Harvest Festival in Thorncliffe Park

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This past Saturday, September 26th, the Third Not-So-Annual Harvest Festival took place in Thorncliffe Park. Hosted by not-for-profit Diasporic Genius (DG), the festival featured a pop-up Women’s Cultural Café, an initiative of the Thorncliffe Action Group (TAG). Diasporic Genius, TAG, and ERA Architects collaborated to design, build, and run this dynamic pop-up café.


Bostonians, see Jesse Colin Jackson speak!


Our friend Jesse Colin Jackson will be speaking at Harvard this April on his photographs of Toronto’s towers. Jackson’s images invite the audience to consider these conflicted sites, and have had an important role in changing the status of apartment towers in Toronto’s collective consciousness. If you’re in the Boston area, we recommend the talk.


The community that could: Ideas from the Storefront

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Recently the East Scarborough Storefront published a report documenting a number of aspects of their path to neighbourhood renewal. Since the Storefront’s approach has proven so successful, this report is very valuable for other communities interested in making some positive changes to the neighbourhood.


Powers of Towers: New video starring Graeme Stewart and Sabina Ali


ERA’s Graeme Stewart and Sabina Ali of the Thorncliffe Park Women’s Committee are featured in a terrific new video by Spacing. The video, which also includes interviews with ERA’s Michael McClelland, is entitled “Powers of Towers,” and profiles the efforts of Graeme and Sabina to transform Toronto’s aging suburban high-rise neighbourhoods into livable communities that work. Graeme and Sabina were jointly awarded the 2014 Jane Jacobs Prize, also presented by Spacing magazine.


Active neighbourhoods invite: A talk and design charrette


ERA’s Graeme Stewart is pleased to be participating in the Active Neighbourhoods Canada project taking place in Toronto’s Thorncliffe Park and Flemingdon Park, Wed., March 25.

The project uses participatory planning to help communities across Canada create green, active and healthy neighbourhoods. These neighbourhoods celebrate the active use of shared public space; they support walking and cycling for everyone through safe and welcoming urban design based on the community’s vision.


RAC Zone in Spacing: Rise of Mixed-Use Tower Neighbourhoods


The fall issue of Spacing Magazine features a short piece by ERA’s Graeme Stewart in a section called “Opinion Makers.” The article reviews Toronto’s history of residential tower development and explains the evolution of the new RAC zone allowing new program and land use in our apartment neighbourhoods. Read the full text below:


Toronto Star: Tower Renewal a “Big Idea”


The Toronto Star’s ongoing “Big Ideas” series shares ideas from Toronto planners, architects, and creative thinkers on how to make the city a better place. Recently The Star’s urban affairs columnist Christopher Hume chatted with ERA’s Graeme Stewart about various issues and initiatives surrounding the Tower Renewal project.

To read this web chat, please go to thestar.com.

Photo: Jesse Colin Jackson


New initiative w/ Evergreen CityWorks & Derek Ballantyne

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As announced recently in the Evergreen CityWorks’ Intersection Magazine, the Centre for Urban Growth and Renewal is teaming up with Evergreen CityWorks and Derek Ballantyne (CEO, Community Forward Fund) to engage in new initiatives in Tower Renewal. The purpose of this Tower Partnership will be to develop feasible funding and implementation strategies for a series of Tower Renewal sites in the GTA, working with project partners City of Toronto, United Way, Metcalf Foundation, Toronto Atmospheric Fund and more. The ultimate goal is to provide usable new models for revitalization as hundreds of tower communities across the region begin exploring the possibilities of new RAC zoning and other tools.

Below, please see more detail on the new initiative, as published in Intersection, v1n1:


Greening Jane and Finch: Competition finalists


Recently the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) held a competition to create innovative master plans to revitalize Toronto’s San Romanoway Affordable Housing Complex. The “Greening the Grounds” competition asked participants to propose designs that would provide this priority neighbourhood with a new community garden, urban orchard, greenhouse, market space, shelters, seating, paths, recreation areas, and more. The winning entry will be refined and implemented beginning as soon as autumn, 2014.


RAC Zoning Approved for 500 Sites



This June, Toronto City Council approved the proposed Residential Apartment Commercial (RAC) zone. Following a process of nearly two years of research, public consultation, policy development, and advocacy in partnership with United Way, City of Toronto and Toronto Public Health, the RAC zoning will take effect by summer’s end, (barring appeal), in nearly 500 Apartment properties that form dozens of Apartment Neighbourhoods across the city.

The new zoning by-law provides a new and flexible land-use framework for Apartment Neighbourhoods. The goal of this new framework is to enable healthy, complete, and vibrant neighbourhoods better able to respond to local needs and opportunities. The goal is addressed primarily by allowing for a full range of uses within these neighbourhoods: commercial activity, social activity, and community services – amenities that most areas of Toronto take for granted.


PechaKucha: Tower Renewal 101

Recently ERA’s Graeme Stewart presented a crash course in Tower Renewal at a Toronto PechaKucha event focused on urban innovation. The short, 7-minute talk covers half a century of Toronto’s history and, right up to some of the exciting new initiatives taking place in and around Toronto’s Tower Neighbourhoods.