Toronto's 2018 election has been full of uncertainty. In the middle of the race City Council was cut in half, wards doubled in size, and a dramatic inter-government court battle unfolded.
Through all of that, one thing stayed clear: the passion and strength of our local communities. Beaches-East York and neighbourhoods across the Toronto are full of local leaders and experts. In order to continue succeeding as a city and make better decisions we need stronger local voices.
The City should create an Office of Neighbourhoods to support and elevate grassroots change. This could be anything from community-led traffic calming projects, neighbourhood arts and culture initiatives, or street parties to help combat loneliness among our seniors. With the right supports and some extra guidance through complex city processes, there's no telling what a group of neighbours can achieve.
With around 100,000 residents in each ward, now more than ever it is important to empower our local communities. This should be part of a broader strategy to make sure the City doesn't let its service standards slip on community engagement.
Cities like Ottawa, Calgary and Portland all have an Office of Neighbourhoods. The City is already doing a version of this with our Business Improvement Areas, under the BIA Office that is currently run through the Economic Development and Culture department.
An Office of Neighbourhoods would be an opportunity to give community groups the kinds of support we already offer to vital local businesses.
Please share your thoughts by reaching out and voting for positive change on October 22nd.