History of the MRA

Celebrating 10 Years Since Incorporation

“…the idea is the easy part but sustaining a volunteer group /organization requires commitment, leadership and effort…”
– Sandra Van, founding executive of MRA

Born out of a shared interest and concern for community safety, Mimico Community Group became “Mimico South Residents Association” for its first meeting on May 25th, 2005 at Storefront Humber.  Christine Campbell, one of the founding members, asked a group of residents to meet with the police to discuss safety.  From community safety came more interest in the community at large, including the first annual Mimico Tree Lighting event in cooperation with the BIA in 2004; Tina Blandford-Gross and Jim Sanderson were the primary organizers.  Other community initiatives were the waterfront and green area and eventual input on the development in the area.  By May 2005, “Mimico South Residents Association” was having its “Founding General Meeting”. The meeting was open to area residents “bounded by Lake Ontario to the south, Park Lawn Road on the east, Dwight Avenue on the west, and the CN railroad tracks on the north.  Since 2005, the Mimico Residents Association’s boundaries have expanded further north to include Dwight Avenue or Ourland Avenue to the west, and the Q.E.W. / Gardiner Expressway to the north.  The group has always meant to be inclusive of all types of residents in Mimico, not only homeowners: “All are welcome!”

The MRA was incorporated on July 25th, 2006. Upon the reminder of the 10th year anniversary since incorporation, founding member, Sandra Van, a founding executive member, exclaimed, “Wow 10 years…the idea is the easy part but sustaining a volunteer group/organization requires commitment, leadership and effort…so, congratulations.”  Other founding members include: Christine Campbell, Jim Sanderson, Martin Vince, Heather Brown, Tina Blandford-Grosse, Jody Kew, Matthew Day, Shane McDonald, Bob Poldon, Kendra Pennycooke, Meghan Buck, Sandra-Ann Gene, Steven Kitson, and the MSRA Interim President at the first meeting, Margaret Anne McHugh.

Special Projects – MRA Remembers

Upon hearing of the 10th Anniversary, Councillor Mark Grimes shared his fond memories of attending the Christmas Tree Lighting in Mimico Square, and collaborating with MRA and The Larry Grossman Foundation to support the revitalization of Mimico Memorial Park.

Jim Sanderson, head of the Mimico Baptist Church was also an early MRA executive member.  He remembers the MRA as a “busy and ambitious group”. In addition to the Tree Lighting, and community safety, the MRA partnered with Mimico Baptist Church for Party in the Park (PITP) .

“busy and ambitious group”
– Pastor Jim Sanderson, MRA director 2009-2010

PITP has been a staple event for the MRA over its 10 years, and is now organized with Mimico Presbyterian Church. MRA members participate each year providing volunteer power, and an MRA refreshment booth.  Joanne Mckeown, and Joanne Cortellessa, current MRA members, also volunteer for the PITP organization committee, and help to organize MRA executive and board members participation.  It is still a happily anticipated event for the MRA.

Party in the Park used to be held in August, in Mimico Memorial Park.  During the last garbage strike it was moved to the yard behind John English, and has remained there ever since, on the second Tuesday in June.  Party in the Park attracts many community members and local sponsors each year, and is an event that the community looks forward to as well.

The MRA also participated in and organized political meetings.  Jim Sanderson remembers: MRA organized a Candidates meeting, a forum on air quality and a strategic meeting to try and bring a YMCA to Mimico.  The effort for the YMCA had a meeting with Michael Ignatieff MP (with Mary Kancer), Laurel Broten MPP (with Angie Black), Mark Grimes City Councilor, Bruce Davis – School Trustee, John Fulton – Manager Parks and Rec. and Jim Sanderson, Mike Peters, Charlotte Sheasby-Coleman and Bob Poldon representing the MRA.  The meeting was held in the upper room of Birds and Beans.  Though ultimately we were not successful in bringing a YMCA to Mimico, it was an impressive gathering and discussion.

“impressive gathering and discussion”
– Pastor Jim Sanderson

In its 10 years, the MRA has lent its voice to many issues and projects that affect Mimico residents including: Mimico 20/20, Mimico Wesley United Church redevelopment, Mimico Judson triangle development including ML Ready Mix and the recent Dunpar development proposal, Mimico Train Station preservation, the building of Mimico Memorial Park playground, Amos Waites Park, and local Transit issues.

Mimico 20/20 was a major study aiming to revitalize the Mimico-By-The-Lake Community through: Housing, land development, parks including the waterfront, infrastructure, business development, transportation and social services.

