Toronto Community Housing, tenants work together to reclaim outdoor spaces in Flemingdon Park, across city

    TORONTO, Aug. 23 /CNW/ - Toronto Community Housing is helping create safe
and healthy communities by working with tenants to take back outdoor spaces
associated with crime.
    Tenants hosted the Neighbours Night Out in Flemingdon Park Community BBQ
with the help of funding from Toronto Community Housing's Reclaiming Outdoor
Spaces initiative. It's a program that supports a series of summer events that
promote community pride and the building of neighbourhoods and spaces where
tenants want to live.
    Today's event, which attracted hundreds of participants, enabled tenants
in Flemingdon Park to reclaim ownership of a public field where tenants say
they don't often feel safe. The positive, high-energy event also showcased
local talent, gave youth a chance to shine and helped the community celebrate
its diversity. Event highlights included free food, children's activities like
face painting and a jumping castle, a basketball tournament, music, drumming,
dancing and a Youth SLAM spoken-word contest.
    "Everyone should feel safe in their neighbourhood," Toronto Community
Housing CEO Derek Ballantyne said. "I'm proud of the Reclaiming Outdoor Space
initiative. Working together, Toronto Community Housing and its tenants are
making a real positive difference by taking back public spaces associated with
crime, and making neighbourhoods into places where tenants feel safe and proud
to live."
    Today's event, like all Reclaiming Outdoor Space events, was organized
and led by tenants. It's part of Toronto Community Housing's commitment to
engage tenants and give them a say over decisions that affect their lives.
Tenants in Flemingdon Park cite opportunities for young people and community
safety as two of their key priorities.
    "Neighbours Night Out in Flemingdon Park started three years ago because
many people in the neighbourhood were afraid to go outside. This event is
important to me because I want a safe place for my kids, my grandkids as well
as other kids in the neighbourhood to be able to go outside and play. I want
to be part of a growing, healthy and involved community," said tenant
representative Marilyn Lawson, one of the driving forces behind Neighbours
Night Out.
    This is the fourth year for the Reclaiming Outdoor Space initiative. This
summer, Toronto Community Housing tenants will organize and host 80 events as
part of the series. Most of the events are community barbecues with a strong
emphasis on community building, activities for children and youth and
community beautification efforts like community clean-ups and gardening.
Toronto Community Housing supported these community-led events and initiatives
with a $125,000 investment in 2008.
    The Reclaiming Outdoor Space initiative is part of Toronto Community
Housing's four-point plan for enhancing community safety:
      -  Engaging tenants and addressing underlying causes, including
         initiatives that provide young people with economic, recreational
         and educational opportunities like youth-focussed outreach and
         programming, employment initiatives and leveraging the Corporation's
         procurement process

      -  Community enforcement, including $13 million invested every year on
         community patrols, improving community relations and supporting the

      -  Asset improvement and property maintenance, including $40 million
         invested since 2005 on security cameras, better lighting,
         improvements to public spaces and amenities through the Summer
         Safety program, and supporting community-led initiatives through
         Reclaiming Outdoor Space projects and events

      -  Tenancy management to resolve inappropriate behaviour by tenants or
         their guests

For further information:

For further information: Jeffrey Ferrier, Media Relations, Toronto
Community Housing, (416) 981-4252 or

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