our learnings thus far.

The Project:

East Scarborough Storefront is in a unique position of being able to facilitate meaningful relationships among residents who live in inner suburban towers, CAPREIT, the owner of the towers, nationally and internationally known architects, planners, artists and film makers.

The Storefront, as a facilitating or “backbone” organization is also in a position to build on these relationships to improve the livability of the neighbourhood.

The two year pilot project described in this document is a precursor to bigger initiatives which include: 1) Embedding neighbourhood participation in design and project initiatives at 4000/4100 Lawrence 2) landscape improvements and redesign of the entire outdoor space of 4000-4010 and of The Storefront, combining them to optimize green space and recreational space for residents 3) optimizing and facilitating regular and ongoing access to Morningside Park and all it has to offer residents in terms of recreation 3) developing a resident structure that will support resident leadership and input into common space design, green retrofits to the buildings and living spaces.

Our model of engagement for design: East Scarborough Storefront and its partners have designed a model for community redesign (Community Design Initiative or CDI) that has met with enormous success. The fundamentals of Storefront’s Community Design Initiative (CDI) that will be captured in this pilot include:

  1. Engaging with residents to help them envision, articulate and share their overall dreams for their community…and the buildings they live in
  2. Exploring with residents the materials and tools that can be used to design creative spaces
  3. Introducing residents to progressive, enthusiastic, respectful and fun professionals who will help them learn the skills they need to bring creative spaces to reality
  4. Supporting and mentoring design professionals to work effectively with local residents
  5. Developing effective communication mechanisms to ensure a true partnership among professionals, residents, property owners, managers and community organizers
  6. Exploring with residents the possible ways they can contribute to the design, creation use and maintenance of specific neighbourhood space
  7. Working with residents and professionals to turn creative design into reality
  8. Supporting residents to continue to use and steward the space they have created
  9. Helping residents envision how the relationships and processes developed in this project can be used in improving livability in their neighbourhood in the long term

The Partners

  • East Scarborough Storefront (including KGO ANC)
  • City of Toronto Tower Renewal Office
  • CAPREIT
  • Sustainable. to architects
  • Architext
  • ERA Architects
  • Toronto Regional Conservation Authority
  • Parks People
  • City Councillor Paul Ainslie
  • Scarborough Arts Council
  • Cedar Ridge Creative Centre

The Project:
Turning a Redundant Asphalt Driveway into an Oasis

When Storefront staff and partners and CAPREIT began to look at the possibilities for the joint properties at 4040 Lawrence (The Storefront) and 4000-4100 Lawrence (the two CAPREIT towers), the possibilities surrounding the driveways were an immediate focus of attention: between the two properties we have five driveways. A plan evolved to repurpose one of the driveways for green and creative community space (see attached drawings). Using the CDI model for resident led design and creation, the following project will be used as a pilot: demonstrating the possibilities of private, public, non-profit partnership and resident led transformation:

  Connecting with CAPREIT Engaging Residents Engaging Professionals Making physical change Timelines
Preliminary  Planning Explore possibilities with CAPREIT Take plan to residents for ratification/
adjustments
Mentor professionals to work in community Winter 2012
  Establish an agreement in principal Establish the physical possibilities and parameters of repurposing the driveway site Winter 2012
  Gain financial commitment from CAPREIT Host an initial charette to build interest Film makers document the process Spring 2012
  Identify resident leaders with interests in one or more of the components of the project: design, art, greening, use of space Spring 2012
  Work with residents to develop a local Resident Action Plan
  Connect local Resident Action Plan to community wide resident planning
Design Workshop ideas for design and use of space over several weeks Film makers document the process Summer 2012
  Final design meets with CAPREIT approval Build consensus among residents as to the final design Finalize designs that are true to resident planning Spring/Summer 2012
Creation Obtain permissions Film makers document the process CAPREIT re-routes driveway Fall 2012
  Tender Winter 2012
  Engage residents in creation of space: paid employment through contractors/summer grants and volunteer Architects oversee construction Permeable paving and greening aspects of the project completed Spring 2013
  Residents create the art (sculpture, murals etc) for the space Artists mentor residents to implement visual designs Art installed Summer 2013
Use Creative new community space now a feature of CAPREIT property Residents supported to plan usage of space for festivals, programs, markets or leisure gathering space Space “furniture” installed to facilitate resident usage plans Fall/Winter 2013
  Residents supported in implementing their plans Spring 2014
  CAPREIT participates in the planning of the celebration Residents plan a celebration Professionals participate in the planning of the launch celebration Symbolic dismantling of fence between Storefront and CAPREIT property Spring 2014
Steward-ship CAPREIT approves stewardship plan Residents and CAPREIT are supported to plan together for future stewardship Space is appropriately stewarded Spring/Summer 2013 and beyond

