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The first plazaPOPS, funded by Park People’s Public Space Incubator Grant, Ken and
Eti Greenberg and the Balsam Foundation popped up for six weeks, transforming 10 parking spaces in the iconic Wexford Heights Plaza in Scarborough

For 6 weeks in the summer of 2019, WexPOPS popped up in 10 parking spaces in the parking lot of the Wexford Heights Plaza in Toronto, inviting the public to spend time in the parking lot the way they might in a traditional public space: There is no cost to enter and everyone is welcome.

Read more about our process here. Check out the full report and
video on WexPOPS here.

The first plazaPOPS, funded by Park People’s Public Space Incubator Grant, funded by Ken and Eti Greenberg and the Balsam Foundation -popped up in the Wexford Heights BIA in July 2019. As a pilot project, WexPOPS demonstrated the potential for a community lead design process in partnership with a Business Improvement Area in creating equity in Toronto’s urban landscape. Throughout the installation, the site was programmed by events, concerts and other community initiatives.

For WexPOPS, plazaPOPS was engaged in a community design process with the help of our Community Working Group, comprised by local residents, Scarborough community organizers and business owners. Masters of Landscape Architecture students from the University of Guelph were engaged in the community design process through Professor Brendan Stewart’s Community Design studio.

Host land owners & collaborators

The Kiriakou Family – Owners of the Wexford Restaurant
2072 Lawrence Ave E
Hosted the project, providing 10 parking spaces

AC Waterjet
123 Crockford Blvd
Donated CNC milling services to create the WexPOPS signs and the Wish Tree.

CAS signs co

2080 Lawrence Ave E
Donated all the printing for WexPOPS signs

Rose’s Kitchen
2602 Eglinton Ave E
Provided reduced cost food for the PATTY-O event.

Photo fast
2078 Lawrence Ave E
An employee from photo fast provided a DJ set

Working Women Community Centre

Hosted PATTY-O community event

Site & neighbourhood context

On the traditional territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit, Haudenosaunee, and Huron-Wendat, Wexford was a small rural village that transformed into the bustling district when Scarborough was developed in the 1960s. Today, Lawrence Ave E within Wexford Heights is one of the most delicious stretches of Toronto, home to over 60 amazing restaurants and over 200 small businesses in total!

Wexford Heights Plaza in Scarborough in 1977 (Toronto Star)
Tony Kirakou and his family ran the Wexford Restaurant for 63 years.

Project team & collaborators

None of this would be possible without our vast network of collaborators!

Brendan Stewart

Daniel Rotsztain

Linda Raeside
Wexford Heights BIA Coordinator

Kasia Knap
ACCT Youth Coordinator

Angela Koh
Working Women Community Centre program coordintor

Bryan Peart
Community Centre program coordintor

Ben O’Hara

Echo Railton
Mural artist

Minaz Asani-Kanji
Local resident, Working Group Member

Roger Bissoon
Local resident, Working Group member

Huda Bukhari
Arab Community Centre of Toronto, Working Group Member

Laura Dijana Higgins
Friends of Edge Park, Friends of Wexford Park, Local resident, Working Group Member

Mariana Hernandez
Local resident, Working Group Member

Hanbo Jia

Agincourt resident, Working Group Member

Suyeon Jin
For You Telecare Family Services, Working Group Member

Tim Mowers
Maryvale Community Association, Working Group Member

Louise O’Neill
Friends of Cedarbrook & Thomson Memorial Parks, Working Group Member

Shadi Shami
Arab Community Centre of Toronto, Working Group Member

Sudipto Sengupta
Local resident,
Working Group Member

Nadira Tabassum
Shwasti, Working Group Member

Hanna Kassim
Al-Isra, Working Group Member

Debra McGonegal
Scarborough Centre for Healthy Communities, Working Group Member

Wehbe Zeidan
Local resident, Working Group Member

Abboud Zleik Working
Local resident, Community Working Group Member

Yani Zhao
Wexford BIA board member, owner of Blue Ocean Spa, Community Working Group Member

University of Guelph
MLA design students

Carly Balestra
Kimberley Beech
Skylyssa Carville
Kendra Cheeseman
Sihao Chen
Sita Ganesan
Massimiliano Gatta
Brennan Guse
Samuel Heaman
Quinn Howard
Jessica Karafilov
Sima Kuhail
Hanna Leufven
Christine Pedersen
Amirhossein Sadeghiesfahani
Kevin Todd
Bim Troell
Alanna Van Ommen

University of Guelph
Research Assistants

Beth Bray
Skylyssa Carville
Sima Kuhail
Kevin Todd

University of Toronto
CityLab Students

Lucy Cu
Michael Gubermani
Fi Nguyen
Igor Samardzic

OCADU Research Assistant
Molly Connor


Rafael Gomez Associate Professor
Centre for Industrial Relations
and Human Resources
University of Toronto

Howard Tam
ThinkFresh Group

Our WexPOPS Summary Report provides an at-a-glance look at our collaborative community design process, and an overview of our impact drivers and measurements of success. As a process and a product, WexPOPS positively contributed to the social, economic, and environmental well-being of its community.

