In Scarborough Village, where 26 languages are spoken and over 60% of the residents were born outside Canada, participation of diverse communities was key to the success of ANC.
Public Interest, a community development firm, was engaged by the United Way of Greater Toronto to be the ANC site manager. The firm’s team of 3 people in turn recruited and trained nine individuals as part-time community animators – two each that spoke Tamil, Urdu, and Bengali, plus one youth and two Afro-Caribbean residents.
All had established connections, trust, and networks within a particular cultural, age, or linguistic group, so they were well placed to bring people to the initiative who might otherwise have been overlooked.
Animator input led directly to the addition of more heritage language classes in the neighbourhood, and to identifying Urdu- and Bengali-speaking women’s groups who received help to speak to representatives from municipal programs on safety and maintenance issues.
Year one action grants focused mainly on purchasing or refurbishing recreational equipment and facilities. Year two grants resulted in support to social clubs, a toy lending library, food security programs, homework and tutoring programs, a leadership school focused on tenant rights, and several community celebrations and events aimed at youth and the broader community.
ANC staff also provided assistance to four key projects in year two.
- Several youth initiatives resulted in the establishment of a youth council that continues to meet weekly.
- Space constraints continue to restrict program offerings and resident participation and the ability for support organizations to operate regularly in the community. Efforts are underway to ensure that a hub, including space, is available for agencies to share and where residents can meet, close to their homes – especially important during the winter months.
- Approaches to local small businesses focused on the benefits to the business on participating in neighbourhood cleanup and safety audits
- Scarborough Village Neighbourhood Association reviewed their procedures to ensure that power and responsibilities were shared and that plans were manageable and achievable.
Concern remains about the ability to maintain the relationships and programs started by ANC in Scarborough Village.
However, the Strong Neighbourhoods Taskforce, a collaboration of the City of Toronto and United Way of Greater Toronto, has already applied the approach to four (soon to be 13) Toronto neighbourhoods.
The benefits of having a catalyst organization that can coordinate agencies and activities is evident.
Village: Fact Sheet
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Director of Research
United Way of Greater Toronto
26 Wellington St E, 11th Floor
Toronto, ON M5E 1W9
Action for Neighbourhood Change
was in operation from 2005-2007. This site exists to capture and share
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A walk along Eglinton Avenue –
Scarborough Village’s wide, treeless main street – shows
a collection of strip malls set back behind cracked parking lots, high
rise social housing and low-income apartments, a railway bridge, a car
dealership and a social housing apartment development that wraps around
the corner of Eglinton and Markham streets. More...