By ALI RAZA, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
The City of Toronto is hosting an Indigenous Community Sharing Meeting this week on its new development at Queen Street East between Coxwell Avenue and Kishigo Lane.
The mixed-use development at 1631 Queen St. E. will replace the current Beaches Employment and Social Services and Coxwell Early Childhood Centre. The childhood centre is set for expansion, while the employment office will be relocated as part of the city’s Housing Now initiative – repurposing city-owned land to create more affordable housing.
The development has raised concerns among some residents over its proposal for a 17-storey building facing Eastern Avenue on the south end of the site which is located southeast of Coxwell Avenue between Queen Street East and Eastern Avenue.
The lane, at the eastern boundary of the site, was given the name Kishigo in 2018 to honour an Anishinaabe family that lived there in the late 18th century. Back then, local resident Joanne Doucette and former Beaches-East York Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon prompted the name change.
Also, the new Housing Now development includes Indigenous Placekeeping after current Beaches-East York Councillor Brad Bradford requested the project team incorporate it into the design “given how important this history is for the area,” he said.
According to Housing Now, the city is aiming to “convert the lane in its current form into a publicly-accessible open space that celebrates Indigenous families and history in the area.”
To do that, the city is hosting an Indigenous Community Sharing Meeting on the evening of Wednesday, March 24.
“We’ve listened. We heard that public green spaces need to infuse the elements, including the water, the earth, and the sky,” Housing Now said in a statement. “You shared with us that Indigenous space is a reflection of families and culture and an extension of ceremony and connection with the natural world.”
“These are just the beginnings of ideas that will become Kishigo Lane, a new publicly-accessible open space that celebrates Indigenous families and history in the area,” the statement added.
A community meeting in December 2020 gave residents a chance to ask questions and hear answers about the project in its entirety, including the 17-storey building which exceeds the Beach’s six-storey limit established by the Queen Street East Urban Design Guidelines. The meeting on March 24 will focus on the project’s Indigenous Placekeeping aspect.
The meeting will include a presentation and progress update on Indigenous Placekeeping on Kishigo Lane, a Q&A session, and discussion of ideas, priorities, and themes raised by Indigenous communities.
Indigenous residents and community members are encouraged to attend, as are First Nations, Métis, and Inuit representatives. Anyone interested in Indigenous Placekeeping is welcome.
It takes place on Wednesday, March 24 from at 6:30 p.m. via online video conferencing and by phone.
To register visit: https://1631Queen_SharingMeeting2.eventbrite.ca
Ali Raza is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter for Beach Metro News. His reporting is funded by the Government of Canada through its Local Journalism Initiative.