By Kathy McGrath
Karthi Yogasegaran is not the most vocal member of the CCRA executive council, preferring to let others do the talking. But don’t let her quiet demeanor fool you; she is an attentive listener, absorbing the information like a sponge.
The CCRA’s new conservation chair describes herself as a lifelong learner who naturally gravitates to educational activities – whether it’s reading, listening to podcasts or going to lectures that spark her curiosity.
“Attending the CCRA meetings, you really do learn so much about what’s going on in your neighbourhood and the city as a whole,” Karthi said during a recent chat. “You learn about all the little links and connections between people and organizations and you discover who oversees things behind the scenes.”
A longtime Scarborough resident, Karthi decided to move to Centennial five years ago. She considers this area a “haven outside the city core” that offers the best of both worlds. “We are surrounded by nature and are close to the lake, but it’s not a huge effort to get downtown.”
Karthi commutes daily by GO train to her job at RBC where she works in disability management. “I get off the train and it’s only a 15-minute walk through the PATH to my office,” she said.
It was curiosity that led Karthi and a friend to attend the CCRA’s annual general meeting in 2018. “The board was looking for members-at-large, so we thought, ‘Why not join? It’s a good way to be engaged with the community.’ ” Several months later, President Kathy Rowe asked her if she would take on the conservation file.
Karthi, who studied developmental biology at U of T, accepted the challenge. “I have an interest in ecology, biology and the environment, so I thought it would be a good fit for me.”
To fulfill her role, Karthi keeps her eye on a variety of environmental issues that may impact our neighbourhood. She is currently gearing up for Earth Day, helping to plan local events that engage the community.
Twice yearly she attends meetings about the Highland Creek water treatment facility and reports back to the executive with any important updates. She also recently attended a community consultation on Transform TO, the city’s climate action strategy.
But the highlight for her, so far, was attending the Toronto Neighbourhood Summit last year at city hall. “It very cool to see how other neighbourhood associations grow and have an impact on their communities. The sharing of knowledge was really amazing.”
Karthi said Centennial’s most recent environmental concerns involve interactions with wildlife like coyotes and foxes. “A lot of people have small pets, so there’s some concern about that,” she said. “It comes down to cohabiting safely and being able to manage that.”
Karthi is able to balance a full-time job with her CCRA commitment and looks forward to her volunteer activities, which provide the community involvement that she doesn’t get at work.
For those thinking of getting involved in local volunteering, Karthi advises: “Don’t overthink it. Just do it and see where it goes. There’s so much going on there’s bound to be something of interest to you. And it’s up to you how much you engage. “