Development remains top issue for new SLNA board: incoming chair

Michael Schwartz –

Since Dwight Peters became the new president of the St Lawrence Neighbourhood Association (SLNA) after its AGM on April 14, he has lost no time in encouraging residents to become involved.

“My rallying cry over the next year will be to engage more residents,” Peters declares. “In ten years the St. Lawrence Neighbourhood has gone from around 25,000 people to around 35,000. It has stretched out geographically while the SLNA board size is the same as before.

“The association needs a specific strategy to attract new and existing residents and volunteers. How can people get involved and channel their existing energy? How can we be relevant to their lives?”

Peters acknowledges the challenge that the SLNA must not exist purely for its own sake. He points out that with the growth of social media communities, people do not have to leave their houses to get involved anymore. This is a challenge for community groups like the SLNA even when such people have their own local concerns and interests.

At the AGM, previous president Steve Lowden stepped down, citing with regret his new work responsibilities. He was thanked for all his hard work, as were two other retiring committee members, John Wichelow and Dan O’Leary. Their incoming replacements are Debra Corey (rejoining the committee) and first-time director Stephen Devine.

The SLNA is coming off a very productive year during which saw it re-energizing its commitment to the community. The association raised over $10,000 through its Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon campaign. The funds went to support the Toronto Foundation for Student Success (which supports local breakfast programs) and JAMII, a local arts group. Funds were raised through a silent auction and the Marathon’s cheerleading section. The 2013 Canada Day event and gardening program were also very successful.

A major concern for SLNA is local development. A crucial issue is the future of the large Acura plot—a potential building site on Front and Sherbourne. SLNA has its own dedicated development subcommittee—a wise and essential move as there are at present 14 development proposals in the area.

The subcommittee includes qualified architects. Peters summarizes the situation: “There is also a very good planning department in City Hall—we can work together—but some developers are adversarial. The Acura site is in the core of our neighbourhood and we have to get it right.”

And in two years time when his office comes to end? “First, I would like to see 100 people at our delegates meetings, delegates and the general public. If the organization serves a good purpose, we will attract those people. It would be nice to see 1000 people at our Canada Day event.

“There is a lot going on and rapid growth is an issue. We have to go back to our community to find our support and strength. We are challenged and optimistic.”