When Todd Hofley decided to launch a Liberty Village residents association in the fall of 2011, the response was positively unexpected . The most recent meeting drew a large crowd and there are already 231 people on the association’s Facebook page.
The success of the area’s newest residents association, Hofley said, is because Liberty Villagers crave connection with their neighbours and they care about how the Toronto enclave develops. We, at Liberty Village Toronto couldn’t agree more. For Liberty Village to become a truly thriving neighbourhood, it will need more than just condo buildings.
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“People are really passionate about this area and they want to make it even better than it already is,” Hofley said. “They are really enthusiastic and that is what it takes to make a neighbourhood better.”
Hofley moved into Liberty Village one year ago, but before that he lived just outside its borders at King Street West and Shaw Avenue and has watched the area grow and develop for the past 10 years.
“Most people view condos as vertical gated communities where people don’t talk to each other,” Hofley said. “That is absolutely not the case in our condo building.”
With the success of that group in mind Hofley went about creating the Liberty Village Residents Association (LVRA). Liberty Village already had a business association (the Liberty Village Business Association) but the creation of the LVRA was really about giving people a voice and helping them connect with each other and give them a voice in the future of the area.
“There is a lot of development going on but there is no one talking about what the residents need or want,” he said.
He wanted to start a conversation around simple things, like getting better street furniture and garbage cans in locations that residents know they are needed or looking at traffic issues, how development is shaping the area. A more pedestrian-friendly sidewalk system is a topic that has come up.
“It is about speaking to the city about upcoming development plans, it’s about looking at what businesses we need in this area, things we don’t have that we would love to see,” he said. “Like we would love to see a bakery, that was at the top of everyone’s list.”
To start the association Hofley sent a note out on his building’s Facebook group and mentioned the meeting to friends he has in the area.
The first meeting was in October and with no advertising it still drew about 20 people from three or four condo buildings.
The November meeting was promoted using a flyer.
“At that second meeting we had 45 people,” Hofley said. “It was packed… it was incredible.”
It was at that meeting that the group discussed how to structure the Liberty Village Residents Association. It was decided the group would have a President with working committees who have a self-selected Chair in charge of each of the four committees they created.
The first committee is design and business development that is responsible for design cohesion between the east and west ends of Liberty Village and liaising with the Business Improvement Area.
There is also a community events committee, which Hofley said will look at planning things like a community wide yard sale or movie nights in the park.
A social networking and branding committee will take care of getting the group connected on Twitter, Facebook and the likes as well as having design cohesion for the LVRA.
“A lot of this is about branding,” he said. “I think it is very important that it have a very clear brand.
“Residents associations, it is amazing what they can do,” Hofley explained. “But I find they also tend to be interchangeable and I don’t want this one to be… I want it to stand out.”
The fourth committee is a neighbourhood planning committee that will monitor developments, liaise with the City and represent the LVRA at area design charrettes.
“One of its mandates is to see how we can get more green space in Liberty Village because we are dying for green space,” he said.
We at Liberty Village Toronto encourage those who are interested to express their ideas to the Liberty Village Resident’s Association via the following media: