News / Toronto

Toronto councillor plans to build an 'office of neighbourhoods'

The motion is intended to improve community building by allowing politicians and civil servants to connect and exchange ideas.

Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon praises the Danforth East Community Association (DECA), shown in this file photo, as an example of a neighbourhood group doing great things in the city.

Torstar News Service

Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon praises the Danforth East Community Association (DECA), shown in this file photo, as an example of a neighbourhood group doing great things in the city.

Coun. Mary-Margaret McMahon wants city hall to harness the power of neighbourhoods.

It's about time politicians and civil servants connect with great ideas happening across the city, McMahon said. That's why she's proposing an "office of neighbourhoods" for Toronto.

"I think it's long overdue in Toronto," she said. "We have a lot of support for Business Improvement Associations at city hall, but we do not have any support for residents associations."

McMahon wants to fix that imbalance. The new office would identify and support great initiatives, then share them with residents associations in other areas where they could work.

She points to the efforts of the Danforth East Community Association in her ward, which has helped reduce vacant storefronts by 10 per cent by supporting pop-up shops.

"We're losing out on a rich resource of community building," she said.

Similar proposals have been implemented in Ottawa, Calgary and Edmonton, among other places. Each city has a different version, and McMahon is open to how Toronto's would function.

More important, she said, is that Toronto embraces its status as a "city of neighbourhoods." But there's a long way to go.

"The city doesn't even have a list of all the residents associations," she said. The absence of such a list has led journalist David Topping to maintain an unofficial map on his personal blog.

Council's executive committee will consider the motion next week.

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