Rexdale SNAP

Spring 2024 Native Tree and Shrub Giveaway

father and son plant a tree together

Are you interested in greening your property? The Rexdale SNAP program has free trees and shrubs* available to interested homeowners and property owners living within the neighbourhood boundaries. (To confirm that you are in an eligible location, please refer to the boundary map.)

To submit orders, interested homeowners/property owners must complete the online form by Friday, April 5, 2024.

For more information, please contact hally.charendoff@trca.ca.

*Types of trees and shrubs are listed in the request form. Quantities are limited, and available on a first come, first-served basis.


Funded by the City of Toronto’s Urban Forestry Grants and Incentives Program.

funded by City of Toronto

About the Rexdale SNAP

Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) and the City of Toronto are working closely with neighbourhood community leaders, residents, and organizations to implement an Action Plan for Rexdale.

The Rexdale SNAP was initiated and developed using a highly collaborative approach to foster co-design and co-ownership of the Action Plan among key stakeholders and the community.

Study Area Boundaries

Located in the northwest of the city of Toronto, the Rexdale SNAP neighbourhood is bounded by Steeles Avenue to the north, the Martin Grove Hydro Corridor and the Humber Arboretum on the west, the Humber River to the south, and Kipling Avenue and another branch of the Humber River on the east.

map of Rexdale SNAP area boundaries

Neighbourhood Selection & Key Drivers

Rexdale was selected for the SNAP program through a neighbourhood screening process.

The screening process identified geographical areas with overlapping climate vulnerabilities and environmental and urban renewal priorities that required intensified action with a collaborative and community driven approach.

Key priorities that make Rexdale a well-suited neighbourhood for the SNAP program include:

Neighbourhood Improvement Area (NIA)

Rexdale is an area with vulnerable populations, concentrated poverty, and serious food insecurity and is considered a Neighbourhood Improvement Area by the City of Toronto.

 

Residential Retrofit Needs

Rexdale has seen almost no development/redevelopment in the last 60 years, and the residential sector offers significant opportunities for both climate mitigation and resilience, and overall housing improvements.

 

Low Tree Canopy

Rexdale has a low tree canopy cover compared to the rest of Toronto and offers ample opportunity to increase urban canopy cover.

 

Flooding

Areas within Rexdale are subject to riverine flooding, with some residences located within the regional/100-year flood plain and vulnerable to basement flooding.

 

Low Impact Development (LID) Priority Area

Rexdale is a high priority area for LID retrofits due to its location within the Humber watershed, the presence of medium-high impervious soils, and its depth to water table which is conducive to infiltration.

 

Erosion

Various sites along the Humber River in Rexdale are susceptible to erosion and would benefit from restoration and mitigation initiatives.

 

Sensitive Target Fish Species

Sensitive target fish species have been identified in sections of the Humber River crossing through the neighbourhood.

 

Discharges to Environmentally Sensitive Area (ESA)

Rexdale’s stormwater system discharges to a downstream ESA.

 

Urban Heat Stress

Areas within Rexdale are vulnerable to urban heat stress.

 

Aging Park Infrastructure

Aging park infrastructure presents an opportunity for park revitalization.

 

The Humber as a Canadian Heritage River

Rexdale is bisected by multiple branches of a Canadian Heritage River. This designation offers an opportunity to work with Indigenous communities and multiple levels of government to enhance nature-based and history education.

 

Planned Capital Projects

A series of planned capital projects can be leveraged to achieve enhanced environmental resilience and social impacts in this community through the SNAP program.

 

Existing Programs and Strategies

Community initiatives and great collaboration are already taking place in Rexdale, offering opportunities to join forces to achieve efficiencies and maximize impact in the community.

 

The SNAP Action Planning Process

The SNAP planning process brings together community members with technical staff for the co-creation of an Action Plan with shared outcomes, including measurable environmental improvements and climate adaptation strategies, as well as community health and well-being benefits.

The three-phased approach has been well tested and proven through previous SNAP projects.

Action Plan Co-Development Process

PHASE 1: Builds baseline understanding of the neighbourhood context through rigorous technical analyses. In this phase, climate trends and associated local risks are also studied.
PHASE 2: The community’s motivational themes are identified, and high-level Action Areas are developed using guiding principles and a framework of sustainability objectives and indicators to measure success. A vulnerability assessment is also conducted, which introduces local knowledge of climate risks, assets, and adaptive capacity, gathered through the engagement process within the community.
PHASE 3: The final Action Plan is co-developed. Integrated projects and programs are identified under each Action Area and an impact evaluation is conducted for the climate adaptation measures. During this phase, partnerships and resources are also identified to facilitate implementation.

