Community Resilience

Funding level: $50,000 to $100,000


Greenest City and the Parkdale Neighbourhood Land Trust (PNLT) have partnered to acquire, invest in, and curate the land trust's first piece of community-owned land!

The Milky Way Garden is a publicly accessible, privately owned vacant lot that is managed by Parkdale-based urban agriculture & environmental education charity Greenest City. For the last seven years, about 1/3 of the 6,060 sq ft space has hosted an English as a Second Language (ESL) newcomers garden, as well as various neighbourhood potlucks and community events. The newcomers garden started when a local Toronto District School Board (TDSB) teacher, teaching out of the neighbouring Parkdale Public Library, realized that many of her learners weren't able to purchase costly fresh fruits and vegetables while also having limited or no access to space where they could grow their own food.

Each year, Greenest City and the gardeners have relied on the generosity of the owners of the land for access to the space. The owners were hoping to eventually build a home on the property, but when this opportunity fell through, they approached PNLT & Greenest City about having the land purchased through the newly-formed land trust. South Parkdale, where the land sits, is designated by the City of Toronto as a Neighbourhood Improvement Area, which are specially-selected and designated neighbourhoods in the City of Toronto found to have inequities on several indicators of well-being. In South Parkdale the majority of residents are renters, with a high percentage of the population being low income and many living on fixed incomes. In addition, Toronto's downtown core is going through a record-breaking housing market, with the average detached home price surpassing $1,000,000 earlier this year. Parkdale in particular, which is an important neighbourhood for Toronto's many newcomers and the longstanding Tibetan community, is undergoing rapid gentrification. While this growth and development creates opportunity, it has the potential to disenfranchise and push out our community's most vulnerable members. Not to mention reduce access to already limited green space. Needless to say, with land at an extreme premium, the opportunity to purchase this piece of land at a reduced rate and turn it into permanent, accessible community-owned land is unprecedented.

Greenest City has been very grateful to have the opportunity to curate this space over the last several years, however, without any certainty around the property, we haven't been able to make any long term investments. With this funding, we will be able to complete the purchase of the land, conduct crucial environmental assessments, create a stewardship fund to ensure long term care & stability of the land, invest in new gardening beds and water access as well as begin a feasibility study and community consultation process around the long term curation of the space.

Our vision is to create a vibrant, multipurpose community space through urban agriculture and environmental projects that increase access to healthy fresh food, while creating opportunities for learning, training, employment, and community connections. We want to enhance the community garden, create a learning space, grow more fruits and vegetables for the community and assess how we could incorporate a social enterprise into the space. Our plan will be developed in conjunction with our community and our partners to ensure it is being put to the best use.

In a City where real estate development interests can push out socially valuable, but less profitable land uses, securing the community ownership of this land is a necessary first step to help build inclusive local economies.

Thanks for your support!

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Greenest City

Location: Toronto