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NEWS: PARA AGM talks revitalization (June 2021)

July 15th, 2021 · No Comments

Sustainable and green neighbourhood also on the agenda

Football fans brought College and Clinton streets to life following Team Italia’s victory over Spain. ARLYN MCADOREY/GLEANER NEWS

By Madeline Smart

After months of lockdowns, revitalization was at the top of the agenda for the Palmerston Area Residents Association’s (PARA) annual general meeting on June 2. 

A sustainable and green neighbourhood was second on the agenda for the Association whose boundaries are Bloor, Bathurst, College and Grace.

At the well-attended virtual meeting, attendees heard presentations from Gord Pridham of the Little Italy Business Improvement Area (BIA) and Jimmy Lu of PARA’s Green Committee. Both spoke of their plans to breathe life back in the neighbourhood.

 “We want College to be as vibrant as it once was but we need the community’s help,” explained Pridham to the meeting attendees, highlighting the lack of foot traffic in the area especially around College and Clinton streets since the pandemic.

Pridham explained how many small businesses in the area were pushed out during the COVID-19 pandemic due to the real estate market and the raising of rental prices, while others were left struggling financially due to extended lockdowns. 

As a result, the main focus of the Little Italy BIA became supporting the small businesses that remained and working on reinvigorating the neighbourhood. 

Some of these initiatives took shape as commissioned murals by local artists, others involved re-allocating money usually spent on outdoor food festivals towards helping restaurants be a part of CaféTO. 

Pridham says they have more things planned for this summer, pop-up shops from local retailers, for example, to make the area a popular destination again. Now with restrictions being lifted Pridham says he is confident that it will have a successful rebound.

The pandemic did not get in the way of green initiatives. 

“It kind of amazed me that so many great programs already existed, and the fact that tons of stuff started during COVID,” said Lu about the sustainability programs that have been cropping up all over the city over the course of the pandemic. 

PARA launched their Green Committee and Green Plan in February 2020, which has since been approved by the Toronto and East York Community Council as an official planning document. Some of the goals they hope to achieve are working with the city to improve the tree canopy, maintaining the gardens at Healey Willan Park and restarting the PollinatorTO project with Harbord Collegiate.

Lu, who works on climate change policy and sustainability is on the Green Committee and has also been named Ward 11’s Climate Action Champion. As part of the city’s TransformTO climate action strategy, a leader from each ward was selected to lead their area in community-focused climate action. 

Lu presented his initiative, Ecobuds, at the AGM. The goal of Ecobuds will be to work to connect residents that are already knowledgeable about sustainability with those who wish to learn more in a mentorship type program matching people based on shared interests. 

Ecobuds will hopefully be up and running later this summer and Lu hopes to partner with local sustainable businesses to provide incentives for participants.

In the meantime, Lu encourages anyone who is interested in sustainability to just simply start getting involved. 

“So much stuff has happened and come to fruition in recent times and I think it’s a great time for people to take advantage of all these new and the expanded initiatives,” he says.


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