Planning Community Services in the Downtown Core

In 2015, Social Planning Toronto (SPT), Canadian Urban Institute and Swerhun Facilitation conducted a Community Services and Facilities Study for the City of Toronto’s TOcore: Planning Toronto’s Downtown initiative. TOcore is a three-year inter-divisional initiative, led by City Planning. The purpose of TOcore is to ensure growth positively contributes to Toronto’s downtown as a great place to live, work, learn, play and invest. The initiative will do so by determining: a) how future growth will be accommodated, shaped and managed, and b) what physical and social infrastructure will be needed, where it should go and how it will be secured. The TOcore Study is a response to the rapid intensification of the downtown that is placing pressure on finite hard and soft infrastructure assets.

An important aspect of TOcore is the planning for community services and facilities to maintain a high quality of life within complete communities as growth and intensification proceeds. SPT and partners were retained by Toronto City Planning to conduct this work. This March, our joint report, TOcore Community Services & Facilities Phase One – Taking Stock, was released. The study engaged multiple City divisions, agencies and boards, school boards, as well as, more than 130 nonprofit community service organizations. Thank you to all who participated in this work!

The CS&F Study identified two key priorities: 1) the need for affordable, appropriate and accessible space, and 2) the need to develop innovative partnerships and collaborations to meet the challenges of growth in the downtown.  The report identifies 13 strategic actions to advance these priorities and 27 opportunities to address space needs and facility issues in the core.  The Phase One study includes a strong focus on human service needs, including access to affordable, appropriate and accessible space for groups to meet current and future community needs.

The City of Toronto is continuing with the Phase Two work which will include extensive community participation, work to deepen understanding of the needs of people living and working in the core, and engagement to create and solidify partnerships.  Some challenges that will need to be addressed in Phase Two include:

  • Identifying Divisional, Board and agency leads that have the capacity to move the opportunities forward;
  • Focusing on strategic actions to leverage current opportunities for space in the Downtown;
  • Engaging with community-based agencies, user groups and residents to participate in Phase Two; and
  • Identifying specific agency leads and/or community leaders who will work with the City to move forward the initiatives identified in Phase One.

Read the TOcore Community Services and Facilities Study – Phase One: Taking Stock report
Find out more about TOcore

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