David Bell, York professor emeritus in the Faculty of Environmental Studies, has been honoured with a Green Toronto Award for individual leadership. The immediate past Chair of Downsview Park, a former dean of York’s Faculty of Environmental Studies and a York alumnus (BA ’65), Bell was one of 10 award recipients named by Mayor David Miller and Deputy Mayor Joe Pantalone at a ceremony May 1.
Bell won in the Leadership category sponsored by the Toronto Community Foundation. Each award winner received $5,000 to donate to the environmental organization of their choice, courtesy of the award sponsors. Bell plans to donate his prize to Learning for a Sustainable Future, the educational organization which he currently chairs.
Right: Randy McLean (left) of Toronto Community Foundation, David Bell and Deputy Mayor Joe Pantalone
The 2007 Green Toronto Awards program, which honours local environmental efforts and achievements, received 178 nominations. A large panel of judges selected three organizations or individuals as the finalists in each of the 10 award categories, then selected the winners, who were announced at the event.
“It is fair to say that Dr. David Bell, through his guidance as Chair of the board at Downsview Park, and his immense involvement and influence in the field of sustainability, has helped to chart the direction for the future growth of Downsview Park,” said Tony Genco, president & CEO of the park – and a former student of Bell’s – in his nomination letter
Bell was Chair of the board of Downsview Park from 2003 to 2006. He served as a member of the executive committee of the National Round Table on the Environment and Economy (NRTEE) from 2003-2006. Bell founded the York Centre for Applied Sustainability in 1996 and was its director until 2003; the centre has now evolved into the York University Institute for Research & Innovation in Sustainability (IRIS). In addition to being Chair of Learning for a Sustainable Future, Bell is co-chair of the Education Alliance for a Sustainable Ontario and of the National Education for Sustainable Development Expert Council.
Bell was also a founding core faculty member of the Sustainable Enterprise Academy (SEA), the executive development program associated with the Haub Program on Business and Sustainability at the Schulich School of Business.
Bell became involved with the nascent Downsview Park while dean of York’s Faculty of Environmental Studies; his interest in creating a green oasis in the heart of Metropolitan Toronto as a showcase of sustainability was a logical consequence of his work running the York Centre for Applied Sustainability (now IRIS).
First as a board member, and then as Chair, his commitment to building a national park based on the triple imperatives of environmental, social and economic sustainability has informed the direction of the park from its inception. His philosophy continues to guide every aspect of park development, wrote Genco, while his vision of creating a model of sustainable development in the heart of Toronto will help to grow a dynamic sustainable community, with a mix of public open space, recreational, cultural, residential, commercial, institutional, sports and entertainment uses.
For more on Bell and Downsview Park, see "The Downsview Vision" in the October 2006 issue of YorkU magazine.