The 2018-2019 ULI Leadership Program will look and feel different from the past two years. Thinking out of the box will be essential to develop new ideas, strategies and approaches to help the community translate their objectives for an Eco-neighbourhood into reality. Given the size of the study area, it will be important to illustrate development concepts along with streets, blocks and open spaces.
The key question to address is how can the community vision of an Eco-neighbourhood be achieved over the coming years as Mount Dennis becomes a major transit hub and focus of redevelopment? To best answer this question, a different approach is needed that integrates a land development exercise with a clear strategy embracing a radical re-think of traditional ideas.
A unique opportunity exists for Urban Land Institute (ULI) professionals to make a significant contribution to help the Mount Dennis community envision the future and maximize its potential as an innovative and diverse Toronto neighbourhood. Mount Dennis has many good bones with a stock of affordable housing, extensive parkland in close proximity, engaged resident and business associations and a strong employment base in the Black Creek Business Area.
Program participants will focus on the themes of Engagement, Leadership and Innovation during the October 2018 to May 2019 time period. Their primary role will be to inspire creative ideas and to identify key development opportunities through a series of mini-technical advisory panels. The ULI program will also tap into the expertise of Sidewalk Labs resources who are currently working in the Central Waterfront to develop new approaches to city-building that may be transferable to Mount Dennis.
WHY MOUNT DENNIS?
It is important to fully understand the larger context of Mount Dennis and the key defining features that make it one of Toronto’s special neighbourhoods. Geographically, for the purposes of this study, Mount Dennis is generally bounded by Jane Street on the west, Black Creek Drive on the east, Lambton Avenue on the south and Cobalt Avenue and the northern boundary of the TTC bus garage on the north. The major roads include Eglinton Avenue and Weston Road. The busy CNR/CPR corridor cuts through the eastern portion of the community. GO trains, UP Express and freight trains all use this major rail corridor.
Mount Dennis has always been identified as a working class neighbourhood with many desirable features often associated with more affluent communities. It has ample green space, reliable transit, relatively affordable housing and a superb public library and a new major community recreation centre. It is Toronto’s fourth most ethnically diverse neighbourhood and is served by both of the city’s busiest bus routes: Eglinton West (32) and Jane (35). Perhaps most important is that Mount Dennis has one of Toronto’s most active community associations Mount Dennis Community Association (MDCA) in addition to a supportive Mount Dennis Business Improvement Area (MDBIA). The MDCA seeks to brand Mount Dennis as an eco-neighbourhood.
According to the 2016 Census, Mount Dennis has a population of 13,593 and has grown by 3.4% since 2011. The total housing stock consists of 5,386 dwellings with 68% in apartments and 32% in house-form structures. Single person households make up 36.5% of the population. Non-English mother tongue languages comprise 44% with Portuguese, Spanish, Vietnamese, Tagalog, Somali, Italian, Cantonese, Korean, Albanian and Polish being the top ten languages. Just over 25% of the population is defined as low income which is higher than the City of Toronto average. This highlights the importance of preserving and achieving additional affordable housing.
Most people welcome progress but do not like change. The fundamental challenge facing Mount Dennis is how best to deal with the change that will certainly come when the $5.3 billion Crosstown LRT opens in 2021 from Kennedy to Mount Dennis. With the Crosstown, GO train, UP Express and bus routes all converging at the new Mount Dennis station it will become a major transit hub in the City. This will attract developers who will want to maximize redevelopment opportunities within a reasonable walking distance of the station. Redevelopment is a positive sign that brings investment, which is needed for Mount Dennis. As the neighbourhood becomes increasingly desirable, a key challenge will be the risk of displacement that forces long-time residents to look elsewhere. It will be essential to make sure new investment benefits everyone.
The range of retail shops and services on Weston Road is minimal with some exceptions. Supercoffee, a local café, located at the south-west corner of Eglinton Avenue West and Weston Road, has become a neighbourhood hub over the past few years and draws customers from the local neighbourhood and businesses. The owner has championed the area and is an active supporter, as well as being the Vice-Chair of the Mount Dennis BIA (MDBIA).
