Activist new CCCA president

Community advocate Charles Akben-Marchand has been elected the new president of the Centretown Citizens Community Association just in time to lead the Rescue Bronson campaign – and he’s looking for more resident involvement in that fight and on other issues.

Akben-Marchand, a cycling activist, frequent blogger and heritage advocate, hopes to tackle the controversial Bronson Avenue reconstruction project, along with other issues, including the proposed segregated bike lane on Laurier Avenue and the downtown transit tunnel.

He says the newly announced delay of the Bronson road work will allow more people from the community to get involved.

“I want the CCCA to raise its profile,” says Akben-Marchand. “I want us to do a good job communicating with the members and the residents of Centretown . . . so that people know their community association can be counted on to support their interests.”

Amanda Lunan, owner of Auntie Loo’s Treats on Bronson Avenue, says she supports the Rescue Bronson campaign. Lunan lived on the street for a year while establishing her business and says she understands the issues the association is trying to deal with.

“One of my friends put it best when he said, ‘It’s not a road, it’s a race track,’ ” says Lunan.

Lunan went to a public meeting hosted by the CCCA on Nov. 16 where she participated in discussions about the planned Bronson Avenue transformation. She says that resident involvement within community associations, such as the CCCA, is important.

David Gladstone, a member of the CCCA since 1994, says he supports Akben-Marchand’s goals to encourage more resident involvement within the association.

“It’s always been a challenge at the CCCA to have more than a fairly limited percentage of Centretown residents as active members,” says Gladstone. “The people who live here tend to be too busy.”

Akben-Marchand says he plans to reach out to Centretown by approaching the residents themselves, hosting community events and using the social networking websites Facebook and Twitter.

“That specific focus on engaging folks . . . will pull people into being involved with these different efforts and files the association is working on,” says board member Martin Canning.

“Charles hit it dead on. He’s got a keen, strategic eye.”