The MRA was involved in the initial 20/20 consultations, which started in 2007.  In 2012 the MRA pushed to revive the 20/20 process after it went dormant for a few years, urging the city to keep residents informed.

Mary Bella, MRA Board member since 2012, has donated untold hours of her special skills as a webmistress, and brought the MRA into the electronic age with Facebook, e-newsletters, a webpage, online membership sign up, and online community calendar.

With these new avenues of communication the MRA made sure the wider community, including those who may have moved to Mimico since the start of the 20/20 process, were made aware of the study, its potential impacts, and the opportunities to get involved and provide input.  The resulting secondary plan for Mimico-by-the-lake remains a hot issue today as building owners along the waterfront challenge the plan at the OMB, in order to develop on their existing properties beyond the 20/20 vision.

For the past four years, the MRA has hosted Halloween Dance each year.  Kyra Trainor, former MRA President conceived the idea, and it is a special event, close to her heart.  The proceeds of the dance help to fund the dance itself, and fund some of the other activities that the MRA participates in like Party In The Park.  The Halloween Dance gives parents and children an option to celebrate Halloween with Mimico in a fun and safe environment.  Kyra loves to participate in the event each year,  “[It’s always] so much fun and great to see the little ones dressed up and having so much fun.”

“our group really brings people together and makes our community that much stronger”
– Mary Bella, MRA director 2012 – 2017

Mary Bella recounts, “By necessity, we have to be involved and informed about development, park improvements, safety issues etc. But my favourite experiences as part of the MRA have been community events like our Halloween Dance and the annual Party in the Park. That’s when I feel our group really brings people together and makes our community that much stronger.”

Those who join the MRA board seem drawn by love of community, and while it can be challenging to find the right fit, the MRA will continue to thrive and promote Mimico under its community members’ leadership for years to come.

– MRA History Compiled by Lesley Strong, Vice President, MRA – September 2016

Current Board >

Past Boards

2016
Christopher Moore – President
Lesley Strong – Vice President
Dana Beatson – Treasurer
Jo Anne Mckeown – Secretary
Mary Bella
Deborah Burgess
John Cary
Joanne Cortellessa
Leanne Faber
Daniel Gerecht
Lesley Rowe Strong
Kyra Trainor
2015
John Cary, President
Dana Beatson
Mary Bella
Joanne Cortellessa
Daniel Gerecht
Aaron Gilmour
Mike Hotrum
JoAnne McKeown
Christopher Moore
Lesley Strong
Kyra Trainor
2014
John Cary, President
Dana Beatson
Mary Bella
Joanne Cortellessa
Daniel Gerecht
Aaron Gilmour
Mike Hotrum
Martha MacLoed
Joanne McKeown
Christopher Moore
Lesley Strong
Chris Szarka
Kyra Trainor
2013
Kyra Trainor, President
Dana Beatson
Mary Bella
John Cary
Eric Code
Aaron Gilmour
Martha MacLoed
JoAnne McKeown
Romana Nazareth
Chris Szarka
Margot Wheeler
2012
Kyra Trainor, President
Mary Bella
Krista Baxter
John Cary
Eric Code
Shawn Hughes
Vilip Mak
2011
Bob Poldon, President
Antoinette Alaimo
Angela Barnes
Dana Beatson
Meghan Buck
Jennifer Conron
Terry Durette
Shawn Hughes
Victoria Matthews
Chris Szarka
Kyra Trainor
2010
Jennifer Conron, President
Angela Barnes
Dana Beatson
Meghan Buck
Terry Durette
Shawn Hughes
Sandy Gene
Barry Horosko
Andrew Marshall
Jim Sanderson
Victoria Matthews
John Quinn
Barbara Wallace
2009
Bob Poldon, President
Dana Beatson
Meghan Buck
Christine Campbel
Charlotte Sheasby Colemanl
Jennifer Conron
Shawn Hughes
Steve Kitson
Andrew Marshall
Jim Sanderson
Sandy Gene
2008
Bob Poldon, President
Charlotte Sheasby Coleman
Jennifer Conron
Dana Beatson
Meghan Buck
Christine Campbell
Mervyn C. Francois
Buddy Herold
Shawn Hughes
Steven Kitson
Andrew Marshall
Mike Peters
Jim Sanderson
2007
Bob Poldon, President
Charlotte Sheasby Coleman
Dana Beatson
Meghan Buck
Christine Campbell
Mervyn C. Francois
Sandy Gene
Buddy Herold
Steven Kitson
Mike Peters
Jim Sanderson