Transformation: The Story of Creating EBW
To the Right Idea and the Right Location, Add the Right Partners
First among the partners to sign up was Outward Bound Canada—immediately attracted by the opportunity to create an urban base for its experiential wilderness-focused programs and establish a large-scale climbing tower at the site.
The YMCA of Greater Toronto came on board to support the youth employment programming associated with the nursery; Jamie Kennedy, renowned chef and champion of local food, agreed to help support food programming with a small-scale café on-site; the Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Arts became our lead for clay-based community activities; and Bridgepoint Health, a nearby hospital and long-term care facility, along with the University of Toronto, were attracted by the opportunity for holistic healing programs that integrate nature with preventative health knowledge and long-term healing.
Not all of these partners lasted through the final plans, but their enthusiasm in the early days certainly helped the project come to life.
With these key players on side, suddenly the magnitude of redeveloping the whole site did not seem as daunting. The partners helped establish the capacity and credibility of the project. more profoundly, bringing in partners was key to transforming our idea from an enterprising native plant nursery to a large-scale “Community Environmental Centre” that would explore all aspects of urban sustainability— from growing food close to home to creating nature-based learning spaces in the heart of the Canada’s largest urban centre.
It was tremendously exciting. We now had a richer, more complex and robust concept, but one that was more challenging to define. However, with letters of interest from this core base of partners, we were ready to move forward, and our proposal to the City was approved.
With access to the site now within our reach, the fundraising, planning and development could begin in earnest. But how to begin?