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CHATTER: Community Builder of the Year: Neil Jain (May 2019)

May 28th, 2019 · No Comments

The Annex Residents’ Association (ARA) presented Neil Jain with the Community Builder of the Year award during their meeting on April 25. “The award recognizes a good neighbour in the Annex community who has contributed in the areas of social justice, heritage, and environment,” according to the vice chair of the association, Albert Koehl.

This year’s winner was commemorated for his efforts to preserve a house deemed a heritage building according to the Ontario Heritage Act. Previous winners of the award were Chris Wright for working to help Syrian refugees and Peter Steen for making and maintaining an ice rink at Jean Sibelius Square. Koehl commented, “We are recognizing Neil for his determination in exhorting the city to take action on the deteriorating condition of properties at 6-8 Walmer Rd.” Jain resides beside 6 Walmer Road, which is how it caught his attention. The house was built in 1896 and was declared a heritage property in 2013. 

The issue brought to the city’s attention was that the building was deteriorating with a hole in the roof. Some issues people in the neighbourhood had were that litter on the lawn was attracting pests and trespassing was taking place. There was graffiti on the building, and local residents expressed concerns that it could be used for drug dealing. 

More than three hundred requests were directed at the city to preserve this property. “Over the years Neil has ensured that trash gets picked up to prevent vermin, graffiti gets cleaned up, and illegal entry is prevented,” said Koehl. Though Jain was out of town during the meeting, his parents accepted the award on his behalf. “I’m thrilled to have won the Community Builder of the Year award. It’s great recognition for a lot of work that a number of folks have done on this issue,” says Jain; “though the award is valuable, it would be more rewarding to see further action taken by the city.”

Jain stated, “The city should use its enforcement powers more vigorously to ensure owners comply with heritage legislation, meaningfully showcase heritage properties, and not let them deteriorate.”

—Nabahat Hussain, Gleaner News


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