Looking to the future - good ideas to ensure community space

Here are some community solutions identified by the Just and Equitable Recovery Table and 2022 Greater Toronto Non-Profit Community Space Survey.

We recognize that the City cannot act alone to create access to space for community organizations. It is essential that we work together to promote inter-governmental cooperation that breaks down silos within and across government and other public institutions to support the creation of more social purpose real estate opportunities. 

It is essential that the City work with school boards and other public institutions to strengthen the reach of existing programs that make public lands available to non-profits for co-location, leasing and ownership opportunities, such as Community Use of Schools and the Community Space Tenancy Program. 

The City-School Boards Advisory Committee recognizes the importance of school boards in communities: “School facilities and lands are integral to neighbourhoods, and changes in ownership or use can have significant impacts on community cohesion and longer-term city-wide service strategies.” 

We also know that these decisions are not simply within the City’s power to address. The Government of Ontario plays an important role here.

The TDSB recently advocated to the Province to ensure that the equitable funding of child day care sites, particularly in Scarborough, York, Etobicoke, and the Northwest:

“It is important to point out that significant inequities exist in child care services across various areas within the City of Toronto, with disparities prevalent in underserved communities such as Scarborough and the Northwest. The discrepancies in access to child care services co-located in schools has led to inequitable opportunities for children and their families in these areas. This conflicts with our shared goal of providing equal opportunities for seamless high-quality programs for all children and families in the city, regardless of their geographic location.”

The SPACE Coalition has also made specific recommendations to the Government of Ontario to address these needs. In order to ensure

“equitable, welcoming, accessible and affordable public spaces, this year our budget submission focuses on activating school facilities outside of the regular school day, making them a place for growth and well-being for the entire community.  We know that community use of schools is a cornerstone of healthy and vibrant neighbourhoods. Getting families and community members back into these spaces is an important element to supporting Ontarians’ prosperous recovery from the effects of the last three years.”

We need to create opportunities for affordable non-profit owned or leased space as part of major public infrastructure projects leveraging relevant programs and projects (example: Transit-Oriented Communities) to ensure that communities have access to services and community programs.

We must also ensure Toronto’s commitment to Indigenous reconciliation is reflected in community spaces

Indigenous and First Nation’s peoples experience barriers to building and sustaining cultural spaces that reflect their identities. As part of our collective commitment to righting relations with Indigenous peoples, more Indigenous-owned community spaces are needed across the City and publicly owned spaces need to support Indigenous practices and community gathering.

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