Meaningful community and stakeholder engagement has been central to the Rexdale SNAP action planning co-design process. It is intended to accomplish the following objectives:

  1. Understand local top of mind themes and motivating interests
  2. Apply local knowledge on climate risks and assets/resources in the community
  3. Identify shared plan objectives, projects, and recommendations
  4. Invite involvement in early on-the-ground projects and build longer term relationships
  5. Facilitate capacity building to help support the action plan implementation

chart depicting the wide range of community members and stakeholders involved in the Rexdale SNAP action planning co-design process

Engagement Summary

The Rexdale SNAP planning process was coordinated with Rexdale Community Hub’s Northwest Toronto Neighbourhood Engagement Initiative (NTNEI).

Engagement workshops were co-led by the Rexdale Community Hub and TRCA, with engagement activities designed to identify and achieve both groups’ objectives.

Recommendations from NTNEI were incorporated into the Action Plan and vice versa.

diagram summarizing the various actions and activities that were part of the Rexdale SNAP action planning engagement process

The Rexdale SNAP Action Plan

Download the Action Plan Report

Download the Executive Summary

The Rexdale Sustainable Neighbourhood Action Plan (SNAP) is a comprehensive plan for neighbourhood resilience and revitalization that integrates local community interests, sustainability objectives, and climate adaptation strategies under the overarching theme of “a thriving community growing in harmony with nature and neighbours”.

Local Sustainability Themes

a pie chart illustrates the six local sustainability themes of Rexdale SNAP

The Action Plan comprises six local sustainability themes. These themes have and will continue to inform the design of specific projects and initiatives that are implemented, with each project/initiative striving to integrate as many themes as possible.

These themes were identified through robust community engagement and reflect the perspectives of the Rexdale community.

The six local sustainability themes of the Rexdale SNAP are as follows:

1. Strong Infrastructure & Community Service

The community feels that the infrastructure in the neighbourhood, including housing, is not as well maintained, safe, or beautiful as in other parts of Toronto. Residents want to improve their experience of services through partnerships with government and other sectors.

Climate vulnerabilities from the built environment in this neighbourhood should also be promptly addressed.

 

2. Healthy Environment for Outdoor Enjoyment

The community loves to spend time in nature and is interested in improving access to green space and offering nature-based education.

Habitats and urban forests should be enhanced, and erosion in the Humber Valley must be addressed.

On-site stormwater management, through LID measures, should be implemented across the neighbourhood.

 

3. Skills & Capacity for Jobs and Affordability

The community expressed its struggles with the cost of living in Toronto and is interested in approaches and supports to achieve cost savings and enhanced opportunities for income generation.

 

4. Community Connections, Empowerment & Pride

The community strongly values unity and neighbourhood relationships, and therefore wants additional support to enhance and celebrate community cohesion.

 

5. Community Health &Well-Being

Mental and physical health, and food security, are very strong priorities for the community and should be addressed through all Action Areas in the Action Plan. The community has strong family values that should be supported and celebrated.

 

6. Spiritual Values

Rexdale is a spiritual community. Residents often mentioned how they translate their religious values into their day-to-day life.

The community is especially interested in expanding its current mutual aid practices and facilitating mind-body activities for all ages

 

The Rexdale SNAP Action Plan Map

Select the image below to view the full-sized map.

Rexdale SNAP action plan map

Action Areas & Implementation Projects

The Action Plan is organized around four key Action Areas. For each, several emerging signature projects and opportunities have been identified, based on technical priorities, community and stakeholder needs and dreams, and timing associated with previously planned capital projects or initiatives.

These initiatives are multi-objective and integrated, aiming to address the six local sustainability themes and guiding principles:

The Action Areas

1. Open Space Revitalization and Green Infrastructure

Protecting and enhancing natural features and greenspaces to keep them clean, safe, and beautiful.

