I met Lilly Wednesday night in Lansdowne. She is a senior and a widow. She raised her family in the house she has lived in now for over 50 years.
Lilly doesn’t move around the city much. She doesn’t go downtown. She doesn’t go to Hawrelak Park. She takes the bus to Southgate when she needs the basics.
Lilly is on a fixed income. Her taxes increase every year, now over $5000 annually, and she is nervous to walk on the sidewalk in front of her house because it’s badly cracked and heaved. She doesn’t feel she’s getting value for her property taxes.
Lilly wasn’t complaining when I met her. She was actually quite grateful to live in a safe and beautiful community with good neighbours.
Her wishes, too, are modest: all she wants is to safely walk to the Lansdowne shopping centre for groceries and coffee. But those basic amenities don’t exist there today.
We have great neighbourhoods in Ward 10, but many of them, like Lansdowne, have been neglected as our City and business community have directed their creative and financial capital toward downtown and new suburbs.
People in many Ward 10 neighbourhoods have talked about the poor conditions of our alleys, roads and sidewalks. Many have endured flooding because of aging and small drainage pipes. Many have talked about wanting to live and shop more locally in their neighbourhoods. And many have worried out loud about whether their neighbourhood school will remain open much longer.
When Lilly first came to Lansdowne, these questions didn’t exist. But now as our mature communities have aged and worn, they do. It’s time to put our City’s focus back on these communities. It is time for the leadership in these communities to demand and drive the improvements they yearn for.
And at a basic level we need to support Lilly to have the simple quality of life she wishes for: a sidewalk she won’t trip on and amenities that keep her connected to her neighbours.
It’s time for our city to think big about mature neighbourhoods.
I have a track record of making neighbourhoods better. As a resident of Ward 10, I am passionate about creating vibrant mature neighbourhoods, with vital commercial centres, good schools and the kinds of housing choices that allow young families to afford to move here and seniors to afford to stay.
The City created the Elevate Report in 2012 to improve the sustainability of mature communities. I encourage you to read it and stay tuned for my ideas on how to take action on its recommendations.