Community Liaison Committee (CLC) for 348 Davenport Road
July 9, 2018

Participants

John Corso, 250 Davenport
Louise MacDonald, Dupont by the Castle BIA
Oliver Collins, Davenport Triangle Residents Association
Cal Bricker, Davenport Triangle Residents Association
Amy Feldman, Taddle Creek Residents
Terri Chu, Annex Residents Association
Kim Hinton, St. Clare’s Multi-faith
John Hill, Church of the Messiah
Joe Cressy, Ward 20 Councillor
Colin Burns, Constituency Assistant
Irene Gryniewski, Shelter, Support and Housing Administration
David Colussi, Workshop Architecture
Elaine Chau, Workshop Architecture
Joy Connelly, Facilitator
Gemma Johnson, Minutes

Introductions

All participants introduced themselves and their associations. It was established that the meeting would focus on issues surrounding the building, followed by a walking tour with architects, an overview of work, and discussion.

The Role of the Community Liaison Committee

The Community Liaison Committee (CLC) was formed with the purpose of promoting the success of both the women who will be using the shelter and the surrounding community. The CLC in its present form will operate no longer than six months after the shelter is occupied, but could be re-created in a different form if there is interest from the community. The number of meetings and role of CLC afterwards will be shaped by CLC members. Cal Bricker described his concerns with the former respite centre and offered a dissenting view of the CLC’s purpose, limiting its focus to identifying potential impacts of the new women’s shelter on the community and design mitigation measures that would have the support of neighbourhood residents.

What Do You Value About Your Community?

CLC members were asked what they most value about their community. Newer residents noted the access to good amenities, a quiet community, the atmosphere, the greenery. Residents then noted their desire to participate and offer up ideas for how the new shelter would operate. Others noted the lack of socio-economic diversity in the area and hoped there would be volunteer opportunities, so children are exposed to different socio-economic conditions.

Residents living in the area for over five years have noted they have not seen much change in the last two decades. The street itself has seen revitalization with business, population shifts, and a decline in population (transition to single family homes and smaller family sizes). Some residents wondered whether the new condominium developments in the area will be used by families or couples looking to downsize. All residents agreed on the value of having a quiet residential neighbourhood in the centre of the city. Residents at 250 Davenport like easy access to transit, though many feel disconnected from the wider community. Residents at 138 Pears particularly value the area as a safe neighbourhood.

Accountability

The CLC will is an advisory committee rather than a decision-making body. However, there is an accountability framework:

  • City staff are accountable to the framework set by City Council. The CLC can inform and advise City staff, and staff can in turn provide information to the community.
  • Joy [facilitator] is accountable to the City through a contract. Her role is to support the CLC and foster communication with the entire community.
  • The shelter operator will have an operating agreement with the City to uphold the City’s shelter standards.
  • For CLC members, participation is an opportunity — not an obligation. How CLC members manage their accountability to their own organizations is up to them.

Confidentiality

The CLC and what is said at meetings is not confidential, will be posted online, and can be shared. Members should notify the facilitator if they say anything they would prefer to keep confidential. Joy will seek permission before sharing contact information among CLC members or with others.

Background information

  • There are currently 63 shelters in Toronto and 1000 beds will be added in three years.
  • Although a CLC is not a requirement, in many cases a CLC accompanies the creation of a new shelter. The respite centre was opened in five days due to unprecedented demand in extreme cold temperatures, precluding the possibility of forming a CLC.
  • The respite centre experience was challenging for both clients and the rest of neighbourhood. On the positive side, there were no homeless deaths as a result of the cold.
  • The shelter will open by the end of 2018. It will be part of the City’s new shelter model that will provide services to women. It will be both a place to sleep as well as provide access to health and housing help services.
  • Once opened, the shelter would be operated by a non-profit organization on behalf of the City of Toronto. An RFP for a new operator will be issued shortly.

Discussion:

Residents want the new shelter to have the least disruption possible for the neighbourhood. Other residents noted tension between homeowners and apartment residents stating that they [tenants] have not felt their interests are taken into account or that they were welcomed into the community. They wanted to know that while they do not own property they have invested in the community too. Both homeowners and tenants noted that they felt unsafe when clients congregated outside the respite centre, or caused trouble if they were turned away because the respite centre was full.

Tour with David Colussi, Workshop Architecture

Responses are from both Workshop Architecture and City of Toronto staff

David Colussi and Irene Gryniewski toured the CLC through the building, starting with the fourth floor, down through the third, second and first floors, and upper basement. The group also looked at the rear access through the laneway, and then returned to the fourth floor to review drawings prepared by Workshop Architecture.

Floors Two, Three and Four

  • Each floor (two, three, four) will provide dormitory style sleeping areas, with 18-22 people per floor (55-56 people in the whole shelter).
  • There will be a repeating pattern of beds that are flexible for mobility/size to accommodate the needs of clients. Beds will be divided by half walls to offer privacy without obstructing light, ventilation and sight lines. The second floor will be completely accessible (AODA compliant) with third and fourth floors also being accessible  – no bunk beds. Each person will have their own locker and a reading light.
  •  A central corridor on each floor will be designed to make the client’s space more defined and private. Each floor will have a small staff area with a desk next to the elevator and emergency lighting for safety. The ceiling will be lowered in sleeping areas to absorb sound and reduce echo.
  • Currently the building is not accessible and washroom and shower provisions will be updated. Council has mandated that all buildings are accessible by 2025. Washrooms, showers and the entire building will be finished to permit easy cleaning.
  • CLC members expressed concerns that clients would not have enough privacy/quiet to sleep. It was reinforced that sightlines need to be maintained for safety as well as access to natural light.

