We are very excited to announce our new collaborative initiative in Parkdale – the Parkdale Community Economic Planning and Development (PCED) project! The project is supported by Atkinson Foundation Decent Work Fund.
The PCED project is an 18-month community-based planning initiative in Parkdale. The goal of the PCED project is to develop a strategic neighbourhood plan for Parkdale. The neighbourhood plan will include ‘community wealth building’ strategies, neighbourhood-based economic well-being indicators, and a shared vision for decent work in Parkdale.
The PCED project takes a comprehensive and participatory approach that combines community action research, assets assessment, community visioning, and strategy and policy development. The project aims to examine a range of community assets and strategies essential for building a healthy and decent neighbourhood – affordable housing, land use, small business, food security, employment, workforce development, access to social and health services, and many others. The below is a summary of key activities and the project timeline.
What makes this community planning initiative unique is its aim for rethinking “economic development”. Traditional economic development may focus on short-term goals such as creating jobs and attracting businesses. While these remain crucial, the PCED project promotes economic development based on the principles of shared ownership, democratic governance, equitable development and the ethics of care.
These core principles of our work are captured in an emerging theme in the field of economic development: community wealth building. And Parkdale has been building various community wealth building initiatives, such as the Parkdale Neighbourhood Land Trust, the Co-op Cred program, and the Food Flow project. These existing innovations demonstrate our readiness as well as a vital opportunity for building more just local economies and decent work.
Parkdale is also characterized by considerable community assets, including the diversity of affordable housing options, various non-profit agencies that provide a range of community supports and programs, and community-oriented businesses. These assets are, however, under increasing pressures of gentrification and real estate reinvestment. Retaining these assets require collaborative planning.
In developing our project idea, we have been inspired by a number of innovative initiatives from elsewhere. For example, Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative is a remarkable example that harnesses the power of a community land trust model for community and economic development initiatives such as building a strong local food system . The Cleveland’s Evergreen Cooperatives offers a promising strategy of community wealth building by unleashing the potential of anchor procurement. The Bronx Cooperative Development Initiative has been aiming to translate the model and lessons from Cleveland to New York.
All of these pieces have prompted us to convene key local partners to launch this community-based planning initiative. The PCED project is a partnership project led by PARC along with Greenest City, Parkdale Community Health Centre, Parkdale Community Information Centre, Parkdale Community Legal Services, Parkdale Intercultural Association, Parkdale Neighbourhood Land Trust, Parkdale Village BIA, West End Food Co-op, West Neighbourhood House, Working for Change, Making Room and Catalyst Centre. We are actively seeking more local partners for this project! We kicked off the project by holding a strategic planning session for key community partners.
At the strategic planning session we developed a shared understanding of the PCED project while also fleshing out key project visions and steps to achieve them during and beyond the project. The below briefly summarizes the timeline of our core activities.