B Corp Re-Certification Validates TAS’s Progress Harnessing the Power of Business for Good

TAS has been a certified B Corporation since 2013. This means we’re part of a global community of businesses that meet high standards of social and environmental impact.

We recently went through the recertification process and are proud to report that we have been recertified with an impressive score of 147.  This marks a significant leap from our 2019 score of 107.3.

In celebration of our latest recertification, we’re reflecting on what it means for TAS to be a B Corp, where we have been, and how we’re working on continuous improvement to “harness the power of business for good”.

What does it mean to be a B Corp?

B Corp Certification means that a company has been verified as meeting B Lab’s high standards for social and environmental impact.

To achieve certification, a company must:

  • Demonstrate high social and environmental performance by achieving a B Impact Assessment score of 80 or above and passing B Lab’s risk review.
  • Make a legal commitment by changing its corporate governance structure to be accountable to all stakeholders, not just shareholders.
  • Exhibit transparency by allowing information about its performance measured against B Lab’s standards to be publicly available on their B Corp profile on B Lab’s website. 

The B Corp certification process is rigorous – they don’t make it easy. The process includes an assessment of a company’s activities against a quantifiable grading system for measuring environmental performance, corporate activities, and supply chain transparency.

To maintain certification, companies must undertake the assessment and verification process every three years, demonstrating they are still meeting B Lab’s standards — which are themselves always improving, with continual input from expert stakeholders.

Why did TAS become a B Corp?

As leaders in the impact real estate space, it was important for TAS to become a B Corp business. We recognized that as a B Corp, we can build trust with communities and customers; attract and retain employees and draw mission-aligned investors.

TAS uses the B Corp assessment process to benchmark our performance and identify opportunities to improve our impact according to best practices across all five B Corp dimensions: Workers, Community, Environment, Customers and Governance.

What is a B Impact Assessment Score?

Certified B Corporations must earn at least 80 points on the B Impact Assessment. Scores are verified through a review process, which includes documentation, and phone calls.  TAS’s score has fluctuated over the years, from 128.3 in 2013 to 106.6 in 2019.

We’re proud that our 2023 score is the highest score yet at 147.  Since our last assessment, we have developed an impact framework and operationalized the framework across our business. We now have dedicated teams working on impact implementation and impact strategy and measurement.  We also developed a social procurement program to help us leverage our spending power for good.

What’s Next?

B Corp certification isn’t a destination – our mission to use real estate as a tool to create impact is a constant work in progress. We are always striving to do better, be better, and benefit more communities.

In the last year, we’ve taken some big steps towards longstanding goals, including improving our environmental purchasing program, employee practices and policies, and our commitment to the sustainability of our buildings.

Our next focus is on implementing our Indigenous Truth and Reconciliation Action Plan, and continuing our commitment to climate resilience by integrating the recommendations of IFRS S2 (formally TCFD) across our business.

To us, being a B Corp-certified company is about being part of a global community of businesses working collectively for economic systems change. We know that we must stay committed to this work, move with the world and adapt to meet new needs in order to keep our place in a community of B Corps moving business forward.

Tenant Spotlight: Furniture Bank

Furniture Bank is a registered charity and social enterprise that redistributes gently used furniture and housewares from donors in the community to families and individuals experiencing furniture poverty.  This incredible organization recently moved into TAS’s property at 7 Labatt Avenue in Regent Park. TAS is providing the space to Furniture Bank at a deeply discounted rate as part of our commitment to offer below-market commercial spaces to non-profits, charities, mission-driven organizations, start-ups and small local businesses.  

Furniture Bank’s mission is to end furniture poverty – one family at a time. They use a social enterprise model, that takes the revenues generated through their furniture removal service to fund their charitable activities.

Furniture Bank believes that a house without furniture isn’t a home. As the public, private, and non-profit sectors work together to address the affordable housing crisis and scale up the delivery of affordable housing across the country, those houses will need to be furnished. Children need beds to sleep in and families need dining tables to eat at.

