Social Planning Toronto plays a leadership role, working with residents and nonprofit organizations in community coalitions, partnership projects and local initiatives across Toronto. This work promotes social justice, equity and engagement in our city. It builds local leadership, works to amplify the voices and perspectives of residents often excluded from public policy-making, and brings new programs and resources to communities. In 2015-16, our civic engagement and community building work included:
Commitment to Community
The Commitment to Community Campaign is a broad coalition of community and non-profit groups, faith-based organizations and service delivery organizations working to make a real impact on the direction of our city and communities. We share an understanding and commitment to the importance of community infrastructure. We engage with Toronto residents to take action on the future of the City’s finances.
Alliance for a Poverty-free Toronto
The Alliance for a Poverty-free Toronto is a city-wide network of community groups, agencies, concerned residents and individuals with lived experience of poverty, working to eliminate poverty. The group promotes collaboration that includes not only community organizations and groups, but also government, organized labour, institutions and the private sector. The Alliance wants to engage everyone in a united effort to tackle this problem and build a better city.
The Fight for $15 and Fairness
Social Planning Toronto is an active member of the Fight for $15 and Fairness campaign coordinated and organized by workers, community partners, unions, and labour advocacy groups, with leadership from the Workers’ Action Centre. The campaign launched on April 15, 2015 has been calling on the Ontario government to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.
Etobicoke Youth Network
EYN is growing, with more youth service providers, faith groups, arts organizations, and resident-activists. A new EYN Etobicoke Youth Council was set up to develop youth leaders that could work with service providers and supporters. Work on making a community hub of services and programs a reality was stepped up and re-oriented to youth and seniors, families and singles.
Community Action Planning Group
The Jane-Finch CAPG has been organizing residents of northwest Toronto to ensure the building of a Finch Light Rail Transit line (Finch LRT) with community benefits. As the Finch LRT became more of a reality, CAPG focused on obtaining community use of the land fronting on Finch Avenue where the maintenance and storage facility for the LRT is to be built. Successful public workshops were held to design and plan construction of a community arts and recreation centre and/or community hub and social enterprises on this strip of land. CAPG is focused on ensuring that local residents are at the centre of the planning and development process in Jane-Finch and northwest Toronto.
North Etobicoke Residents’ Council/Rexdale Neighbourhood Action Partnership
The Rexdale Neighbourhood Action Partnership supported the creation of a council of resident leaders in north Etobicoke (now called the North Etobicoke Residents’ Council). Grassroots groups from Dixon Road to Steeles Ave. West are represented in this growing leadership body. With City staff, Prosperity funds, and Recipe for Community funds coming, there are growing possibilities for engaging residents of all ages, ethnicities, and genders in partnership with community-based organizations, City departments, and other community groups such as MyRexdale, Rexdale LAB, CAPG, and Toronto Community Benefits Network. Extending the Finch LRT and ensuring community benefits such as jobs, training, apprenticeships, and social enterprises, from both the LRT and Woodbine developments is a central priority of the group.
Toronto West Local Immigration Partnership
Social Planning Toronto is a partner in the Toronto West Local Immigration Partnership which works to improve settlement services for newcomers in the Toronto West area. Recent TWLIP initiatives include the Unlocking Newcomer Civic Participation workshop series conducted with Mennonite New Life Centre of Toronto, the train-the-trainer session on the discriminatory nature of employer requirements for “Canadian experience”, and a community workshop on preventing discrimination on the basis of creed. Dozens of residents took part in the interactive, custom workshops on newcomer civic engagement. TWLIP worked collaboratively with the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) to provide a train-the-trainer session on “Canadian experience” which was attended by 21 settlement staff who will use the workshop curriculum to deliver trainings in their respective newcomer communities. We teamed up again with the OHRC to deliver the well-attended workshop on preventing discrimination on the basis of creed.
1652 Keele Street Community Hub
A decade ago, the 1652 Keele Street Community Hub was launched in this City-owned building through the support of the City’s Below Market Rent Policy. Social Planning Toronto has played a lead coordination role for the hub since its inception. Community organizations provide a broad range of programs and services to local residents through the hub. In recent years, the hub’s development has also been supported by a City of Toronto Service Development Investment Program grant.
In 2016, the City decided to support further development of our community hub by approving a new full-time Hub Co-ordinator that will be a City staff position, starting in the fall 2016. This is an important development in the life of our building and our collaborative; it moves our partnership with the City to a new level, as a City-managed hub which will facilitate the tenant agencies to be better able to achieve our joint social development goals.
Toronto Civic Literacy Collaborative
TCLC is a partnership of Social Planning Toronto, Hispanic Development Council, African Canadian Social Development Council, Chinese Canadian National Council (Toronto Division), Council of Agencies Serving South Asians, Toronto Aboriginal Support Services Council, and Toronto Neighbourhood Centres. This multi-year project works to facilitate greater voter participation among Toronto newcomers. In 2015-16, TCLC held train-the-trainer workshops, produced educational videos, created multi-lingual election fact sheets, held community forums, and worked with Elections Canada to show people how to vote using voter booth pop-up displays. Through creative and innovative approaches, this dynamic partnership has engaged hundreds of newcomers across cultural and linguistic groups in every area of the city.
Community Planning in Scarborough
Social Planning Toronto coordinates the Scarborough Executive Directors Network, providing logistic and organizing support. This year, Social Planning Toronto worked with the network to respond to the closure of Scarborough’s only youth shelter. Our staff also worked with the Rotary Clubs of Scarborough, supporting its community renewal campaign and leading its social development committee to address poverty in Scarborough. Social Planning Toronto participated in the Scarborough Anti-Poverty Coalition (SAPC) which made a submission to the Ministry of Labour in support of precarious workers, provided workshops on addressing poverty, and offered support to the Bhutanese Association in its startup activities.
Mount Dennis Action for Neighbourhood Change
Social Planning Toronto is the lead agency for the Mount Dennis Action for Neighbourhood Change project, a local community building project of the United Way Toronto and York Region. Over the past year, ANC-Mount Dennis and York Youth Coalition, drawing on their long-time successful partnership, delivered “Building Blocks”, a community capacity building program to engage residents and youth workers in local civic issues. Over 150 residents participated in the program which was supported by the Ontario Trillium Foundation. Held in the Jane-Trethewey neighbourhood, this year’s annual West Won Fest brought together hundreds of children, youth, and parents, served up wonderful free food, music and dance performances, and featured a basketball tournament as well as fun activities for children such as face painting and bouncy castles. The community also received good news from the Ontario Trillium Foundation as the Boys and Girls Club of St. Albans, working in partnership with ANC-Mount Dennis, received a second round of funding to help build a local boys and girls club facility in the Emmett community. ANC-Mount Dennis also recently launched the online community magazine YorkVoice.com and expanded the Craft Divas community sewing and crafts program to a second location in partnership with Toronto Community Housing at 710 Trethewey.