More than 100 people attended the meeting. “But really, with 20,000 people in this area, there should be way more people engaged,” Meslin said.
“The best resource we have in this city is the people. But there are perpetual barriers that keep people disengaged.”
Meslin’s group Ranked Ballot Initiative of Toronto (RaBIT) has spearheaded the push for ranked ballots as a way to modernize Toronto’s elections. It is a non-partisan idea that is supported by about 25 city councillors. “It’s not a politicized idea. It’s just an idea to make democracy better.”
Local activist and former Pride Toronto board member Roy Mitchell has announced that he will take a run at the city’s top job, but commenters on xtra.ca have criticized Mitchell, claiming he will split the vote and ensure Rob Ford wins again.
“Our current system punishes the most engaged [city] wards,” Meslin says. “So if there’s a woman, an LGBT person or a person of colour, they are told not to run, because they split the vote.”
“Do we have a hard deadline for all this? You bet. June 2014 is only 18 months away. WorldPride is coming,” she says.
Wong-Tam also issued a warning, urging the community to have a strong, active voice to resist gentrification. “There is a lot of development happening [in Ward 27]. There are about 60 towers coming. That brings change.”
Meanwhile, in his update to the neighbourhood association, Pride Toronto executive director Kevin Beaulieu said the WorldPride committee is working to get the city’s cultural institutions, like the AGO and the ROM, involved in planning for 2014.
Beaulieu says the planning committee recently hosted a brainstorming meeting with a number of Toronto BIAs to look for ways the business community can get involved, partner or invest in WorldPride.
While the details need to be worked out, he said, some WorldPride events are finalized, including the opening ceremony, a closing ceremony and a human rights conference. “We may have a parade of nations with Prides from all over the world marching that year,” he said. “WorldPride is an important opportunity for a global dialogue.”
From now until 2014, Beaulieu said, PT members will be doing a lot of travelling, getting people around the world excited about WorldPride. “Throughout this year we will be at Pride festivals all over the world, having a presence in their parades and promoting Toronto.”