In the coming battle over what to cut at city hall, community agencies and their friends in Scarborough will target Michelle Berardinetti, Raymond Cho, Gary Crawford and Chin Lee.
All four are considered "swing" councillors "who are not firmly entrenched" either with Mayor Rob Ford or his usual opponents at council by an advocacy group, Commitment 2 Community.
The group will concentrate efforts on Berardinetti, Cho, Crawford and Lee - and on six more members of the 44-seat council - in order to defeat attempts to cut core city services and community grants.
Organizing of local committees to lobby target councillors has begun already, with a first meeting held Monday to form a group in Lee's ward.
Consultants' reports may put community grants - which support community-based recreation, street festivals, anti-violence programs, community centres and seniors programs - on the chopping block next year.
"All of these decisions will be made over the next four or five months," said John Campey, executive director of Social Planning Toronto, one agency behind Commitment 2 Community.
Campey said he thinks most people value work non-profits do with the grants, and large numbers of residents are involved with the programs. He said the campaign hopes to see users of community services, and people who provide them, speak up for programs as residents, particularly in wards with "swing" councillors.
The other council members identified by Commitment 2 Community are Frank Di Giorgio (York South-Weston), Josh Colle (Eglinton-Lawrence), Ann Bailao (Davenport), Josh Matlow (St. Paul's), John Filion (Willowdale) and Mary-Margaret McMahon (Beaches-East York).
Ford lost by wide margins when he voted against community grants for 2011 in council last week.
But Campey said he's not reading too much into those votes. Much of the grant money approved had already flowed to the recipients, he said, predicting a more practical vote on grants would have been much closer.
Campey said the lobbying campaign is "in no way adversarial." If the councillors are supportive of their community's wishes in their decisions, great, he said.
"And if they're not, that's something people can draw their own conclusions from."
At a meeting in Scarborough Civic Centre, last month, however, Jonah Schein, one of the campaign's original organizers, said Commitment 2 Community's website would track votes to "make sure local councillors don't act against our interests."
"Scarborough has power," Schein, who is now running provincially for the New Democrats in Davenport, told the audience as he asked them to join the lobbying effort.
Ward-based organizing for the campaign is partly a response to criticism from social activists in Toronto's inner suburbs.
Often such campaigns form downtown and people in the suburbs "don't feel part of the action," Regini David of the West Scarborough Community Legal Clinic said at the meeting last month.
Organizations also a need to understand the face of an issue can be different in Scarborough than it is downtown, David said. "We need to understand who we are working with."
Citizens and social agency representatives from the area, meanwhile, have tried to develop "action items" in Scarborough expressing what people there want in continued investments from the city.
People at the Civic Centre last Tuesday followed up on the earlier meeting by splitting into working groups for improving transit, employment, affordable housing and communications within Scarborough. There are plans to reconvene in mid-August, said Jessica Roher of the Scarborough Civic Action Network.
Morgen Peers, who was part of the communications group, said it could potentially harness the internet and digital tools and distribute printed material at key points to share news of local events, promote civic engagement and generally "build up the story of Scarborough."
"More communities are going to pop up on the radar if they contribute," Peers said this week.