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NEWS (AUGUST 2017): Palmerston goes green

September 13th, 2017 · No Comments

Residents’ association follows model set by Harbord Village

By Emilie Jones

The Palmerston Area Residents’ Association (PARA) unveiled its plan to go green at a public meeting in early August. The association, which has been developing the plan with the office of Mike Layton (Ward 19, Trinity-Spadina), was looking for ideas and feedback from the neighbourhood.

“Everything hinges on this meeting,” said Rachel Singer, a summer intern with the councillor’s office who has been on the file with fellow intern Francesca Campos. “The plan is completely created by the community; we are just here to support.”

PARA chair Paul MacLean described the meeting as an opportunity “to inform people what the interns have been doing. They have been a real boost throughout the summer, which is the energy that was needed. We want to do more than just brainstorm.”

In developing the plan, PARA is following the path laid by the Harbord Village Residents’ Association (HVRA), which released its Green Master Plan in February of last year, and the Bloor Annex BIA, which has developed its own plan for greening Bloor Street.

The HVRA’s Sue Dexter was on hand to give PARA some guidance on how best to proceed.

“My advice is that you want to build yourself in the city infrastructure, working and collaborating with them,” she said. “It is a little piece of a big problem. You want to focus, specialize in one thing, and go away with it.”

The focus of the meeting was on collaboration, as representatives from different organizations — Community Resilience to Extreme Weather, PARA, HVRA, and Layton’s office — gave presentations and answered questions.

Residents then participated in activities that helped determine their priorities for the neighbourhood. In dot-mocracy, for example, people used stickers to demonstrate the level of importance of various issues.

The idea, explained Rachel Singer, is to have the neighbourhood develop the plan it wants, rather than the city dictate to the neighbourhood.

“This is your plan. It represents your community. It is your voice,” she said.

Some of the themes that emerged included storm-management, pinch-point planters, identifying school areas that could be used as community greenspace, and tree planting. After working in groups, the residents came together to give some general and initial feedback on the themes, as well as show their support for the initiative overall.

“People might ask why a green plan,” said Frumie Diamond, the PARA board member responsible for green space and beautification. “It’s a great way to identify strengths and opportunities in the neighbourhood.”

She added that Mike Layton’s support is a big help.

“When you have a plan and people behind you, it allows us to have input when the city is putting in infrastructure. It allows us to have a seat at the table to get what we need.”

“I appreciate the idea of beautifying the neighbourhood and turning that into working with Layton into greening the neighbourhood,” agreed Becky, a local resident.

Although the meeting sparked discussion and brainstorming, it will take more than that to bring the green plan to fruition.

“This is a promising start,” said Singer, noting that such meetings are important, because “the hardest part is getting people involved”.

“Communications are necessary for this to be successful,” said Breanne, another resident. “How we are communicating and why the project is important must be communicated, we need to build partnerships. I am interested in how [the plan] can relate to our small neighbourhood which we all love so much.”

Meghan, another neighbour, echoed those thoughts. “It is already a green neighbourhood, with foliage and trees. Building on it to make it sustainable can be really valuable.”

The hope is to have a first draft of the plan ready for a public meeting this fall.


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