Groups bond over common needs

Ward 32 Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon got to do one of her favourite things in the world on Nov. 7 (no, not dress up as a giant carrot).

McMahon was in her element hosting a workshop for community groups from the ward. More than 70 people representing 45 different community organizations participated in a two and a half hour round table session to explore how the groups interacted with the city and each other.

And while the associations represented a wide range of interests – from residents’ associations to BIAs to cycling advocates – by the end of the evening it was surprising how many similar recommendations were voiced.

Many participants agreed that groups need better ways to communicate with the city and its staff. A number expressed frustration with ‘red tape’ and the lack of follow-through by ever-changing department staffers.

There was a consensus that the city’s 3-1-1 general information phone line program should be expanded to help community groups contact the correct department or person without going through a series of dead ends. The establishment of a neighbourhood commissioner could help liaison between the city departments and local groups.

One of the immediate benefits of the workshop was the opportunity to meet and talk with other groups who had similar issues, and be able to share problems and solutions.

McMahon said that she and her staff would be setting up a community directory to facilitate communication between the groups and would be holding more such meetings in the future.

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