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The 519 thankful for community support

Funding and board changes on the agenda during annual general meeting

The 519 held its annual general meeting on Sept 24, 2015. Its funding shortfall was a major topic of discussion.

Credit: Submitted

The 519 has already raised $18,000 toward compensating for this year’s funding shortfall, chair Margo Foster announced  during the centre’s annual general meeting on Sept 24, 2015.

A notice posted to Toronto’s LGBT community centre’s website on Sept 17 noted that because of poor attendance at this year’s Green Space Festival, the centre would need to raise $125,000 by Dec 31.  

“I’m very pleased to report that our communities are already responding,” Foster said in her address during the AGM. “Since last week we’ve raised a remarkable $18,000 in support for The 519, and we’ve also had dozens of offers from people offering to do third-party fundraising for us.”

In an email to Daily Xtra sent Sept 25, Foster explains that the funds came “entirely from generous individual donors,” and adds that “this shortfall hasn’t had an impact on direct services offered by The 519, and with the continued support of our donors, we don’t expect it will.”

There  may also be some relief in the form of revenue from PrideHouse TO, an initiative that helped welcome LGBT athletes visiting for the Pan Am/Para Pan Am Games.

“The 519’s executive director, Maura Lawless, will meet with the PrideHouse TO leadership team in the next two weeks to review the financial impact of the initiative,” Foster says. “We don’t know anything concrete at this time about the financial impact of [PrideHouse]”

The AGM included elections to the board of management. Incumbents Tom Lewis, Michelle Walker and Jacob Porpossian were re-elected, and four new members were chosen: Nichola Ward, David Morris, Alwin Kong and Tasnim Rehemtula. They will join those members who are mid-term: Luc Levasseur, Nadia Bellow, Nicki Monaham and Wesley Watson.

In her email, Foster, who is retiring this year, says that she and her colleagues have advocated for years for greater diversity on the board, and she is pleased with the election results.  

“I’m extremely proud that after the AGM on Thursday, The 519’s board is more reflective of the communities it serves than it has ever been,” she says. “Women now make up half of the board, and many new and returning members identify as members of racialized communities.”

During the meeting, two activists unaffiliated with The 519 quietly moved through the room, passing out flyers that listed objections to the centre’s proposed LGBT-inclusive sports and recreation facility in Moss Park.

Entitled “No Pride in Gentrification,” the pamphlet encourages people to oppose the centre, saying that it will have an adverse impact on the poorer people who now live in the neighbourhood where the proposed facility is intended to open.

Foster says she did notice the flyers being handed out and that staff and board members took the opportunity to speak with the pair about their concerns.

“They were also invited to meet with the executive director to discuss their concerns in more detail,” she says. “Unfortunately, the AGM was the first time this group had ever expressed their concerns to us, which is disappointing since we would have been very happy to clear up the misconceptions held by members of the group”

Foster adds that The 519 will conduct community consultations as plans for the Moss Park facility move forward, and that members of the community, including those who handed out flyers at the AGM, will have a chance to “engage with The 519 and to better understand the project and its goals.”