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Thorncliffe Park Women’s Committee has been closely working with Parks & Rec department to get a tandoor oven in RV Burgess Park. We are grateful for the connections with staff in trying to make dream of tandoor in public park possible. TPWC is a multi ethnic volunteer led group that came together with a vision of building community in public space. RV Burgess Park is the only green space for people to use in community. Not a lot of animated programs and so the Women’s Committee takes lead on using food to draw people to public space for festivals, markets, arts etc. Recreation Centre is often empty because residents in this low income community cannot afford cost of programs. Women’s Committee is trying to fill this gap but providing programs and we use food as a magnet to draw people together-drawing women specifically out of isolation and into public space to connect, share stories and build community. Our programs brings metal health benefits, reduce social isolation, support around parenting, support with language skills, employment skills, cooking etc.
TPWC has raised all the money to buy Tandoor, put a lot of volunteer time into raising money ,time doing bake oven programming with portable oven in mean tie to make sure activities are happening for community .Parks has supported us with laying on concrete pad for oven to rest on and we are waiting for lease agreement until last week.
The lease agreement makes the future of bake oven programming in RV Burgess Park look bleak because after fundraising for oven, we are now expected to pay $500 annual lease fee which makes use of bake oven inaccessible for women’s committee. We are also supposed to pay to install it which is a huge challenge as we do not have money for this. We are also asked to agree to oven becoming city property but then still absorb costs of maintenance and repairs.
I want to stress that our small amount of funding for Women’s programming in our community is designed for programming targeted at low income, newcomer and often socially isolated women. We cannot in good conscience direct small amount of money we have as a committee into fees for lease. It would take too much money away from our core work as the TPWC.
The way lease agreement stands makes bake oven use in RV Burgess Park in accessible and near impossible. It does not reflect that this is a low income neighbourhood and puts heavy burden on TPWC to raise additional funds for lease-taking away from highly needed programming dollars. Also as a group, we do not have sustainable funding.
We consider TPWC a group without sufficient income to pay full amount of the user fee/lease fee and that if fee remains TPWC will be denied privilege of consuming the service of bake ovens to promote community development and engagement.
By entering into a fair agreement with us and exempting us from the fee, the City would allow TPWC to more fully develop projects and activities with clear social benefits and remove burden of having to pay City to achieve City’s own policy goals of park animation and community engagement