(The second of our holiday themed thoughts from our city councillors. Today? Councillor Pam McConnell, Ward 28, Toronto-Centre Rosedale!)
1) The Gift of Councilling: What is the one moment in 2012 that struck you as the best example of why it was you became a councillor?
For 2012, the moment that stands out for me is the opening of the new Regent Park Aquatic Centre. This project that has been in the making for 18 years, with the decision to decommission the old Lord Dufferin School pool. The completion of the aquatic centre is the culmination of many years of consulting with the community, to learn the types of amenities they need for their facility, making sure that the plans properly reflected those needs, and trying to ensure the funding was in place to deliver those needs. In the end, we received a beautiful facility that is a jewel in Regent Park’s crown, and it will serve everyone, including young children, seniors, those with disabilities, and our Muslim women who desired privacy and women-only swims. And by ensuring that this facility receives a Priority Centre designation, we have established that income will not be a barrier and that everyone inside the community and in the surrounding neighbourhoods can fully participate and enjoy this aquatic centre.
2) Going Forward: In 2013, what is the one aspect you would like to see happen that would help develop better civic discourse?
I think that it is possible to have a productive civic discourse when everyone focuses on building a healthy and vibrant city as the top priority. At one of the recent Council meetings, we unanimously adopted the Recreation Service Plan. Recreation programs are incredibly important to the health and well-being of all residents, and I have been promoting improved access since before I was a Councillor. The new strategic direction in the plan will open up 17 new Priority Centres – primarily in the under-serviced suburbs – and provide free recreation programming for children, youth, and seniors. Along with this was a Council decision to reverse the implementation of user fees for adults at these Priority Centres, which is a decision I fought against. I was extremely encouraged to see all Councillors come together, recognizing the value to all residents, and move forward on a program that will have a profound change in so many lives across the city. It is possible, when everyone chooses to put their best foot forward.
— Yuletidely submitted by Councillor Pam McConnell