A needs assessment conducted in the mid-1980’s by the Women’s Needs and Resources Subcommittee of the North York Inter-Agency and Community Council concluded that services for women had not kept pace with women’s needs in North York and that the establishment of a women’s centre was necessary to begin addressing some of the identified problems. A volunteer Board of Directors was formed in 1987 and the North York Women’s Centre was formally incorporated in 1988.
Following a series of public forums to identify specific programs and service needs, the following services were established: information and referral, personal growth programs, a free legal clinic and public education events. The Centre began offering services to the community in October, 1989. It also received charitable status in 1989.
A strategic plan was written for the North York Women’s Centre in 1991. Feminism and anti-discrimination were formally adopted as operating principles in 1992 and an anti-racist organizational change process initiated. To focus the Centre’s resources more effectively and respond to the changing needs of women in the community, the strategic plan was revised in 1994. In 1996, the Centre reviewed this plan and entered a new phase of strategic planning. The strategic plan was revised again in 1997, resulting in a new staff and committee structure for the organization.
Since its inception, the Centre has provided much needed services to women who live or work in the North York area. Over the last twenty years, the programs offered by the Centre have increased in number and have changed in response to community needs.
Community support both in terms of volunteer time and financial support has grown steadily over the last fifteen years. The Centre’s roots have become firmly established: by women, for women-in North York and beyond.