Urban Innovation Grant
John Street Community Pilot Project
The John Street Pilot project emerged from the Technical Assistance Panel (TAP), conducted by The Urban Land Institute (ULI) Toronto’s District Council together with its two public-sector partners – the City of Toronto and Metrolinx. As part of the greater City of Toronto Weston 2021 initiative, the ULI TAP program was developed to bring together the finest industry expertise to determine how to best leverage the upcoming Metrolinx “Air Rail Link” and help start the revitalization of the neighbourhood.
The Air Rail Link is a new rail system that will open in 2015 and stop in Weston between downtown Toronto and Pearson International Airport. John Street, a secondary commercial street near Weston Rd and a primary residential street east of the tracks, will be closed to vehicular traffic at the rail crossing and a new pedestrian bridge will be constructed to connect the community across the rail corridor. The Toronto Parking Authority parking lot on John St. is home to the successful seasonal Farmers Market and the TAP Panel envisioned John Street west of the track as a more prominent potential market district in the future.
In December, 2011, ULI Toronto District Council, in partnership with Metrolinx and the City of Toronto, was selected as part of an international competition for ULI’s 75th Anniversary Urban Innovation Fund for their joint submission titled John Street Revitalization/Streetscape Plan. The grant of $23,750, matched by partner organizations, is to inject between $75,000 and $85,000 to kick-start urban development and renewal of Weston Village.
The funds for the John Street Revitalization/Streetscape Plan were split into two components. The first component was to have and immediate impact on the community while the second component would outline the vision to transform John Street from a secondary commercial street into a vibrant market district. The pilot project installation took place in June and was designed to have immediate impact and also show the potential of John Street as a Market District. The overhead lighting and the 10 planters used in the pilot project remain in the community as first steps toward the revitalization of John St.
The second component consisted of a complete public realm revitalization plan designed by DTAH, a Toronto landscape architecture/urban design/architecture firm, based on feedback from stakeholder meetings held in February and April of this year, where the Weston Village BIA, local residents, and representatives from the City, Metrolinx, and ULI came together.
Other cities where similar temporary streetscape installations have occurred include: New York Times Square installation, San Francisco PARKing Days, Philadelphia and Oklahoma City block by block revitalization through an initiative called ‘Better Block’.
Winners of the 2011 Urban Innovation Grants