We recently met with Executive Director Dan Kershaw and Director of Development Tammy Peddle to learn more about Furniture Bank and the impact of the below market rent on their organization.  We spoke about furniture poverty, affordable housing, and the circular economy. (Furniture Bank also plays a key role in protecting our environment by diverting millions of pounds of furniture from landfills each year.)

We learned that before moving into the 7 Labatt Avenue site, Furniture Bank operated out of its one location in Etobicoke, which made it difficult to serve families from the east end of the city. Expanding to the east end wouldn’t have been possible without the deeply discounted rent.  

The move to Regent Park is also allowing Furniture Bank to test a scalable operating model. If it works well, they could have satellite locations in different neighbourhoods across the city, allowing them to reach more families and individuals experiencing furniture poverty, and have a greater impact.

We’re so pleased to be playing a small part in supporting Furniture Bank with achieving its mission to end furniture poverty – one sofa and one family at a time.

How we’re reusing 62% of demolition waste at our 2 Tecumseth site

At TAS, we believe that it is critical for city builders to embrace a circular economy to address pressing global challenges such as climate change, resource scarcity and pollution while promoting innovation and economic growth. That’s why we piloted a development process of material reuse at 2 Tecumseth Street, our 5-acre master-planned community in downtown Toronto.

Located in the heart of Toronto’s arts and entertainment corridor, 2 Tecumseth is an incredible new community that attempts to embrace the complexities and contradictions that make neighbourhoods great. The project is one of the last major revitalization opportunities in the downtown core. It housed a decommissioned abattoir, and is directly adjacent to the historic Wellington Destructor, a century old garbage incinerator.

In the fall of 2022, we began demolition at the site. The highlight of this effort is that we were able to divert nearly 93% of the demolition waste from landfill. That’s over 32,000 tonnes. Additionally, much of this waste (62% of the total) stayed on site, so we also avoided hundreds of tonnes of GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions from the creation of new materials and unnecessary vehicle emissions from transporting the old material to waste processing plants or landfills.

Read how we did this.

The problem of “brand-new”

As city builders, our current economic system is predicated on waste and consumption of brand-new products. We’re accustomed to discarding entire buildings when we no longer deem them useful, demolishing structures full of salvageable materials, only to recreate and purchase them again for installation in new developments. This leads to construction debris piling up in landfill (12% of national waste), and unnecessary greenhouse gas emissions are pumped into our atmosphere when replacement materials are created.

Every building material’s production process involves GHG emissions. Every cubic meter of concrete began as predominantly limestone and clay mined from a quarry by machines that use energy, fired in a kiln, and transported by vehicle to a construction site. Every wood beam was a tree harvested by machines in a forest and transported (typically by truck) to a sawmill powered by some form of energy. Reuse practices avoid the consumption of energy required to make new things when we don’t need to.

Scales of opportunity

There are two forms of reuse in the building industry: adaptively reusing entire buildings; or breaking them into their components and reusing individual materials or assemblies. Maintaining or adding to an existing building is the construction process that consumes less energy and generates the least waste. If the building absolutely cannot be reused in its current form, the next best solution is to salvage materials from it for use in another project. Both forms of reuse require upfront planning and collaboration with design, engineering, demolition and construction contractors.

TAS’s process begins at acquisition. We determine if a building can be adaptively reused, or, where we must demolish a building, we:

  1. quantify the materials in existing buildings, landscape elements and fixtures before starting the design process. This involves onboarding demolition or deconstruction consultants early.
  2. design creative ways to reintegrate existing material into our new projects, while measuring the embodied carbon avoided by doing so.
  3. deconstruct as much of the existing building as possible (carefully, to maintain salvageability), sorting similar materials into piles on site and cataloguing them to determine actual quantities.
  4. divert remaining salvaged materials from landfill.
  5. reintegrate salvaged materials into the new design, often in the landscape or as finishes and fixtures.

We’re piloting this process right now at 2 Tecumseth. The site includes a former municipal abattoir that could not be adaptively reused, necessitating replacement. Working through the process above with PUBLIC WORK and PDI, our team was able to salvage over 21,000 tonnes of usable material (62% of all demolition waste) to be reintegrated into the landscape of the new project. Due to the size of the site and its phasing, this process is occurring without that material ever leaving the site at all.

