Advocating for change in Toronto

Tenant leaders gathered for a workshop put on by TCHC and Mayor Olivia Chow’s Community Engagement team to learn more about service delivery and impact on our communities.

In March 2024, Toronto Community Housing (TCHC) and Mayor Olivia Chow’s Community Engagement team partnered to host a City of Toronto Budget Workshop with tenant leaders. This event was the first of its kind and brought together over 100 tenant leaders.

Mayor Chow was on hand to facilitate the entire event and start the conversation on ways to make this city more affordable, caring, and safe. She engaged with tenant leaders of all ages, and made it clear that every voice deserves a place at the decision-making table.

Mayor Olivia Chow speaking to tenants leaders at a budget workshop.

Mayor Olivia Chow speaking to tenant leaders at the budget workshop.

This event was not just a workshop with our city’s mayor. It also reflected in action the vision of the Tenant Engagement System to foster relationships with tenants and build vibrant communities through diverse, inclusive, and collaborative methods. This event gave our tenant leaders another opportunity to voice and provide input into enhancing city level services.

Roundtable discussions: what we heard

The main part of the event revolved around platforms for tenants to share their knowledge, both through solo stories and bigger roundtable discussions. These conversations highlighted the importance of tenant participation in broader civic engagement.

Participants highlighted various city programs and services that directly impacted them and other community members. They also got to role play as the Mayor and provide suggestions on how to fix and address issues.

Some feedback included:

  • A need for accessibility standards to be enforced more strongly. It is critical that these standards are included in development and transit projects. The City should hold businesses/organizations accountable for creating accessible environments.
  • Addressing violence and safety concerns requires a multifaceted approach, including increased funding for community-based programming.
  • Lack of investment in youth programming not only limits opportunities for personal growth but also contributes to social isolation and disengagement among young people.
  • Reallocating budget resources from other areas, like policing, towards youth programs would demonstrate a commitment to investing in their future.

The Mayor has committed to using this feedback to help inform her work in setting priorities and working towards the 2025 budget.  

Future events 

We know that strong, vocal, and ongoing community advocacy is instrumental in delivering a better budget and better service delivery for Torontonians. The March workshop was just the first in a series of opportunities for meaningful engagement on how tenant leaders and their neighbours are impacted by the services in this city. 

The Mayor also challenged participants to bring the discussions from the workshop back to their communities and start the conversation with their neighbours.

Event report

To read more about the event and the feedback tenant leaders gave, please read the event report.

To find out about future events, sign up for text and email updates.