Weston-Mt. Dennis has become known as a "priority neighbourhood" since Mayor Miller’s time in office. An industrial part of town that lost its industry
, there’s not a lot of money, and according to the Toronto Community Foundation, not a lot of sense of belonging, of connectedness among its residents, and especially its kids.
"The recipe in Rosedale is to send your kids to summer camp," says Rahul Bhardwaj, president and CEO of the TCF. In summer camp, and at the cottage, or even on the street picking up a frozen yogurt and heading over to the Bloor Cinema, for instance: That’s where you get your sense of belonging, your sense of community, in many parts of this mostly quite functional city. "In Mt. Dennis, that’s not an option."
So the TCF, along with helpers like ING, Access Community Capital, Humber College, Urban Arts and the City of Toronto, are putting the finishing touches on the Bartonville Building, a disused city signage storehouse that’s being transformed into a community hub, offering local residents a place to enjoy each others’ company in.
"I wouldn’t say they lack a sense of community," Bhardwaj says, "but they may not have as much a sense of belonging to their community. People here weren’t feeling like they could come out in their community and interact with each other. We think people getting out into their community strengthens their ties with their community."
The building on Bartonville is being outfitted with what Bhardwaj describes as "a really upbeat kitchen," along with a dance studio, a recording studio, and programs to offer courses in food handling certification, bike repair and bike safety and small business development.
The budget for the building project is $350,000 in cash and kind.
Between now and the grand opening in October, the city’s installing planters and other street furniture to connect the two neighbourhoods of Weston and Mt. Dennis, and to lend them a unified sense of place.
Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Rahul Bhardwaj