By Hilary Caton
The Parkdale Neighbourhood Land Trust (PNLT) is the recipient of a $210,600 capacity building grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation to create a community land trust (CLT).
The non-profit organization found out recently they will receive the grant money over three years. The majority of the grant will be used for the salary of a coordinator, who will help develop an administrative and governance structure, as well as a proper business plan. The remaining sum will be used for program expenses such as renting community spaces.
“We’re really excited and really pleased,” said Judy Josefowicz, the chair of the PNLT.
“This will allow us to get some initiatives off the ground, and we’ll have a dedicated person to assist the board in implementing its strategic plan.”
The PNLT, an organization under Parkdale People’s Economy Project, has been trying to develop a community land trust since 2010.
A community land trust is a concept that has gained some traction in American cities such as New York where it allows a non-profit organization to obtain and manage land for community interests. It would be run by a board that would consist of one-third community members, one-third users and one-third local stakeholders or experts in the relevant field.
The community would be in control of how the land is used, and aims to meet its current and future needs. It would also separate the land value from the housing price, which would result in affordable rent prices in the long term should it choose to use the land for that purpose. Other options include open space or garden, a community planning space or a local serving business.
How the land will be used depends on the neighbourhood’s needs through community consultation.
According to Josefowicz, this grant gets Parkdale that much closer to having a community land trust, and the first in Toronto. However, the PNLT still has to raise money to acquire land in the future and that will be pricey as they will have to buy at market price.
The coordinator will work with its five committees – program planning, communications and community engagement, governance, fundraising, and research – and be in charge of a variety of tasks, which include building engagement and help increasing PNLT’s profile in the community, she said.
“They’ll help teach people about the community land trust model and land development issues,” Josefowicz said.
“There’s a whole lot of work for that person to do and to have somebody dedicated to that will help things move that much more quickly.”
Kuni Kamizaki, who has been fulfilling the role as a research and community economic development coordinator and is a member of Parkdale Activity-Recreation Centre (PARC), plans to work with the new coordinator in 2015.
“We will be doing neighbourhood-wide community planning initiatives for the next year so that we can work with different partners to develop a vision for the neighbourhood in the future,” he said.
For almost two years he’s been conducting research around community land trust models from different countries and how those models could be adapted and adjusted to suit Parkdale’s needs. He’s also been working with community partners Parkdale Activity-Recreation Centre (PARC), The West End Food Co-Op, Greenest City, Roncesvalles-Macdonell Residents’ Association, Parkdale Community Legal Services, Parkdale Village BIA, West Neighbourhood House and Sistering.
By the end of the three-year grant, Kamizaki hopes the board of directors will not only have its current stakeholder members on board, but also community members.
“We’d like to see our basic organizational structures in place and we’re hoping to have transitioned to a more community-based governance model that also has community members on board,” he said.
“It’s vital that we got this grant. It will allow us to have a dedicated person working on the CLT model and we’ll be able to design a really robust organization capacity. It’s a very exciting step forward.”
The article is taken from Inside Toronto