by Glen Dewar, our First Executive Director
Following is a brief summary of the history of the Consumer/Survivor Information Resource Centre of Toronto, hereafter referred to as "the Centre."
For a more complete history of the startup of the Centre, including the research which went into defining its functions, please see the following published paper: "The Consumer/Survivor Information Resource," by Glen Dewar, in What Works! Innovation in Community Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Programs, eds. Gene Duplessis, Molly McCrea, Cauleen Viscoff, and Suzanne Doupe, Toronto: Canadian Scholars' Press, 1993, pp. 381-388. Copies of this book were distributed to all community mental health programs in Ontario.
The original idea for a consumer/survivor-run drop-in centre specializing in information originated with the Residents Association in Toronto. The Residents Assocation was formed in 1988 and consisted primarily of users of supportive housing services.
In 1991, the Ontario Ministry of Health issued a proposal call for organizations wishing to use some available one-time funding- 'anti-recession funding'. The Residents Association responded with a proposal to hire consumers to perform a feasibility study about the concept of an information drop-in centre. The Residents Assocation proposal was accepted, and this writer (Glen Dewar) was hired as researcher/writer for the project. The Consumer/Survivor Development Initiative (CSDI, later renamed the Ontario Peer Development Initiative OPDI) was formed to administer the projects which received anti-recession funds.
Over the course of the next year, I researched and wrote a proposal for the C/S Info Centre. The proposal was accepted in the summer of 1992 and funded as a time-limited demonstration project. The C/S Info Centre project steering committee hired me as the first Executive Director, to set up the Centre. In due course the Centre became incorporated and its name was shortened from the too-long "Mental Health Consumer/Survivor Information Clearinghouse and Drop-In Centre Project" to its present name.
In November 1992 I started the publication of the Bulletin newsletter, the activity for which the C/S Info Centre has been best known for over the years. Current and back copies of the Bulletin are available elsewhere on the C/S Info Centre's web site.
When the Centre's original demonstration grant ran out, it was granted permanent ongoing funding by the Ministry of Health.
During the feasibility study phase of the Centre's startup, the project was housed in an office in the basement of the supportive housing project at 550 Kingston Road. Once the Centre received its demonstration grant, it moved to a location next door to the Parkdale Activity-Recreation Centre (PARC) at 1499 Queen Street West. The Centre also briefly shared space with Job Quest on King Street, before moving to 252 College Street on the 3rd floor of the former Day Centre, next door to the College Street Site of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. The Info Centre moved to its current location in The Paul Christie Community Centre, more commonly known as The Mall, at CAMH at 1001 Queen Street West in November 2008.