The Toronto Centre for Active Transportation (TCAT), is pleased to announce that it is launching a new project called Creating a ‘Town Centre’ in a Tower Neighbourhood. In this action-research project we will work with community members in Flemingdon Park to activate public space through a simple design intervention.
Throughout TCAT’s Active Neighbourhoods Canada work in Thorncliffe Park and Flemingdon Park, we have witnessed burgeoning community efforts in Flemingdon Park, but despite a higher than average population density, the streets are often empty and inhospitable. Flemingdon residents often travel to nearby Thorncliffe Park to enjoy public space. Thorncliffe, while being similar in socio-cultural make-up, has the advantage of a physical centre, a public park that many of the towers overlook. This creates safe places for people to congregate, and for children to play. By comparison, playgrounds in Flemingdon are generally building specific and surrounded by fences. There is not a critical mass to make these spaces inviting and comfortable.
This project will support the work of the Flemingdon Urban Fair Committee, a group that has convened to tackle the above issues–through a participatory design, budgeting and evaluation process. Based on the ideas of ‘tactical urbanism’ where small grassroots-led physical interventions make large ripple effects on public space, and using the methodology of Participatory Action Research, the project provides a $5,000 fund that is set aside for the design and fabrication of a piece of shared equipment to provide the functions of a ‘town centre’ as defined by the group. The equipment could be mobile, temporary or permanent and will be designed by the group through design facilitation exercises. The project is based on the assumption that the process (i.e. the ‘social infrastructure’) is what makes physical equipment meaningful, and thus what ultimately performs the ‘town centre’ function.
Support for this project was provided by a seed grant from the Healthier Cities and Communities Hub Seed Grant initiative, a consortium of three Funding Partners: Toronto Public Health, The Wellesley Institute and the Dalla Lana School of Public Health.