TDSB Trustee Anu Sriskandarajah was a guest speaker at CCRA’s AGM in November.

By Kathryn Stocks

The CCRA’s Annual General Meeting on November 17 was packed with information, so it’s a shame it wasn’t well attended. President Kathy Rowe went over all the things the community association has been involved with over the past year.

Two guests, TDSB Trustee Anu Sriskandarajah and Elizabeth Walsh from Councillor Jennifer McKelvie’s office, answered questions from those who attended.

Here are a few highlights:

What’s happening with the Bridgeport lands?

The vacant land located south of Bill Hancox Park is jointly owned by the Toronto and Catholic school boards. Anu said this is not a priority for the TDSB. They have it down to be reviewed in 2027-28. “The reason it’s being pushed off is that it’s a property to be sold off and we really don’t like to sell property at the TDSB because once it’s gone you’re not getting it back,” she said.

She told the meeting that when it is sold, the first priority goes to the city. If the city isn’t interested, she said there’s a hierarchy of non-profits, and lastly it goes to developers. It was originally a site for a new school but the numbers didn’t warrant it.

Concerns over school safety

With recent shootings and a stabbing at Scarborough high schools, parents are understandably worried. “What’s happening in Scarborough has all been happening in the last year,” Anu said. “We’ve had two shootings in a school where a child has died. We had it at Woburn a couple of weeks ago, and one at David & Mary Thomson on Valentine’s Day. We’ve had stabbings at Birchmount.”

She thinks the violence has a lot to do with the pandemic. “I have seen more violence since we returned to school than in the last four years.”

It’s a complex problem and Anu said some trustees think we need to bring police back into schools. She called that a knee-jerk reaction. “All the studies have shown those programs haven’t been effective,” she said. “We definitely need partnership from every level of government. The board doesn’t have the money to solve this.”

School traffic issues

A resident asked why the TDSB doesn’t employ traffic wardens or partner with the Toronto Police traffic wardens at elementary schools during times they’re so busy. Anu said, “The issue is that the school board can’t raise its own funds so if we want a position like that, which is a great idea, we would need funding from the province.” She advised residents to ask our MPP.

What can be done for youth in this community?

Kathy Rowe said, “We have a lovely recreation centre here that has almost zero youth programming. If you take the skate park out of the equation, we have nothing.”

She said a city employee is trying hard to get a youth council off the ground. They meet one day a week after school, trying to merge city initiatives with the kids and giving them  opportunities to take training, day trips and outings.

A resident said she drove her kids out of the community to go to free programs near Cedarbrae. “The kids don’t want organized sports,” she said. “They want to hang out with their buddies.” She said partnership is needed between students and the community to make the youth feel supported here in their own community.

Could CCRA advocate for winter maintenance on our trails?

A resident pointed out that we’re one of the few wards that does not have a major walking trail maintained in the winter, even though we have two major trails, one along Highland Creek up to the university and the other along the waterfront.

Kathy said the CCRA didn’t realize trails in adjacent wards got winter maintenance so the executive will be looking into it.

Quote of the evening from a resident

“The CCRA is a little voice but it’s a strong and mighty voice. There are solutions. I’m so upset that I’ve come to know this voice at such a late stage. I’m happy to have this opportunity to share.”