About Black Creek SNAP
The Black Creek Neighbourhood, located in Toronto’s northwest, is home to a very diverse population of about 25,000 residents. The neighbourhood is made up of high-rise residential buildings, single-family homes, as well as commercial and institutional developments. Much of the neighbourhood was built in the 1960s and 70s, so it does not meet current energy and water conservation standards. Located in one of Toronto’s Priority Investment Neighbourhoods, income, safety and food security are top of mind concerns for residents.
The neighbourhood’s main feature is Black Creek, a tributary to Humber River that flows along its eastern boundary. The valley of the river includes a recreational trail and provides opportunities for nature viewing and a quiet place for reflection. Unfortunately, the hard surfaces of roofs, roads and parking lots and the lack of stormwater controls contribute to degraded water quality and increased erosion in Black Creek, as well as localized basement flooding.
The Sustainable Neighbourhood Retrofit Action Plan (SNAP) has been developed with the community to transform the neighbourhood into a green, self-sufficient and healthy community.
The action plan:
- finds ways to better manage rainwater to reduce basement flooding and restore more natural flows and stream conditions in Black Creek;
- increases tree cover, in order to provide shade and shelter and improve local air quality;
- helps residents and businesses save money by conserving energy or generating renewable energy;
- encourages water conservation and the use of rain water for outdoor irrigation;
- promotes the exapnsion of urban agriculture to provide residents with easy access to healthy, local, organi produce; and
- enhances natural areas, such as local parks, for the community to enjoy.
The SNAP recommendations apply to public spaces (parks, community centres, etc.), private homes, high-rise towers and businesses. As we evaluated options to develop the plan, we considered how the actions impact local priorities, such as green job creation, safety, health and access to healthy foods.
Implementation programs are being delivered through local trusted agents and realize added social benefits by incorporating local job skills training and income opportunities as part of delivery. Some of the projects to date are:
- San Romanoway Revival: Greening the Corner of Jane and Finch.
The Black Creek SNAP transformed underutilized spaces around the low-income apartment towers at the corner of Jane and Finch into a vibrant park, with a 63 plot allotment garden and Toronto’s largest urban orchard. The project also includes pollinator gardens, naturalization areas with hundreds of native trees and shrubs, interpretative signage and a beautiful arbour structure, designed to offer shade and harvest rainwater to support the gardens. Hundreds of volunteers participated in the development of the park.
- San Romanoway Revival: Skills training and Income Opportunities at Jane and Finch.
Residents from the high rise low-income towers graduated from a three-month certification program on Fruit Tree Care. Some were hired to coordinate orchard volunteers; others are offering their services at the neighbourhood homes. 50+ residents received training on garden management and urban agriculture. To make the program a reality the Black Creek SNAP partnered with FoodShare and Orchard People.
- Balcony Gardening program
114 edible balconies in five low-income, high rise apartment towers were implemented during the summers of 2014 and 2015. Eight residents were hired as community leaders to mentor their neighbours.
- Harvest the Rain Program.
The program helps residents to green their homes, reaching a total of 188 consultations since the program inception. Home consultations include advice and resources to reduce energy and water, manage stormwater, reduce flooding, plant trees and participate in urban agriculture and community cohesion programs.
- Surplus Harvest Program.
In 2015, the program collected from 24 homes in the Black Creek Neighbourhood a total of 400.95 lbs. of excess fruits and vegetables from residents’ backyard trees and gardens, and donated it to meal programs at San Romanoway apartment towers.
- Intergenerational skills and knowledge sharing events.
A series of workshops were held and led by Black Creek SNAP homeowners for other residents of the area. These include: a seed saving workshop and two tree care workshops, covering topics, such as pruning out disease, pole pruning, and sulphur spraying. This program is not only offering opportunities to improve skills and knowledge, but it is also developing resiliency within the neighbourhood and generating mutually beneficial links between two historically disconnected communities.
- Black Creek Orchard Co-op.
Black Creek SNAP homeowners with fruit trees have been joining forces to tend their collective urban orchard. Comprised of a very diverse group of fruit tree owners, the group meets regularly to exchange information and attend presentations led by professionals. A short term goal is for members to help one another prune trees and harvest fruit, and a long term goal is to create a social enterprise opportunity by pooling the harvested fruit and creating a Black Creek Orchard wine label, which can be sold at markets around Toronto and even beyond.
Find out what’s happening in your neighbourhood:
May 29, 2016 – Rain Barrel Sale, 3pm-5pm
June 6, 2016 – Basement Flooding Prevention Workshop, 7pm-8:30pm
August 23, 2016 – Greening Your Grounds Workshop, 7pm-8:30pm, More information to follow
For other events in your area check:
Want to be a part of neighbourhood change…it’s a SNAP! There are many Black Creek SNAP residents already growing delicious vegetables, collecting rain water for their gardens, planting trees, saving energy (and money!) and engaging in other sustainable practices. Join the Black Creek SNAP initiatives to meet your neighbours, share the lessons you have learned, and discover how to get started on some of these actions. To get onto our mailing list, contact:
Cathrin Winkelmann, Project Manager, SNAP Projects
416.661.6600 ext. 5795
Senior Project Manager, Sustainable Neighbourhoods
416.661.6600 ext. 5708; firstname.lastname@example.org