  • Safe, clean family parks with good amenities
  • Better access to ravines and opportunities to connect with nature
  • Multi-season programming and animation
  • Integration of the arts: sculptures, monuments, murals, and music
  • Meeting spaces
  • Opportunities for mind-body activities/meditation
  • Urban agriculture
  • Sustainable stormwater management (SWM), tree planting, habitat, and ecological restoration

Implementation Progress to Date

  • Sponge Neighbourhoods Initiative: TRCA secured funding from Environment Canada through EcoAction to deliver a Sponge Neighbourhoods initiative in four neighbourhoods participating in the SNAP Program, with the Rexdale SNAP being one of them. The project includes the development of neighbourhood-wide green infrastructure (GI) plans and implementation of selected (GI) projects. It also includes interpretative signage explaining the benefits of GI and nature-based education, including Indigenous-based education.
  • COVID Memorial Garden: Responding to a vision or desire expressed by the community during the engagement process, TRCA secured funding from a private donor and partnered with the City of Toronto and the Rexdale Community Hub to implement a beautiful native species memorial garden with sitting areas to remember the victims of the pandemic and commemorate the front-line workers and community leaders who stood up to support the Rexdale community (one of the hardest hit by the pandemic).
  • Rowntree Mills Planting Event: Students from Venerable John Merlini Catholic School volunteered on May 9, 2023 to plant a variety of native shrubs in Rowntree Mills Park.
  • Indigenous Ceremonial Space at the Humber Arboretum: Humber College is working with Indigenous leaders, TRCA, and the City of Toronto towards the planning and design of an Indigenous ceremonial space at the Humber Arboretum that will also be used as a gathering space for the Rexdale community.
  • Neighbourhood-wide Urban Agriculture Strategy and Implementation of Selected Projects: TRCA received funding from the Greater Toronto Airport Authority to develop and implement a strategy that will help to improve access to local fresh food in the Rexdale community, while simultaneously achieving other neighbourhood sustainability goals. A draft of the strategy has been completed in collaboration with many community partners and selected projects will be implemented in 2024 across the neighbourhood.
  • Ecological Restoration and Erosion Control: TRCA’s Restoration Services and Erosion teams have been working hard to continue to address restoration and erosion priorities along the Humber River. The local community has been involved in some of these initiatives through public plantings and educational activities.

 

2. Boosting Rexdale’s Sharing and Circular Economies

Sharing and reusing resources for affordability, income, and sustainability, and to strengthen the community fabric towards mutual aid.

  • Resource sharing or circularity (technology/wi-fi, transportation, books, food)
  • Space sharing (to meet, to work from home, for food hubs)
  • Information sharing through trusted sources
  • Mutual aid: neighbour to neighbour supports
  • Skills sharing (cooking, healthy living, translation/newcomer supports)

Implementation Progress to Date

  • Circular Economy Strategy: TRCA worked with the City of Toronto and the Rexdale Community Hub to develop a high-level framework for a strategy to make Rexdale the first circular neighbourhood in Canada. The team is fundraising towards the strategy development and implementation.
  • Material Exchange Program: TRCA brought our Partners in Project Green (PPG) Material Exchange Program to Rexdale. The community has benefited as a receiver of various products. For example, the Rexdale Women’s Centre and the S.H.I.F.T Adult Shelter received 22 bunk beds that would have otherwise gone to waste.

 

3. Retrofits for Sustainable Housing

Maximizing quality of life though functional, affordable, low carbon and resilient housing.

  • Climate resilient housing
  • Indoor and outdoor revitalization of multi-unit residential buildings (MURBs) and programming for residents
  • Multi-objective home retrofit program (for GHG, SWM, flooding, eco-landscaping, urban agriculture)
  • Exploration of district energy solutions
  • Mutual-benefit programs connecting houses and MURBS

