Community leaders hope funding continues for this important initiative
Whether you’re a business looking for ways to promote safer streets or you’re a resident wanting to start a seniors group, there are City staff dedicated to your community to help you. These resource people are professionals in policing, social services, and economic development.
And Ian Robertson, the new revitalization coordinator for the Avenue Initiative, has a voice with all of them.
“I have one foot in the City offices and the other foot in the community,” he says.
Robertson’s mandate is to lend support to the various initiatives that have sprung from Alberta Avenue’s revitalization, and to the people who are still bringing them to life.
“The revitalization coordinator plays an integral role, liaising with a variety of objectives and programs in the revitalization zone,” explains Robertson.
City council launched the Avenue Initiative in 2005, and since then City resources have augmented policing, streetscape and infrastructure, storefront beautification, and a host of grassroots community events, to name just a few enhancements.
Last year, the eight neighbourhoods in the Avenue revitalization zone learned the allotted time frame for revitalization was coming to an end, along with the dollars that came with it. Community leaders called for the city to keep funds flowing. The concern was that progress already made toward meaningful and sustainable social gains was at risk of falling away without continued resources and dollars.
Meanwhile, Robertson has stepped in to fill the position left vacant when Judy Allan, the Avenue Initiative coordinator for several years, retired last summer. He started his new role in January 2019.
Robertson works directly with community leaders via the Alberta Avenue District Council, which includes the seven community leagues in the Avenue revitalization zone, the Alberta Avenue Business Association, Arts on the Ave, and the Rat Creek Press.
He also works with the other resource people, including Neighbourhood Resource Coordinators, the Community Development Social Worker, Abundant Community staff, and others. He makes sure the City hears the community’s voice.
“Requests that come from the community, I link them with the services of the City,” explains Robertson.
Robertson comes to his new position with a strong background in administration and recreation. He has worked for the City for 12 years in a number of roles, but his passion is building relationships in the community.
“I love to work with people, it’s why I sought out this role,” he says. “It is such a rewarding opportunity because I get to work with people for tangible results.”
For this next phase of revitalization, known as Revitalization 2.0, he would like to see better ways to quantify the outcomes of revitalization. A sense-of-community index is just one example.
“This can be measured,” says Robertson. “How the neighbourhoods at ground level are feeling about what they see and how they understand the results.”
These measurements demonstrate how the Avenue Initiative is making strides in supporting the City’s principle of connectedness, he explains.
A decision by city council on continued support for Avenue revitalization is happening April 16. Council will be considering two components: funding and hiring a resource person to coordinate the next phase of revitalization. The funding formula translates to about $200,000 over the next four years.
Community members with questions about the Avenue revitalization program and funding supports can connect with Ian Robertson or Karen Mykietka, Alberta Avenue District Council Chair, or your community league (Alberta Avenue, Delton, Eastwood, Elmwood Park, Parkdale/Cromdale, Spruce Avenue, or Westwood).
Featured Image: Contact Karen Mykietka (left), chair of Alberta Avenue District Council, or Ian Robertson (right), the revitalization coordinator. | Kate Wilson