We recognize that this is our first attempt at material reuse in a project, and we are committed to testing this process and learning from our efforts. At the edge of the site sits, TAS’s Circular Living Lab, an upcoming experimental laboratory and exhibition space for collaboration with the Toronto Circularity Network, the Dutch-Canadian Circular Alliance, and local educational institutions to further circular design practices in the city.

Read more

Creating a New Legacy of Truth, Understanding and Reconciliation

This guest blog post is written by Rev. Elaine Poproski, pastor at the Walmer Road Baptist Church.

TAS and the church are partners in the redevelopment of 38 Walmer Road. Plans for future project include the adaptive reuse of the existing sanctuary, to include a new space for the church, a community cultural hub as well as a new condo building.

Do you know what a Legacy Space is? Maybe you already do. I’d never heard about them until this year, but I’m excited about what I’m learning and even more excited that I get to be part of creating one where I work.

I live and work on land that is part of Treaty 13, also known as the Toronto Purchase, the roots of which go back to the late 1700s. It’s a Treaty that was ill-defined, repeatedly broken and that evidences the colonizers’ disdain for the Indigenous people of the area. I get to live and work in this city I love in part because of those colonizers’ bad faith. But this legacy does not have to continue to define relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. We can help create a new legacy – a legacy of truth, understanding and reconciliation. That is what Legacy Spaces aim to do.

The Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund exists “to build cultural understanding and to create a path toward reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.”1 One of the ways they do this is by partnering with others to create Legacy Spaces, which are “safe, welcoming places dedicated to providing education and spreading awareness about Indigenous history and our journey of reconciliation.”2 As the pastor of Walmer Road Baptist Church, I am excited to be part of introducing a new Legacy Space, in partnership with TAS and the Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund, in front of the church. This outdoor space was launched on June 17 and will be a permanent fixture, including art installations by Indigenous artists, conversations about Indigenous history and all sorts of opportunities to learn about and from the Indigenous people we live and work alongside in this city.

A couple of years ago, I, alongside countless other Canadians, was horrified by the news of hundreds of unmarked graves at the sites of residential schools across the country. I’m still horrified. And I’m ashamed.
I’m ashamed that I had no idea about any of this. I’m ashamed that for most of my life, I lived less than an hour from the Six Nations Reserve near Brantford, Ontario, but knew nothing about its history – nothing about Indigenous history at all. I had heard about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and knew that Canada’s treatment of Indigenous people throughout our history was contemptible. I think I knew that residential schools were part of that contemptible history, but I had no understanding of the scope of the atrocities.

I don’t know if I’ll ever fully comprehend the genocide. But I am, and expect I will always be, thankful that the men and women for whom this history was a lived hell have not stayed silent. I am thankful that these men and women have continued to push for the truth to be known. I am thankful that my ignorance doesn’t have to be the last word – that I can learn, and that in that learning, I can, perhaps, become part of making the truth known.

Where I live and work, in the Annex in Toronto, Indigenous people have lived and traded for thousands of years. The land upon which this city was built was a meeting place where many different languages were spoken, alliances were made and cultures intermingled. The people who gathered here included those of the Anishinaabeg nations, which includes the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, and the Huron-Wendat nation.

It has been said that there can be no reconciliation without truth. This new Legacy Space will be a place for truth. It will be a place for understanding. In time, I hope it will be a place of reconciliation.

1 https://downiewenjack.ca/
2 https://downiewenjack.ca/our-work/legacy-spaces-program/

Niagara – Wellington Laneway Renaming

The laneway south of Niagara that runs from Wellington to Tecumseth needs a new name (it’s currently called Lane W Niagara S Wellington).

This laneway will be the address for one of the residential buildings at our 2 Tecumseth Street project and continue to provide car access into the site and properties to the north of the lane.

Place naming is an intentional act of acknowledging the memory of people, places, events and ideas. It can include positive and honorific celebrations of the past and present, as well as acknowledgements of controversial and shameful dimensions of history and culture.

