Junction Triangle Development and Visioning

Dear Residents and local interested community members,

As a local intern architect, I am well aware of the fast transformation that the Junction Triangle, in particular the South Sterling Road area is currently experiencing. Over the summer months, a significant heritage component of the neighbourhood in the form of the street frontages of the former Tower Auto site, its chimney and the Toronto Hydro building have all been lost, albeit for good reasons for decontamination. I pity the fact that more was not done to preserve these unique urban street frontages but look towards the future with a colleague of mine in envisioning how the remaining fabric of the area could be transformed into a West Toronto Arts Precinct.

The following is an article that we prepared examining the current condition of the neighbourhood and present our thoughts and visualizations on how we believe one possible outcome for future development could unfold. This article was forwarded and presented as a debate topic to the individuals running for local council on September 13th, 2010.


Eric Charron (M.Arch, B.A.S.)
Carlos Rubio-Reyes (B.Arch, B.E.S.)

The City of Toronto is among the most cosmopolitan cities in the world. Take for example the Junction Triangle, a neighbourhood comprised and surrounded by Portuguese, Spanish, Polish and Ukrainian speaking communities. The Triangle, which lies on the western edge of the downtown area, is one of the city's last surviving underdeveloped manufacturing and industrial precincts. Bordered by three rail lines - a CN rail line to the north and two GO train lines along its East and West flanks converging at Dundas Street West - the Junction Triangle is home to artists, designers, cultural groups, photographers, young families, working-class professionals and service industry workers.

Currently, there is increased interest and pressure to develop properties in the city core. As a result, a growing number of sterile, repetitive and un-distinct townhouse developments, together with mid-rise apartment buildings have been introduced within the area. Sadly, this process has slowly degraded the subtle urban qualities of this unique neighbourhood. Take for instance the Tower Automotive site (c.1920) - a former metal rolling mill - and the Sterling Studio Lofts, which are among the landmark buildings at risk of redevelopment. Loosing these structures could destroy a delicate urban quarter, rich in architectural industrial heritage.

Taking the success of the Distillery Historic District as an example, irreplaceable heritage buildings were fused with new development, producing a one of a kind urban district. If the Junction Triangle was to follow a parallel urban development process, it could become a unique affordable arts district for up-and-coming design and performance specialists. More importantly, it would create opportunities for businesses to relocate into the reinvigorated neighbourhood.

This part of Toronto could turn from being a neglected area to a hub of activity for residents that can boost the local post-industrial economy. By offering expanded housing options and establishing heritage-sensitive development policies, it would preserve its exceptional large span industrial spaces, pedestrian scaled streets and turn of the century brick exteriors that characterize the Junction Triangle.

The success of a revitalized neighbourhood depends on the strengths of its adjacencies to surrounding communities and services, such as close proximity to local jobs, transit, restaurants, recreation, cultural venues and public open space. The Triangle’s current limitations to connectivity, such as the rail lines, can in fact become some of its productive opportunities. By engaging underutilized properties and structures on both sides of the tracks, as well as introducing strategically placed pedestrian bridges that reinforce the Junction Triangle’s links to neighbouring areas, these interventions can lead to new opportunities that can accommodate green public open spaces, cycling infrastructure, and congregational activities like farmer’s markets, sports events and festivals. By establishing new links with the West Toronto Rail Path, which has already seen great success, a cycling and walking network will encourage more residents to take up these methods of transit and solidify the cultural and physical bonds of these neighbourhoods.

The health of a city can be measured by the vibrancy of its streets and public open spaces. Through carefully considered planning and community based development, the Junction Triangle can become one of Toronto’s most notably rediscovered precincts and enhance the city’s image and potential on the world stage.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

The last thing I want is

The last thing I want is South Sterling to be like the Distillery are which is an overpriced tourist destination. We need development that does something for the people that live here. Like having a real Boys and Girls Club clubhouse run by and accountable to this community.

Great article

This was very well written! For someone who is currently in the process of moving into the neighbourhood, this article brings light on all the great aspects of the Triangle!

Images in addition to this article PLEASE SEE LINK BELOW

Please visit this Flickr site to view images associated with the Junction Triangle Visioning article above: