\ By Valerie Maltais \
Four active Danforth residents have come together to form a new resident’s association that covers the area between Jackman Avenue to the west, Pape Avenue to the east and between Mortimer Avenue extending south to the Danforth.
The four founding members, Heather DeVeber, Ted Hanlan, Rupen Seoni and Roula Panagiotopoulos, say they had specific concerns about the community and some of the development that has taken place or been proposed and realized that there was no association that represents the interests of the residents within this boundary.
The Danforth Residents’ Association was officially recognized by the City of Toronto at the end of June 2018. The association is “interested in protecting and furthering the best interests of our neighbourhood by creating a well-informed community,” its website states.
Ms. Panagiotopoulos, the President and Chair of the association, said in an interview that its mission was developed based on “issues that unite us all,” in particular public safety, responsible development, transportation and environmental issues.
Panagiotopoulos made it clear that the association’s objective is not to oppose development but to ensure that the area develops in a way that respects the community. Its goal is to provide important updates and information about such issues and to ensure that the community’s needs and concerns are considered by policy makers.
The relief line that is planned at Pape Avenue will ensure that this area, which is already a destination strip with a vibrant stretch of cafés, restaurants, bars, and retail spaces, sees changes. The association regards that as generally positive for the community, she said, but has some concerns about the anticipated increase in density and the additional visitors that the area will experience as a result of this significant public transportation investment.
One specific concern about the influx of people is in regards to crime. With the violent shooting that occurred over the summer and the petty crime that the area is currently seeing, the association wants to work increase public safety. The details of how they would achieve this are still to be determined.
Asked about the group’s position on bike lanes, Panagiotopoulos indicated that a discussion will take place and that no stance has yet been formed on the city-wide push to increase safe cycling options. The area on the Danforth that the association represents is a major corridor in the City of Toronto Cycling Network Plan.
The organization is planning its inaugural meeting early in 2019. They hope to gain the support of the local politicians, Ward 14 Councillor Paula Fletcher and Member of Parliament, Julie Dabrusin.
For her part Ms. Dabrusin commented in a telephone interview that “it is always a great thing to see community advocacy” and that as part of the federal government’s review of a nation-wide consultation on a handgun ban, she will work with the group by keeping them informed and including them in the formal consultation process.
“I look forward to understanding what their specific needs are,” she said.
Ms. Fletcher did not return a call requesting an interview.
The group also plans on consulting with the Toronto Police Services and the local Business Improvement Association to advance their agenda, Panagiotopoulos said.
The Association’s near-term objective is to increase membership, the group president added. It is a not-for profit organization and there is currently no fee to join.
You can find more information on the association by visiting their website: www.danforthresidentsassociation.com.