Q: How long can people stay?
A: On average people will stay three to six months. Clients will have access to a wide range of services including housing help, counselling services, and medical care. All clients are required to participate in their own program (example: housing search). Clients might leave during the day for a variety of reasons and will have appointments throughout the week at the shelter itself (examples: case manager, doctor) or in the community (examples: looking for housing, going to work).

Q: Where will people smoke?
A: A smoking area will be created on the fourth floor terrace, facing Davenport. This will be the only place clients can smoke at 348 Davenport. The smoking area will feature a tall glass enclosure that will allow for fresh air and the roof will provide shade. A vestibule adjacent to the balcony area will address heat loss from the sleeping area.

Q: Will clients be able to look onto private space (example: across the street or into nearby backyards)?
A: There was a request for window solutions that would prevent clients from looking into neighbouring buildings. Roller shades will be specified on the east (lane-facing) windows. If permanent measures are required (example: glazing film) it can be added at a later date.

First floor

The ground floor will be dedicated to intake, services and common spaces. Clients will be arriving from the front door. In the centre of the building will be a common area where meals will be served. Towards the rear will be offices, laundry and storage. A ramp will also be built for accessibility. Staff will be on site 24/7.

Q: What happens to clients who arrive when the shelter is full?
A: Walk-ins are infrequent. People seeking shelter go to the Assessment and Referral at 129 Peter Street or call the 24/7 Central Intake line who will refer to this location only if there is a bed available. Shelter staff will be alerted to expect the client. Walk-in clients are also assisted with securing another bed by staff at this location and are provided transportation to the reserved alternate shelter.

Q: This area has a history of flooding. Have you found any water damage?
A: The building condition assessment did not reveal any water damage that would affect the building integrity or shelter users. Workshop Architecture will conduct further investigations.

Q: How will you manage security?
A: 24/7 staff monitoring the shelter usually know individuals and their needs, and are able to manage issues when they come up (example: if someone is in distress). Security features will include cameras where they are permitted, lighting and buzzers on the doors. The front door will be the only entrance to the shelter. It was also noted the population using the shelter might be different from the respite centre and might not have the same impact.

Q: Where will meals be prepared?
A: Currently there is no space now for a commercial kitchen, so meals will be catered and delivered. In the future, the City will explore obtaining the permissions needed to build a commercial kitchen and dining area in the upper basement. Both basements are accessible by elevator.

Q: Will you be using single-use disposable utensils?
A: It depends on the caterer. There will be less flexibility when the shelter first opens as there is no commercial kitchen.

Q: How will you be coordinating with the wider community on security?
A: As part of the City’s new shelter model, the shelter operator will have a Community Liaison person on staff. This person will be a single point of contact for the community, and can work with local residents and businesses to plan a security strategy for the neighbourhood.

Basement

CLC members noted the high ceilings in the basement and saw its potential for a commercial kitchen and other uses. The lower basement is a similar size and dimensions.

Outside in lane

CLC members noted the seven-storey condo to be built next door, the bottlenecks at the two entrances and other points along the laneway, and the triangular raised slab at the rear of the building.

Q: Can the slab be removed to allow vehicles to stop off the main laneway?
A: The architect said he would investigate. [Note: in a subsequent email to City staff, the architect said, “We investigated the raised slab at the loading area adjacent to Designer’s Walk Lane. There is insufficient base building information in the historic drawings and the survey to determine if it is feasible to remove the raised concrete and level the slab with the lane.”]

Q: How will the facility mitigate disruption to the neighbourhood from pumping trucks?
A: Pumping was required by the respite centre because there were not enough toilets. No pumping will be required for the new women’s shelter. The City will explore other ways to mitigate delivery disruption with the new operator.

Front of building

The current design of the front outdoor space for clients include back-to-back benches at 90 degrees from street within the property line.

CLC members were concerned that front benches would create an area for loitering and smoking that could block the sidewalk and lead to clients and visitors sitting on stoops on neighbouring properties. They recommended installing attractive landscaping instead. CLC members liked the patio space on the fourth floor because it was removed from the street. [The architect will remove the benches and fence from the design and recommend re-paving and the installation of planters.]

Q: Can you close in the space on the second floor and create another common area?
A: While it is possible, it is something that would take more time than is currently available. The goal now is to work quickly to ready the shelter to open this winter.

Renovation

The shelter is scheduled to open before the end of 2018, with a target opening date of November 15. Some CLC members asked whether the opening could be delayed to permit additional features and particularly to increase the building’s environmental sustainability. Staff noted that as winter approaches a balance must be made and there is a growing need to have space for people soon. Shelter beds usually fill up quickly well before it gets cold. The design of the building also deals with some environmental concerns (example: lighting has been changed to be more efficient).

Most renovations are to the building’s interior, and minimal disruption is expected. Bins will be placed on Davenport rather than the laneway. Removal of construction materials/obstruction will be mitigated by requiring a contractor to remove materials at the end of each day or keep them inside.

Ongoing garbage disposal

Residents were concerned about the disruption that would come from loading garbage in the back laneway. The City and Solid Waste Management will make decisions on garbage pickup. The City paid for private service for more frequent pickups during the respite centre’s operation. With fewer residents the shelter is likely to generate less waste. So far, pickup will be outside, storage will be in wheelie bins or outside containers (four-sided with roof). The exact uses/location of garbage have not been finalized but there is a possibility more can be done for an internal-focused design/use.

Future meeting agenda

The next meeting will be in September. Date and location TBA (Church of the Messiah was suggested as a possible option). Topics could include the City’s new shelter model and opportunities for neighbours to be engaged.

If anyone wants to add something not mentioned during the meeting or has any questions, please contact Joy at: 348DavenportCLC@gmail.com or 416-466-2371.