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Archive for the ‘DECA Board’ Category

…and why you should care too!

Posted on behalf of the DECA Board

DECA’s mission and guiding principles drive our way forward, and we are non-partisan, but we are also committed to being “a responsive, credible and representative voice for the community.”

Earlier this week, the provincial government tabled a Bill called The Better Local Government Act to dramatically reduce the size of City Council in the midst of our ongoing election, which began on May 1st. The Bill passed first reading on July 30, and could be imposed on the citizens of Toronto as early as August 2018. This is particularly unsettling because our City had legally established the number of councillors/wards through due process and extensive consultations.

As a Board, we find ourselves in a moment where we must respond.

DECA believes that the decision to unilaterally reduce Toronto City Council from 47 Wards to 25 is undemocratic.

We have observed that our City Councillors already work well beyond a normal work-week. We are concerned that doubling their workload would significantly limit their ability to continue to be effective partners in community-building. This will change the extent to which Councillors can proactively reach out to us on emerging issues and their ability to be responsive when we raise an issue or concern.

The proposed new Ward boundaries will negatively impact our community.

Here’s why.

City Councillors are involved in decisions that will forever impact our neighbourhood, such as development, transit, parks, and infrastructure. Other decisions are less permanent but have a high impact such as property taxes, childcare, bike lanes and speed limits.

Currently, DECA’s excellent two-way relationship and collaboration with our City Councillors greatly contributes to our ability to support and improve the community.

Here are some examples:

  • help with permits for community events, such as the tree lighting and pumpkin walks in East Lynn Park;
  • our go-to whenever something goes wrong like a wading pool not being on or that time the City fenced off the East Lynn Park playground and dug up the greenspace to install paths;
  • when we raised with Councillors that the traffic lights at Woodbine and Danforth was changing too quickly for many people to safely get across, within a week the timing had been extended;
  • sought out DECA input and acted on our concerns about the planned the second exit (Strathmore) at Woodbine station to change the plan to make it also an entrance; and
  • include DECA in early consultations on development proposals, which in at least one case, resulted in huge changes to the building design to incorporate street-level retail to help make the Danforth more walkable and safe.

It will be impossible for only 25 City Councillors to maintain the current level of collaboration and cooperation with the community. 

Councillors have huge agendas and a full range of issues to learn about. They also need to understand the impacts on our community and bring those forward. For example, how could one person understand the community impacts on every single issue in a way that would adequately represent the Beach, Danforth East, Woodbine Heights, Parkview Hills, and Crescentown?

Federal/provincial ridings are suitable because MPs/MPPs work is driven by their parties and/or portfolios and they deal with bigger picture issues not specific to one neighbourhood, park, household, or person. These are not reasonable boundaries for City representation.


We’ve just scratched the surface here and we will write more about this in the coming days and weeks. But if there ever was a moment to be engaged and speak out, now is the time!

We will be at the East Lynn Park Farmers’ Market on Thursday, August 2 to discuss this with the community. Come chat with us and tell us what you think!

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The DECA Board is meeting tonight, Monday May 28 from 7:40-9:30pm at The Nooks Studio, 1912 Danforth Avenue.

Why come to a meeting? Lots of reasons! Perhaps you’d like to get involved. Perhaps you want to hear more about us and what we do. Perhaps you’d like to meet some neighbours. Whatever your reason, we look forward to meeting you!

7:15pm Meet and Greet
If you want to know more about us but the thought of coming to a meeting fills you with dread, or if you prefer to chat one on one, a few Board members will be at the Nooks Studio before the meeting starts from 7:15 -7:40pm, to meet and greet with anyone who wants to come out.

If you live nearby and can bring a folding chair, please do. The Nooks Studio has a limited number of seats. We’re grateful to owner Colleen Imrie for kindly offering us the Studio space for DECA’s Board meeting. We’ll serve some light refreshments and everyone is welcome to attend. Please email us if you have questions: info@deca.to.

Pick up a #DanforthEast Yard Sale Poster
Yard Sale Posters will be available for pick-up! Please take one home to advertise the Danforth East Yard Sale on your street.

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Happy New Year!

