Health care, heritage planning top Murray’s findings

By Duncan McAllister –

Glen Murray and his staff have recently concluded the first in a series of community meetings aimed at producing community action plans for Toronto Centre.

Throughout the month of November, Murray’s office conducted meetings in five Downtown neighbourhoods including St. Lawrence Market and Cabbagetown—with his entire paid staff and a team of planning interns from Ryerson in attendance.

Chris Drew, Toronto Centre community planner, explains that the meetings were a way to reach out into the community for feedback on local concerns. “We are asking the community to identify key priorities for the next 5, 10 and 15 years,” says Drew.

For more on Drew, read The Bulletin’s profile.

“We have now completed five neighbourhood meetings and in 2011 we’ll be looking to do additional communities,” he continues. “At the meetings that we’ve had, the feedback has been constructive, positive. We started off by just asking people to give us a sense of their neighbourhood.”

“In the St. Lawrence community, people spoke about investing in our healthcare system,” Drew notes, “making sure there’s green space, issues surrounding housing, but also talking about some of the challenges that we’ll face with an aging population—we now have this great thing in Ontario called the LIHNs, local integrated health networks—now communities and neighbourhoods have a lot more ability to talk to each other and work with their healthcare system on a local level as opposed to all the decisions being made at Queen’s Park.”

Cabbagetown shared similar concerns. Drew says there were some heritage issues raised as well. “They wanted to make sure we have a vibrant community. Parliament St. as an example, is a source of pride and that people feel that local businesses are being successful—folks are encouraged to shop locally. So it was a full range of issues.”

Murray, Drew and their team plan to respond back to the neighbourhoods with the results of their survey and also deliver “a framework-type document that will talk about where we go from here.”