Chair, Thorncliffe Park
“We moved to Thorncliffe Park because there was walking and TTC access to a library, grocery store, mosque, and of course a large South Asian population.
The local park, however, didn’t feel good. I never expected this kind of park condition in Canada: garbage and no bins, children lining up to use only two swings… I wanted my children to have what I had had as a child.
So we decided to improve the park. It was difficult at first to navigate City Hall, to develop relationships, but we did it! New swings, a splash pad, a water fountain that works, benches, picnic tables, new pathways, tree plantings, new light posts, a tandoor oven, food
vendors, produce stalls, performances…. It wasn’t easy, but the park is transformed.
With RAC zoning, changes are easier, and the possibilities are much greater: office space, ground floor facilities, use of apartments for community organizations, cafés and other social spaces for people to sit and meet about issues, places for women to have time for themselves, usable kitchens for catering, community gardens, economic opportunities
… the list goes on.
My advice to residents: Go knock on doors, build relationships, ask for what you need, and make it happen!”
Executive Director, Scadding Court Community Centre
“The street outside Scadding Court was a desolate space – an unused strip with no activity. So, we plopped down a bunch of shipping containers for small-scale businesses to set up shop at a very low cost and low risk. This simple concept has resulted in a lot of success stories for people who just needed an accessible opportunity to get started. It has rekindled street life here on Dundas, and it even brings in revenue for the Community Centre.
Today we have several community gardens, outdoor markets, food vendors, greenhouses, retailers, apprenticeship
and other programs, and even a commercial-grade kitchen for affordable hourly rates. In our model, everyone gets a piece of the pie; everyone wins.
With RAC zoning coming in, there’s huge potential for these strategies to succeed in tower neighbourhoods. Entrepreneurs, charitable organizations, residents’ associations…I invite you to visit Scadding Court to see what we are up to, and visit www.scaddingcourt.org for more inspiration. Our Business Out of a Box (BOB) program might even be able to help you start your own success story!”
Manager, Green Change, Jane/Finch Community and Family Centre
“The Jane/Finch Community and Family Centre worked hard to integrate itself into the base of a residential tower long before RAC zoning came along. They’re doing an amazing job bringing services to the community, and they provide a great model for other tower neighbourhoods to learn from.
Being located at the base of a tower community is crucial to our mandate. But at first it was difficult making connections to the street – to reach the people that needed us. It took a long time to figure out the zoning changes required to improve our connection to residents, and then to establish working relationships with City. The year or so it took us to achieve this delayed our funding commitments and made it a real challenge to build a space, keep the community involved, and even keep our
basic programs running.
In the end, however, our hard work paid off and we’ve built a fantastic community centre that is tightly woven into the fabric of Jane and Finch.
With the RAC zone, these kinds of programs are going to be much easier for people to achieve. This gives real backing to the ethic of Tower Renewal. Now it will be much easier to get key players at the table, easier to build relationships between landlords and service organizations, and easier to change actual built form. Most importantly, it opens up opportunities for residents because things can start to happen at the neighbourhood scale, everything is more attainable, there are more related resources, more collaborative relationships, a better work environment, a healthier community.”
Toronto Public Health
Many Torontonians have to travel too far to get good food. In a lot of our neighbourhoods, convenience stores and fast food chains offer high-calorie, nutrient-poor options only. We also see rising food costs, an obesity epidemic, and residents lacking in basic food skills. Toronto Public Health wants to promote fresh produce and other healthy foods in the neighbourhoods that need it most.
So together with FoodShare we created the “Grab Some Good” Mobile Good Food Market – essentially a fresh fruit and vegetable store on wheels. It brings good, healthy food to low-income communities who have barriers accessing fresh groceries.
The MGFM has been a great success. Communities seem to love it, and really appreciate the quality of food sold. In Tower Neighbourhoods, the MGFM has not only provided access to fresh food, but has also generated a new level of social activity at street level. We have requests to bring the MGFM to many more communities than we are able to serve. But the good news is, we put a second bus on the road, with the potential for more to come. Operating funds have been provided through the City’s poverty reduction strategy, and will allow us to continue and broaden our service.
We look forward to bringing fresh, healthy food to more communities, including tower neighbourhoods across the city, and hope that others will join us in their own fresh food initiatives!
For more information visit http://foodshare.net/program/mobile/