Public commemorations – like the naming of a laneway – are one way communities demonstrate what they believe is important to remember.

TAS is helping to facilitate this renaming initiative. Have a look at the Process and Timeline below for more details.

Indigenous & Natural History

  • 2 Tecumseth Street is on the traditional territories of the Haudenosaunee, the Anishinaabeg, the Mississaugas of the Credit, and the Huron-Wendat peoples. It is covered by The Toronto Purchase (Treaty 13) which was signed in 1805 by the Mississaugas of the Credit.
  • The landscape topography of this area echoes the Garrison Creek that once flowed through it. The creek’s beginnings stretch back around 12,000 years, when the Wisconsinan Glacier melted off the St. Clair West lands to form the original Lake Ontario shoreline and corresponding marshes.
  • Garrison Creek was a stream that ran from its source near Vaughn Road, all the way south through Trinity Bellwoods and Stanley parks, along part of Niagara Street and had its mouth at Lake Ontario –just east of Fort York where the military garrison was stationed. It is said that at that time, the mouth of the creek was suitable for mooring a few small boats.
  • During the 12,000 years of the creek’s existence, forests of pine, oak and locust covered the area. Indigenous peoples hunted here and travelled along this river corridor.
  • Niagara Street was laid down as a flowing curve that lined the banks of the now buried Garrison Creek.
Fort York, 1804

Fort York & the Shawnee Chief

  • When the Fort York military garrison was established by John Graves Simcoe for the fledgling Town of York in 1793, the Niagara neighborhood began to take shape around it.
  • In 1813, Fort York was attacked by a force of 2,700 American soldiers on 14 ships. In addition to the British soldiers stationed at the fort, a force of Anishinaabe warriors helped in the defensive effort.
  • Many of the street names in the Niagara neighbourhood are reminders of its military past:
    • Niagara Street is named after the former military capital of Upper Canada
    • Tecumseth Street is named for the great warrior chief of the Shawnee, who allied with the British in the war of 1812
Railway lands looking west, 1920

Industrialization, Residential Development & Immigration

  • By the 1800s, the city’s ravines and the Garrison Creek were overflowing with excess urban waste. The resulting pollution caused a public health emergency and, as a result, the creek was diverted into a below-grade sewer system and fully buried.
  • The defensive importance of Fort York also declined and with the increasing prominence of rail transportation in the 1850s, Toronto’s shoreline around Fort York began to be filled in to make way for railways.
  • In the 1850s, Niagara emerged as a prominent industrial centre. The factories and mills created a demand for workers housing which led ultimately to the residential development of the neighbourhood in the mid to late 1800s.
  • Many of the immigrants to this area were Irish Catholic. Toronto’s first Catholic Church built to serve the western part of the city was in this neighbourhood: St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church at Bathurst and Adelaide. Local school records also give evidence of early Irish, Jewish and other Eastern European influences.
Wellington Destructor

The Abattoir & Wellington Destructor

  • In 1875, a cattle market was established on the 2 Tecumseth Street site and in 1914, a Municipal Abattoir was opened on-site in response to concerns about the monopolization of the meat packing industry.
  • In 1960, the Municipal Abattoir was sold to Quality Meat Packers. One of the country’s last abattoirs located in a major urban centre, the plant closed its doors in April 2014 due to the escalating pork prices. At the time of its closure, Quality Meat Packers accounted for approximately 25% of Ontario’s total pork production.
  • This site also wraps around the iconic Wellington Destructor, a garbage incinerator built in the 1920s. Waste policies changed in the 1970s and the Destructor became a transfer station until it closed in the 1990s.
  • Niagara Street row houses constructed between 1884 and 1890 were separated from the cattle market by Chamberlin Avenue, which by 1903 had been removed but is echoed by the configuration of the present laneway.
Quality Meat Packers

Niagara Today

  • The Niagara neighbourhood is comprised of historic row houses and cozy one-storey cottages. In recent years, it has seen an explosion of new condominium and row house development.
  • There are changes happening in the public realm as well – improvements like the revitalization of Stanley Park and the Garrison Crossing, and the introduction of the Bentway.
  • Some of the important local landmarks include: Stanley Park, Niagara Street Junior Public School originally built in 1874, the Old York Tavern, Edulis (a Michelin star restaurant) and the Fu Sien Tong Buddhist Temple.
  • The small Niagara Street Community Center, public pool and tennis courts at Stanley Park are important community assets.
  • There is a strong sense of community, with community events throughout the year and lots of communication on various citizen-run blogs and Facebook Groups.

