On Sunday May 6th, ERA principal Michael McClelland joined Toronto City Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam and 75 interested participants on a Jane’s Walk in Toronto’s downtown east. Named for legendary urbanist and author Jane Jacobs, Jane’s Walks occur all over the world in the name of promoting urban literacy and community involvement in local urban environments.
Sunday’s walk began at Casey House, Canada’s first stand-alone HIV/AIDS treatment centre. This institution, founded in part by activist and writer June Callwood in 1988, will be undergoing extensive redevelopment to create a new home with a strong presence on Jarvis. Throughout the course of the walk, three distinct building styles were revealed: early park lots and remaining estate homes; earlier town lots granted to landed gentry from Great Britain; and infill south of Front Street East to Lake Ontario. The walk concluded at Sugar Beach, Toronto’s contemporary tribute to the industrial heritage of Lower Jarvis Street and surrounding area.
Many sites along the route were cause for lively discussion and debate, with themes including heritage conservation, urban redevelopment, social activism, and community involvement. For example, wishing to encourage creative thinking about public open space, Councillor Wong-Tam invited Occupy Toronto activists to reclaim an underused site in Ward 27.
The walk also passed by Allan Gardens, the site for a proposed new design competition supported by ERA. To learn more about this idea, please see our recent post about Friends of Allan Gardens’ “Explore the Edge” competition.