By Kathy McGrath
As treasurer for the Centennial Community and Recreation Association, Zinta Erdmanis likes to look at the big picture. While she is attentive to the day-to-day deposits and withdrawals, she is more concerned with the overall financial health of the organization.
“I want to make sure the CCRA is in a fiscal position to fight if a situation arises that is not in our best interests,” she explains. “If a developer wants to put in a skyscraper that doesn’t suit our community, we need to have enough funds that we can lobby for a different outcome.”
Zinta and her husband, Ed, moved into the neighbourhood in the early 1990s, so she clearly remembers the CCRA advocating for the community when the notorious Johns-Manville plant was dismantled.
From 1948 to 1995, the factory produced insulation made with asbestos. Located south of Lawrence Ave. near Port Union Rd., the company also used the property and the lake as an asbestos dumping ground.
“I remember the CCRA being so strong in making sure the environmental issues were taken care of,” Zinta said. “If the CCRA hadn’t gotten involved, I can’t imagine what the outcome would have been.”
Thanks in part to the CCRA’s efforts, extensive soil remediation was conducted after the plant was dismantled in the early 2000s.
Zinta also remembers receiving the CCRA’s green-coloured newsletter at the time and feeling like it pulled the community together. “From the minute we moved into the neighbourhood, I feel like the CCRA was always there for us.”.
Zinta started attending CCRA meetings approximately two years ago after her husband died at age 62 of ALS.
“This community has given my family so much,” she said. “It’s where we raised our daughter, it’s given us good friendships, so I decided I wanted to get involved.”
She went to a few of the CCRA’s monthly meetings as an observer, but realized she wanted to play an active role. When asked if she would volunteer to be treasurer, Zinta agreed.
“I like being a part of something,” she said. “Not only do you meet people in your community who share a similar background, you also meet people with very different backgrounds and experiences and you learn what your community is about.”
Zinta, who worked in advertising and marketing, points out that when a group of people with a variety of skills gets together to help the community, the collective effort can be powerful.
When she’s not working on the CCRA’s balance sheets, Zinta is passionate about working with in-home care providers and government to improve the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of people receiving palliative care.