There were several concerns I had with the material presented at the Toronto Community Housing's Tenant Services Committee meeting on October 7th, 2019.
Now when you watch the video you may be wondering what I whispered to Catherine Wilkinson while she was discussing notifying tenants about staffing changes and having the opportunity to wish the soon to be removed staff member good luck.
Well, I mentioned that the superintendent's bulletin board may be an option. To which she said that she had a tenant's bulletin board.
Unfortunately, not all communities have them. I'm waiting on two for my building from the PB process.
So to be thinking in terms of her own community strikes me as myopic.
Besides, with all the time that Catherine Wilkinson spent on the board you would think she learned by now that not all resources are applied equally across TCHC. Kudos to her community for having tenant bulletin boards. Maybe during her time in the cushy seat she should have made sure all communities had them.
Otherwise, staffing changes could be released through a posting to individual communities via the superintendents bulletin board focusing on staffing changes that directly impact that community.
For a blanket release from TCHC regarding staffing changes ahead of a press release is, quiet honestly, above our pay grade. If, as Catherine Wilkinson claims, she had a good working relationship with these people, they may very well reach out to her personally without TCHC having to make any extraneous effort.
(During the meeting, at 52:05, Catherine Wilkinson handed off a note to Councillor Fletcher. Shouldn't all communications during the public session be public? So what did that note say?)
Another concern I had was when Anita Dressler mentioned a fellow tenants wish to post an election sign on their unit door.
Let's take this a step back for a moment. If I wanted to paint my apartment door a different colour TCHC would come along and paint it over the colour of all the other doors on my floor. So, to begin with, it's a cosmetic uniformity issue.
In addition, when we talk about "obstructions" in the hallway "is religious persecution going to be next? Do you want us to remove crosses? Or wreaths at Christmas time?"
Well, as a matter of fact, things like posters and wreaths are both fire safety issues. (Feel free to confirm with Toronto Fire.)
In addition, there are any number of persons living in TCHC treating the hallway like an extension of their units. I would prefer we simply remind people all personal items remain within their own unit. That way there is no confusion about what may or may not be placed in the hallways. If notification to the individual units to remove items from public space is not acknowledged, then maybe, implying that a tenant charge will be applied if TCHC staff have to remove said items, will prove to be more effective.
If, tenants are looking for an option for displaying a politicians poster, may I suggest a window and face the poster outwards. That has the added benefit of being more visible.
My final concern deals with Councillor Fletcher raising the ghost of tenant reps past. Instead of reinstating tenant reps maybe we can approach the idea of interim representation.
I am deeply disappointed (as all tenants should be) that no one mentioned during these outlandish statements that the tenant engagement system was being revamped for a multitude of reasons, a) that many communities didn't have any representation, b) the communities that did have representation resented the fact that the reps were not elected to their positions (they were simply holdovers who's terms were arbitrarily extended again and again), c) there was no training (therefore no transparency nor accountability), and d) there needed to be a space between tenant engagement models in order to assure the general tenant population that it wasn't going to be the same old same old.
Otherwise, TCHC already went to the expense of a five star thank you dinner where they distributing yet another batch of appreciation certificates.
Now, if you're looking for a solution, let me provide one. When the communities are meeting to decide about their new tenant engagement models do pop up elections for interim representation. This will give communities an opportunity to test run their new tenant engagement model.
This meeting has, yet again, proven my point. The TCHC board and committees are lacking in terms of general operational information. By no means do they appear to have the ability to provide logical solutions.
Thankfully, I micro-manage the organization from home.
No. I don't tell them what to do (as one tenant implied in a face to face conversation). I simply make what I believe are practical suggestions. What they do with those ideas is entirely up to them.
(FYI - This article is based on three emails that I sent out to members of the Tenant Services Committee and relevant TCHC staff persons. No worries. They already know what I think.)