Ravi Joshi has lived near the Carlaw-Dundas neighbourhood in Leslieville for most of his life.
The 32-year-old non-profit communications co-ordinator has seen the space evolve from an industrial area filled with brick-and-beam buildings and paper factories to the gentrified condo hub and mixed-use area that it is today.
Back in the 1980s, his mother helped with campaigns to try to get manufacturing factories to clean up the air quality, said Mr. Joshi.
Today, he’s putting a modern spin on that effort.
Mr. Joshi and three other tenants of his condo building are recruiting residents from nine condominiums along Carlaw Avenue in an effort to reduce their collective carbon footprint.
The project, called TransformCarlaw, will be focusing on reduction of energy use, diversion of waste and increased use of low-carbon transportation throughout the mid-rise condominium neighbourhood.
“Condominium communities can have the reputation or the stigma of being socially isolated or individual, and what people are seeing is a chance to do something together,” Mr. Joshi said. “I think all of us want to feel more connected to our neighbourhood and feel like we’re making a difference in the community.”
TransformCarlaw is one of several small groups of neighbours around the city who’ve been inspired by TransformTO, the city’s initiative, announced last July, to transform Toronto into a low-carbon city.
“It’s citizen action in neighbourhoods to be part of combatting climate change in microscale,” said Councillor Paula Fletcher, who helped connect TransformCarlaw with the city.
In Mr. Joshi’s neighbourhood, the condominiums are a mix of old and new buildings. Some are 100-plus-year-old buildings that are experiencing heat loss through their windows, while others are brand-new buildings that have been built in the past five years.
The nine condominiums taking part in the project have between 2,000 and 3,000 units altogether.
TransformCarlaw will be looking into installing smart thermostats, advocating for recycling and waste reduction, and getting people who rely on fossil-fuel-based transportation to switch to cycling or public transit, Mr. Joshi said.
They will be getting help from city staff at TransformTO to figure out where they can get funding and what resources are available to them.
Mr. Joshi said they plan on expanding the initiative to the rest of the Carlaw-Dundas community in the future, as he has since received many requests to contribute to the project from neighbouring businesses and residents.
A number of other community and neighbourhood lead groups have also reached out to the city for assistance to develop their TransformTO plans, including groups in the Mount Dennis/Weston community, Green Ward 13 (Parkdale-High Park), Green Neighbours 21 (Ward 21), Green 14 – Parkdale, and the Pocket in the northeast corner of Riverdale.
Pocket Change is a similar initiative led by individual homeowners in Riverdale who are anxious about climate change.
“My own interest, I suppose, sparked over the last 20 years, watching this problem of climate change evolve and grow and threaten us more and more, and I guess I’m at the point where I’m so frustrated with the slow government response or inadequate government response that I felt I needed to get personally involved,” said David Langille, head of Pocket Change.
Mr. Langille said their plan is to retrofit as many of the 1,100 homes in The Pocket community as they can to reduce energy conservation.
This will be done by plugging air leaks, installing new windows, adding insulation, improving heating and cooling systems, purchasing high-efficiency appliances, and setting up alternative water-heating installations.
For Mr. Joshi, the next step is to gather input from residents to plan their next steps at a brainstorming session next week.
“I want to really build a good sense of neighbourhood and community,” said Mr. Joshi.