Lawrence Heights funding not lost

It was left off the new list of priority neighbourhoods released on March 10, but Lawrence Heights will not be losing any of its city-backed programming.

Chris Brillinger, executive director of the city’s social development department, is insistent that despite losing the initial designation the North Toronto community won’t be losing anything it gained before.

“Lawrence Heights is unique because it remains a revitalization neighbourhood,” he said. “Even though they’re not recognized
as a neighbourhood improvement area, they are a redevelopment area and nothing will change.”

Priority neighbourhoods were first identified by the city in 2005 as a reaction to the “summer of the gun”, so dubbed because of a record 52 gun-related homicides, the majority of them occurring in at-risk neighbourhoods.

The initial list contained 13 areas, comprising 23 neighbourhoods. The new list, coming at the end of a six-month study, contains 31 and they are now identified as “neighbourhood improvement areas”.

Designated communities are eligible for funding from both public and private sectors to go toward services and skills building.

Owen Hinds, co-chair of Lawrence Heights Inter-Organizational Network, which comprises several programming and service-related groups, cautiously welcomed the new designation.

“It was good to know a lot of the city services aren’t dependent on being a priority neighbourhood, but we want to know what exactly is enshrined,” he said.

Hinds says his organization wants to see a detailed description of the commitments to the community.

“The designation under the revitalization piece is really important, because we want to know what exactly that means,” he said. “Is that revitalization for the next 20 years, or just through phase one?”

Local councillor Josh Colle brought forward a motion during the March 17 community development meeting ensuring in writing that nothing would change. Colle said the move, which carried unanimously, was important because he needed the assurance that Lawrence Heights would continue to get help from the city.

“By not continuing something you once had before, in many cases that could be a loss,” he said. “There might be one day where Lawrence Heights isn’t a priority neighbourhood once it’s redeveloped, but we’re just not there yet.”

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Posted: Apr 5 2014 5:43 pm
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto