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Collaboration amongst Community groups

DIGIN - January 22, 2015 - 11:20am
Community groups finding collaboration a great way to strengthen neighbourhoodsToronto neighbourhood associations are finding rewards in reaching across borders with the common purpose of solving urban issues. Tara Walton / Toronto Star Order this photo
Gathering on the West Toronto Rail Path, from left, Bruce Gavin Ward, Liz Sutherland, Donna Cowan and Suhail Barot got together to develop a road safety program. 

By: Staff Reporter, Published on Wed Jan 21 2015 Donna Cowan was appalled at the anger in the streets she witnessed when she started commuting on her electric bicycle a couple of summers ago. “It wasn’t car against bike only, it was car against car, bike against bike, walker against bike, everywhere,” she said. So Cowan did what she’s grown accustomed to doing since the neighbourhood association she leads, DIGIN, launched a little more than a decade ago: she reached out to other local groups.More and more neighbourhood associations like DIGIN — which is committed to the cultural, social, environmental and economic vitalization of the Bloor Street West neighbourhood around Bloordale — are breaking down boundaries and working together to strengthen their areas, Cowan said. She believes collaboration is a must if neighbourhood associations want to get anything done. “Your community doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Just because you have a border to your group doesn’t mean you cross the street and nothing’s happening,” she said.On Sunday, Cowan, representing DIGIN, met Liz Sutherland of Ward 15 Cycle Toronto; her Ward 18 counterpart, Suhail Barot; and Bruce Gavin Ward, from Friends of West Toronto Rail Path, to work on a street safety initiative aimed at boosting civility and respect among all people who use the road.People need to come together to improve an area, she said. DIGIN has had its successes. It was the group’s idea to launch the BIG on Bloor Festival, a bi-annual street festival aimed at getting people in the neighbourhood talking about how to develop their stretch of Bloor.“It brought together not only community residents’ associations but also social service agencies, the Bloordale Village BIA (Business Improvement Area), the Bloorcourt BIA, councillors, provincial and federal elected officials. From it, people are still talking; other collaborations are still going on. It was quite fruitful,” she said. Many community groups that neighbour DIGIN subscribe to her group’s email list to keep up to date, Cowan said.
Tara Walton/Toronto Star
From left to right, Liz Sutherland, Donna Cowan, Bruce Gavin Ward and Suhail Barot pose for a photo Sunday on Dupont St. near the Toronto Railpath. 
“When next-door associations have information, they share it. For example, our neighbourhood is notorious for having bad developers. We’ve talked with other groups to share information so you know what tactics (certain developers) are going to use on you, that sort of thing.” New development is often a catalyst for community groups coming together, said Sue Dexter, a member of the Harbord Village Residents Association board. Harbord Village, she said, regularly collaborates with Grange Community Association and The Annex Residents Association, among many others. “I think there are enough issues in common that we do cross each other’s boundaries and get bound up in each other’s work,” Dexter said. “In a sense, we’re riding shotgun with each other and helping each other out as best we can. Harbord Village, for example, is a delegate to the Huron-Sussex neighbourhood revisioning.” Dexter said Harbord Village has collaborated with other groups for at least a decade now, but the collaborations are happening more often lately.“We’re starting to think of our own selves and our interests in a different way, because we see ourselves as part of a bigger picture. It’s no longer a one-off, in a sense. It’s a bigger unit.” The change in thinking could be part of a resurgence in initiatives led by neighbourhood residents. In September, Paul Bain, a project manager in the city’s planning department, told the Star he has observed a “renaissance” of resident-led initiatives sprouting in neighbourhoods across Toronto. “People have understood that there’s an opportunity to go in and do things in their community, and not just sit back and wait for the city to do it all,” Bain said. Ed Hore, co-chair of the York Quay Neighbourhood Association, said it’s been helpful to have the support of other groups as the YQNA deals with the issue of the island airport.“We want a whole bunch of groups together on this, because we don’t want to be a whole bunch of parties all squabbling with each other.”So much more can be accomplished by working together and capitalizing on one another’s strengths, said Tony Bolla, who is both a board member of the Regal Heights Village BIA and the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas. Bolla, who also founded a community website building business, said the Internet facilitates increased collaboration. Communities across the province have contacted him asking for help to build a website of their own. The Danforth East Community Association has also spread its wings outside of Toronto through the association’s pop-up shop project, which aims to revitalize main streets by moving temporary stores into empty storefronts.The project has so far proven successful — the commercial vacancy rate on Danforth East has decreased from 17 per cent to nine per cent — and the team has shared information with communities within the city as well as Oshawa, Bruce County and New Tecumseth, said Gay Stephenson, one of the project’s leads. “The pop-up shop toolkit is available for any community to use for free and we can offer a workshop to help them get started,” Stephenson said in an email to the Star Sunday. “We began sharing it on Twitter last week, and it's been downloaded 81 times. And the City of Toronto is very keen on supporting the spread of the pop-up project through combining work with BIAs and residents associations.”