Great Laneway Names: Inspiration from Across Toronto

The Jewish Folk Choir Lane
The Jewish Folk Choir, which began in 1925, became on the most popular choirs in Toronto in the 1940s and 50s under conductor Emil Gartner. Emil and his wife Feygl Freeman, the accompanist for the choir, lived on Palmerston Avenue. Their home became a hub for choir activities which continued after Gartner passed away in 1960. Their daughter Esther eventually became the principal cellist for the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.

Louie Laki Lane
Louie Laki worked in a foundry and enjoyed a glass of homemade wine. He was kind, had a motorcycle and crushed his grapes in the backyard. He would cut your grass or fix your fence and invite you over to relax under the vines. He washed his wine casks in the lane. 133 of his neighbours got together and signed a letter asking the City to name an alley south of Harbord St. after him. At the unveiling in 2010, his daughter dug out a few bottles of her dad’s wine to share. It was still good.

Magic Lane
Magic Lane in Cabbagetown is named for Doug Henning, a Toronto-trained illusionist who was an 8-time Emmy award nominee and winner for NBC’s Doug Henning’s World of Magic program. Henning also had top-billing on several Broadway musicals, including The Magic Show and Merlin. In later life, the magician lived at 94 Winchester Street and became active in politics. He was the Senior Vice President of the Natural Law Party of Canada, a party based on the principles of transcendental meditation, and ran in the federal riding of Rosedale – now Toronto Centre – in 1993. He died in 2000.

Boys of Major Lane
The boys of Major Street – Chucky, Porky, Solly, Harold, Red and Joe – were honoured with four others in the name of a laneway off Harbord Street in 2013. The six teenage friends fought at the same time in the second world war, but only two came home. Joe Greenberg, known locally as Dr. Joe, was one of those who returned. The other was his cousin, Red. Major Street was home to a disproportionate number of young men killed in combat.

Niagara Street Public School, originally built in 1874

What other stories are important to this neighbourhood?

Desk research can only reveal a tiny slice of a neighbourhood’s history. Help us uncover the untold stories about the people, places and events that shaped this neighbourhood.

You can share your stories and ideas for what to name the laneway by filling out our survey.

City of Toronto Commemorative Naming Guiding Principles

Laneway names must meet the City of Toronto’s Guiding Principles for Commemoration:

1. Be informed by historical research, traditional knowledge and community insights.
2. Be supported by communities through meaningful engagement.
3. Honour Indigenous ways of knowing and being (note: This principle is specific to commemorations of significance to Indigenous Peoples).
4. Prioritize commemorations significant to Indigenous Peoples, Black communities and equity-deserving groups.
5. Connect to Toronto, Ontario or Canada’s histories and cultures.
6. Share knowledge and stories behind commemorations.

Process & Timeline

  • TAS is helping to facilitate this naming initiative but ultimately, it’s a community decision (acceptable laneway names must be proved to have “general public support”)
  • Early in the summer, we were gathering ideas from local neighbours and key community groups through this survey.
  • TAS will compile the ideas from the survey and created a short list which we will share back with the community.
  • The feedback we receive on the shortlist will be used to help make a final recommendation on a new name for the laneway.
  • We will then submit the proposal to the City and it will go through a Technical Review and Guiding Principles Review, conducted by City staff. We’re aiming to send in the proposal in Fall 2023.
  • Council will consider the staff’s assessment and public comments and make a decision on the proposed laneway name.
  • Once approved, signage will be installed by the City.