Systemic Implications:

In Kingston Galloway/Orton Park, The Storefront has worked very hard to create a “new normal” of collaboration among residents and service providers. In the past couple of years, this “new normal” has expanded to architects, landscape architects, planners and other professionals. The pilot project described here aims to further expand that “new normal” to include a local property owner, CAPREIT.

CAPREIT is open to the possibility of using a resident led approach to redesign its outdoor space, to reduce the amount of asphalt, increase the amount of green space and encourage outdoor gathering and programming; establishing a solid relationship among Storefront, its partners and CAPREIT will accomplish this, but will also open up possibilities for using a resident led approach for future building retrofits and upgrades. Further, CAPREIT is a national property owner. Engaging in a successful resident led project with CAPREIT in one location has the potential to encourage CAPREIT to take this approach in other locations.

The timing for this project is perfect. The Kingston Galloway/Orton Park community, supported by The Storefront and the Metcalf Foundation is embarking on a neighbourhood wide Economic Resiliency strategy. The resident engagement process outlined in this document will build a sense of trust with the residents in the two buildings. We propose to build on that trust to begin to assess the economic realities of the people in the building, generate ideas around local economic initiatives and generate ideas around economic initiatives and ultimately economic opportunities.

The pilot outlined in this document is an ambitious one. Through the power of collaboration with the City of Toronto, we intend to identify, address, challenge and hopefully bring change to any zoning bylaws that pose unnecessary barriers to resident led improvements on CAPREIT property. Finally, because the project is using a Collective Impact private/governmental/non-profit approach, we are confident that the eyes of Foundations, the City and the Province will be on us as we demonstrate how to lay the foundation for the creation of more livable neighbourhoods in the inner suburbs.

 Partnership Facilitation Resident Engagement

Purpose Ensure that all the professionals engaged in the project have the tools, information, trust, good will and opportunity to contribute meaningfully and effectively in the project Ensure that the residents living in the towers have all the knowledge, tools and access to power that they need to make decisions around use of outdoor space at their residence.
Constituents
  • CAPREIT: CFO, Regional Director, Property Manager, Building Superintendent
  • Professionals: Architects, Planners, Artists, Landscape Architects
  • City representatives: City Councillor, Planning Director, planning staff
  • Film maker
  • Residents at 4000-4010 Lawrence Ave East
Types of activities
  • Regular meetings with CAPREIT
  • Solidifying agreements with CAPREIT around financial investment and commitment to the process and to working with residents
  • Brokering relationships between and among CAPREIT, professionals, and City Reps
  • Designing of project workplans, budgets, roles and responsibility documents and other planning tools
  • Designing evaluation tools
  • Facilitating the documentation of key elements of the project on film
  • Organizing mentoring sessions
  • Teaching professionals how to work with residents
  • Working with professionals and City reps around the physical details of the project (ie, dimensions, materials, permits, approvals etc
  • Working with contractors to ensure local hiring for the project
  • Documenting, measuring evaluating process
  • Developing trust with residents
  • Facilitating initial information sharing
  • Providing the framework and foundation necessary for residents to voice their ideas, concerns and opinions
  • Helping residents to build their capacities as visionaries, designers, planners, artists
  • Brokering relationships between residents and professional mentors
  • Facilitating mentoring sessions
  • Articulating the overall plan developed by residents in clear plain language
  • Facilitating the involvement of residents in all aspects of the project’s development: employment as available, or volunteer work in construction, art, greening etc
  • Introducing the concept of stewardship to residents
  • Working with residents to develop a model for using and taking care of the space
  • Assisting residents to organize around use and care of space

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