Re-Imagine the Danforth: The SoDa Barns Event Summary

Our community did it again! There was a great turnout of people enthusiastic to contribute thoughtful, local knowledge to the discussion around this significant project! At times almost 70 people were online for this event and 183 suggestions were tabled from both the discussion and emails!

The suggestions provided by the community overwhelmingly align with the vision of the Master Plan for the Danforth Garage. In the Final Report approved by Council it “envision(s) the creation of a vibrant multi-use community hub that would include multiple public uses, employment opportunities, residential uses, conservation and adaptive re-use of the heritage buildings.” The Mixed Use designation was approved at that time for the entire site to facilitate this vision.

The largest category included arts & cultural and community spaces. The opportunity now exists to remedy the significant space deficiencies in our neighbourhood, for everything from multi-use spaces to theatre spaces. It was said that evening “If you build it, they will come!” 

The second largest category of suggestions received was for the construction of workplaces, both office space and studios, to support innovation hubs, local organizations, light industry, film, design and cultural work. The other great benefit provided by these uses, as was discussed, is that foot traffic all day long is needed for main street businesses to thrive.

The range of other suggestions for the multiple new buildings, the heritage Barns and public exterior spaces is wide and included food halls and markets, recreational spaces, children’s and senior’s programming, library programming and goals for the standards of implementation. Below you will find additional details on each category and the actual list will be posted on the website.

DECA thanks everyone who participated in this pie-in-the-sky event! This important discussion is only just beginning!


Total number of suggestions submitted – 183 (read them all here: Proposed SoDa Barns Site Uses and Programs (1)  or see our summary below)

31% Arts & Cultural and Community Spaces – Local spaces for theatre productions, rehearsals and community events of varying sizes are glaringly absent from the area. Groups in the area have long struggled to find appropriate venues to host activities and events!  Event spaces as revenue generating opportunities was discussed for both interim and permanent use similar to sites such as the Wychwood Barns and the Brickworks. Support was also given for either a Transit Museum or the installation of a vintage streetcar on site as a way of creating awareness of the history of this location.

28% Workspaces – The suggestions for office space saw the need to house local organizations within the community and create social enterprise and co-working spaces. State of the art office space to  accommodate innovation hubs and start up incubators, already decentralized throughout the GTA, can meet the new demands coming out of the pandemic experience for conditions such as links to outside space, high quality ventilation, on-line meeting facilities and can offer a cool heritage vibe to hang out in. 

Studio spaces were seen to accommodate cultural production, design offices, light industry and small businesses within a robust vertical environment. A diversity of work places is key to a vibrant hub and workplaces actively support the local retail during the day.

10% Food & Garden – As the Barns provide weather protected spaces which may be multi-purpose in programming, it was proposed by many that a weekly farmer’s market be part of the mix. Establishing a permanent food hall was a suggestion offered by multiple people. An outdoor community garden and greenhouse would also provide vertical dwellers with food growing opportunities.

8% Library Programming – Suggestions to the library for maker spaces, a tool library as well as teaching spaces like a kitchen to teach food literacy, appear to be in line with the library’s progressive vision of it’s role in the community.

8% Recreational Uses – Without a Community Centre in the area, places to accommodate both active recreation like a multi-purpose gym, roller rink or skateboard park and quieter recreation like playing chess, yoga and tai chi, would meet the needs of everyone including young people and the senior population. A Children’s Discovery Centre was also suggested and have a larger draw than just the immediate area.

3% Housing – Suggestions for affordable housing on the site specifically noted the need for live work spaces for artists and seniors’ rental.

11% Miscellaneous Uses & Conditions – Under this category is located the many goals the community hopes are enmeshed into the vision of the project going forward: green best practices, Net Zero goal, public spaces (inside & outside) including washrooms, accessibility to all aspects of the project, a transit oriented site and overall a spirit of welcoming everyone in our diverse community. 

The list of the specific suggestions is posted on the website for review.

We look forward to continuing this discussion.

The two images shown were taken from the final public presentation for the Study and the link to the presentation is included below:





Re-Imagine the Danforth: The SoDa* Barns

* South of Danforth avenue 

The Danforth East Community Association (DECA) invites you to join us on Tuesday May 18th at 7:30 pm online for “Re-Imagine the Danforth: The SoDa Barns”. This grassroots visioning exercise for our community will generate a list of program suggestions for the buildings and spaces on the SoDa Barns site. This local knowledge will contribute to the creative discussion on this development and articulate a vision for our community!  

Following on from the successful DECA event “Imagine the Danforth” in 2014, we seek to again bring to the table a discussion of the significant economic, cultural and community deficits in our neighbourhood. 

As this development project enters the second phase under the continued leadership of CreateTO and DTAH Architects, we are inspired to re-visit the heritage of the Barns buildings on the site. 

The original building was constructed as a streetcar maintenance building in 1915. The skylights from this original structure remain today and it is the second oldest building in this part of Toronto. The building was expanded to become the main carhouse in 1921. (Wychwood Barns was built at this time) These vast, industrial structures have proved resilient since that time as they have adapted to the changes in their use. Today we again re-imagine their role in our community. 

The Masterplan approved by City Council in 2019 provides the structure for future development plans. The locations of interior and exterior public spaces and buildings for the three main site tenants, the Toronto Public Library expanded Coxwell Branch, The TPS Divisions 54 & 55 and Housing Now, as well as locations for additional new buildings, are mapped out in the Masterplan. The massing of these structures was also illustrated as part of the planning, as shown in the diagram below. 

