Using multiple sources of data, the Central Etobicoke Hub Feasibility Study provides an in-depth understanding of the current deficits in community services and community spaces in Central Etobicoke and accesses the feasibility of a community hub as an important step to addressing some of these deficits. The report identifies, assesses, and prioritizes community needs; identifies community assets and resources; identifies walkability and transit issues that affect access; outlines demographic information; captures the unique needs of the area; identifies accessible locations for community space; records specific areas of interest and programming needs; establishes potential partnerships and identifies potential governance models. The study builds on the preliminary work of various community groups, with members who have been raising awareness around the lack of services and the deficits in community spaces in Central Etobicoke since the 1990s.
Specifically, this study sheds light on community demographics such as the multiple concentrated pockets of poverty, where low-income rates are as high as 26.7% and child poverty rates reach 39.5% in Central Etobicoke. In addition to these pockets of poverty, Central Etobicoke is home to a large population of seniors, who make up one in five of all residents. Children under age 15 and youth, aged 15-24, also comprise large proportions of the Central Etobicoke population, representing 15.3% and 12.3% of all residents, respectively. Central Etobicoke also supports a new population of Syrian government-assisted refugees. These demographics underscore the urgent need for renewed investment in community resources and infrastructure to support residents in this evolving community. However, Wards 3 and 4 combined lack the necessary quantity of community services and community spaces.
To better understand the needs of the community, this research engaged a broad range of stakeholders, including residents, service providers, community leaders, community workers, elected officials and their staff. Based on the 206 surveys, 17 focus groups and 14 key-informant interviews, participants identified the following direct service needs:
Increased recreational services for seniors
Access to community-based health care services for seniors and other marginalized populations
More youth programming, specifically drop-in youth spaces
Services which centralize community information, such as wraparound referrals
In addition, in response to the severe shortage of community space in Central Etobicoke, residents and other stakeholders identified spatial needs that would act as the first step in beginning to address this deficit in the area. These include:
Space to provide a range of programs and services
Common space for residents to meet, socialize and connect
Track and gymnasium facilities
Surrounding green space for community gardening and active recreation
Participants also identified a suitable governance model which would allow for a balance between community-based and City-sourced governance similar to the City/community model. In addition, from the research it was concluded that the hub should be located somewhere accessible via the main transit route and close to Central Etobicoke communities with the greatest needs. Potential locations include spaces around the intersections of Dixon Road and Kipling Avenue, Dixon Road and Martin Grove Road, Eglinton Avenue and Islington Avenue to Eglinton Avenue and Martin Grove Road, Rathburn Road and Highway 427 to Rathburn Road and Renforth Road, and finally, from Burnhamthorpe Road and The East Mall to Burnhamthorpe Road and Renforth Road.
The study finds that a community hub would address long-standing deficits including local space needs and service gaps in Central Etobicoke. This essential access point will support youth, seniors, newcomers, individuals living alone, and families, enabling them to interact and become fully engaged, healthy, socially included, and active residents. A community hub would support collaboration, provide opportunities for referral and coordination, and work to improve collective impact by breaking down service silos and creating integrated supports to address the needs of the community.