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Newsletter #4 - Hundreds of community members join VoW's efforts

Hello Neighbours!
It’s been a busy week with respect to the modular housing proposal at 175 Cummer. It's a rainy Sunday so thought we would take some time to update you while everyone is staying-at-home anyways :)

First of all we wanted to start by saying THANK YOU again. It's hard to believe that Voices of Willowdale started only 3 weeks ago. There has been tremendous interest and support since we first launched and so we thought to share some quick facts on the community's voices: 

  • Petition  already at 1400 signatures (1100 online and another 300 paper-based from our seniors)
  • Website with 2000+ views and 800 unique visitors
  • New Politicians letter-writing feature, launched 1 week ago, with already 95 letters written
  • 100+ downloads of our translated materials (Korean, Chinese, Farsi)
  • 200+ lawn signs put up all around our community
  • 100+ subscribers to this free newsletter to stay informed
  • hundreds of emails to our inbox
When Voices of Willowdale (VoW) first started out, we were just a small group of community members  who came together after witnessing the City's first community engagement on March 9th. We all shared common concerns on the blatant orchestrated-nature of the meeting and complete lack of community notification and consultation. With our diverse experience in various disciplines including Land Planning, Healthcare, Government relations, Government processes, Communications, we started digging deeper and realized there was plenty of mis-information being shared by the City and information that was/is still being withheld with respect to this proposal. VoW started the ball rolling with the petition and then eventually the website because we realized that we needed to give our community a PLATFORM to share their voices, especially during a global pandemic when our usual ways of communicating and speaking in person with each other were not supported. Since then hundreds of people have reached out and have joined our cause. 

Bayview Cummer Neighbourhood Association (BCNA): 

On March 30th, the BCNA hosted their own community meeting on this subject with Councillor Filion and Exec Director, Housing Secretariat Abi Bond. The meeting was attended by 70+ community members and over 3 hrs long. The zoom  link is here for everyone to see: https://www.bayviewcummer.ca/p/BCNA-COMMUNITY-NEWS/article/ZOOM-RECORDING-BCNA-Community-Meeting-with-Councillor-John-Filion-on-175-Cummer-Avenue-321441822 Be warned, it's a doozy with community members finally being able to ask "real questions". However Councillor Filion gets defensive and starts calling people who dare to ask valid questions "obnoxious" and "loud". Things start to heat up at 1:15, 1:19, 1:29, 1:41, 1:58, and so on. Some good Sunday night viewing if there is nothing on Netflix :)

City-hosted community meeting:

On April 6th, the City and hired consultants, LURA, held another tightly controlled community engagement meeting. For those of you who missed it, the city will eventually be posting it here. However please note last time it took them 2 weeks to get it up. 

There  were 170 attendees and more concerning statements by Councillor Filion and Mr. Bruce Davis (change agent/consultant) that the community is 'misinformed' and prejudiced 'against homeless people'. In other words, little new information and more shaming and evading of good questions by community members. We heard that this meeting angered and insulted so many of our community members. Sue-Anne Levy, Toronto Sun journalist, happened to sit on this meeting and quickly wrote an article on it. The article sums it up fairly nicely! https://torontosun.com/news/local-news/controversial-homeless-project-set-for-front-lawn-of-a-seniors-home

Our councillor also insists that crime and safety won't be impacted but this was of course before this other article came out, re: the Roehampton hotel shelter. https://torontosun.com/news/local-news/levy-toronto-police-stats-show-crime-surged-after-roehampton-shelter-opened Don't worry we get it Mr. Filion and Abi Bond, the modular housing is not a "shelter". But you do know, it will house exactly the same population of chronically homeless who will be coming from these same temp shelters and directly from encampments and the streets. And of course, all with very limited supports... plopped in the middle of a quiet residential community far away from everything...sounds like a great plan. 

New videos from the community
We've finally had a chance to post the videos from March 21st. Many of these are voices from the seniors at Willowdale Manor who desperately asked that we widely share their silenced voices. So on behalf of our equally vulnerable seniors who already live at 175 Cummer, please take a few minutes to listen to their voices too. Thank you. 

All VoW videos on YouTube channel
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Voices of Willowdale · willowdale · Toronto, ON L5B 4M1 · Canada

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