IThis week I was fortunate to have been invited to the University of Waterloo Planners' Dinner. The guest speaker was New York City's Parks Commissioner, Mitchell Silver. He's an entertaining and engaging speaker, who brought a fresh perspective to how I think about Parks. The most important was his idea of equity, and how conservatory spaces need to be cared for on an equitable basis, regardless of the wealth of their particular corner of the community.
Silver talked about how New York's aim was to have everyone gain access to a park within 10 minutes' walk of where they live. While that's do-able in most of Toronto, he also pointed out that when he began his role, there were great disparities between the condition and accessibility of various parks - lush green spaces like Central Park were counted the same way as asphalt-paved compounds with a couple of trees to the side. This got me thinking about all our public realm entities - social housing, roads, pedestrian and cycling routes, transit...and I could go on. All of these should be cared for to an equitable standard, regardless of the means of those who live in the surrounding neighbourhood.
I also had an opportunity to meet another "recovering candidate" from the recent election. We agreed that since there is still much to do, we all need to find ways to keep working. How are you advocating, volunteering, or engaging others for a better Toronto?
I would be remiss if I didn't mention the most important event that will be happening in locations all over the country this weekend - often in neighbourhood parks: Remembrance Day. Lest we forget, the day is not a celebration of war, but instead, an honouring of a commitment to peace. Now, more than ever, that's something we need to work on. No matter how far the gap between us, let's look for ways to find common ground with those who are different from us. It may not be easy, but it is worth reclaiming some honour and respect in our world.
Life after the campaign has begun. As always, I have big dreams and ideas, but both feet firmly on the ground. I hope you'll share your ideas for how we can build better communities, and that we can grow those into something real that we can all share.
After the wine and cake (because every team deserves a celebration, no matter the outcome), I got right back to work. Day One featured a meeting with the Regent Park Neighbourhood Association, where I've jumped straight back in - sleeves rolled up, ready to work - to make change happen.
This week, we're hosting a meeting of residents to discuss what information our community's RFP consultation team needs to take with them when they go "in camera" again, to review the Phase 4 & 5 documents. I'm thinking about community benefits, of course, and how those can be structured to provide ongoing, post-construction employment. Long-term jobs, and careers. We also want to be sure we not only have all of the affordable housing we need, but we need to push for a streamlined, efficient system to move residents from their old homes to their new ones. And we'll be looking at the right questions to ask to ensure safety, community building, communications, and advocacy can flourish.
I'm looking forward to a bright future!
Change agent. Recovering political candidate. Committed to building community. Always looking forward.