Evergreen Brick Works

Competition Finalist

This entry has been selected as a finalist in the
Geotourism Challenge 2009: Power of Place - Sustaining the Future of Destinations competition.

Evergreen Brick Works highlights the value the ravines possess as a natural element defining the city and differentiating Toronto from other cities around the world. The site will be a nature exploratory centre educating and inspiring visitors about the value of nature in cities, and its feasibility, while protecting and raising awareness of the ravines fragile ecosystems. It is the first venture to embody and demonstrate the unique connection between nature and Toronto, aligned with what author and journalist Robert Fulford wrote in Accidental City, “The ravines are to Toronto like what the canals are to Venice, hills are to San Francisco and the Thames River is to London." Evergreen ...

About You

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Contact Information

Title

Mr.

First name

Nate B.

Last name

Habermeyer

Your job title

Public Relations Associate

Name of your organization

Evergreen

Organization type

Organization Type

Annual budget/currency

Annual Budget/Currency

Mailing address

355 Adeliade Street West

Telephone number

Telephone Number

Postal/Zip Code

Country

Canada

Alternative email address

Alternative email address

Your idea

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This will be the address used to plot your entry on the map.

Street Address

355 Adeliade Street West

City

.

State/Province

.

Postal/Zip Code

Country

Canada

Geotourism Challenge Addressed by Entrant

Quality of tourist experience and educational benefit to tourists .

Organization size

Please select one

Indicate sector in which you principally work

Tourism-related business

Year innovation began

2006

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Indicate sector in which you principally work

Name Your Project

Evergreen Brick Works

Describe Your Idea

Evergreen Brick Works highlights the value the ravines possess as a natural element defining the city and differentiating Toronto from other cities around the world. The site will be a nature exploratory centre educating and inspiring visitors about the value of nature in cities, and its feasibility, while protecting and raising awareness of the ravines fragile ecosystems. It is the first venture to embody and demonstrate the unique connection between nature and Toronto, aligned with what author and journalist Robert Fulford wrote in Accidental City, “The ravines are to Toronto like what the canals are to Venice, hills are to San Francisco and the Thames River is to London." Evergreen ...

Innovation

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What is the goal of your innovation? Please describe in one sentence the kind of impact, change, or reform your approach is intended to achieve.

Evergreen Brick Works will be a unique and creative social enterprise destination that will model sustainability on all fronts while providing tourist access to the world's only urban ravine system.

Please write an overview of your project. Include how your approach supports or embodies geotourism or destination stewardship. This text will appear when people scroll over the icon for your entry on the map located on the competition homepage.

Evergreen Brick Works highlights the value the ravines possess as a natural element defining the city and differentiating Toronto from other cities around the world. The site will be a nature exploratory centre educating and inspiring visitors about the value of nature in cities, and its feasibility, while protecting and raising awareness of the ravines fragile ecosystems. It is the first venture to embody and demonstrate the unique connection between nature and Toronto, aligned with what author and journalist Robert Fulford wrote in Accidental City, “The ravines are to Toronto like what the canals are to Venice, hills are to San Francisco and the Thames River is to London." Evergreen Brick Works will embody the natural beauty and special connection between Toronto and its ravines.

Explain in detail why your approach is innovative

Evergreen Brick Works will provoke new ideas about the relationship between nature, people and cities. By capitalizing on the site's unique natural and industrial heritage setting and engaging and educating the community about diverse nature-based experiences, people will be able to witness the benefits of nature first-hand, giving them a renewed sense of place and inspiring them to become active participants in shaping a more sustainable future.

Impact

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Describe the degree of success you have had to date. How do you measure, both quantitatively and qualitatively, the impact on sustainability or enhancement of local culture, environment, heritage, or aesthetics? How has it transformed or contributed to the power of place or demonstrated the sustainability of tourism? How does your approach minimize negative impacts?

Evergreen Brick Works already engages tens of thousands of individuals during the spring, summer and fall seasons. The number of visitors increased by 300 per cent from 10,000 in 2006 to 40,000 visitors in 2007. Visitors from across Canada are taking the lessons learned at Evergreen Brick Works home and Canada, as a microcosm of a greater environmental movement, is experiencing an ecological renaissance affecting increased activism to create a better environment.

In what ways are local residents actively involved in your work, including participation and community input? How has the community responded to or benefited from your approach?

Evergreen Brick Works provides many programs for local residents including planting and restoration activities, a popular farmers' market and family-oriented programming. Evergreen Brick Works is increasingly experiencing a greater interest from local residents to be more active stewards of their 'backyard.' In addition, the ravines serve as a natural refuge and source of inspiration for Torontonians. Robert Fulford wrote in 2000, "[The] ravines are the chief characteristic of the local terrain, its topographical signature. They are both a tangible (though often hidden) part of our surroundings and a persistent force in our civic imagination. They are the shared subconscious of the municipality, the places where much of the city's literature is born."

How does your program promote traveler enthusiasm, satisfaction, and engagement with the locale?

Evergreen Brick Works is located in the ecological centre of Toronto. This natural setting placed deep within the urban environment inspires visitors to leave and take what they've learned to create healthier environments in their homes and cities through the integration of nature. For the last two decades, the ravine system existed quietly, with no one, or group, to champion its mystique. Now, Evergreen Brick Works provides a jumping-off point where visitors can explore Toronto's natural heritage, digest the educational aspect of Evergreen Brick Works and return home with the tools that lead to informed action.

Describe how your work helps travelers and local residents better understand the value of the area's cultural and natural heritage, and educates them on local environmental issues.

