Be-leaf it or not, fall has arrived!
BY SHELLEY CARROLL
Every year around this time, my younger daughter, Martha, catches me by surprise. We’ll be driving down the Don Valley Parkway and she will say, “There’s an orange one. It’s happening.” Martha looks at the world through the eyes of a painter, so she's always the first person to tell me the leaves are turning.
As a City Councillor, I look at it a little differently: it means Yard Waste Season is upon us!
The City has a great page on its website that is very simply laid out. It tells you:
What is yard waste.
What is NOT yard waste.
How and when to put it out.
What the website might not tell you is what to do when the yard waste program is sometimes overwhelmed and no one comes to pick it up. When that happens, you can phone 311 any time to let them know.
But I always appreciate it when you call me, too. During office hours, my staff can address your issue quickly and I get the added benefit of knowing whether or not the service is working well.
As you are raking leaves in October, Budget Committee members like myself are reviewing every department’s budget. The first question we ask is, “Were you able to meet the service levels we set last year? If not, why not?” Before we decide to reduce a budget for savings and especially before we consider requests for an increase, we want to know how the service feels on the ground.
So, whenever you experience a hiccup in service, give us a call. My team will track your comments and keep me informed.
I’m a lucky duck. My husband and I bought a house on a small lot with few trees — we total about a bag or two of yard waste a year. For the Don Valley Northerners who will fill a dozen bags soon, I’ll be thinking about you. I’ll make sure the City is doing its best to collect it promptly and turn it into the free compost we'll offer next spring.
Now that this year's Participatory Budgeting (PB) process is well underway, I'm going to write a recurring column to update you until the process is complete in December. As you know, we are currently holding a PB process for the Henry Farm and Parkway Forest neighbourhoods because we have $500,000 in community benefit funds to spend there.
On Wednesday night we held an Idea Collection Meeting. Local residents came by to submit and discuss their ideas on how to best spend the money. We were also served a delicious dinner provided by a resident of Parkway Forest who is working on starting her own catering business — this is all to say that PB is not just a series of dull meetings. It's actually great fun.
Our next step is meeting with City staff to hear their advice on which ideas are doable and how much each will cost. Then we'll meet again to decide which ideas should go on the final ballot. Local residents who want to champion their favourite idea on the ballot will have a month to go out and campaign for it among their neighbours.
Before the end of the year, anyone aged 14 and over who lives in either Parkway Forest or Henry Farm will be eligible to vote on their favourite idea.
If you want to help out or learn how to make it happen in your neighourhood, contact Mustapha Khamissa at firstname.lastname@example.org. You don’t have to live in Don Valley North to visit our process.
I believe PB should be happening in every corner of the City — you could be the PB champion of your ward!