Residents’ associations create better communities

Behind every great community is, quite often, a stellar residents’ association (RA). Why? RAs are a tried-and-true way to connect with your neighbours, crusade for a cause, host fun events and work together to beautify your little corner of the world,  all while building a keen sense of camaraderie. Talk about value!

Fortunately for us, there are many residents’ associations in Ward 32. And, if your area doesn’t yet have one, don’t be shy. Grab a neighbour – or three – and start one! And, don’t forget, we’re always happy to offer our help and suggestions.

Beach Lakefront Neighbourhood Association (BLNA)
Contact: Leanne Rapley; lrapley@rapleylaw.ca; www.blna.net.
Boundaries: Queen to the Lake and Munro Park to Nursewood.
Membership fee: None.
Formed to prevent the construction of a large condo development at the foot of Neville Park, this lakeside group actually won at the OMB. Kudos! The BLNA is currently looking at heritage conservation district designations for both Neville Park and Munro Park.

Beach Triangle Residents’ Association (BTRA)
Contact: Hans Looije; president@beachtriangle.com; www.beachtriangle.com
Boundaries: Inside the cute triangle formed by Kingston Road, Queen Street and Woodbine Avenue.
Membership fee: None (money raised with ads in BTRA newsletter).
Our oldest and longest-running RA, this ‘granddaddy’ of all residents’ associations was founded due to concerns about parking at the old racetrack. Some of the group’s activities include an annual Fun Fest, a Valentine’s Day Community Dance, and a newsletter. Replacing its geriatric tree canopy via education, stewardship, and succession planting is just one of the RA’s current goals, as is monitoring development along Queen Street East.

Danforth East Community Association (DECA)
Contact: Natasha Granatstein; natasha.granatstein@sympatico.ca; www.danfortheastcommunityassociation.com; blog: www.decadiaries.wordpress.com;  Twitter: @danfortheast.
Boundaries:  Railway tracks to Lumsden, Main Street to Monarch Park.
Membership fee: $10 per family per year.
Once labelled ‘No Man’s Land’ by the media, neighbours decided to make The Danny (Danforth) reflect who lives there. With the goal to improve the area, nothing short of a transformation has occurred. The East Lynn Farmers’ Market, DECA Arts Fair, DECA Arts Walk, DECA Bikes, DECA Learns, DECA Green, Danforth Revitalization Group, movie nights, Jack O’Lantern Walks, historical walks, skating and campfire parties and the beloved Community Cocktail Party at Melanie’s Bistro are just some of the activities this energetic crew has been up to over the past five years. ‘No Man’s Land’ no longer! Power to the people!

Friends of Glen Davis Ravine (FOGDR)
Contact: Jennifer Brass; kip@friendsofglendavis.ca; www.friendsofglendavisravine.com. Twitter: @glendavisravine.
Boundaries: Glen Davis Crescent and surrounding streets, plus Glen Davis Ravine. Membership fee: Donations for the current OMB hearing.
Neighbours along Glen Davis Crescent became concerned after learning a development proposal for Kingston Road would take over part of the ravine. Turns out the city’s Ravine Protection Bylaw doesn’t have sharp enough teeth! Friends of Glen Davis are currently at the OMB and need your help (see the website). These neighbours care deeply about our tree canopy and ravine system. And they’re also heaps of fun, having organized myriad exciting and entertaining fundraisers. Going forward, this RA will use its energy and knowledge to help crusade for stronger city ravine protection. We’re going to need more than Kermit the Frog to HELP US STAY GREEN.

Friends of Queen Street (FOQS)
Contact: Jason Self; jself@russell.com.
Boundaries: Queen Street East,  Woodbine to Victoria Park.
Membership fee: None.
FOQS formed to ensure the development proposal for 1960 Queen St. E. (the Lick’s site) is in keeping with the neighbourhood.  This group’s been busy researching information, recruiting neighbours and organizing ideas. And we’ve been connecting the FOQS with other residents’ associations with more experience. We’ve also arranged meetings with Frank Lewinberg (a Beacher and celebrated planner) and our Jane Jacobs’ panel of local urban planners, architects, landscape designers, etc. FOQS’ goal is to support the unique character of Queen Street East and encourage sustainable development compatible with both the city’s Official Plan and Queen Street Urban Design Guidelines.