At our recent Annual General Meeting, the DECA membership elected a stellar Board for 2018:
Gay Stephenson & Loreen Barbour (Co-Chairs)
Audrey Kvedaras (Vice Chair)
Anita Schretlen (Treasurer)
Nicole Bergot-Browning (Secretary)
Alison McMurray
Jennifer Scott
Amanda Olsen
Melissa Peretti
Rebecca Green
Brad Bradford
Lorraine Cheng

Here is a message from incoming co-Chairs Gay & Loreen:
One of the many things to love when you get involved in our neighbourhood is that it makes the world feel like a brighter place. Gathering with neighbours to work on local happenings or projects has a way of harnessing good energy and comes with the benefit of getting to know more of the people who live across the street, around the corner, or down the block.

In the coming year, DECA would like to build even more opportunities for us to connect with one another. We’d like to meet you! We’re will be continuing to host “meet and greets” before Board meetings, building on this initiative from the past couple of years. Half an hour before the meeting begins, come chat with us! Watch this blog and Facebook for meet and greet dates and times for the new year. (Hopefully you are reading this because you are a blog subscriber!) Better yet,  if you haven’t already, join DECA as a member. It’s only $10 per/family per year and you can do it online here.

Did you know that everything DECA does began as someone’s idea? From vision to reality with the support, energy and dedication of many others! Initiatives like the Farmers’ Market, the Danforth East Arts Fair, Pumpkin Parade, Festival of Lights, DECA Pride, Visioning Committee, DECA Connects, Business Revitalization Team, Pop-up Shops, Laneway Crawl and more- they all started as an idea in someone’s head.

So as we go forward into 2018, we look forward to meeting with you, sharing time and inspiration. Perhaps you, or one of your neighbours have the next big (or small) idea for our neighbourhood? We want to hear them all so let’s get to know one another in the new year! And don’t forget to let us know if you’re hosting an event in the ‘hood and we’ll help spread the word. We are entirely volunteer run so the easiest way to alert us is by tagging us on social media.

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Farewell from outgoing DECA Chair, Sheri Hebdon

I was first elected to the DECA Board in 2009, by accident. I showed up at a “neighbourhood cocktail party” with my wife and baby after seeing posters and hearing about it from a nice woman I met at baby-and-me yoga.

On arrival, my new friend Natasha (DECA’s founding Chair) welcomed us at the door and she casually asked me if I would be interested in joining the Board. I said I was interested in learning more and then we moved on to other conversations.

Later in the evening, I was discreetly nursing my baby when all of a sudden Natasha and another woman stood up on chairs and announced that the cocktail party was actually the AGM. They (and others) gave short pitches about their projects like the farmers’ market and the business revitalization team (who did store makeovers) and then I heard my name.

What?

Then everyone voted yes and I was on the Board. Just like that. While nursing my son.

Eight years later, at tomorrow’s AGM & Party (we’re a bit more up front about the AGM part now!), my time on the DECA Board, where I have been Chair for three years, will come to a close. While I am confident that the Board will be in excellent hands for next year, it’s hard not to worry about what the future will hold.

Though, the real question is not what, but who. DECA isn’t a thing – it’s the sum total of a group of people who all add what they (we) can to make our neighbourhood better. Bringing new people into the fold is critical, but it’s not easy. We have the things now that DECA has helped to build over the past decade and people may take it, and us, for granted. Or maybe they just don’t know? Or maybe they just can’t take on one more thing.

Whatever the reason is that you aren’t more involved, here is my pitch to you to get involved. Don’t think about what you’d put into it, think about what you will get out of it.

Volunteering for DECA has given me so much over the years. No matter what else is happening in my life or in the world, I have taken a lot of solace knowing that I’m doing something to make the world better, even if it’s just in my little corner of it. I find it energizing to help in big and small ways, and feeling so much more connected to my neighbours and local businesses positively impacts me on a daily basis. My children (there are three of them now) understand that volunteering is part of life, and each of them have legitimately volunteered for DECA too by doing things like putting up posters, helping to set up events, handing out cookies and candy canes at the Festival of Lights. Given that parenting is a long game, instilling this so early is important.

Start with one hour. One hour of involvement per year could mean helping at an event, putting up posters, tossing pumpkins or cooking for the farmers. Maybe you have two hours? Maybe five? What about one hour for every year you’ve lived here? If you have kids, get them involved and you won’t believe how proud they will be of themselves. Start with one hour and you may find that you that you’ll want to do more.

At the very least, join DECA as a member. Sign up online or in person tomorrow at Hirut. $10/household for the year.

If you don’t know where to start, come to the event tomorrow and ask me, or any of the other Board members. Meet your neighbours. Get involved.

Here’s the poster one more time:

Oh, and there will be door prizes!

Thanks for a great eight years, Danforth East! See you all around the neighbourhood.

