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Accelerating Climate Action Through Community Hubs

We’re looking at how the systems, resources and assets in our city can be re-envisioned and mobilized to accelerate climate action in a way that is fair and inclusive.

Community hubs are an important part of the physical and social infrastructure of the city. While Toronto has 13 designated community hubs in the City's Hubs Strategy, there are many spaces in Toronto that act as community hubs. These are spaces to gather, create and build local networks, respond to local priorities, or access services and resources like health services, food programming, or newcomer supports. 

Many hubs have physical space to launch green initiatives like community energy projects or growing local food, and space to gather and convene. They have social infrastructure to build community, bring people together, build grassroots leadership and foster deep and meaningful community engagement. 

Because of this, community hubs have an incredible potential role to play in building a low-carbon and equitable city and accelerating neighbourhood climate solutions. Community hubs can also be driving forces to shape and implement Toronto’s TransformTO climate action plan. 

After conducting a feasibility assessment in 2018 about climate change and hubs in Toronto, we launched a new project in partnership with the Bathurst-Finch Unison Hub, the Parkdale Activity Recreation Centre (PARC) and the Centre for Connected Communities (C3), with funding from The Atmospheric Fund and the Ontario Trillium Foundation.

Learn more about how we are working together to create change: 


Greening Hub Buildings and Grounds

Community hubs have physical assets like shared meeting space, community kitchens, and space for services like health and legal services. Examples of green initiatives at hubs include community gardens, rainwater capture or programs to reduce energy and waste. In collaboration with hubs, we're looking at how to build on or create new initiatives for sustainability in their buildings and on their grounds, and to bring a climate lens to their work. Through these sustainability initiatives, community hubs are helping to demonstrate and envision what's possible for neighbourhoods across the city.

Above: Community gardens and the Sky-o-Swale at the East Scarborough Storefront - an innovative and one-of-a-kind piece of green infrastructure. 

Connecting climate to community priorities 

Climate connects to all aspects of our daily lives. Actions to reduce emissions can also address the priority issues of communities. By working with hub staff and local neighbourhood residents, we’re connecting climate action and neighbourhood priorities - such as food justice, jobs, housing, energy and transit. We’re mapping community priorities and opportunities, and charting a path forward. 

Above: Fresh and affordable fruit and vegetables at the Bathurst Finch Unison Hub Good Food Market. 

Image: Mapping community priorities and climate connections in Parkdale at a community Climate Justice Circle. 

Building resident leadership 

With space to gather and networks and communities of people, hubs can be launch points for wider community engagement on climate action. To build capacity for community engagement, we’re building community leadership, such as through a Climate Leadership Training Program at Bathurst-Finch Unison Hub. Working in partnership with the Center for Connected Communities (C3), we are creating a body of knowledge and practice on how to catalyze, nurture and sustain deep, meaningful resident engagement in climate action.  

Above: A learning session led by Ajeeve from the Centre for Connected Communities. 

Shaping policy, breaking down barriers and supporting community advocacy

To build an equitable, low carbon, and healthy city, we need everyone. Through advocacy and deep and ongoing collaboration, we’re working with residents and hub leaders to shape environmental and climate policies and ensure a greater diversity of voices are heard in decision-making. This includes supporting community input on the development and implementation of the TransformTO climate action plan.

Community forum on climate action - community hubs

Knowledge sharing and inter-hub collaboration 

Through tours of the hubs, peer learning sessions, mentorship and learning opportunities, we’re supporting peer learning and knowledge transfer between community hubs. Hub staff and residents are able to share their expertise and demonstrate low-carbon initiatives that can be replicated at other hubs. During the original research and study of community hubs and climate action, many hubs staff and residents ranked peer learning as a high priority. 

Above: A tour of the Bathurst Finch Unison Hub. 

Advocating together: Hubs Advisory Group

At the launch of the project, we convened an advisory group to make recommendations on the role of community hubs in shaping and contributing to the implementation of Toronto’s TransformTO climate action strategy. Members of the Advisory Group include multi-agency community hubs, faith-based hubs, community centres, civil society organizations, and City of Toronto divisions. Together, we’ve put forward recommendations for the next phase of the TransformTO climate action strategy and we continue to work together to advance and explore the role of hubs in building an equitable, low-carbon and resilient city.

Thank you to our funders:

The Atmospheric Fund

Ontario Trillium Foundation