Visioning Scarborough

Community Design in Action


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Bridging Festival 2012

This year’s Scarborough Arts Bridging Festival relocated to the East Scarborough Storefront to celebrate the launch of Tower Neighbourhood Renewal in Kingston-Galloway-Orton Park.

Over the past few years, the Storefront, archiTEXT, SUSTAINABLE.TO, ERA Architects, and community participants have been collaborating on the “Community Design Initiative” to make positive design changes to the Storefront and its grounds.

Today the next phase is truly underway: We are now officially working with the United Way and residents of the Canadian Apartment Properties Real Estate Investment Trust (CAPREIT) to improve the spaces between the Storefront, the adjacent CAPREIT Towers, and the Morningside Park Ravine beyond. Tower Neighbourhood Renewal initiatives such as this aim to produce healthier, happier, more usable, and more sustainable communities, and to empower local residents to take ownership of their environments.

The project launch was marked by a ceremonial “De-Fencing” where community youth were cheered on as they helped remove a line of fence to the north of the Storefront. The removal of this barrier is symbolic of community stakeholders’ claim to the space, but also opens practical physical connections between the tower residences, the Storefront, and the streets beyond.

This was all made possible in no small part due to the extraordinary efforts and cooperation of all involved, including, in addition to those mentioned above, the City of Toronto, Direct Construction, and all our amazing volunteers.

Special thanks again to the United Way, whose financial support of this project is essential and very much appreciated.food4_2IMG_1813_2fencepush-1


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Youth build decking for Scarborough shade structure

Beginning in early July, six youth from the Kingston-Galloway-Orton Park community were hired for a five-week period by the East Scarborough Storefront to continue work on a series of community-oriented landscape improvements. These features were designed as part of the Community Design Initiative (C.D.I.) program, to which these youth have previously volunteered hundreds of hours.

In our last week on site the team is in the process of creating a 15×50 ft. deck that will be placed underneath a green-roof pavilion known as the Sky-O-Swale, which the youth have had a hand in designing in previous sessions of the C.D.I.  program. The deck will be formed by a total of thirty 5×5 ft. modular decking segments which will eventually be pieced together. For the construction of the Deck alone, the youth have made over 700 cuts to roughly 500 pieces of wood. We have developed some real skills throughout the duration of this project and have a lot to show for it!

For more information, see our project description of East Scarborough Centre.


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Take a Look, at our Little but Mighty Book

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East Scarborough Storefront is working in community in a new way. And it’s exhilarating. And it’s messy. And it’s working! We can no longer afford to work in isolation. We believe the power of collaboration can change the way we do business in the charitable sector. In fact, we spent our first ten years leveraging the power of collaboration to support people and build community.

If you want a new way of supporting meaningful change in your community and impacting the lives of people living there, read this book. In it, we share the practical lessons learned from a decade of building community together in Scarborough, Ontario, considered a “priority neighbourhood.”

Get the book here!


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Construction and river valley tour, East Scarborough

Photos: Holly Pagnacco

Progress on the East Scarborough Storefront’s (ESS) soon-to-be grapevine pergola is running on time. We have just completed some 50 trellis modules which will form the roof structure for the grapevines to grow on. The youth spent weeks building these modules and have become confident measuring and cutting wood, along with many other skills.

As part of this ongoing learning process, our youth landscapers recently presented on the transformations the community could expect at ESS, including the pergola and deck, which the team has been working on since early July. Participants were surprised and inspired to see the impressive projects community youth are working on.

In addition to these presentations, we also participated in a tour hosted by Local Enhancement and Appreciation of Forests (LEAF) and Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA). The tour led participants along Highland Creek Valley in Morningside Park to discuss the connection between green space and our everyday living and to increase awareness of the great resource the park and trails represent.

Please come back to this site often to learn more.

Written by Ajeev Bhatia, a summer youth intern at ERA Architects. He first volunteered at East Scarborough Storefront in 2009 and was later hired as a Community.Design.Initiative Youth Ambassador. Recently Ajeev participated in a housing build program in the Dominican Republic and in fall 2012 will be attending York University to study social work.


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Construction begins at the Storefront

Over the past couple of years, ERA has been working with The East Scarborough Storefront (ESS) on the Community Design Initiative (CDI), where Scarborough youth are educated in architecture and design by mentors from ERA, Sustainable.TO, and ArchiTEXT. In the current phase, we are working to bring more shade and plant life to the site. This will include several garden and landscape features, a pergola structure for grapevines, and a green-roof pavilion known as the Sky-o-swale.

Beginning earlier in July, five youth from the Kingston-Galloway-Orton Park community, who have cumulatively dedicated hundreds of hours to the CDI program, were hired by the ESS for a five-week period to physically build an exterior deck for public use (located under the Sky-o-swale), as well as 50 trellis modules that will form the roof structure for the grapevine pergola.

The youth are enthusiastic about the project and have no problem operating the power tools required for this build. They are very fast learners and eager to get “hands-on.” Last week, participants began by learning proper technique and safety measures required to progress safely and successfully. We soon proceeded to build our shaded worktables and began to measure and cut to size some of the wood needed for the pergola modules.

After so much design and planning, it’s great to see the build phase begin. Please return here for more reports on our progress through this exciting project.

Written by Ajeev Bhatia, a summer youth intern at ERA Architects. He first volunteered at East Scarborough Storefront in 2009 and was later hired as a CDI Youth Ambassador. Recently Ajeev participated in a housing build program in the Dominican Republic and in fall 2012 will be attending York University to study social work.