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FORUM: Leveraging a green agenda (April 2023)

August 8th, 2023 · No Comments

Finding impactful uses for community benefit funds

By Dianne Saxe

I hope you are well and enjoying the warm spring weather. I am thrilled to report that over the past few months, I have had the pleasure of collaborating with many of my council colleagues on a range of important initiatives. These initiatives are aimed at improving Ward 11 and our city. 

I am grateful to Councillors Morley and Colle, as well as Deputy Mayor McKelvie, for supporting my motions on slope stabilization for ravines, setting a schedule for a restoration plan for the Vale of Avoca, and piloting e-bikes in Bike Share memberships for 100 people on the Ontario Disability Support Program. In addition, Councillor Carroll joined me in a motion to improve snow clearance, with a special focus on sidewalk safety, while Councillor Bravo supported my motion to extend the College Street bike lanes to Lansdowne.

At council, Councillor Myers seconded my motion to invite OMERS to appear at the Infrastructure and Environment Committee to provide a detailed explanation of its plans for climate risk and opportunities while investing our pensions, and Councillor Ainslie seconded my motion to further reconciliation by allowing an Indigenous group to erect storage and meeting structures in a locked corner of Paul Martel Park.

Collaboration is the cornerstone of success for any city, and I am proud to be working alongside my colleagues to make Toronto a better place. Our collective efforts to improve the city are truly inspiring, and I am grateful for everyone who is committed to making a positive difference.

In addition to my other efforts, I have dedicated significant time to examining the complex records of community benefit funds held by the city. My goal is to identify impactful uses for these funds by collaborating with various groups. To this end, I have urged each residents’ association to propose a heritage plaque for their respective areas and recommend ways to enhance the inclusivity of our local parks for girls and women.

This could involve improving lighting and visibility, providing amenities such as washrooms and programming, and addressing key safety concerns that discourage women and girls from using the parks. By leveraging the available funds from sections 37 and 42, I will be able to initiate positive changes that will benefit Ward 11 as a whole.

It is worth noting that the Annex is home to 13 beautiful green spaces, which serve as valuable assets for the community. These green spaces include parks such as Joseph Burr Tyrrell Park, Paul Martel, and of course, Jean Sibelius Park. Each park offers a unique environment and provides a space for community members to relax, play, and connect with nature. As a community, it is important that we take care of these green spaces and work to ensure they are accessible and inclusive for everyone. 

At present, one of my primary areas of focus is Jean Sibelius Park where I am working to drive much-needed improvements. Some of the initial items on my agenda include enhancing the big kids’ playground by introducing new features such as a junior bamboo jungle, monkey bars, and a climbing rope. Additionally, I am advocating for step benches to be installed in the corner of the little kids’ playground, an inground trampoline next to the bike share, and a balance beam and body curl bench halfway along Wells, between the hydrant and the vault. By advocating for these improvements, I aim to create a more dynamic and engaging environment that will encourage children and families to spend more time in the park.

At the same time, I am constantly searching for opportunities to protect human health and the natural systems on which our lives depend. I am working with Fleet Services to phase out the city’s use of pre-2008 diesel engines because of their disproportionate damage to human health, while making bikes available for city staff use as they perform their day-to-day duties. We look forward to Municipal Licensing and Standards bylaw officers volunteering to utilize these bikes at their earliest convenience.

Collaboration and community involvement are essential for creating a vibrant and inclusive neighborhood. Through working with my colleagues on the city council and partnering with local groups and organizations, I have been able to drive positive changes in the community, including improvements to green spaces and initiatives that promote inclusivity and accessibility for all residents.

As we move forward, I remain committed to working towards a more vibrant and welcoming ward that benefits everyone. By continuing to collaborate and engage with community members, we can make Toronto welcoming, safe, and enjoyable for all.

Dianne Saxe is city councillor for Ward 11, University-Rosedale.


Tags: Annex · Opinion