Volunteers deliver good neighbour guide in The Village

Wednesday evening, after fuelling up on free pizza, 40 volunteers fanned out into The Village to deliver York’s new and improved good neighbour guide.

Dispatched in pairs, York undergrads, members of the men’s basketball team, track & field athletes, staff, Toronto auxiliary police and members of The Village at York Residents Association knocked on every hello Neighbour sign with studentsdoor in the neighbourhood – 776 to be exact. By dusk, they had delivered 3,300 guides full of tips about bylaws, municipal services and emergency numbers and how to be a good neighbour.

Right: Front cover of the redesigned good neighbour guide

Just as importantly, they delivered a letter from the Municipal Licensing & Standards Department of the City of Toronto inviting them to attend public consultations Sept. 20 and 28 to discuss concerns about the neighbourhood and how to remedy those concerns.

Though The Village is not on York property, approximately 2,400 students, faculty and staff reside in the five-year-old subdivision. So York has a vital interest in making sure it is a safe and secure place to live, says Vice-President Students Rob Tiffin. He, too, went door to door Wednesday distributing good neighbour guides.

Basketball player Nick Tofegdzich, Glendon student Amber Shortell and Toronto auxiliary police constable Lawrence Greczi deliver guides together in The Village For the last two years, York has worked closely with municipal services (planning, fire and police), The Village at York Residents Association and the York Federation of Students on the Village at York Town and Gown Committee to address health and safety issues in the neighbourhood.

Left: Basketball player Nick Tofegdzich, Glendon student Amber Shortell and Toronto auxiliary police constable Lawrence Greczi deliver guides together in The Village

Zoning to regulate rooming houses is a big issue and the committee has enlisted the support of local city councillor Anthony Peruzza to present a motion asking Municipal Licensing and Standards to examine ways to address zoning as well as safety, noise and garbage concerns in The Village.

Educating the residents about bylaws, safety and good relations is a good first step, says Simon Burke, co-founder and president of the residents association and co-chair of the town and gown committee. He and his wife Magrelys Rodriguez were among the first to buy a house in The Village and joined volunteers Wednesday to distribute the guide. “We’re working on ensuring a basic level of safety and security for everyone who chooses to live her,” says Burke. The guide “is part of the solution.”

Dave Boyce, a third-year biomedical sciences student and health education volunteer, came out Wednesday to distribute the guide. “The Village is a huge part of the York community and it is important for us to let residents know there are resources to promote a safe and stronger community.”

This is the second year York has printed and distributed a good neighbour guide. And more than twice as many volunteers turned out this year to distribute it, said Cindy Bettcher, director, community relations at York. She spearheaded the updated design, and Carolyn McDougall, manager, community relations, recruited volunteers and organized the distribution, maps and all. Student Community & Leadership Development and Sport York led the charge in recruiting students and staff to participate in the distribution event.

The “Hello Neighbour” guide highlights ways to stay safe at home, on the street and at night and lists shuttle bus and walking escort services available to students. It also provides emergency and non-emergency numbers useful to tenants wondering about snow removal, garbage pickup, noise bylaws and parking. On the front page, it also offers hints on how to get along with the people next door.

The response to the guide was positive from tenants and landlords who answered the door, said volunteers.

“They seemed appreciative of the information,” said Catherine Salole, director, Student Community & Leadership Development. But their interest really piqued when they heard about the city’s invitation to Village Information volunteers attend the public consultations, she said.

Left: Deed done, volunteers compare notes. Rear, from left, Rob Tiffin, resident life coordinator Mathew Harris, basketball Lions Abdul Kareen and Vlad Velici. Front, from left, Catherine Solale, resident life coordinator Ashley Grenville and Carolyn McDougall

Boyce said when residents asked more questions about the public meetings, he urged them to attend. “I said it is important to express your opinion and band together if you want to get things done.”

The Lions basketball team came out in force just before a 7:30pm practice, lured by free pizza but also keen to deliver another bit of information — a schedule of Lions games — and encourage potential fans to come out and cheer.

If you live in The Village, be sure to attend the public consultations on Sept. 20 and 28 from 6 to 9pm. On Sept. 20, the public consultation will be held in Curtis Lecture Hall “F”. On Sept. 28, the consultation will be held in Stedman Lecture Hall “A”.

For copies of the good neighbour guide and door hang, contact Farayi Mundangepfupfu in the community relations office at 416-736-2100, ext. 44206.