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How Might We Refocus Kodak?

It was quite a treat for us to be invited to facilitate an envisioning workshop on April 16, 2014 for the Mount Dennis Community Association (MDCA) and Learning Enrichment Foundation (LEF) on the vacant Kodak lands in Mount Dennis. Abandoned since 2005, the 23 hectare site is ripe for re-development and has the potential to transform the Mount Dennis community into a hub of activity. Throw in the new Eglinton Crosstown LRT (which will stop at Mount Dennis) and suddenly we’re looking at a transit hub and an amazing opportunity for city building!

IMG_20140416_205551The site is currently earmarked for a maintenance and storage facility (MSF) for the LRT line. Plans drawn up by Metrolinx include building the MSF, revitalizing the heritage Kodak Employees Building and constructing a bus terminal for local TTC routes. Not entirely satisfied with the lack of intensification and community facilities in the current plans, MDCA and LEF (in partnership with the York Guardian) embarked on a campaign to convince Metrolinx to put more development on the site. The Refocus Kodak campaign aims to draw attention to these issues and ask citizens to dream big about what they would like to see on the Kodak site.

The April 16th session was the first in a series of envisioning workshops to be held by the campaign. About 25 people came out with all three levels of government representatives present – City Councillors Frances Nunziata and Frank Di Giorgio, MPP Laura Albanese and MP Mike Sullivan. We opened the session with a presentation on some inspirational case studies from Hong Kong, Singapore and Calgary that looked at similar MSF projects the incorporated city building elements. We then asked the audience to dream big by suggesting their ideas for the site, pick 1 or 2 that really inspired them and discuss them in more detail.

It’s always amazing to work in community planning because you really never know where the conversation leads and what will come out of it. And this night was no exception – participants truly saw the Kodak site as an opportunity for community development and revitalization. They were generally supportive of higher densities including creating a destination or Town Square for the community. Ideas thrown around included a microbrewery, business incubators, a photography museum and even an NFL stadium!

IMG_20140416_205605Some of the key themes that emerged from the evening include:

  • Making it a destination
  • Building a resilient community
  • The need to provide community jobs
  • Embracing innovation
  • Creating community facilities

As we were packing up for the evening, Peter Frampton, Executive Director of LEF could hardly contain his excitement at the great conversation and ideation that had just happened. LEF has since invited us to continue to be part of Refocus Kodak – we will be facilitating another envisioning workshop on May 21st and all of the collected ideas will dovetail into a pop-up charrette in June. The pop-up charrette will also travel around Mount Dennis to continue to engage residents at schools, community centres and the local library!

Indeed, helping to Refocus Kodak is something we can hardly contain our excitement about! We’re looking forward to being a part of this conversation on what is possible in Toronto!



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