Our business allows us to collaborate with people working on a huge variety of projects. As a full service firm, our work touches so many different pieces of what’s required to run a non-profit, charity, co-op or small business. We spend much of our time engaged in the minutia of legal documents. The end of the year is a nice time to take a moment to zoom out and to reflect that all of this huge variety of work is toward the common goal of bring positive change into our world.
We’re so happy to be the place people come to with their ideas, big and small, and to help them overcome the obstacles they encounter on the path to making the world a better place to live. We love our clients. Here are just a few of their accomplishments this year, interspersed with some highlights from our year ... by the numbers.
CommunityAIR is a citizen’s group promoting a clean, green waterfront and advocating for the closure of the island airport. It is a founding partner of NoJetsTO, the grassroots campaign which was successful in defeating Porter Airline’s plans to fly jets out of the airport.
New co-op housing in Ontario is a rarity. We’re thrilled to be involved in an exciting project with Innstead Co-op. Innstead is a scattered co-op, with houses spread throughout Toronto’s Leslieville neighbourhood. We helped them purchase a site on which they plan to construct a building that will serve the needs of aging coop members.
Project Bookmark Canada is a nationally registered charity that puts stories and poems in the exact, physical locations where literary scenes are set. This year they unveiled two new bookmarks, to bring the total to 15 across Canada. Bookmark #14, for No Great Mischief by Alistair MacLeod, was unveiled on October 1, 2015, at the Nova Scotia Visitor Centre in Port Hastings on Cape Breton Island. Bookmark #15, for Any Known Blood was unveiled on October 5th at the corner of King and Navy Streets, on the grounds of the Oakville Museum.
The lawyers at Iler Campbell take turns writing a monthly column, called Pro Bono, for rabble.ca in which we tackle important issues from a legal perspective. Lauren Blumas started off the year by writing about the debate over the right to die with dignity, a subject which Safia revisited in November after the Supreme Court released a ruling on the issue. In between those articles we tackled discrimination against first nations children and Aboriginal representation in the administration of justice, the access to justice crisis, police carding, and big federal election issues: climate, the right to vote, the niqab ban and housing (twice). Celia penned the last column of the year which tackled gender equity in the legal profession.
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We helped Kenfinch Co-op in Scarborough take advantage of the coming end of their original operating agreement with CMHC to refinance their mortgage. They’re using the money to fund a long list repairs and upgrades to the homes that make up the co-op.
2015 saw a fair bit of change in our offices. We welcomed Celia and Ted as partners, said, “Farewell and best wishes in your new endeavors!” to Priya, “See you in XX months” to Cherylle, and “Awwww, hi there!” to her new baby. We welcomed Francis, who ably stepped in to fill Cherylle’s legal secretary position while she’s on her maternity leave, and Katie who joined us as a student-at-law.
In our spare time many of us kept busy this year with volunteer work. Shelina, for instance sits on the Board for Newcomer Women’s Services Toronto and just joined the Board of Central Toronto Community Health Centre (Queen West). She also does committee work with Parkdale Neighbourhood Land Trust, an exciting initiative in Parkdale. Celia spent a fair bit of time this year speaking at housing conferences including the CHF Canada Annual General Meeting in Charlottetown. Says Celia, “It was a great conference in a great location - so nice to get out of the GTA to see and hear about the terrific work of others in the country.” Law clerk, Norlida participated for the second year in a row in Options for Home’s annual 10k run and picnic.
We’ve been working with Artscape to get Artscape Weston Hub off the ground. The project, which was just approved by city council, will be a community cultural hub located at Weston Road and King Street that will leverage the power of arts, culture and creativity to serve the interests of the Weston community. The development will involve the revitalization of a surplus parking lot and under-utilized ground floor space at an existing high-rise apartment building. The Artscape-operated community cultural hub will have 8,600 sq. ft. of creative programming space and 12,400 sq. ft. of outdoor space to serve as a community gathering place in addition to the 26 affordable live/work housing units mentioned above.
Superior Packaging is a co-operative business owned and operated by persons with intellectual disabilities, which provides product assembly and customized packaging services. It is a self-sustaining business which provides significant growth opportunities, and real salaries to its partners. It’s success shows a viable alternative to traditional sheltered workshops for persons with intellectual disabilities which provided little opportunity for personal growth, meager pay and were a drain on the resources of supporting organizations. We helped Superior Packaging develop their organization’s partnership structure and get it into action. Consider using them for your assembly and packaging needs.
We oversaw the unit sales closings for two Options for Homes projects this year. Options for Homes is a nonprofit corporation dedicated to providing quality homes in great communities at the best possible price. The condos they help build are sold at cost, enabling purchasers to become homeowners up to 10 years earlier than they might otherwise.
Artscape Sandbox is the newest not-for-profit multidisciplinary performance and event space in Toronto’s Entertainment District. As a space it’s akin to a 6,000 square-foot blank canvas, inviting flexible creative possibility and personalization. Sandbox is available to rent for just about any purpose, from artistic performances and theatre productions to social gatherings and professional events. Run as a social enterprise, Sandbox operates with a sliding scale rental model that allows for a wide range of artists, community members, grassroots groups and small organizations to access to the space at significant savings.