By Lincoln DePradine
A mobilization effort has started aimed at ensuring women, African-Canadians and other representatives from racialized communities obtain jobs and other benefits from a multi-million-dollar development project in Toronto’s Downsview Park neighbourhood.
Three entities – Canada Lands Company, Northcrest Developments and CreateTO – are said to be in the planning phase for what has been described as a “large-scale, mixed-use development that will bring housing, commercial and other uses’’ to the Downsview Park site.
But Toronto Community Benefits Network (TCBN), a coalition of 120 members drawn from community and labour organizations and groups and social enterprises, whose goal is ensuring Toronto becomes “an inclusive, thriving city in which all residents have equitable opportunities to contribute to healthy communities and a prospering economy’’, isn’t leaving anything to chance with the Downsview Park project that first must receive approval from the City of Toronto to proceed to the start of construction.
TCBN, in a news release earlier this week, said it had “launched a campaign to get a Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) framework agreed to and implemented for the Downsview Park/Lands Development’’.
Specifically, what TCBN is seeking is “an equitable planning process and developments that prioritizes equity, diversity and inclusion’’.
“We want to ensure that there are good jobs through the skills trade for equity-seeking groups such as Indigenous people, Blacks and other people of colour. We want to make sure that specific, hard targets are included in the contract with the builders for the project,’’ TCBN’s campaigns director Kumsa Baker, told The Caribbean Camera. “We also want to see a lot of affordable housing; we want bold, ambitious goals for affordable housing.’’
As part of its campaign, TCBN has issued an invitation to community members to register for an online information session scheduled for 4 pm, Tuesday, July 27.
The session, according to the network, “will have a discussion around Community Benefits Agreements, the current Downsview development process, how the community can be involved with the process’’, and also provide information on TCBN’s “next steps’’ regarding the project.
“We are seeking community advocacy and also want to hear about what are the different priorities that people might have for Downsview,’’ said Baker.
TCBN, he added, also is interested in “neighbourhood improvements and protections’’ that involve such things as the inclusion of community and childcare centres, green areas, open parks and cultural spaces that will “ultimately result in a just and equitable development that benefits the community first’’.
“We want to make sure that those are all part of the vision and those types of elements will be included at Downsview,’’ said Baker. “We want to ensure that there is a Community Benefits Agreement that the developers negotiate. So, that Community Benefits Agreement will lay out all the specific benefits the community will have for the project and we can use that to hold the developers accountable.’’
For more information on the TCBN campaign, visit https://www.cbafordownsview.ca/
TCBN, established six years ago, says it’s committed, among other things, to addressing the challenges of “access to good jobs, local economic development and neighbourhood revitalization’’ faced by racialized groups and the communities where they live in large numbers.