By Gay Cowbourne

I was the president of the CCRA for several years, including 1999, the year we celebrated 50 years of community activism, volunteerism and CCRA’s many remarkable achievements. 

I fondly recall our very busy Golden Anniversary Celebration Day, which started with a morning Fun Run/Walk in Colonel Danforth Park, followed by an afternoon Teddy Bears Picnic for younger members of the community.  In the evening we had a sold out semi-formal dinner dance, where I was delighted to welcome and recognize many former presidents and board members, including several who had been with the CCRA since its creation on November 22, 1949. Together they had given many years of dedicated service to the CCRA and guided us through significant changes as we grew from a small, semi-rural community to a much busier part of the City of Toronto. As president, I was also delighted to accept congratulatory remarks and certificates of achievement from all levels of government, including greetings from Prime Minister Jean Chrétien.

As we look around Centennial today, we see a very different place than we did in 1999. At that time, the beautiful waterfront trail, the Village Common and the Port Union tunnel access to the lakeshore didn’t exist.  These projects are the result of highly contentious battles the CCRA was then waging with our three levels of government concerning the redevelopment of the former lakeshore industrial lands. We were very involved with the Ontario Municipal Board, the City, the provincial Ministries of the Environment and Labour, the developers and the engineers responsible for the remediation of the former Johns Manville asbestos-laden lands. It was an incredibly busy period for CCRA, which was involved every step of the way to ensure all work was conducted in accordance with provincial guidelines and in a way that was safe for the existing community and for our future neighbours.

None of this would have been possible without a truly dedicated team of volunteers who continue to this day to work hard to ensure that we “create something better, rather than accept something less worthy” as Bill Dempsey, our founding president, once wrote. 

Many congratulations to the CCRA–a truly remarkable organization–and my personal thanks to all of those involved during the last 70 years. You have made this community a place I am proud to call home.