Gerrard India Neighbourhood Group
Contact: Belynda Blyth; gerrardst_focus@ashdalevillage.com , plus some dynamos from the Riverdale Hub at 1326 Gerrard.
Boundaries: South and north of Gerrard, between Coxwell and Greenwood
Membership fee: None Yet
Neighbours in this lively area want to work together to help revitalize Gerrard Street East.  The group is just getting its feet wet in the RA pool, so to speak, and need YOU and your ideas.  Come on out to the next meeting, have your say, join in the fun and help improve your neighbourhood.

Kew Beach Neighbourhood Association (KBNA)
Contact: Ray Chong; info@kbna.org; Bill Burrows media@kbna.org  Facebook
Twitter: @KBNAorg.
Boundaries: Kew Beach Area.
Membership fee:  $5-10.
This tenacious group of neighbours has worked tirelessly to preserve the character of Kippendavie Avenue.  They’ve researched basement flooding, water infrastructure in the area, groundwater issues and met with numerous engineers and city staff.  Through a mediated settlement with the developer, some of the concerns were met. Moving forward, the KBNA is monitoring the current environmental assessment for basement flooding and planning in Ward 32.

Toronto Beach East Residents’ Association (TBERA)
Contact: Julia McInerney; Julia.mcinerney@sympatico.ca; www.torontobeacheast.com. Boundaries: South of Queen to Alfresco Lawn/Hubbard and Lee to Hammersmith. Membership fee: $25 per year.
Coming together over a concern about the demolition of some homes in the area, this ever-tireless association has worked diligently to educate residents on the value of heritage designations. TBERA is now connecting with other RAs to share its knowledge and experience.

Upper Middle Gainsborough Residents’ Association (UMGRA)
Contact: Josh Weisz; catherd@primus.ca.
Boundaries: Gainsborough, north of Neobold and south of Gerrard.
Membership fee: None.
A sweet, petite RA, this group is filled with oh-so friendly neighbours who thrive on well-organized meetings, complete with colourful charts! UMGRA originally formed over traffic and pedestrian issues, but then added a dose of ‘light’ socializing. Some neighbours are members of the famous Ice Masters, who diligently flood the ice of the 60-year-old Fairmount Park skating rink. This past summer we co-hosted Movie Night Under the Stars with UMGRA and are now working on creating a much-needed parkette in ‘Taxi Cab Alley’.

Woodbine Park Residents’ Association (WPRA)
Contact: www.wpra.ca; secretary@wpra.ca.
Boundaries: South of Queen Street East, west of Woodbine, east of Coxwell and south of Eastern, north of Lakeshore Road East.
Membership fee: $5 per year.
The WPRA began to address residents’ concerns regarding drainage and sewer connection issues in the then-new Woodbine Park development (circa 1999/2000).  The WPRA’s mandate is vast and varied, aiming to maintain and enhance the quality and spirit of community life for current/future WPRA members. The group also strives to collaborate with government and elected officials, businesses and other organizations, all the while staying within its annual revenues. Future goals include securing members interested in reinvigorating the association and willing to serve as directors.

Wow, what an impressive list! And if we’ve missed your RA, please let us know.

Feel free to sign up for any of the RA’s blogs or newsletters, to stay up-to-the-minute on the latest information and events – even if you’re out of their boundaries. Why? It’s no secret that neighbourhoods connecting neighbourhoods is precisely what creates a community. Perhaps Jane Jacobs, renowned grass-roots activist, author and urban planning guru, captured it best when she wrote: “Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.”

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2 comments

Mary-Margaret McMahon has such a refreshing take on Residents Associations and actually works with them. She is a rare political commodity.

In my experience most Residents Associations are formed to protect the community from the politicians and politicians don’t particualry like them because they are too organized and potentially threatening as they could spin off potential political competition, such as local leadership.

Residents Associations can be a lot of work, but they really do add to the vitality of their communities and can help their local political representatives get the kind of change they want.

I’m moving from Corktown to the Beaches in a few days. I have spent many summer days on the Boardwalk & shopping on Queen St East over the years. Now that I’ll be a resident in the neighbourhood, any suggestions on where I should start my search for what happens in the Beaches, Restaurants, Events, Employment & Volunteer Opportunities, etc.
Cheers!

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