Evergreen Brick Works will educate people that nature is something that can be experienced in the middle of a bustling metropolis, not just in the wilderness or confined to a conservation area on the urban fringe. It will provide practical solutions that help improve air and water quality and restore habitat.

This Entry is about (Issues)

Sustainability

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How is your initiative currently financed? If available, provide information on your finances and organization that could help others. Please list: Annual budget, annual revenue generated, size of part-time, full-time and volunteer staff.

All three levels of Canadian government have committed their support to the project. The Federal Government has committed $20 million through the Canada Strategic Infrastructure Fund which supports large-scale infrastructure projects, including tourist destinations or projects that promote urban development. The Provincial Government has committed $10 million through the Ontario Heritage Trust. To date, the City of Toronto and the Toronto Regional Conservation Authority have invested $32 million for expropriation of the site and the creation of the Quarry Gardens.

Is your initiative financially and organizationally sustainable? If not, what is required to make it so? Is there a potential demand for your innovation?

Evergreen continues to seek transformational gifts and welcomes participation from visionary individuals and communities across the city and across the country who want to ensure a future of sustainable cities.

What are the main barriers you encounter in managing, implementing, or replicating your innovation? What barriers keep your program from having greater impact?

Evergreen’s goal is to raise $55 million in order to build Evergreen Brick Works a thriving, environmentally based community centre engaging visitors in diverse experiences connected to nature. To date, $37 million has been raised to date.

What is your plan to expand or further develop your approach? Please indicate where/how you would like to grow or enhance your innovation, or have others do so.

By bringing non-profit organizations and socially conscious private businesses together under one roof it will create opportunities for collaboration, and for creating program synergies with broader public reach and appeal. It will return social and economic benefits to Toronto by creating meaningful employment opportunities, as well as including a youth-at-risk training component among other initiatives.

The Story

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Please provide a personal bio. Note this may be used in Changemakers' marketing material.

Geoff Cape is a co-founder of Evergreen and has been its executive director since its inception in 1991. Cape attended Trinity College School and Queen’s University, graduating in 1999 with a Bachelor of Arts. In 2002 he completed his Master of Management from McGill University in Montreal. In 1999, Cape was selected as one of Canada’s “Top 40 Under 40” by The Globe and Mail Report on Business magazine, and was recently honoured with the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal in recognition of “Canadians who have made outstanding and exemplary contributions to their communities or to Canada as a whole”. In 2005, Cape was inducted into an International Fellowship by Ashoka: Innovators for the Public. In 2007, Cape won the prestigious Schwab Foundation’s ‘Canadian Social Entrepreneur of the Year’ Award, Canada’s top social entrepreneurship honour.

What is the origin of your innovation? Tell the Changemakers and media communities what prompted you to start this initiative.

In early 2002, Evergreen began to explore a new strategy for furthering its mission, strengthening its programs and building its capacity. The idea was straightforward - a large-scale native plant nursery housed in the abandoned heritage building complex at the Brick Works, which would employ at-risk youth and supply native trees and plant material to support urban greening. Over time, however, the idea grew to encompass the creation of an innovative, mixed-use environmental centre that models new approaches to urban sustainability. In the fall of 2002, Evergreen submitted an unsolicited proposal to the City of Toronto to redevelop the Industrial Pad at the Brick Works. After several months, the City concluded that an application process was required and created a Request for Proposals for the "Adaptive Reuse of the Heritage Structures at the Don Valley Brick Works." In September 2003, Toronto City Council selected Evergreen as the preferred proponent for the Project. Following extensive negotiations, planning and stakeholder consultations, Evergreen concluded a Memorandum of Understanding with the City and TRCA in the fall of 2004. The MOU was unanimously approved by the City Council on Oct 1, 2004 and gives Evergreen the option to lease the Industrial Pad for $1 per year for 21 years, once the organization has raised the funds necessary for the adaptive reuse of the buildings. Importantly, the MOU focuses only on the Industrial Pad and the buildings contained therein, with the explicit understanding that the Brick Works Park would remain a public park, managed by the City. Evergreen is transforming Toronto’s Don Valley Brick Works factory buildings from an underused, deteriorating asset to a thriving environmentally based community centre engaging visitors in diverse experiences connected to nature. Located on a unique natural and industrial heritage site, Evergreen Brick Works will be a destination for visitors, families and individuals alike, to enjoy a natural refuge, while sampling a rich offering of programs and services – including gardening workshops, heritage tours, working with clay, an organic food market, a retail nursery, demonstration gardens and leading-edge green design techniques. It will be a unique and creative social enterprise that will model sustainability on all fronts and is striving to be the greenest facility in North America.

Describe some unique tourist experiences that your approach provides. Be specific; give illustrative examples.

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What types of partnerships or professional development would be most beneficial in spreading your innovation?

Evergreen chose an integrated team of professionals to help lead the design and construction of Evergreen Brick Works. The design team is being led by Joe Lobko of du Toit Allsopp Hillier and du Toit Architects Limited. The design team’s work has built on the findings of the planningAlliance master planning team. Design development decisions have been the outcomes of a collaborative process that has involved the entire design team, Evergreen and, at key milestones, staff of municipal and senior government agencies. Detailed design will be executed as a suite of smaller design projects, led by individual architecture and landscape architecture firms. Evergreen has retained Aldrich Pears Associates (of Vancouver) to prepare an interpretive plan for the interpretive elements of the project. Ferruccio Sardella has been retained as a consulting artist. Evergreen has retained Eastern Construction Company Limited as its Construction Manager.

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