Dear Councillor Holyday,
I am raising my now 13-year-old daughter, Georgia, in the Trinity
Bellwoods area, downtown. I’m writing to share a bit of our life with
you and a few pictures of Georgia out and about in our community.
My daughter has special needs. She has autism and is somewhat
physically limited - she can still walk and run, but needs some
assistance and help as she moves through the world.
Having grown up myself in the 70s in Etobicoke, I made a very
conscious choice to live and raise my daughter downtown. Once I knew
that she also had special needs, it was clear to me that this was an
obvious choice. Being downtown provides her with much more stimulation
and invigorating opportunities to interact with people, all a few
minutes outside our door. We don’t need a car to get to most places
for fun or to run errands. We walk, chat with people as we go, and
know many store owners and neighbours. The sense of community is
strong and close.
Walking down Manning Avenue, our street, means saying hi to a
wonderful variety of neighbours, who all know Georgia. It means being
on Queen Street West in five minutes and wandering past shops with
open doors, colourful windows and past people who might stop to say
hi. In another five minutes, we are at Trinity Bellwoods park, full of
activity, music, families, groups of friends - a bustling, beautiful
park, minutes from fun and friendly places to go for lunch, to stop
for a coffee or to sit and people-watch.
For Georgia, this provides a world with colour, interest, activity, things to talk about, ask about, and opportunities to experience so much in a few blocks.
Walking through my old Etobicoke neighbourhood in the summer is quite
different. It’s still full of families - but on a beautiful summer
weekend, going for a walk means passing by closed up houses with ACs
on and curtains drawn, people in their backyards perhaps, and passing
by cars and more cars on their way to do their weekend activities.
It’s a different kind of existence, and one that is right for
many families. However, for my family, being downtown is “right.” It is
invigorating and has helped my daughter to broaden her scope of
awareness, to experience a rich variety of opportunities right outside
her door that has helped her to grow and flourish.
There are many choices families make when raising children. I respect
the choice of many of my friends to raise their children in the
suburbs and know that they have made the “right” choice for them. The
right choice is not obvious, nor is it the same for everyone. Broad
generalizations and judgments about these kinds of things dilutes the
real value of being fortunate enough, as we are in Toronto, to have
these kinds of wonderful choices.
All the very best,