Community Centres?

ACORN Community Organizing Ideas and Issues International

Toronto      Judy Duncan, the head organizer of ACORN Canada, had scheduled the planning meeting for this year in the Roger Thornton Community Centre in the “program room” on the 2nd floor. 

Getting in from the airport a couple minutes early I stumbled into the “auditorium,” which was a large open room without chairs where a couple of moms were taking care of a couple of young kids.  Elsewhere on another floor there was a small computer center with three or four people using computers to get email and surf the net.  The library on the first floor didn’t open until later in the afternoon.  The baby and child care center on the first floor was bustling with people coming in and out.

A couple of blocks down the road there was another civic centre.  Across from where I stayed in East York with friends there was another civic centre.   A library was a couple of blocks over.

Years ago this would not have seemed so unusual, but somehow the ubiquitous level of city facilities for citizens seemed in these days and times to be somehow unique and special in Toronto.  In the US as cities continue along the strangulation of resources and narrowing tax bases with virtually no real support for infrastructure from the federal government, civic amenities are now just memories and imaginations.  Maybe they exist in isolated pockets in the Midwest or places like the Twin Cities or New York, but for the most part they are few and far between.

How did we get to the place where government sees its role as trimmed down to patrolling the perimeter, while we are all barricaded behind the door?

Toronto’s community centre’s offer wide ranges of services and activities, much more than their US counterparts