Taking down the fences around a beautiful urban forest

by Tom Rakocevic

We have all driven or taken a TTC bus past the forested William Baker neighbourhood along Sheppard Ave. W., near Keele St., but few of us have ever entered it.

Councillor Anthony Perruzza wants that to change and has worked on an agreement with the Canada Lands Company to open this forested neighbourhood to the community as early as Autumn 2014.

The William Baker Neighbourhood was established in the 1950’s to house military personnel serving at the Canadian Forces Base Downsview.

The base was decommissioned and closed in 1996, and the neighbourhood was eventually emptied leaving unused homes in a secluded small urban forest.

Currently, the William Baker neighbourhood is a part of the greater Downsview Park lands and owned by the Canada Lands Company with a long-term plan for development. Councillor Perruzza has been fighting to see this neighbourhood preserved for its heritage aspects and natural beauty.

“The military base closed twenty years ago. It’s time that the community has access to this beautiful space.” says Councillor Perruzza.

Canada Lands has received permission to demolish the vacant houses but thanks to the work of Councillor Perruzza, they have also agreed to take down the fencing and make this area into park space open to the public.

Their landscape plan for the area shows a number of enhancements to this park space including new pathways for pedestrians and cyclists, new benches and garbage bins to reduce litter, as well as new trees.

The creation of a new park is welcome news to the community. This fall, make sure to take a stroll through the William Baker neighbourhood and enjoy the wonderful colours of a lovely urban forest right in our neighbourhood.

Property tax and water rebates for seniors – Apply and Save Money

Seniors and persons with a disability are often the most affected by the rising cost of living. As the cost of everything goes up, their pension and/or benefits stay the same – this means they are actually making less and less money each year.

In 2008, I worked with Councillor Anthony Perruzza to help establish Toronto’s water rebate program for seniors and persons with a disability whose household income is less than $50,000. Successful applicants can receive up to a 30 per cent rebate for the water they consumed at the end of the year. That same year, we also helped raise the income threshold for Toronto’s Property Tax Increase Cancellation Program to help more seniors apply. Today, if you are a senior or person with a disability in the City of Toronto and your household income is less than $38,000, an application to this program means any property tax increase will be returned to your pocket. Important programs like this provide relief to seniors who are struggling on a fixed income. After their many years of hard work, seniors should live with peace of mind and dignity. Unfortunately, the reality for many seniors is one of financial stress. If you care about a senior or person with a disability who owns a home in Toronto, let them know about these programs that will help them save money. Call your local City Councillor and ask their office for an application or even help in applying:

Ward 8 – Councillor Anthony Perruzza – 416-338-5335

Ward 9 – Councillor Maria Augimeri – 416-392-4021


by Tom Rakocevic