9 Torontonians share their hopes for the city in 2017

Notable Torontonians, from Mayor John Tory to Olympian Kristina Valjas, are hoping for an even better city in the year ahead.

From artists to athletes to activists, Toronto's movers and shakers are hoping for an even better city

​Notable Torontonians like Black Lives Matters' Rodney Diverlus, Ryerson University's Farrah Khan, and Mayor John Tory shared their hopes for the city in 2017.

What's your hope for Toronto in 2017? CBC Toronto reached out to some notable Torontonians for their thoughts, and it's a long list of wishes.

Some hope the new year will bring an increased culture of support for sexual assault survivors. Others want more shelters for the city's homeless population. Some just want to see a little more kindness.

The common thread? A belief that this city has the potential to be even better after the clock strikes midnight.

Sam Mukwa Kloetstra

Sam Mukwa Kloetstra works with the Aboriginal Professional Association of Canada and was previously Youth Coordinator and Liaison with the Toronto Indigenous Health Advisory Circle. (Amara McLaughlin/CBC)

"Speaking as an Indigenous youth, I think I'm really looking forward to the city's new relationship with the Indigenous people that live in Toronto.

There are 70,000 Indigenous people in the city, and I think the city is finally taking the steps to recognize and celebrate that."

—Sam Mukwa Kloetstra, manager of operations at the Aboriginal Professional Association of Canada

Luke Anderson

Luke Anderson's StopGap Foundation builds ramps for single-step storefronts and raises awareness about barriers in our built environment. (Luke Anderson)

"This year, I invite all Torontonians to reframe their understanding of disability in an effort to create a city that allows people to reach their full potential. Let us find ourselves at this time next year with a shift in perspective where we collectively recognize people for what they can do and not what they can't do. 

Together we can mark 2017 as the year we all came to realize that it's not us that have disabilities but it's the places that we live, work, and play in that are disabling.

With this newfound level of understanding we can all move forward, contribute to the removal of the many barriers preventing us from connecting with each other, and inclusively build the enriching city that we all desire."

—Luke Anderson, engineer and founder of the StopGap Foundation

Rodney Diverlus

Rodney Diverlus, of Black Lives Matter Toronto, speaking to media earlier this year. (THE CANADIAN PRESS)

"In 2017, I hope to see bold and concrete policy and systemic changes addressing anti-Black racism amongst all three levels of government, including the abolishment or dissolution of the Special Investigations Unit.

And I really hope to see Mayor Tory step up and listen to Black Torontonians."

—Rodney Diverlus, co-founder with Black Lives Matter's Toronto chapter

Kristina Valjas

For Olympian Kristina Valjas, Toronto traffic is her biggest issue, and she hopes it'll get better in 2017. (Kristina Valjas)

"I would love to see improvements in city traffic and highway congestion. I live in the Beaches and train at Downsview Park; I have to go across the city, and it takes an hour at least.

Philosophically, I want it to be a great place, I want to feel safe in my city."

—Kristina Valjas, beach volleyball player and Canadian Olympic Team member

John Tory

Mayor John Tory hopes to keep building Toronto into a "livable city" in 2017. (John Rieti/CBC)

"I hope we can continue to build and keep a livable city.

That means continuing to work on transit, and more effective partnerships with the other governments on housing. I hope people will be healthy — that includes attention to a real, growing drug problem in the country — and I hope they'll be safe. That means continued attention to the proliferation of hand guns.

But I think, most of all, for the 150th anniversary of our great country, I hope we see a year in which there's a real focus in our political discourse, in the media, in daily conversation at work, on social media, that we resist this polarizing race to the bottom, that we stay civilized, that we show we can differ without accusing each other of things."

—John Tory, Mayor of Toronto

​Farrah Khan

Farrah Khan works as a sexual violence support and education coordinator at Ryerson University. (Farrah Khan)

"I think last year we saw an unprecedented conversation on sexual assault in the city of Toronto, from the ways in which our restaurants, bars, and hotels address sexual violence, to the courtroom.

And so I hope for 2017 that it's a year where we believe survivors, and create a city that's supportive of people when they come forward and name sexual violence, and that we look at it as a collective responsibility to address and eradicate it."

—​Farrah Khan, sexual violence support and education coordinator at Ryerson University

Cathy Crowe

Street nurse Cathy Crowe is hoping City Hall opens enough shelters for Toronto's homeless population. (Laura DaSilva/CBC)

"​My number one hope is that City Hall, once and for all, stands up to the fact that people have the right to basic shelter, and not play games any longer on who's responsible and open enough shelters to bring people in and not leave them abandoned as we've been doing."

—Cathy Crowe, street nurse and activist

Kanwar Saini

"Toronto has no reason for anyone to feel disconnected," says speech pathologist Kanwar Saini. (Submitted by Kanwar Saini)

"Honestly, I just hope everyone without exception becomes more connected to each other than ever before. Toronto has no reason for anyone to feel disconnected.

I hope everyone reaches out to somebody — in any way — to show kindness, to share what they have, whether it's a skill set, money, clothes, food.

That's what I hope for 2017: For Toronto to take that place in the world of connectedness, togetherness."

—Kanwar Saini, speech-language pathologist and artist

Yvonne Bambrick

Yvonne Bambrick's book 'The Urban Cycling Survival Guide' came out in 2015. (Yvonne Bambrick)

"It should come as no surprise that I'm looking forward to seeing the implementation of the next phase of Toronto's urban cycling network into our suburban communities.

The convenience and simplicity of cycling transportation need not be limited to those in the core, and the added predictability of streets made for everyone will serve all Torontonians while serving our collective safety.

We're all in this together, and we have to look out for each other as neighbours on our streets."

—Yvonne Bambrick, urban cycling consultant and executive director of the Forest Hill BIA

Interviews have been edited and condensed.


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