More than 70 volunteers took advantage of the late summer warmth on the evening of Sept. 17 to spread out, knock on doors and make important connections with the residents of The Village, a subdivision located just south of York University’s Keele campus.
The volunteers were distributing York University’s “Good Neighbour” Guide, an information memo from Toronto Police Services and a schedule of varsity athletic events at York’s Keele campus. In all, some 20 teams of volunteers comprised of representatives from the Toronto Police Services, the York Lions Women’s Rugby team, York University undergraduate students, staff, representatives from City of Toronto councillor Anthony Perruza, and staff and students from Seneca@York, chatted with residents. This is the third year that York University has distributed the Good Neighbour Guide to residents in The Village. More than 3,000 information packages were given to the community’s residents.
“We are delighted to have such strong representation from Seneca College, the Toronto Police Service and so many others,” said event organizer, Amanda Hickman, manager of community relations at York University. “We have volunteers from the Toronto Police Services Division 31, from City of Toronto Councillor Anthony Perruzza’s office and all kinds of students and staff from York University and Seneca College.”
Prior to setting out, the volunteers enjoyed a pizza dinner at Michelangelo’s Restaurant on the Keele campus. They were greeted by Janet Morrison, vice-provost students at York University, and Christine Blake-Durie, acting dean of students at Seneca College.
“Thank you all for being here,” said Morrison. “While this initiative is not new, I think people who have been involved in previous years will agree that we have found tremendous value in connecting with our neighbours.
“This is all about our neighbourhood. We have a strong and vibrant on-campus community and we are very conscious of the fact that we live within a community context. Tonight is all about a dialogue and about engaging with our neighbours in a very positive way,” she said. In our role as educators and as community envoys, we are going to remind everyone that they have rights, and there are responsibilities because we live in a community.”
Christine Blake-Durie, acting dean of students at Seneca College, highlighted to the volunteers that many Seneca College students also make The Village their home. “We have just over 5,000 students enrolled at the Seneca@York campus and many live in The Village,” said Blake-Durie. “We want to thank you for including us and we think this is a great partnership.”
From left, Kazim Rizvi, a student ambassador at Seneca College, chats with Sgt. Andrew Kis, Division 31 Community Response Team
In all, the groups visited more than 776 buildings, some with two or three separate apartment units. The effort to connect with The Village is important to the University, said Hickman, as more than 2,500 students from York University and Seneca College make their home away from home in The Village.
“While the residential development is not on the Keele campus, its proximity means that it is important that the neighbourhood is a safe and secure place for students to live,” said Hickman.
“We felt it was really important to volunteer and go out and meet the residents to invite them out to our games,” said Aisan Fazelli, a member of the York Lions Women’s Rugby Team and a student in the Law & Society Program at York University.
The Good Neighbour Guide features a wealth of important material. Telephone numbers of the police, fire and ambulance services, the city, community hotlines and more are contained in the guide. It also includes information regarding the importance of maintaining properties and keeping the area clean and free of debris, a schedule and requirements for garbage and recycling services provided by the City of Toronto, snow removal requirements for sidewalks, parking regulations, and a section on neighbourhood etiquette. The guide also contains safety tips, information on York University’s goSAFE program and information on the University’s shuttle, which is available to York and Seneca students and runs seven days a week, from 7pm to 2am.
Good Neighbour volunteers, from left, Sgt. Andrew Kis, York student and Lions rugby player Aisan Fazeli and Tom Rakocevic (BSc ’00, BEd ’06, MSc ’06), executive officer for City of Toronto Councillor Anthony Perruzza’s office
Sgt. Andrew Kis, a member of the community response unit, Division 31, Toronto Police Services Unit, said, “It is very important for me and the members of my team to come out and speak with residents about how to stay safe as this is being proactive rather than reactive when it comes to crime prevention.”
The guide was developed in collaboration with York Federation of Students, the City of Toronto and Seneca College.
For copies of the Good Neighbour Guide and door hang, contact Farayi Mundangepfupfu in the community relations office at 416-736-2100, ext. 44206.