DECA Visioning began the exercise of compiling suggestions for program uses on the site. Some suggestions on the list are as follows: 

– office space 

– a space/ stage for community meetings and live theatre performances & rehearsals 

– programmable public-event space both inside and outside, for the community and  revenue-generating events 

– arts & culture incubator 

–  light industry (jewelry, art production, food, fashion…) 

– community centre 

– skating rink 

– startup incubator and innovation hub 

– community gardens 

This event’s contributions will be distributed to those involved in this development. If you cannot attend, please email your suggestions to until May 25th 2021. Further information for participation in this event will be posted closer to the date. 

We look forward to Re-Imagining with you!  

Meet the Makers! And don’t forget the mending workshop.

Don’t forget the mending workshop Thursday night at 8! (that’s tonight if you’re getting this in your Thursday morning email).  REGISTER HERE

We asked our homeschool questions of our workshop leader, Shirley, and Fabric Spark’s owner, Daryl.

1. History:
How long have you worked at your business/in this field? How long has your business been in the community?
Fabric Spark is about 8 years old, but we’ve only been in the east end for 4 years. Before that, it was online only. 
Shirley is a lifelong sewist and teacher of many things including most things fabric related. She is a teacher and sewing coach for Fabric Spark.

2. Geography:
What’s your favourite place in Toronto?
Daryl -I love walking in Wilket Creek, I’ve been doing it since I was a little kid.
Shirley – I grew up on the Humber River but now I call the Don River valley my local hiking space.  
What other east-end businesses do you recommend?

Other East End Shops?  For Daryl,  it’s all about the food:
Cafe Coroco
Mon K (Shirley too) 
Knuckle Sandwich
Sharman’s Proper Pies – (Shirley too)

3. English:
What are your go-to websites/channels/books for additional info on your skill?
Daryl – Visible Mending and Mending Matters
Shirley –  the two books above and for embellishment with Embroidery: Creative Stitching by Sue Spargo 

Next Workshop: Learn to Mend

Image from the Couchside Climate Action series by Heather Corbin.

Don’t replace…repair. We have creative ways to upcycle your clothes! Join Shirley from Fabric Spark to learn how to make repairs to well loved clothes. She will go through a number of techniques for different kinds of repairs, and then hear your questions at the end.

If you want to try things during the demonstration, you will need thread, needles, scissors, embroidery thread, fabric for patches, pins. There will be a discussion on many ways to embellish repairs. REGISTER HERE

This is our final workshop in the DECA Zero series! Recordings or notes for the three previous sessions can be found at on the homepage. Thank you to the many members of our community who have been coming out to join the conversation on Thursday nights this Earth month!

Earth Day Workshop

Our third workshop in the DECA Zero series is Thursday night. We are excited to learn more about zero waste living with Mira from The RePlace, and then get our garden planning questions answered by Erin from Dirty Girl Gardening. You can REGISTER HERE

We asked Mira our “home school” questions. Read on to find out her local faves and recommendations!

1. History:

How long have you worked at your business/in this field? How long has your business been in the community?  I’ve never owned my own business before opening up Poured and The RE Place.  I knew nothing about green living or eco friendly choices until just a year and a half ago.  When my eyes were opened to what is happening to the planet, I just had to do something about it and became passionate about sustainability.  I’m still learning and truly believe that it’s all about the journey.  

2. Geography:

What’s your favourite place in Toronto? Glen Stewart Ravine at 7 am.  

What other east-end businesses do you recommend?  Moberley Fine foods compliments our ethos so well and they’re so great there!  We also love Cumin for some great eats

3. English:

What are your go-to websites/channels/books for additional info on your skill? Truthfully, I’m a full-time working mom of a 3, 5 and 7 year old.  Whatever spare time I have is dedicated to being with my family because hey, the days are long but the years go by way too fast. 

If you’re looking for bite size info that packs a punch, visit Instagram and check out @ and

Cooking workshop tonight (Thursday)

We are so excited to continue our DECA Zero workshops tonight with Lisa from Dickie’s Cooking School teaching us how to cook stocks and soups to use up food scraps.

Register here!

Here are Lisa’s answers to our home-school questions!

1. History: How long have you worked at your business/in this field? How long has your business been in the community?

Dickie’s Cooking School has been open for 3 1/2 years. I have over 10 years of teaching experience and did freelance catering for a few years. I can remember making “pies” out of pastry scraps with my mom when I was 3. I have always loved cooking (and eating).  

2. Geography:What’s your favourite place in Toronto? What other east-end businesses do you recommend?

My favourite place is Ashbridges Bay. I go there year round and love it as much when it is rainy and blustery as I do when it is hot. The East End is LOADED with great businesses. For groceries, I love Warren Fruit Market, Royal Beef, Plank Road and Masellis. For specialty items and take out I love Sharman’s Pies, Cumin, The Dylan and Local 1794. To burn it all off I love virtual classes at The Pink Studio and Toronto Yoga Company. Percy Waters is a beautiful local florist and I go there whenever I need a pick me up or someone in my life does. 

3. English:What are your go-to cooking websites?

The Minimalist Baker is an exceptional source for recipes ( Same goes for Spruce Eats ( and Epicurious (