Dupont Employment Lands Panel

On June 17, 2014, the CCE hosted a panel discussion on the Future of the Dupont Employment Lands and how the changing nature of employment and ambitious proposals for nearby green spaces could be incorporated into a holistic vision for this area.

The Dupont Employment Lands stretch from Lansdowne to Davenport, on the north side of Dupont Street to the rail corridor. This stretch has historically been home to light industrial uses and a mix of building typologies, from 5 story warehouse buildings to gas stations to grocery stores. As Dupont Street faces increasing development pressures, the City has embarked on a study of one section of the Employment Lands, from Ossington to Kendall. This Dupont Street Study will determine future directions for the area through a new Site and Area Specific Plan and Zoning Bylaw changes, including building heights and form, streetscape, open space and allowable uses.

There is already a great deal of community organizing and visioning surrounding the future of the hydro corridor that lies directly north of the rail corridor, just outside the Dupont Street Study area. The recently completed Green Line Ideas Competition hatched some incredible ideas for the future of this hydro corridor as a connected linear park, and a Friends of the Green Line groups has organized to advocate for this vision.

Meanwhile, the nature of employment in Toronto is changing, with new maker spaces and light industrial or craft enterprises searching for affordable space that meets their needs. How can the City’s designated Employment Lands make room for this new type of employment?

The CCE sought to bring together a panel to discuss the future of the Dupont Employment Lands from these three angles — urban design and development, the area’s proximity to the proposed Green Line, and the potential for new types of employment uses to function in this space. The goal was to break open the conversation by bringing together diverse but interconnected elements into a holistic understanding of the Dupont Employment Lands.

Sarah Phipps, Senior Planner with the City of Toronto’s Community Planning division and lead planner on the Dupont Street Study, presented the City’s forthcoming recommendations for Dupont Street’s Secondary Plan and bylaw changes and shared insight on the community consultation process and future development goals precipitated these recommendations.

Helena Grdadolnik, Associate Director at Workshop Architecture, spoke about the recent Green Line Ideas Competition and her vision for the future of the hydro corridor as a green, connected linear park. Helena stressed the potential for this green space to knit together communities north and south of the railroad tracks and to further integrate green spaces within the area.

Mike Stern, Founder of MakeWorks, shared his experience in launching a new shared work space and maker space that brings together start-ups in working in physical and digital media under one roof. Mike spoke about some of the difficulties in siting these small scale manufacturing uses in Toronto neighbourhoods and the importance of affordable space and connected communities to the success of such a space.