Larry would have been proud

Last summer Barrie lost one of the few true believers, a veteran local politician who believed devoutedly in people: Larry Taylor.  He worked for more than four decades, as a Mississauga City Councillor, then in Barrie in various roles, to advocate for a greater role for the community in decisions at city hall – and it brought him and I together during the race for Mayor in 2010.

Larry pushed me, during the campaign and afterwards, to continue the work I’d started as a councillor in creating neighbourhood associations in Barrie, and giving them a role in decisions that affect their neighbourhoods – especially planning decisions.  I’m a big believer in these groups but my enthusiasm was nothing like Larry’s was – he was a truly devout community organizer. 

At general committee last week we had a public meeting for a proposed five story building on Cumberland Street in Allandale.  The Allandale Neighbour Association made a deputation, but they also provided written comments, and their letter is the best reason I’ve seen yet as to why these associations are so valuable.   Click here to read the letter. 

This is great – not NIMBYism, but well-thought out argument; support for the development, but a desire for an improved proposal.  The ANA did their homework.  Exactly what a neighbourhood association can do to make a difference – as the Barrie Downtown Neighbourhood Association, the East End Neighbourhood Association, and other less formalized groups are doing in their parts of the city.  Larry Taylor would be proud of them.