Meet Lily Cheng, Toronto City Councillor Candidate. Lily shares, "I'm passionate about building community. As a young mom, I started North York Moms, a community organization which now includes more than 7,000 families. In response to the van attack, I co-founded We Love Willowdale to bring healing to our neighbourhood."
Why did you decide to run?
A year and a half ago, the current city councillor asked me if I would be interested in running in a new ward that was being created in our community. At the time I did not feel it was something I wanted to do. However, after the Toronto Van Attack, I had the privilege of being a representative of Willowdale at the Toronto Vigil. As I spoke to my community about not letting ourselves go back to being busy but allowing the tragedy to be a defining moment for us and making us more aware of what we could do for our community - I realized that this was also a call to action for me. Additionally, I feel that as a woman and a mom, I would bring a much-needed perspective to city council that addresses the needs of families and the future of our children.
What is your favourite thing to do in your community?
Eat from the fabulous array of restaurant choices that reflect the diversity of our community.
Tell us about the greatest challenges that your community faces?
The greatest challenge for us is building connection and engagement across different cultures and languages. The lack of connection and engagement effects how our community is planned and represented.
What would you do to improve women's health in your community?
Women who are connected to a community are more likely to access important health information and participate in physical activity with others. This has been the case in North York Moms - a community group that I started that now has 7600 members. The women in the group often gather to jog and exercise and health-related information is often shared. I think we can do this on a larger scale through a more connected community.
What would you do to improve women's economic security in your community?
Women who are connected to a community have access to more opportunities and information that can increase their economic security. Similarly, in North York Moms, moms who are new immigrants have been able to find jobs through the network or launch their own businesses with the strength of the community behind them.
What would you do to improve women's safety in your community?
Pedestrian safety is a challenge in our community with Yonge street being 6 lanes across. Seniors and women with toddlers and/or strollers have a hard time crossing the street. I am an advocate for lane reduction to increase community engagement and safety in our neighbourhood. Also, again, with connection women can access more information that can increase their safety. For example, women in North York moms have navigated the challenges of domestic violence with the help of other moms in our community to access resources and services to help them build an exit strategy.