The South Junction Triangle Residents Association is organizing a neighbourhood cleanup. Please join us on Saturday April 19th, 1:00pm at Campbell Park.
Local residents will gather at Campbell Park playground, south side, and begin cleaning up the neighbourhood from here. Depending on how many volunteers come, we plan to clean up Campbell Park, Perth Square, Rankin Park, and the surrounding streets.
More information (poster, etc.) is on the SJTRA website.
report by M Monastyrskyj
On Saturday January 26, the organizers of the BIG on Bloor festival held a community meeting at the Long and McQuade store by Bloor and Concord. The organizers said the meeting would be a chance for members of the community to say what they would like to see at the festival. Faculty and students from the Ontario College of Art and Design (OCAD) were invited to give presentations and facilitate the group discussions.
Sheila Pin of the Dufferin Grove Residents Association and a member of the BIG steering committee began the meeting with a brief description of how the idea for a festival came about. BIG, she said, grew out of a recognition that it was necessary for all the various groups working to improve Bloor Street to work together. She said the festival was meant to celebrate what is good about Bloor instead of focusing on the negative.
Jessica Rose, who BIG has hired to be a community safety coordinator, also made brief remarks about the festival and its history. She said people should ask themselves what the festival's "big wow" would be.
Keith Rushton from OCAD made some brief remarks about branding the community. He emphasized that it was impossible to give a full presentation about branding in the short time available to him. This was followed by a slide-show presentation about a festival marking the 2600 anniversary of Marseilles.
After the presentations, people were divided into discussion groups. Each group had a facilitator from OCAD. Once the discussions were over, a representative from each group presented the meeting with the ideas that came out of that group's discussions.
One of the discussion groups discussed the area's history and heritage. The facilitator of that discussion was Keith Rushton who had earlier spoken about branding the community. Three people affiliated with Dig In, including myself, had serious reservations about the idea of branding a neighbourhood and this led to a somewhat heated discussion between Rushton and two of us. At one point Rushton said something about our "cynicism" and I strongly objected, because skepticism is healthy and shouldn't be dismissed in this way. That said, things calmed down and everyone parted on good terms.
It's debatable whether tightly controlled discussions of this type can be considered real community consultation. At times it felt like the facilitator had some preconceived ideas of what he wanted people to say and that he was only interested in certain ideas. I don't know if that's true or not, but that's how it seemed to me. In any case, I left the discussion feeling like I had just taken part in a focus group rather than a community forum, which is not to say it was all bad. Some of the discussion about local history was interesting.
After the group representatives had finished speaking, Jessica Rose made some comments. She said that BIG had applied for a Heritage Canada grant of $150,000. If the grant comes through, the festival will have to be extended an extra day. BIG has also applied for other government grants.
One idea that came out of the meeting was to hold a community dinner along the entire length of the festival route (Bloor to Christie). There was some talk about setting a Guinness world record. Another idea was to hold a soccer match between the Toronto Eagles and local politicians. Dyan Marie, founder of a community group called Dig In, said the festival should focus on what is happening in the neighbourhood now rather than on the area's history. Most of the groups mentioned the area's cultural diversity and some people liked the idea of making multiculturalism the guiding theme of the festival. The word mosaic was used a lot.
For the moment at least, these are all just ideas. Nothing definite has been decided yet. Even the date, June 21, could still change.
The stretch of Bloor that goes from Lansdowne in the west to Christie in the east has serious problems with drug trafficking and other crimes. There are many empty storefronts and the businesses that do exist are often struggling. Much of the Bloor Street strip has a general air of depression about it, even though the surrounding residential streets are for the most part good places to live. Over the years a number of community groups have sprung up to address problems on certain sections of Bloor but up until last year they were working separately.
However, on February 21, 2007, 63 people representing a variety of local groups met at Bloor Collegiate to create the Bloor Improvement Group or BIG for short. BIG is the brainchild of Dyan Marie, - a local artist who in 2002 founded a community group called DIG IN. Her idea was for the various groups who were already holding small community festivals to come together and organize a single big festival that would stretch from Lansdowne to Christie and possibly farther.
Since the first meeting last February, the BIG steering committee has been meeting monthly to organize the festival which, if all goes well, will be held on June 21. (You can read the minutes from some of these meetings here.)
Last year, BIG received a grant from the City of Toronto to hire a community safety coordinator. The person hired for the job is Jessica Rose who was involved in a a project called the The Movement Movement which included things like having people run through the ROM. You can see a clip of this online. View Quicktime movie.
Councillor Adam Giambrone writes on his blog:
This fall many residents living along the stretch of Lansdowne between College and Bloor (see map) were angered by the City's decision to narrow the road by removing one lane of traffic. Even though the road reconstruction has been completed, more than a few houses along Lansdowne still have signs protesting the change. Read Joe Fiorito's November 16, 2007 Toronto Star column about the issue. See also this May 17, 2007 Star article about community opposition to the narrowing of the street.
Crime and safety are big issues in the neighbourhoods near the park.
Wallace Bridge muggings. Read the National Post article
On Saturday November 3 there was a free BBQ at Susan Tibaldi Parkette.
A reader writes: