Community Benefits 101

On June 29th Parkdale Community Economic Development held their second panel discussion entitled On Community Benefits: Community Benefits 101. This discussion was moderated by Jenn Miller (Aktinson Foundation) and featured Rosemarie Powell (Toronto Community Benefit Network), Mariam Paul (East Scarborough Storefront) and Alejandra Bravo (Broadbent Institute). Drawing from their own perspectives and experiences, the panelists offered in-depth analyses of how Community Benefits Agreements are an effective collective tool that leverages equitable development without displacement.

Community Benefits Agreements are legally binding contracts that are negotiated between a grassroots coalition and a developer to ensure that new developments benefit the local community. These community benefits include, but are not limited to: local jobs, living wage requirements, affordable housing, and neighbourhood improvements. Community Benefits Agreements are being welcomed by local governments because they encourage social returns on investment from infrastructure growth. The passing of Bill 6 is evidence that the Ontario government recognizes the value of community benefits. More importantly for local communities, growth that occurs from intensification and redevelopment can be leveraged in a way that provides a myriad of social and economic opportunities the community.

The panelists highlighted the importance of building relationships within the neighborhood that develop a community coalition; building an optimistic, celebratory culture; and the risks of institutionalized, power imposed, top-down governance. It was argued the political nature of community benefits agreements should be a “bottom-up” process with a focus on everyday struggles, access to resources and “who get’s what.”

A campaign rather than an institution, community benefits should set clear demands for developers so that their project can generate shared wealth in the local economy. In addition, Community Benefits Agreements are key to communicating and sparking dialogue with communities who are traditionally excluded from community consultation processes. These conversations are in itself is a “win”, allowing institutions and powerful actors in urban politics to empathize with community anxieties and listen to their struggles. Community Benefits Agreements are not the “end-all-be-all” for a community mobilization but rather establish a “floor” of expectations for new development and create space for grassroots conversations to emerge.

Filmed by Philip Lortie.

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On Community Benefits: Development 101

On June 20th, 2017, the Parkdale Community Economic Development (PCED) held a panel discussion entitled On Community Benefits: Development 101. Moderated by Emily Paradis (University of Toronto), panelists Benjamin Hoff (Urban Strategies), Clara Stewart-Robertson (Jane/Finch Community and Family Centre) and Claire-Helen Heese-Boutin (Parkdale Neighbourhood Land Trust) provided an overview of development and planning processes in Parkdale, with an emphasis on when, where and how community members can claim ownership over neighbourhood change.

Three broad areas of development were discussed: Private Development, Public Infrastructure, and the Commons. Private Development is characterized by developers who are driven by maximizing profit margins and carry financial risk. Public infrastructure, by contrast, focuses on improving public assets and directing urban development. However, it should not be assumed the public sector necessarily responds to the needs of “the public.” Local government, in particular, tends to privilege the concerns of business and real estate industry over the concerns of community. Community-initiated development is an alternative approach to development that focuses on collective assets and protecting “the commons.” This approach considers human necessities, such as housing, to be shared, universal human rights. Moreover, “the commons” are beyond state ownership and private property, representing places of engagement and shared wealth, communal care, and community. The Parkdale Neighbourhood Land Trust is a prime example of treating housing as a human right, seeking to secure affordable housing and community space in perpetuity for the people of Parkdale.

With development pressures and gentrification arriving in Parkdale, the panelists discussed the need for community members to unite and assert their voice in the urban development process. PCED is facilitating the creation of a Community Benefits Framework to support the people of Parkdale in having a say over the way that the neighbourhood changes. A Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) is one tool that can help move the framework forward. CBAs are contractual agreements that are negotiated with a developer and a community coalition to ensure that the needs of local residents are addressed through publicly funded development in the neighbourhood. The Community Benefits Framework will not only help the community understand the complex language developers use in the development process, but it will also place the onus on developers to understand a community’s demands and priorities, and ensure that those needs are acknowledged and fulfilled.

Filmed by Philip Lortie.

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PCED Learning Series – On Community Benefits

Come learn about how to gain greater community control over development in Parkdale!

On Community Benefits is a two-part learning series organized by the Parkdale Community Economic Development (PCED) Planning Project. The neighbourhoodwide planning initiative has been led by over 30 community-based organizations to build Decent Work, Shared Wealth, and Equitable Development in Parkdale. Through a series of community-based consultations, the Parkdale Community Planning Study identified the establishment of a Community Benefits Framework as a key direction for advancing equitable development in the neighbourhood.

Our first panel, Development 101, will provide an introductory overview of the existing development and planning processes in the neighbourhood. Our second panel, Community Benefits 101, will provide an in-depth look into Community Benefits Agreements as a tool for advancing equitable neighbourhood change.

On Community Benefits: Development 101
Tuesday, June 20th, 2017 from 6:00PM to 8:00PM
Anglican Church of the Epiphany St Mark – 201 Cowan Avenue

The Panel:

  • Benjamin Hoff, Urban Strategies
  • Clara Stewart-Robertson, Jane-Finch Community Centre
  • Claire-Helen Heese-Boutin, Parkdale Neighbourhood Land Trust

Moderated by Emily Paradis, University of Toronto

Please RSVP:

On Community Benefits: Community Benefits 101
Thursday, June 29th, 2017 from 6:00PM to 8:00PM
Parkdale Library – 1303 Queen Street West

The Panel:

  • Rosemarie Powell, Toronto Community Benefit Network
  • Mariam Paul, East Scarborough Storefront
  • Michelle Francis, Community Action Planning Group – York West

Moderated by Jenn Miller, Atkinson Foundation

Please RSVP:

The learning series will lead into action-oriented community-based workshops throughout the summer to collectively develop demands for community benefits in Parkdale.



