i+D - May/June 2019 - 43

By Brian J. Barth

Community DNA
In the early aughts, when the city of Toronto decided to redevelop
the Regent Park neighborhood, a large public housing project built on the
outskirts of downtown in the 1940s that had fallen into disrepair, they
chose The Daniels Corporation as their development partner. Known for
partnering with the neighborhoods where they work, Daniels' vision was
to both preserve community character and enhance it-in an area where
million-dollar condos were beginning to encroach-without allowing the
sort of gentrification that makes long-time residents feel out of place in, and
ultimately priced out of, their own community. Strict controls were built into
the plan to ensure long-term affordability, with market-rate units helping
to subsidize shared public space improvements. But, a question remained.
Even if existing residents could afford to live there, how do you ensure
they continue to feel at home?
One answer that emerged from the community consultation process, says
Heela Omarkhail, Daniels' senior manager of strategic initiatives, was food.
Or, more specifically, growing food. "I manage a community partnership
team here at Daniels. We actually spend time in communities. In Regent
Park, we learned from the community that there is a passion for gardening
and urban agriculture," she says.
The very first condo building Daniels built in Regent Park included a 10th-floor
terrace with one large communal garden plot and nearly 20 individual plots;
these were instantly claimed, with a waiting list of 30 residents hoping to
get in on the fun. On a subsequent project, sensing the demand, residents
were given wooden planter boxes for their patios upon moving in, rather
than more traditional gifts like baskets of wine and cheese. But, these planter
boxes weren't ordered from Amazon. They were made by youth as part
of a skills development program at Dixon Hall Neighbourhood Services,
a nearby nonprofit. "Dixon Hall employed eight youth from the Regent Park
community for a summer, teaching them carpentry skills and helping them
get into the trade," notes Omarkhail.
A local urban agriculture organization was hired to facilitate communal garden
projects, an approach Daniels has since repeated throughout its portfolio.
"We provide two years of garden facilitation," explains Omarkhail. "It's
not something we rely on the condominium association for; we've actually
built that into our project budget." Daniels' urban agriculture program is
about much more than simply providing an amenity, she adds. "The social
interaction around gardening created a bond where people's sense of
ownership and stewardship extended into the common areas. That building
started performing really well from a maintenance and cost perspective
because residents were taking care of the place beyond the four walls
of their unit."

The Logan, a six-story, boutique
residence in Toronto, developed by
The Daniels Corporation, carefully
blends with its historic, village-like
streetscape while offering unique
features like a rooftop oasis.
(Image: The Daniels Corporation)

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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of i+D - May/June 2019

i+D - May/June 2019 - Cover1
i+D - May/June 2019 - Cover2
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i+D - May/June 2019 - Cover3
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https://www.nxtbook.com/emerald/id/20211112
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https://www.nxtbook.com/emerald/id/20210506
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https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20210102
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20201112_french
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https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20200910_french
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https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/asid/design_product_guide
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20200708_french
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https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20191112_french
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20190910
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20190910_french
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20190708
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20190708_french
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20190506
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20190506_french
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20190304
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20190304_french
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20190102
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20190102_french
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20181112
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20181112_french
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https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20180910_french
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20180708
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20180708_french
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20180506
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20180506_french
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20180304
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