TORONTO, April 24, 2013 /CNW/ - Community leaders in Toronto are mobilizing to advocate for a legally binding Community Benefits Agreement as part of the $4.6 billion contract to be awarded by Metrolinx for the construction of the Eglinton Crosstown and Scarborough Light Rapid Transit lines. The tender call is expected to be issued within 90 days.
A Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) would require contractors to direct job recruitment, skills training and procurement to historically disadvantaged communities and populations and would ensure investments are made to support clean and healthy local environments. The CBA model for large public infrastructure projects has been implemented successfully in cities around the world and is now coming to Toronto.
The Toronto Community Benefits Network (TCBN) is convening a workshop this weekend (April 27-28) to build the campaign for a CBA and to finalize a submission to Metrolinx with specific provisions for the LRT contract. The workshop will feature presentations by community benefits experts from Glasgow, Los Angeles and Vancouver.
Steve Shallhorn, executive director of the Labour Education Centre and convenor of the workshop, said the time is right for Metrolinx to get on board with the CBA: "With all the concern about outsourcing jobs to foreign workers and the need to build local support for transit expansion, the CBA will provide added value in ensuring good local jobs for people who need them. The workforce on these projects should look like the population of our city."
Nasteeha Dirie, a member of the TCBN and resident of the Mount Dennis neighborhood where the Eglinton Crosstown begins, said her community is looking forward to the benefits of LRT expansion: "Hopes are high in my neighborhood that this mega-project will bring good jobs and opportunities for local people. We don't want this train to pass us by. We want to be a part of building for the future."
The TCBN is supported by a broad range of community and labour organizations and by the Metcalf Foundation, the Atkinson Foundation, United Way Toronto and the Maytree Foundation.
The three expert guests, who arrive in Toronto on Thursday and are available for media interviews on Friday, are:
- Roddy Stewart, Community Enterprise Scotland
- Patricia Castellanos, Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy
- Dr. Marjorie Griffen Cohen, Professor, Simon Fraser University
Public Forums will be held before and after the workshop, on Friday evening and Sunday afternoon, at two locations in west and east Toronto, the first in Mount Dennis and the second in Warden Woods. Details are on the TCBN website at www.communitybenefits.ca
The workshop will include about 50 participants and will focus on shaping specific CBA provisions for the LRT project, including: best practice requirements for targeted recruitment, training and employment; training programs that address broad needs such as literacy, job readiness, basic job skills and skilled trades; identifying funding sources and providers for training programs; and the role of community-based social enterprises.
Members of the TCBN will be meeting with senior officials from Metrlolinx to de-brief from the workshop and the public forums.
SOURCE: Toronto Community Benefits Network
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