Implementation Progress to Date

  • Harvest the Rain Retrofit Program: From 2016-2018, TRCA piloted scaling of the Harvest the Rain Home Retrofit Program in the Rexdale neighbourhood. Harvest the Rain was a program originally initiated in the Black Creek SNAP. The program offered free, face-to-face home consultations and ongoing support to help homeowners retrofit their homes and yards through energy, water, stormwater management, flood prevention, urban agriculture, and eco-landscaping actions. The program also offered small incentives, and helped homeowners access existing government incentives and programs. It was a highly successful pilot, with 56 participating homes, of which 96% implemented at least one significant sustainability or resilience action, such as insulation, basement flooding prevention, tree planting, and rainwater harvesting.
  • Surplus Harvest Donation Program: During this period, TRCA also worked with the City of Toronto’s Urban Harvest Program and the RCH to bring the Surplus Harvest Donation Program to Rexdale and three other neighbourhoods in the city. This program, initially created by TRCA in the Black Creek SNAP, collects surplus harvest from the neighbourhood houses and brings it to meal programs and food banks within the community, helping to address food insecurity while reducing waste and GHG related to food transportation.
  • Growing Healthy Towers Initiative: TRCA received funding from the Public Health Agency of Canada to develop multi-sectoral solutions to address social determinants of health for residents living in towers through environmental action. The Rexdale and Bramalea SNAP neighbourhoods were used as case studies. Through a partnership with the Rexdale Community Hub, resident leaders were hired to undertake public engagement. Approximately 50 different agencies and organizations from multiple sectors participated in co-developing solutions and initiating collaborations for action.
  • Tower Renewal and Green Champions Plus: TRCA is working with Toronto’s Tower and Neighbourhood Revitalization Unit to support expansion of their initiatives in the Rexdale Neighbourhood. A workshop for Rexdale building owners is planned for the fall of 2023. The teams are also exploring the delivery of an enhanced Green Champions program, in which resident leaders will be hired to advance a variety of environmental, climate resilience, health and well-being, and community development initiatives within their towers.

 

4. Transformation of Streets and Intersections

Developing vibrant community life through green, safe, and attractive streetscapes.

  • Ecological function and sustainable stormwater management
  • Clean and litter-free
  • More trees and flowers that stimulate the senses
  • Safe for pedestrians, from cars and crime
  • Beautiful places of vibrant community life/street festivals and art
  • Opportunity for skills training and jobs on maintenance of right of way
  • Bike lanes/bike infrastructure and pedestrian improvements

Implementation Progress to Date

  • Initiation of Planning and Design Phase: The City of Toronto’s Transportation Services Division is initiating planning and design work towards the greening and beautification of main intersections along Kipling Avenue. TRCA facilitated a meeting on June 14, 2023, to discuss options with community leaders. Innovative design ideas were discussed. Construction is anticipated to begin in 2025-26.

 

Rexdale’s Climate Resilience Strategy

Rexdale’s Climate Resilience Strategy represents a key step towards the implementation of Priority 2.1 of Toronto’s Resilience Strategy: “enhance the capacity of neighbourhoods to prepare for and recover from shocks through grassroots action and network building”.

The four Rexdale SNAP Action Areas (above) have integrated recommendations that came out of Rexdale’s climate resilience strategy.

Key vulnerabilities identified through Rexdale’s climate vulnerability assessment include:

  • Increases in heat stress
  • Risk of flooding
  • Food insecurity
  • Inadequate housing conditions
  • Limited access to transit
  • Language barriers

Given these vulnerabilities, the following are key adaptation opportunities to increase neighbourhood resilience:

  1. Tower revitalization given that most of the housing stock in Rexdale is comprised of apartments (61% percent of the housing stock) and most were constructed before 1980.
  2. Public transit accessibility and active transportation improvements. Overall, transit accessibility is low in this northwest corner of the city, and there is a lack of cycling infrastructure in the neighbourhood, particularly in the east-west direction.
  3. Enhanced knowledge and awareness of climate change-related risks (e.g., flooding, risks related to extreme heat, vector-borne diseases, and winter storms).
  4. Flood risk reduction by encouraging site-level flood prevention and stormwater management measures, regularly inspecting stormwater management infrastructure, and relocating structures from the flood plain (where possible).
  5. Increase in tree canopy cover and access to greenspace, especially in the northern part of the neighbourhood and areas with heat stress. Improvements can also be made to improve pedestrian experience and wayfinding.
  6. Improve sense of community, mutual aid, and the sharing economy by creating more opportunities for residents to meet one another, and maintaining and strengthening the mutual support and sharing economies already in place.
  7. Improve access to food by growing and preserving food locally and increasing affordable (or free) food outlets.
  8. Development of a resilience hub where residents can go for shelter and basic needs during an emergency, and on an ongoing basis during normal periods for increased community resilience.

Stay Connected

SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTER

Find out what’s been going on with Rexdale SNAP by checking out back issues of the newsletter:

Contact Information

Questions? Please contact:

Holly Shaw-Lopez
Program Manager, Sustainable Neighbourhoods
holly.shaw-lopez@trca.ca
(437) 880-2143

Share Your Feedback

Do you live in the Rexdale SNAP neighbourhood? Get involved in local change! We’d love to hear from you.

Name:
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.