In light of your remarks about how Toronto is an unsuitable place to raise a family, I want to tell you a little bit about where I grew up.
I grew up on a safe, friendly, and beautiful tree-lined street less than a minute’s walk from the nearest playground. My neighbours included many friends and schoolmates and families that I babysat for once I was old enough. It’s still impossible for me to walk through the neighbourhood without seeing many familiar and friendly faces - and I moved away from there years ago! My house was a 10 minute walk from my elementary school and a 15-minute walk from my high school.
Every summer there was a neighbourhood street party where families would mingle for a potluck barbeque. On Halloween, almost every house welcomes trick-or-treaters, and the streets are filled with kids in great costumes and their parents. It’s a neighbourly sort of place where you can trust your neighbours to feed your pets when you go out of town.
Once, several neighbours banded together to find a happy home for a friendly but freezing stray kitten who showed up on the street in the middle of winter, and to take turns housing him until a permanent home could be found. (That kitten grew up into the happiest, friendliest cat you’ve ever met. His name is Max. He loves this neighbourhood too). Where did my idyllic (you should see the tree in our front yard, it’s perfect for climbing) and wholesome (my sisters and I were all Girl Guides) childhood take place?
The nearest intersection is Bloor and Spadina, right in the heart of downtown Toronto.
I was surprised and sorry to hear negative remarks to council and the media. In my experience, it was a a joy and a privilege to grow up in the city. I was lucky to be walking distance from several theatres, whose proximity helped nurture my love of the arts. I was lucky to be close to public transit, which I was allowed to use by myself once I was old enough, and which gave me a great sense of independence and self-sufficiency at a young age. I was lucky to be close to the University of Toronto athletic facilities, where I took swimming and gymnastics classes as a young child. I was lucky to grow up with a strong sense of community and place.
I was lucky to grow up in Downtown Toronto. I’d be happy to give you a tour of my old neighbourhood anytime you would like. Just let me know.
(sent Friday, July 13 to Councillor Doug Holyday)