Our April 21st meeting was small and short but full of fabulous ideas! We came up with our first community engagement plan.
Sarah, Steve, Ronn and I discussed how to get Beachers engaged, and help them "envision" a better neighbourhood. This seems to be a stumbling block for many people and hinders community engagement and sustainable development. With everybody being so busy with their day-to-day lives, their seems little downtime for creative thinking, and imagining “how to get from here to there”. Where to start??
Our neighbourhood has also been fighting new condo developments for the past few years, from which numerous – mostly street-specific – residents' associations (RA’s) have sprung. Bringing all these together, including community environmental groups, was another overriding point of discussion.
So our tentative plan is this: Either host a local competition to vision a future development in the Beach by creating “Transition Tales”, or host a public Open Space session with all local residents and community groups, as well as the business association, Beach BIA, and lead them in a visioning session.
Secondly, especially Steve and I with our European backgrounds, excitedly imagined a future with a mostly car-free, pedestrianised Queen Street. A pilot project could include one car-free Saturday or Sunday per month, where the TTC streetcar would still provide public transit through the area, but allow a 1 or 1 ½ hour return trip with your TTC transfer. (A section of St. Clair West currently allows this.) Shoppers from outside the area would be serviced by a “park and ride” system to and from a local, large parking lot that is mostly unused, keeping cars and pollution from exhaust-pipes out of the shopping area and increasing use of public transit. Plus, who doesn’t enjoy walking down the middle of the street without risk of getting hit by a car! Okay, so you’d still have to watch for the streetcars but hey....
All this, of course, will take a lot of planning, consulting, convincing, and negotiating with the local business association, TTC, residents, City Transportation Department, and City Councillor (who, I know in this case, will be the easiest to get on board). I would personally love to plan and facilitate all of this.... but would need to be paid to be able to do this full-time!
And before you think it, I have thought about this already. Queen Street has several unoccupied stores, and if I can persuade one building owner to let me “occupy” one storefront on a month to month free ‘lease’, then I’d just need to get the right permits and a big grant to get me started. Doesn’t sound impossible to me!! :-))