Had it not been for a kidney infection suffered in his first year of theology studies at the University of the West Indies Mona campus in Jamaica, Rick Gosling might have been an ordained priest deeply ensconced in the ministry rather than a committed community worker making a second run for public office.
Against the wishes of his grandfather who was an Anglican clergyman and his father who ran a vibrant youth group in the city, Gosling changed course by making service to community his priority.
The Don Mills Liberal representative in the 1995 Ontario elections is a candidate for city council in Ward 12 (Jane-Falstaff which is the eastern half of the York South-Weston riding).
Gosling established the Toronto Children’s Breakfast Club 27 years ago to provide nutritious meals to young people from some of the city’s priority neighbourhoods, and co-founded Community Unity Alliance to assist community-based immigrant and ethno-cultural groups and the Second Chance scholarship for young people with criminal records.
“I have been very fortunate because I have always had a city job that pays my wage,” said Gosling, the City of Toronto’s Community Capacity Building manager. “That has allowed me to do these other projects for satisfaction and I have enjoyed it.”
Gosling said he made the decision to run in the October 25 municipal elections after meeting with 23 Ghanaian chiefs that endorsed his bid and other diverse community groups, some of whom promised to fund his campaign.
“When I opened my campaign office, I had 30 cultural groups that came forward and signed my contract in which I promised them I would freeze my salary for the full four-year term if I am elected, I would give 25 per cent of the office budget to community investment and the office would be properly staffed with highly qualified people. I also went through with them a series of things I can do as a city councilor without the help of anyone else’s vote or OK. I feel really comfortable with the groups that are supporting me.”
An advocate of the LRT and the Eglinton subway development, Gosling promises to adapt measures aimed at building stronger relationships with unions, develop programs that celebrate the rich and diverse cultures of the community, build stronger and pro-active business improvement associations to generate economic growth, expand the Toronto Children’s Breakfast Club programs into every school in his ward, encourage residents in high-rise buildings to use hydroponics gardening as a means of growing basic vegetables and plants and move to introduce mentorship initiatives in every city department to help youth build positive relationships.
“We also need to look at our seniors because there are a lot of them that can’t vote, but their needs still should be addressed,” he said. “They need to have trips and outings instead of being confined to those buildings permanently. I feel strongly too that the Youth in Policing Initiative (YIPI) should be started in every single city department, including Fire and Ambulance. That’s the kind of stuff we should have which is simple approaches to these kinds of solutions.
“In addition, why not have young people matched up with seniors in our communities to help them maintain their driveways and secure their community service hours?
Frank DiGiorgio has been the area councilor for the past decade.