Smitherman looks to neighbourhood councils

New bodies would provide city hall with insight on local issues like the Lawrence Heights redevelopment

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.

About this article:

Posted: Oct 5 2010 6:26 pm
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto

2 thoughts on “Smitherman looks to neighbourhood councils

  • October 6, 2010 at 10:17 pm

    Other problems with Lawrence Heights:

    The City needs to consult neighbours south of Lawrence Heights who were inexcusably left out of the consultation process, and who will bear the brunt of the density explosion.

    Contrary to Moscoe’s claims that the high density will be subway centred, current plans call for tall 6-8 storey buildings close to existing low rise neighbourhoods which will hurt those neighbourhoods and create inevitable pressure to open new motor vehicle connections to surrounding neighbourhoods.

    Moscoe claimed “The amount of parkland serving this neighbourhood will double”. In fact Lawrence Heights will gain park space but surrounding neighbourhoods will lose park space, (e.g. south end of Baycrest Park). The main park in Lawrence Heights will be straddle the highway rather than being positioned to serve multiple neighbourhoods. The plan needs to be revised so that surrounding neighbourhoods do not lose park space, and so that new parks in Lawrence Heights are positioned closer to surrounding neighbourhoods to serve everyone.

  • October 6, 2010 at 10:07 pm

    The City’s plan to increase six-fold the current density of Lawrence Heights will hurt those who live there as well as surrounding neighbourhoods. The approved plan authorizes an increase from 1200 units to 7500 units in Lawrence Heights, the size of a small city in the space of a few blocks! Councillor Moscoe rushed this plan through Council in July over strong neighbourhood objections. Now he is retired and will not take political responsibility for this harmful plan.

    Replacing social housing should be covered by reserve funds and not be financed by privatizing public lands and intensifying their density like this at the expense of all local residents, in Lawrence Heights and surrounding neighbourhoods.

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