More than just building transit – Local community leaders are moving their neighbourhoods in the right direction

We’ve gone to great lengths to highlight the significant progress and many accomplishments on the Eglinton Crosstown Light Rail Transit (LRT) project.

We’ve taken you 40 metres below ground and flown over the city in a helicopter just to grasp how much work goes into building a 19-km rapid transit line.

But transit projects are more than just shovels, bulldozers and trains.

Some quieter and less disruptive works are also taking place to support the project. As part of the Metrolinx Community Benefits program, Metrolinx and its constructor, Crosslinx Transit Solutions (CTS), work closely with businesses who are also helping to get their neighbours moving in the right direction.

A social enterprise is a business that creates training and employment opportunities for people facing systemic barriers to entry into the mainstream labour market.

CTS provides a range of employment, training and apprenticeship opportunities to historically disadvantaged and equity seeking groups. Part of the Metrolinx Community Benefits framework ensures that the constructor purchases goods and services from local suppliers and social enterprises, whenever possible, to ensure opportunities are provided to these groups.

From window washing, to catering, to printing services, meet some of the businesses that are making a much needed difference in Toronto.

NishDish – https://www.nishdish.com/menu

Two men stand in front of their business Nish Dish on Eglinton Ave in Toronto

Chef Johl Whiteduck Ringuette and business partner Hywel Tuscano give back to their community every day.

NishDish Marketeria, run by Chef Johl Whiteduck Ringuette and business partner Hywel Tuscano, is a casual restaurant and cafe and catering kitchen that serves traditional Anishnawbe food. It features a rotating menu reflecting the Traditional Feasts and events they are working on.

Chef Johl Whiteduck Ringuette says he was inspired to start the business after spending time with a traditional teacher.

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“He told me to start the journey to bring back the Anishnawbe people’s diet and the ceremonies involved with that, so that’s what I started doing,” said Chef Johl.

On top of running NishDish, Chef Johl’s journey saw him learn from and establish indigenous organizations.

He created a curriculum for his 20-week Ojibiikaan Indigenous Culinary Arts Program. It’s a ceremonial in-depth land and food-based program and has led to such notable accomplishments such as: the first traditionally planted Three Sisters gardens in the GTA.

Eva’s – https://www.evas.ca/

A man and a woman sit in chairs having a conversation inside the print shop.

Eva’s Initiatives provides shelter, transitional housing, and programming to help homeless & at-risk youth.

Jonathan Gault is manager of Eva’s Phoenix Print Shop. Eva’s Initiatives provides shelter, transitional housing, and programming to help homeless and at-risk youth, including Eva’s Print Shop which helps homeless youths find employment in the graphics and print section through their printing training program.

Gault says working with Crosslinx Transit Solutions has led to more work for his student employees and lower Xerox bills.

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“The students learn about deadlines, using the proper finishing equipment, and we have actually been able to turn that into a good business model,” said Gault..

Over 70% of Eva’s training program students find full-time work and with the provided follow-up support; students sustain their employment. Eva’s Print Shop invests their profits into shelter, food and basic needs for homeless youths.

Building Up – https://www.buildingup.ca/

Adam Zweig from Building Up stands next to his business sign

Building Up says partnering with Crosslinx has allowed them to hire more people, many of whom are already in apprenticeships.

Building Up is a non-profit social enterprise that takes on various construction projects, all while providing job-skills training to disadvantaged individuals who experience barriers to employment.

Adam Zweig, Enterprise Manager at Building Up says working with Crosslinx has helped them give back to the community.

“Some businesses hire people so they can take on more work. We take on more work so we can hire more people,” said Zweig.  Building Up is about connecting all the work that needs to get done in the city with the people who need those opportunities,” he said.

Adam Zweig sitting at a table explaining his business to a reporter.

Building Up provides job-skills training to disadvantaged individuals who experience barriers to employment.

The Metrolinx Community Benefit program represents a new standard for projects being integrated into communities. We recognize that major infrastructure investments should also provide benefits for the communities in which it works, including supporting social enterprises.

Story by: Erika D’Urbano, Metrolinx Communications Specialist.