-Sheri

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Our Annual General Meeting  & Party is coming up on November 20 from 7-9 pm at Hirut (2050 Danforth). Hope you can join us!

At the party you can:

  • Meet your neighbours
  • Enjoy Hirut’s delicious food (on us!)
  • Find out how to get more involved with DECA
  • Join DECA or renew your $10/year per household membership
  • Meet our Board and many of our other amazing volunteers
  • Vote for next year’s Board if you are a member (this is the AGM part!)
  • Enjoy the cash bar

If you’ve never come to the Party & AGM before, the short formal part will go from about 8:00-8:30pm and you’ll hear about our annual events and ongoing initiatives, the not-to-be-missed Treasurer’s report, nail-biter Board elections and last but not least, remarks from our outgoing Chair (yours truly). The rest of the time is for chatting with neighbours and hanging out. Not a bad way to spend a Monday evening.

Membership and voting are limited to people who live in our catchment (Main to Lumsden/Mortimer to Monarch Park to the train tracks) but everyone who cares about this neighbourhood can come to this and all of our events.

The Board will be putting forward the following nominees for election to the 2017/18 Board:

Loreen Barbour (Co-Chair)

Gay Stephenson (Co-Chair)

Audrey Kvedaras (Vice Chair)

Anita Schretlen (Treasurer)

Nicole Bergot-Browning (Secretary)

Alison McMurray

Amanda Olson

Melissa Peretti

Jennifer Scott

Rebecca Green

Brad Bradford

Lorraine Chen

****

If you are interested in future opportunities on our Board, please ask us about it on Monday or reach out to us by email and we can talk about getting you involved over the coming year.

See you on Monday!

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First of all, thank you to everyone who came out to the Pumpkin Parade at East Lynn Park on November 1st and especially to the volunteers who tossed pumpkins in less-than-ideal weather to help us restore the park at the end of the night.

The Pumpkin Parade was the first of four November DECA events. Here is the low-down on what else is coming up!

DECA Pride cinq-à-sept | November 9 |5-7pm

Bringing together East End LGBTQ+ folks and allies, DECA Pride is hosting a casual get together at Local 1794 from 5-7pm. Light snacks provided. Meet at the back!

Click here to join the DECA Pride email list and here to join the Facebook group.


DECA Annual General Meeting & Party | November 20 | 7-9pm

It’s our last official #DECAde event – the Annual General Meeting & Party! Come to Hirut Café and Restaurant to eat delicious Ethiopian food, listen to some live music, meet your neighbours, renew your membership or join DECA and celebrate another great year of community-building. Cash bar. Board elections and formal remarks will be short, starting at around 8. Facebook event is here.

Stay tuned for our recommended nominations for next year’s Board. Spoiler alert: change is afoot!


DECA’s Festival of Lights | November 25 | 5-6pm

For the past five years, DECA has organized a tree lighting event at East Lynn Park to celebrate the festive season and this year promises to be the best one yet!

Rumour has it that Santa himself has cleared his schedule to visit us.

Watch this space for the beautiful poster to come, and in the meantime, save the date!

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TPS presentation slide, Oct. 10, 2017

Where is the best spot for a police station? Did you know Division 54 & 55 are amalgamating and looking for a new site. We first blogged about this last month.

One of the shortlisted sites is the TTC Barns at Coxwell and Danforth – a massive five acre site that, if put to the right use, has the potential to transform our neighbourhood. Can we unlock the potential of this site with a police station?

The selection process for the new station is happening very fast with a decision expected to be made next month.

Last week, DECA and other community groups, including the Danforth Mosaic BIA, formally requested a delay in the process, citing the need for more public information.

To be clear, this isn’t about NIMBYism. We aren’t saying no station here. We’re asking what is possible for that site, with or without a station. More than anything right now, we want more information and time.

What we know

Toronto Police Services (TPS) and the City of Toronto began the site selection community consultations in October, presenting the top three sites: the Danforth Coxwell TTC Barns, the East York Civic Centre and the current 55 Division at Dundas and Coxwell.

DECA’s Visioning Committee, DECA Board members and many neighbours attended the packed meetings. Although TPS had been planning to build a new police station since 2014, the public wasn’t invited into the site selection process until October 2017. TPS plans to present the selected site to the City’s Executive Committee on November 29 and then go to City Council on December 6th (to seek further study of the selected site).