Project Partners

Transforming parking spaces into places takes a wide network of collaborations and partnerships across sectors!

Wexford Heights BIA

Project Host

There are more than 245 business members that form the Wexford Heights BIA who are governed by a Board-of-Directors. This is truly a vibrant community and the most multi-culturally diverse area of the Greater Toronto Area. With so many cultural groups making Scarborough their home, this area is rich in restaurants that cook-up a variety of food from every corner of the world. Just a drive along Lawrence Avenue East (The Wexford Area) and you can see, shop and taste items from many cultures

The Wexford Heights BIA was our anchor partner and project host, connecting plazaPOPS with the business community and co-presenting our summer of programming. WexPOPS launched alongside Wexford Height’s landmark “Taste of Lawrence” street festival.

University of Guelph


The University of Guelph is like no other university in Canada. Research-intensive and learner-centred, our campuses span urban hubs and rural communities. We are known for excellence in the arts and sciences and for our commitment to developing exceptional thinkers and engaged citizens.

The University of Guelph supported plazaPOPS as a co-presenter and research lead for the project.

Scarborough Arts

Arts Partner

Scarborough Arts, a not-for-profit charitable organization, serves the Scarborough community by developing, delivering, and promoting innovative arts programming and cultural initiatives in collaboration and partnership with the community.

Scarborough Arts participarted in the Community Working Group process and co-presented several events at WexPOPS. They funded interactive artist workshops throughout the summer, supported funding of our mural artist, and provided honoraria for the musicians and performers at our landmark events!

Mural Routes

Arts Partner

Mural Routes activates communities by facilitating the creation of responsive, collaborative murals, and provides opportunities to build and advance careers in mural art.

Mural Routes facilitated our call for mural artists to provide the landmark stage mural at the centre of WexPOPS!

Toronto and Region Conservation Authority

Ecological Partner

Since 1957, Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA), as enabled through the provincial Conservation Authorities Act, has taken action to enhance our region’s natural environment and protect our land, water and communities from the impacts of flooding and increasingly extreme weather events — Ontario’s leading cause of public emergencies.

All the native plants in WexPOPS were transplanted to the Meadoway, the TRCA-lead transformation of a hydro corridor in Scarborough into a vibrant 16-kilometre stretch of urban greenspace and meadowlands that will become one of Canada’s largest linear urban parks.

City of Toronto


The City of Toronto supported plazaPOPS by participating in the Community Design Process. Maili Sedore and Robert Mays from Transportation Services contrbuted their expertise to the design and safety considerations of WexPOPS!

Arab Community Centre of Toronto

Youth Partner

The Arab Community Centre of Toronto (ACCT)is a non-political, non-religious, and non-profit organization that works with newcomers of all backgrounds across Toronto.

We worked with the ACCT throughout WexPOPS, initially hosting an open house to discuss potential designs, which lead to a core-partnership to hire our Youth Site Stewards in a supportive hiring process that gave over 50 youth employment skills!

Working Women Community Centre

Programming partner

Working Women Community Centre is a women-focused settlement agency that provides support to newcomers in Toronto. Since 1974, we have been making a difference in the lives of immigrant women and their families.

We hosted an open house at the WWCC’s Victoria Hub location and partnered with them to produce our PATTY-O Caribana party!


WexPOPS – the first plazaPOPS! – was supported by Park People’sPublic Space Incubator Grant funded by Ken and Eti Greenberg and the Balsam Foundation, and the City of Toronto’s BIA Innovation fund

Park People


Park People launched its Public Space Incubator (PSI) program in 2018 to spur on new models of publicly accessible open spaces in dense cities like Toronto

Ken and Eti Greenberg


Ken Greenberg is an urban designer, teacher, writer, former Director of Urban Design and Architecture for the City of Toronto and Principal of Greenberg Consultants. He is the author of Walking Home: The Life and Lessons of a City Builder and Toronto Reborn; Design Successes and Challenges. He was selected as a Member of the Order of Canada in 2019 and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Toronto.

Eti Greenberg has managed Toronto’s Euclid Cinema, acted as an art dealer, worked for two Toronto city councillors, teaches Tai Chi, and is a Shiatsu and acupuncture therapist. She is passionate about Toronto and walks everywhere, while also discovering new places via tandem bike and kayak.

The Balsam Foundation


The Balsam Foundation exists to enable and galvanize the well-being and potential of our communities.

They are committed to a future where all Canadians benefit from a high standard of health and well-being. For this reason, our funding will reflect approaches that put people first, strike a balance between personal and collective wellness, and acknowledge the impact of social determinants of health and the context within which people live, work and play.

City of Toronto


In partnership with the Wexford Heights BIA, plazaPOPS received a BIA Innovation Fund.

The BIA Innovation Fund was a grant that provides funding to BIAs to test innovative and creative solutions to local challenges and share their findings/results with other BIAs.

University of Guelph – Landscape Architecture


As a core project partner, the University of Guelph’s Landscape Architecture program contributed administrative services and countless in-kind donations including the time of Professor Brendan Stewart

Media coverage

As the pilot plazaPOPS, WexPOPS got the attention of local and international media, fulfilling the goal of our Community Working Group to “put Wexford on the map”!