With files from Rachel Mendleson

Volunteers & Suggestions wanted for Street Safety Initiative

DIGIN - January 22, 2015 - 11:16am
Hi all,
Some DIGIN members and a few west end Cycle Toronto groups  have been working on a West End Toronto Street Safety Project (a better name is to come) that has been borne out of the increased frustrations on our streets. We all know that growing congestion has resulted in more aggression and carelessness on the part of drivers, cyclists, pedestrians and other road users. Our project is a modest outreach campaign that involves the development of a website with public awareness tools and resources that call attention in a light-hearted but pointed way to dangerous and disrespectful street behaviours, like aggressive and distracted driving, like cyclists or anyone else running red lights, or wandering into traffic while texting.
At this point we are looking to add content to our website. 
We are looking for any cartoons, videos, stories, anecdotes, anything that will help create more awareness and/or educate folks on how to respectfully share our streets so everyone can arrive alive. 
If you have come across anything that you'd like to share please send me the link or the information. 
*** If anyone is interested in working on this project we would gladly accept your help. ***At this point we are doing research and web design...later on we will be designing 'promo' material and then doing the outreach during the spring/summer months.


Sorauren Rink now open

Sorauren Park - January 14, 2015 - 10:45pm
Thanks to the heroic efforts of the hardy Sorauren Hosers, the natural ice rink at the park is now open. There are two interconnected pads, one for shinny (east pad) and one for pleasure skating. The boards introduced last year now extend around the entire perimeter, thanks to a generous donation from Downtown Lumber on […]

Join the Sorauren Rink build this Saturday

Sorauren Park - January 6, 2015 - 8:55pm
Now that we finally have some decent weather, preparations are being made for the volunteer-powered Sorauren Park natural ice rink. You can help this Saturday morning, Jan. 10, starting at 9 a.m. on the baseball diamond. The Sorauren Hosers are looking for volunteers to help install the boards (last year’s innovation) and start flooding. The […]

Bench campaign successful, thank you!

Sorauren Park - December 10, 2014 - 8:49pm
Thanks to great support from community members, the Six Bench Holiday Campaign is already a success! All six bench spots have been spoken for. Two benches have been installed at the new Sorauren Town Square and the other four will be installed this spring. Watch this space for new opportunities coming soon to donate to […]

Vine Avenue park amazing graffiti

Junctioneer - November 12, 2014 - 1:51pm
Vine Avenue parking and storage for equipment building has an amazing scene of graffiti on it right now. Vine Avenue park amazing graffiti

Monarch road closing in photo

Junctioneer - November 11, 2014 - 2:19pm
Monarch Road at Junction Road is ever decreasing in life.   Search Monarch Road on this blog see the timeline of the road becoming less and less

Original Junction cow pen surface

Junctioneer - November 10, 2014 - 7:26am
Old stockyard Cow pen surface viewable from behind the Pharma plus on St. Clair Avenue West.     The concrete squares surface visible on the top of his picture are original to […]

Just love these bicycles excepted signs

Junctioneer - November 10, 2014 - 7:15am

Double Store dental office coming to 2990 Dundas St. W.

Junctioneer - November 8, 2014 - 1:37pm
Double Store dental office coming to 2990 Dundas St. W.

New business at 43 Junction Rd

Junctioneer - November 6, 2014 - 3:20pm


Junctioneer - November 6, 2014 - 2:43pm

Runnymede Rd. Bell Canada collocation office

Junctioneer - October 22, 2014 - 11:42am
Where most of the Internet feeds for area come from has has really benefited in the last couple of decades from the Internet.  While the building was used just for plain […]

New raw juice bar coming to Runnymede road and Dundas St., West

Junctioneer - October 18, 2014 - 12:33pm
New raw juice bar coming to Runnymede road and Dundas St., West

New hope upholstery gone!

Junctioneer - October 9, 2014 - 8:55pm
  New Hope Upholstery, at 2994 Dundas Street West has left the Junction.   We have lost another essential business type … to higher rents building owners can get?

West Toronto Baptist Church new sign could easily win best new sign in the Junction

Junctioneer - October 9, 2014 - 8:48pm
      Why because it emanates a sense of modernism coupled with a slight store coparent with reference to railroad signs.  Really like how the frame clasps the inner sign.

Parkdale candidates for mayor meeting October 15

Junctioneer - October 9, 2014 - 8:45pm
….all text Parkdale residents Association   Please join us on Wednesday, October 15th for a Town Hall meeting of the leading candidates for Mayor of Toronto. The PRA will be co-hosting this […]
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