Walmer Legacy Space

“Reconciliation is about establishing and maintaining a mutually respectful relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples in this country. In order for that to happen, there has to be awareness of the past, an acknowledgement of the harm that has been inflicted, atonement for the causes, and action to change behaviour.” – Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada  

The Walmer Road Legacy Space is a dedicated space in front of the Walmer Road Baptist Church where conversations about Indigenous history and our collective journey towards reconciliation are encouraged and supported. It temporarily exists on the steps of the church and will be incorporated into the future development being led by TAS and the Walmer Road Baptist Church.  

Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund Legacy Spaces Program

Inspired by the story of Chanie Wenjack and Gord Downie’s call to action to build a better Canada, the Gord Downie & Chanie WenjackFund (DWF) aims to build cultural understanding and create a path towards reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. Through the Legacy Schools program, DWF provides access to education on the true history of Canada and the lasting impact of residential schools through tools and training to 6,000+ schools and clubs and 7,000+ educators to reach over 150,000 students. 

DWF’s Legacy Spaces program provides an opportunity for corporations, governments, and organizations to play an important role in their communities. Legacy Spaces are safe, welcoming places dedicated to providing education and spreading awareness about Indigenous history and the journey of reconciliation. They serve as symbols and reminders of the important work each of us needs to undertake to fulfill the promises of the country and the TRC Calls to Action. 

Earlier this year, TAS partnered with the Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund (DWF) to create a Legacy Space at 38 Walmer Road. As a participant in the 5-year program, TAS is now a DWF Legacy Spaces partner committed to taking reconciliACTION, both in the workplace and in the community.

Walmer Road Legacy Space

Since the early stages of the 38 Walmer Road project, TAS has been committed to learning about the Indigenous history of the site and exploring our role in truth and reconciliation. As a starting point, in 2021 we organized a community walking tour with Indigenous leader, Trina Bell, and participated in cultural competency training with the Walmer Road Baptist Church. 

Creating the Legacy Space at Walmer provides an opportunity to continue honouring the Indigenous history of the site and to integrate Indigenous stories and partnership into the development. 

While Legacy Spaces are typically located in private corporate settings, the Walmer Legacy Space is the first public-facing outdoor Legacy Space. We are excited about the opportunity to share it with the broader community and explore our collective role in truth and reconciliation. 

The Legacy Space will also be incorporated into the future development of the site once it is complete.

Indigenous Mural and Gardens

As part of the Legacy Space at Walmer Road, TAS commissioned a new indigenous art work for the church doors and integrated indigenous plants into the urban crate farm in front of the church.

The artwork on the doors of the church was produced by Métis artist Dani Kastelein from the Brook McIlroy Indigenous Design Studio. It represents the four elements, Earth, Air, Fire, and Water. Air is represented by the clouds that bring rain to the 3 sisters. This scene transitions to the Water which supports the sturgeon swimming through while being sung to by frogs. Then there is Fire, where all are gathered for a feast and a moment of storytelling. Aki, the Earth, our mother, is depicted in all three

The urban crate farm, located in front of the mural, includes many Indigenous plants and
medicinal herbs, such as tobacco and sweetgrass. The garden is meant to provide opportunities for teaching about Indigenous culture.

TAS & Truth & Reconciliation

The lands upon which TAS operates are the traditional territories, treaty lands, and homelands of the respective First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Nations who are the long-time stewards of these lands. As a developer in a settler colonial country, advancing  reconciliation is a moral imperative.  

We are at the beginning of our truth and reconciliation journey and know that we have a long way to go. We believe the most important thing we’re doing right now is taking the time to build relationships with people, to learn from them, and to establish partnerships grounded in trust.  

These relationships, along with the capacity-building and professional development we’re undertaking, are helping us develop a greater understanding of where TAS can meaningfully contribute to truth and reconciliation. We have committed to developing a Reconciliation Action Plan by the end of 2023. 

Community Celebration

On June 17th, we are hosting a community event to celebrate the launch of the Walmer Road Legacy Space. To learn more and to RSVP visit: http://walmer-legacy-space.eventbrite.ca.