The Weston Road retail strip does not have fundamental services such as a local supermarket or drug store. There are very few restaurants, only one bank and generally a poor retail mix.
KEY COMMUNITY CONTACTS
ANGLICAN CHURCH OF ST. MARY AND ST. MARTHA
Beth Benson, Minister firstname.lastname@example.org
BLACK CREEK ALLIANCE, email@example.com
CHOICE PROPERITES REIT, Art Welter, Art.Welter@choicereit.ca
FOODSHARE, Brooke Ziebell, Field to Table Schools Coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org
LEARNING ENRICHMENT FOUNDATION www.lefca.org
Ray Stephens, Client Engagement and Employer Relations Manager email@example.com and Peter Frampton, CEO, firstname.lastname@example.org
West Crosstown Community Office, email@example.com
Joanna Kervin, 3rd Party Technical Director, Crosslinx Transit Solutions-Constructors
Eglinton Crosstown LRT Project, Joanna.firstname.lastname@example.org
MOUNT DENNIS BUSINESS IMPROVEMENT AREA
Laura Alderson, Coordinator, email@example.com
Robert Caplan, Chair, BIA Board, Robert@caplans.ca
Cassandra Nicolaou, Owner of supercoffee/Vice-Chair of BIA, firstname.lastname@example.org
MOUNT DENNIS COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION
Mike Mattos, President email@example.com
Simon Chamberlain, Secretary, firstname.lastname@example.org
Rick Ciccarelli, Eco-Neighbourhood Initiative, email@example.com
John Brodhead, firstname.lastname@example.org
Habon Ali, email@example.com
TORONTO REGION CONSERVATION AUTHORITY
Nicole Moxley, firstname.lastname@example.org ; Adriana Gomez, email@example.com
Session 1 – Kick Off & Walking Tour – October 26, 2018
Session 2 – Presentation from community representatives – November 17, 2018
Session 3 – Mastering Leadership with Vanessa Judelman – December 7, 2018
Session 4 –Financial Market Considerations & Mastering Leadership with Vanessa Judelman– January 30, 2019
Session 5 – Levering the Employment Potential of Mount Dennis – February 28, 2019
Session 6 – Breaking the rules: Innovation mindset for an eco-neighbourhood – March 28, 2019
Session 7 – Unlocking Creativity: Translating Ideas and Strategies through Design – April 25, 2019
Session 8 – Community Presentations – May 21, 2019
BIA seeks to improve Mount Dennis main street with streetscape plan
Making Space for Culture
Materials for the Arts
YORK SOUTH WESTON NEIGHBOUR IMPROVEMENT AREAS PRIORITIES 2018 (002)
Class of 2019 Curtner Leadership Program participants:
Alecsandra Parvu, IBI Group
Amanda Mock, WSP
Antonio (Tony) De Franco, Urban Strategies
Banah Mustafa, Sweeny &Co. Architects
Betty Vuong, HATCH
Brian Teefy, Strategy Corp
Carolyn Fearman, Giannone Petricone Associates Inc. Architects
Cynthia Shahani, Dream
Daniele Vezzoli, Zeidler
Daran Somas, City of Toronto (Real Estate Services)
Devan Sommerville, Counsel Public Affairs
Harim Labuschagne, Quadrangle
Ian Trudeau, Entuitive
Jacob Larsen, City of Toronto (Affordable Housing Office)
Maryam Sabzevari, City of Toronto
Max Rosenfeld, Crestpoint Real Estate Investments Ltd
Michelle German, Evergreen Canada
Nima Kia, Habitat GTA
Paul Stasiewich, First Gulf
Philip Ristevski, Cadillac Fairview
Rahul Nargas, Dialog
Sasha Jurak, Waterfront Toronto
Scott Pennington, CreateTO
Stephanie Rosales, Choice Properties REIT