The Toronto Strong Neighbourhoods Strategy
The Toronto Strong Neighbourhoods Strategy is the City of Toronto’s action plan for ensuring that each of the city’s 158 neighbourhoods can succeed and thrive. The Toronto Strong Neighbourhoods Strategy has supported healthy communities across Toronto by partnering with residents, community agencies, and businesses to invest in people, services, programs, and facilities in 33 identified NIAs. The strategy focused on strengthening the social, economic, and physical conditions to deliver local impact for city-wide change. Click here to learn more.
The restart of engagement for the Toronto Strong Neighbourhoods Strategy is an important opportunity to continue this work and incorporate learnings from the 2019 Toronto Strong Neighbourhoods Strategy Evaluation process, as well as the various impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on Black, Indigenous, and other equity-deserving communities.
The Advisory Group
The new Advisory Group comprises 20 representatives from Toronto's NIAs and Emerging Neighbourhoods. For a term running from July 2022 to September 2023, the Advisory Group will provide input on:
- city-wide networking;
- priority setting and implementation that is responsive to the priorities of advisory members;
- an equitable approach to neighbourhood wellbeing and resiliency to address challenges that have surfaced and/or been exacerbated by COVID-19;
- neighbourhood-level strategic planning and coordination;
- succession planning for community leadership; and
- strengthening the connection between systems-level coordination, strategic planning at the Community Coordination Plan (CCP) clusters, and locally determined community priorities.
The Advisory Group will also co-create a community mapping of best practices in virtual and in-person resident engagement, and contribute ideas for a pilot project based on these best practices.
How were members selected?
Throughout a one-month application period (May 2022), SPT received over 100 applications from powerful resident leaders all across Toronto. We interviewed 30 candidates between June 10 and 15. We are grateful to Kisa Hamilton, Resident Liaison to the Advisory Group, and Partnership Table members Gillian Perera (Openly Connected), Kaydeen Bankasingh (North York Community House), Sohelia Bonhi (The Neighbourhood Group), and Laura Harper (Agincourt Community Services Association) for participating in the interviews and shaping the new Advisory Group with us.
Members were selected based on a balance of:
- experience living, working, and volunteering in neighbourhoods;
- active participation in neighbourhood planning, such as networks, coalitions, and grassroots groups;
- experience participating in and mobilizing communities for civic engagement and community development;
- representation across Neighbourhood Improvement Areas (NIAs) or Emerging Neighbourhoods; and
- diversity of age, gender, ability, sexual orientation, and cultural origin, including Indigenous, Black, and other racialized groups and low-income community representation.
As the lead partner for implementation of the Advisory Group, Social Planning Toronto's leadership will include:
- recruitment and selection of Advisory Members;
- training of Advisory Members;
- facilitation of Advisory Member meetings and activities;
- enabling city-wide networking, information sharing, capacity building, and leadership development; and
- engagement of equity-deserving groups, including persons with disabilities and Indigenous, Black, racialized, and 2SLGBTQ+ communities.
To support the process, SPT established a Partnership Table of agency representatives with experience in civic engagement and community development initiatives in NIAs. Partnership Table representatives worked with SPT to share the call for applications with a wide range of resident networks, grassroots groups, and community organizations, and sat on the selection panel for the Toronto Strong Neighbourhoods Strategy Advisory Group. The Partnership Table will provide advice and input into the delivery of training and communications throughout the program, as well as the development of a community analysis of best practices in virtual and in-person resident engagement.
Interested in learning more about this work? Contact Community Planner Rima Athar at [email protected]