Parkdale Community Forum 

by Kalsang Dolma – PNLT Board member

Feb 27, 2016 – On a warm, sunny winter Saturday, the auditorium in Parkdale library was packed with over 100 community and organization members in attendance for the Parkdale Community Forum, organized by the Parkdale Community Economic Development Project. This participatory planning and community visioning was carried out with multiple stakeholders over a year and was unveiled in the form of a draft planning study report. There were also some very shocking findings on neighbourhood change, population loss (presumably though displacement), growing inequality and the loss of affordable housing. View these in the Parkdale Snapshot.

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As the report was shared to the public, some questions arose in my mind, chief among which was, “what kind of actions will follow these issues?” With the Parkdale neighbourhood rising on its trendy and desirability curve for homeowners, developers or investors, it has become very hard for those economically disadvantaged to access affordable housing in the neighbourhood. How can the existing community of residents and organizations do all the wonderful work envisioned in the planning study to help promote community shared wealth, and equitable development?

Feeling refreshed with some juicy Tibetan momos at break time and chit chats with familiar faces, it was back to business. Working group discussions were held on the seven key areas of opportunities. I chose “Community Financing”. Our table had a spirited discussion on how we can possibly finance the initiatives and resolve pertinent issues. So much to do in so little time! The passion and skills were definitely not lacking as each group presented their discussion points. My skepticism subsided as it became clear that each area was intertwined with all the rest and success in one area is a victory for all the areas. At the end of the closing remarks, participants joined different working groups and I joined two.
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Feeling quite euphoric with the successful forum, I spotted Tish, a fellow PNLT board member, and asked if she had seen anyone from Parkdale Organize. Last Saturday, I went to support a rally organized by them at 103 West Lodge apartments and their story was featured in the media. Tish said that someone from Parkdale Community Legal Services (PCLS) was there and pointed to a gentleman in the corner. I spoke with Ben and found out that he, as a first year Osgoode Law Student, had just completed his first year’s voluntary work at PCLS, and was coming back there as a placement student with the Tenant’s Division in early 2017. I remarked, “2017! and you are here to learn now?” “Well, the forum seemed important enough for me to attend, I didn’t want to miss it,” he replied. We started walking out of the auditorium. He was using a cane to walk, and it dawned on me that he was visually impaired. I asked if he was going to take the TTC and he asked if I would walk with him to his stop at Dufferin and Queen. We talked about how he attends and studies his lectures at Osgoode Law, among other things, while we waited for his bus. The bus arrived and we bid each other goodbye. I walked , completely inspired and reenergized by Ben’s dedication to this project. It reminded me of a quote I heard once:
“What we have now is because of others before us and it is upon us to help others now and those who come after us.” 

learn more about PCED and PNLT here,

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