Mayoral candidate George Smitherman says that if elected he wants to give residents greater sway into local decisions by creating neighbourhood councils.
“I want to build a model of governance in Toronto that actually pushes power back to down to more of a neighbourhood level,” he told a Town Crier editorial board. “That’s the neighbourhood council proposal I’m going to be bringing forward soon.”
He says working with Regent Park residents as an MPP during the redevelopment process showed him the kind of input that community should have over local issues — a template he’d like to see followed with the Lawrence Heights project.
“I know what worked well (in Regent Park),” Smitherman said. “I know some of the challenges that have been there and I think that means that in a conversation like around Lawrence Heights, I can come and help engage the communities in that conversation very, very effectively.”
While Smitherman says that he supports the revitalization of community housing in principle, he says he’s concerned that Toronto Community Housing hasn’t done as good of a job with Lawrence Heights as it did with Regent Park.
“I’m not sure that the community in it’s entirety — and also the segments of the community — have had as full of an engagement as they did in the context that I know down in Regent Park and I think that’s an experience I can bring and actually help to improve the process overall.”
Smitherman said that retiring councillor Howard Moscoe pushed the revitalization plans forward prematurely so it work would begin before he left office.
“I think (Lawrence Heights Revitalization) was a rush job on the part of a retiring councillor who wanted (the revitalization) as a part of his legacy,” said Smitherman. “I have no doubt we’re going to need to circle back and make sure the principles associated with that redevelopment are sound.”
For a recap of the live blog of the George Smitherman editorial board click here.
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