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NEWS: ARA holds annual meeting (Election Special 2018)

May 29th, 2018 · No Comments

Peter Steen receives Community Builder Award

Annex Residents’ Association board member Christine Innes, vice-chair Albert Koehl, Peter Steen, and chair David Harrison (from left). Steen received the Community Builder award for building and maintaining an ice rink at Jean Sibelius Park over many years. COURTESY ALBERT KOEHL

By Ahmed-Zaki Hagar

Development and politics were the main subjects at the Annex Residents’ Association (ARA) annual general meeting at a packed Friends’ House (60 Lowther Ave.) on April 26.

Former Member of Provincial Parliament (Parkdale-High Park) Reverend Cheri DiNovo was this year’s keynote speaker. Known as the “queen of the tri-party bills,” she sponsored many private member bills that had the support of the three major political parties, like the one in 2007 that raised the minimum wage to $10.

Now a minister at Trinity-St. Paul’s United Church, she hosts Radical Reverend, a radio program on CIUT 89.5 FM, the University of Toronto’s campus radio station.

During her remarks, DiNovo touched on the provincial election, particularly a potential Doug Ford premiership. She said that she will work with Ford if he wins and urged the audience to “vote with their heart.”

“No matter who gets in, make sure you are knocking on their door, calling them up on the phone, writing to them,” she said. “You are your own best lobbyist for whatever your interest is.”

The ARA also announced the winner of the Community Building Award, Peter Steen. He was recognized for building and maintaining an ice rink at the Jean Sibelius Square Park on Kendal Avenue since 1998.

Created last year, the Community Builder Award is given to an Annex resident who makes a significant contribution to the neighbourhood.

“It is an honour, it is a really sweet thing and I appreciate it,” said Steen. He wanted to make sure that all those in the community who helped him over the years were acknowledged too. It was “always appreciated” as it’s “never one person’s work, there was a lot of help”.

Steen says that he always loved hockey, which was his motivation to build the rink. He has also seen the popularity of the sport grow in the neighbourhood in the past few years.

“I have certainly seen an increase in skaters coming out,” he said. “I do not think you can ever not have a neighbourhood in this country without someone playing hockey if it is cold enough.”

Steen added that a family will take over the task of maintaining the rink, and that there has been growing interest in the community rink over the past couple of years.

Finally, Joe Cressy (Ward 20, Trinity-Spadina) spoke about how the city is doing very well economically, but still has to address things like homelessness.

“I encourage all of us, and every neighbourhood in the city,” he said, “as we move into a discussion about the future and vision of the city, that as we succeed, we only truly succeed if we care for the most vulnerable.”

Cressy spoke about the downtown core’s growing population and said that more people will work and study downtown. He said this shows the need for better transit and “livable neighbourhoods” marked by new parks and community centres, adding that the design for a new public park at Spadina and Sussex avenues will soon be released.

Another topic Cressy addressed was fraternities and sororities, which he said should be licensed as multi-tenant housing, something he brought to Toronto City Council’s executive committee last year.

“This is entirely about ensuring, when you have large multi-tenant houses, that they are helped, that they are safe, and that they are good community neighbours,” he said.

Cressy also spoke about the changes to the ward boundaries, which has created three new seats at city council.

What is now Ward 20 will be split in half. The north part will become Ward 24, and run from Queen Street to the rail tracks just north of Dupont Street, bounded by University Avenue on the east and Bathurst Street on the west.

The southern part will remain Ward 20, and run roughly from Queen Street to Lake Ontario, bounded by John Street on the east and Bathurst Street on the west.

Cressy will run for re-election “in our home community [Ward 24]. I grew up in this area [and] it is home. I cannot imagine being anywhere else.”

On May 23, Toronto City Council voted to amend the city’s by-laws so that fraternities and sororities may be required to be licensed. Annemarie Brissenden, contributing editor, is the president of a not-for-profit corporation that owns and operates a women’s fraternity house on Madison Avenue. She edited this article.


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