[You can read more about the site selection process in this Beach Metro article by Stephen Wickens (who has been a driving force behind DECA’s Visioning Committee for years) – the article also sheds light on another possible site!

What we’ve asked

Because of the impact a new police station could have on our community, DECA and others have requested a further public meeting to get answers to these questions:

Questions in regards to Coxwell TTC Barns site:

  1. We are concerned about the security design criteria and setbacks required by TPS, even if some recent stations include some aesthetically pleasing design. Specifically how might the police station fit onto the site? Is TPS willing to compromise on security criteria in order to truly integrate with and contribute to a vibrant mixed-use hub? Can the TPS facility fit within close proximity as part of an urban-style cluster of mid-rise, mixed use buildings?
  2. With neighbourhood concerns about traffic and noise, will serious traffic studies be done prior to final site alternatives be conducted for the entire TTC property? Would such a fit-test endeavour to include all potential uses: TPS, the TTC’s existing and potential uses (TTC needs space for various front and back-office functions and is considering a museum)? What other city office-space needs might be served? Would new building offer opportunities for an expanded or relocated library, public open space, public indoor space, Tobias House upgrades, heritage structure programming.
  3. Will the concept of Complete Streets with retail and even residential components be considered in the site planning process?
  4. If a police division is located on the Coxwell TTC site, how might it prevent/inhibit other community/cultural uses? (Such as those listed as things the community needs below). We request clarification on what percentage of the Coxwell TTC site the TPS would occupy, if this site is chosen. How much space would be available for other uses?
  5. How is the heritage status to be preserved if this site if chosen?
  6. How will the parking be accommodated? Will the community have any assurance that the parking will be underground? The current walled-off surface parking lot is seriously street-deadening.
  7. There has been a lack of community engagement and involvement in the site selection, followed by a rushed process taking place under a sudden deadline. To what extent will the community be involved in the design of the station and the selection of the community and cultural uses that could be attracted to occupy other parts of the site?
  8. The process to date has included little or no information on the impact that a police station on this site might have on rest of land and its immediate surroundings. This includes concerns over the Heritage Status as well as the loss of potential uses for this site (cultural, community, retail etc.) which may not be deemed a good fit to cohabit with a police station. Does the TPS, city real estate and city planning have partners in mind for the site and, if yes, who are they?

Community needs in regards to Coxwell TTC Barns site:

  1. The two police divisions extend from the Don River to Victoria Park yet only two public consultations were held at EYCC and further south, nearer the Dundas police station, perhaps because there are no large meeting spaces centrally located on the subway, near Danforth. Such a space would be essential to a mixed-use hub at the Danforth, as would outdoor public space + community recreation facilities and cultural uses. The area also needs functions that bring people to the area and its shops and restaurants from other parts of the city each day. It could be office space for all three levels of government or an educational institution (a police college?). Daycare, healthcare and a library that are all part of mixed-use buildings present real opportunity. Some residential, including apartments geared to seniors, might be a great part of the mix.
  1. The community and BIA have worked hard over the past five years to improve our commercial strip along Danforth East and create a vibrant street. This section of Danforth is lacking a pedestrian-friendly and welcoming retail strip, while the street frontages of the TTC site create blocks that are too long and impenetrable. Plans to redevelop the Coxwell TTC Barns should focus on economic development and the creation of pedestrian-friendly blocks. [Note: See work of Ryerson Architecture students “Danforth East Streetcar Yards” and Top Ten Ideas for the Danforth, by Paul Bedford’s Students presented at Imagine the Danforth, hosted by DECA in 2015.]
  1. We believe it’s important to work with the mid-rise guidelines created by city planning and approved by city council to develop this nearly five-acre site. They are essential elements of the ongoing Danforth Avenue Planning Study and cannot be ignored for any site, let alone such a key and potentially catalytic site. This has to be a primary focus, no matter what the TPS security concerns.

What can you do?

We have more influence the more members we have. If you haven’t joined DECA as a member, join now for $10/household annually: http://deca.to/membership/

The Toronto Police Service material provided these contacts for this process:

Toronto Police Service, Enrico Pera, Manager, Facilities Management, 416-808-7951, enrico.pera@torontopolice.on.ca

Real Estate Services, Nick Simos, Manager Development & Portfolio Planning, 416-392-7223, nick.simos@toronto.ca

City Planning, Paul Mulé, Senior Planner Community Planning, 416-392-1306, paul.mule@toronto.ca

You may also contact your City Councillor to ask your own questions and seek more information.

We will keep you posted as we learn more!

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