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PCED Solidarity Statement with the Parkdale Rent Strike

As members of the Parkdale Community Economic Development (PCED) Steering Committee, we would like to voice our support for the 200 tenants on rent strike against MetCap. We call upon Metcap to withdraw their rent increases, cease their campaign of tenant harassment and eviction, and address the structural repairs necessary to allow for a decent, healthy, and affordable quality of life in their buildings. We call upon AIMCo to freeze their investments in MetCap until they comply to meet the demands of tenants.  We also call upon the municipal, provincial, and federal government to address the rising pressures on high-rise rental apartments by developing policies and enacting regulations that protect the long-term affordability and preservation of rental units that house our City’s equity-seeking populations.

Increasing pressures from gentrification and real estate reinvestment have endangered local community assets. These assets have kept Parkdale affordable, and accessible to diverse community members, particularly low-income and marginalized community members. The pressures of gentrification-driven displacement have coincided with the rise of corporate landlords, who have been leading a campaign of harassment and displacement by evicting residents to increase rents above provincial rent guidelines. Currently three major corporate landlords in Parkdale – Metcap, Akelius and Wynn – own and/or manage around 2,000 units within 27 properties in South Parkdale, controlling close to 30% of total primary private rental units.

With the lack of secure long-term affordable housing, low-income residents have expressed mounting concern over their ability to stay in Parkdale. During our 18-month community planning study, many tenants who live in high-rise buildings owned by corporate landlords expressed feelings of stress and precarity brought upon by the systemic lack of repairs and harassment. What is important to note is that MetCap’s apartment buildings were originally built under the Federal Limited Dividend program, which provided public subsidies to private rental apartments for low-and moderate income people. If the government is aligned with protecting its renters – nearly half of the City’s population – then it is in the public interest to uphold the legacy of government investment in tower apartments by mandating landlords to conduct repairs and maintenance while sustaining units as deeply affordable.

What is at stake is the future of Parkdale. We stand in solidarity with Parkdale Organize in shaping that future into one that is more equitable, diverse, inclusive, and affordable.


Parkdale Activity-Recreation Centre (PARC)
Sistering – A Woman’s Place
West Neighbourhood House
Parkdale Queen West Community Health Centre
The Centre for Mindfulness Studies
Making Room Community Arts
The Jeremiah Community
West End Food Co-op

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We are hiring! Workforce Planning Coordinator for decent work

We are hiring Workforce Planning Coordinator, who will help coordinate efforts for Parkdale’s decent work vision that has emerged from the Parkdale Community Economic Development (PCED) Planning project.

The Parkdale Community Economic Development (PCED) Planning project is a multi-year community-based economic planning and development project in Parkdale. Led by Parkdale Activity Recreation Centre (PARC) in partnership with over 26 community partners, the PCED project started in 2015 in order to develop a Parkdale Neighbourhood Plan for decent work, shared wealth, and equitable development. Through the first round of the PCED project, the project has identified the following seven priority areas for community action and policy options: 1) social infrastructure; 2) affordable housing and land use; 3) decent work; 4) food security; 5) community financing; 6) participatory local democracy; and 7) cultural development.

The successful candidate will join the second round of the PCED project and take a lead in advancing two key initiatives within the Parkdale’s neighbourhood planning framework: Parkdale Community Benefits Framework development and the Anchor Institutions Roundtable for social procurement and local hiring opportunities.

Please see more details and application process here. Application deadline is February 1st 2017.

Special thanks to Atkinson Foundation’s Decent Work fund for generous support for the project.


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Full Parkdale Planning Study Report

The PCED project launched the Full Parkdale Planning Study report along with the Parkdale Neighbourhood Plan. Please download the full report from here or by clicking the image below.

The Full Parkdale Planning Study report can be read in relation to the summary report published earlier. The Full report details data analysis, needs & assets mapping results, key issues and opportunities for the seven areas of community action and policy options. The Full report also provides detailed descriptions of each direction, their rationales and inspiring examples from other neighbourhoods and cities.

Detailed action steps and implementation strategies are detailed in the Parkdale Neighbourhood Plan.


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Parkdale Neighbourhood PLAN launch event!




Join us Saturday October 29th at 1:30pm for a:
– Neighbourhood Plan Launch @ Bonar Presbyterian Church
– Jane’s Walk to explore proposed actions across the neighbourhood
– Celebration & Mural Launch (3:00pm Queen & Callender)

Come learn more about how gentrification is impacting affordability and diversity in Parkdale; 7 key Parkdale wellbeing indicators; and 37 directions for community action and policy option!

In the last 18 months we’ve gathered community members, agency staff, friends, academics and you. Together through the Parkdale Community Economic Development (PCED) planning project we’ve built a vision for Parkdale that emphasizes four overarching values: Inclusiveness, Affordability, Diversity and Equity. The risk of untamed gentrification in the area puts these values at risk.

Please join us in celebration as we share The Parkdale Neighbourhood Plan – a new story for Parkdale that offers strategies and actions to protect our shared values and promotes collective action, equitable development, participatory democracy, decent work, food security and shared wealth building.

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