Client Profile: Parkdale Activity and Recreation Centre

April 17th, 2019 by Iler Campbell

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The idea of the Parkdale Activity and Recreation Centre (PARC) was born in 1977 when a group of volunteers observed the large number of adults living in Parkdale rooming houses and boarding homes. Many were survivors of the psychiatric system, had little money, few family contacts and no real place to go and connect with peers.

Today PARC is the primary service and community hub for a large population of people living in South Parkdale recovering from mental illness and/or an addiction along with precarious shelter, food insecurity and social isolation. South Parkdale, with a population of 21,000, is a Toronto priority neighbourhood area with 6,000 people living on less than $20,000 annual income and almost half the neighbourhood spending more than 30% of their income on housing.

PARC’s model is unique. They use a recovery-orientated approach, one that is predicated on, and celebrates, psychiatric consumer/survivor participation in all levels of the organization. Members comprise half of PARC’s Board of Directors and a high percentage of their staff identity as having lived experience with mental health and addiction issues.

Knowing that no one agency can tackle these issues alone, PARC works with community partners to address systemic issues of poverty, mental health, housing, and food security. A report released last November, Saving room: Community action and municipal policy to protect dwelling room stock in North American cities by Emily Paradis, PhD, details an initiative of four collaborating agencies (Parkdale Neighbourhood Land Trust, PARC, Parkdale Community Legal Services and Woodgreen) that are working together with tenants to preserve and protect Parkdale’s affordable rooming house stock. PARC’s hope is that this jurisdictional scan on dwelling room protection policy can inform policy development, advocacy and organizing in Toronto.

PARC is pleased to have worked with us at Iler Campbell for 15+ years. In PARC’s words,  our firm is “helping to preserve deeply affordable housing stock and … helping to achieve development without displacement in the City of Toronto.” And we’re thrilled they think so!

Filed in: Client Profiles

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