“Family” is a word that has special meaning for everyone. For Tridel, it captures a value that has been central to our identity for over 80 years.

I can explain its significance by telling you about the official opening ceremony for the new Family Service Toronto offices in Tridel’s Alter community, which is a private-public development partnership. The building itself is a distinctive 33-storey tower at the corner of McGill and Church (more about it later). For now, I want to focus on Family Services Toronto (FST).

FST has been helping Toronto families and individuals facing socioeconomic and mental health challenges through counselling, community development, advocacy and public education programs for a century plus.

A visitor explores the history of Family Service Toronto (FST), which has delivered social services (“For People. For Change.”) since 2014
A visitor explores the history of Family Service Toronto (FST), which has delivered social services (“For People. For Change.”) since 1914

Tridel has had the privilege of working with FST for more than six wonderful years, and as I said when I spoke at the opening event, it has been an easy partnership. Together, we have created a sustainable development model that leverages the benefit of residential density and a building that will animate the Toronto skyline, not to mention its own neighbourhood.

When it came time to shape my remarks, I could have focused on the building where FST now has fresh new offices. It really deserves praise. Angular features, expanses of white and grey glass and signature alternating recessed balconies that make it exciting to look at from the outside; it also affords unique city views for new residents who are moving in while this blog post is being written.

(As an aside, I want to give kudos to the lead architect, Heather Rolleston, who was with Architectsalliance. Heather—working with Tridel for the first time—was keen to impress and deliver. She and her team at the time certainly did. Their design won praise from esteemed late critic John Bentley Mays. They hung tight through approval hurdles. As Heather concluded, working on a project that really gives back is rare. We agree but will keep pursuing meaningful opportunities like this one—it’s in Tridel’s heritage.)

I had the honour of helping to officially open the new, freshly designed FST offices and sharing Tridel’s best wishes with its team. This may be one of the best examples of a public-private partnership development.

All of this is important, of course, because it reflects the passion, commitment and attention to detail that Tridel brings to every home it builds. But it was FST, our relationship with it and its executive director, Margaret Hancock, I chose to emphasize. You see, along with FST, we share a belief in inclusiveness, diversity and strength, treating people respectfully and working for the greater good. What FST does matters and its orientation fits seamlessly with the family, home and community philosophy Jack DelZotto embedded in Tridel. It’s why we say, communities aren’t something we build: they’re something we do.

Margaret Hancock, who leads FST, isn’t keen to have a spotlight shined on her. However, I couldn’t speak then or write now without noting that she is a strong proponent of shared success. She had the boldness to choose a unique business model, as well as a developer partner in Tridel who shared her vision and could deliver on it. She had that “good-to-great” mentality that makes things happen, patience as we worked through the project lifecycle, and trust in our Tridel team to transform possibility into reality.

Executive Director Margaret Hancock (yellow), Giselle Rodriguez, Tony Battista, Joe Gagliardi, Angelo Monopli and Jeff Kennedy at the official opening ceremony for the new, modern Family Service Toronto offices in the Alter community development by Tridel

Margaret, I repeat online what I said in person: You’ve been nothing less than stellar at steering the ship on the Toronto Family Service side. Thank you for letting us contribute to the future success of FST and the community it serves.

I began with the word “family” and I’ll end with “community,” namely the community for this blog. If you have any thoughts about what I’ve written or suggestions for Tridel to foster community engagement and build community strength, please share them in the comments below. And if you’re in the Gerrard and Church area, stop and take a look at what together, Architectsalliance, Tridel and FST have built. You’ll be rewarded.

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