St. James Town was the site for Toronto’s first high-rise residential apartment towers. They were constructed in 1953 to take advantage of the coming subway. St. James Town contains eighteen high-rise apartment buildings, almost seven thousand units, and over 15000 residents, in an area of 32.1 acres. St. James Town's population increased 23% over the past 15 years. As such, St. James Town is the most densely populated neighbourhood in Canada.
St. James Town is a high turnover community, where newcomers to Canada make up a large portion of the population. St. James Town is a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-linguistic neighbourhood.
St. James Town Community Corner - A Local Success Story
In May 2011, the St. James Town Community Corner at 200 Wellesley opened its doors. “The Corner” is a newly renovated, fully accessible set of offices, meeting spaces, program rooms and community kitchen dedicated to local initiatives and services to benefit the neighbourhood. This collaboration between residents, public and private funders and service providers is a unique St. James Town community success story.
The Corner is a result of more than five years of effort by local resident volunteers in partnership with a number of service providers. All are committed to improve access for St. James Town residents to services, supports and opportunities to meet, plan and build a strong, healthy neighbourhood.
The steering committee is made up of a majority of residents from St. James Town, both Toronto Community Housing and private market rental tenants. The Corner has been supported by Toronto Community Housing, which approved the transition from what had previously been a St. Michael’s Hospital satellite clinic. TCHC made the space available and allowed a 1-year rent-free grace period. A grant from the TCHC Social Investment Fund supported training and development of the governance model. The Ontario Trillium Foundation, Manulife Financial, Home Depot, Sherbourne Health Centre and Stuff Canada contributed to the capital project. Service partners, including Thorncliffe Neighbourhood Office, as lead agency and trustee, have donated services, equipment and human resources.
Through this collaboration 2000 of the 4000 square-feet has been renovated. Several community service providers have committed to offer programs and services from The Corner and in doing so support the operations and development of the centre.
A set of policies and procedures are in place, including an application and approval process that ensures, in a transparent and fair way, that the use of the space is balanced between community service organizations, individuals and community groups.
The fire at 200 Wellesley delayed the opening of the centre, while at the same time increasing the need for a safe, accessible, home base for returning tenants dealing with its impacts. The Corner is growing into a dynamic, flexible, community driven hub of activity for residents across St. James Town.