Dear Councillor Holyday,
My husband and I live at Queen and McCaul with our one-year-old son.
That’s about a 10 minute leisurely stroll from King and John. We have considered moving, because we need more space, but every time we see a place we can afford, it’s so far from the downtown core.
So we decide our location wins out over our space. We would much rather live in this vibrant downtown community than move away for a few hundred feet more room. We spend our days going across the street to Grange Park, which is at the top of John street. The park is full of families. There’s a nice little playground, where I have met lots of moms and dads of kids ranging from infant to 9 and 10. We talk about how great it is to live downtown and all the kid-friendly activities there are. We love to participate in the “Growing Up Healthy Downtown” programs at the University Settlement Community Centre, also located in Grange Park. We have music class every Tuesday and parent-tot swim class every Wednesday. They are packed with parents and kids.
As members of the Art Gallery of Ontario, we have free access to their hands-on learning centre, as well as visits to the gallery any time we want to. There are 3 great libraries within a few kilometres that hold storytimes in the mornings (including the City Hall library and the Lillian H. Smith Library, which houses the largest collection of Children’s literature in Canada).
In the afternoons, we stroll along Queen Street, sometimes going to the Eaton Centre, sometimes going west. There are great coffee shops and kid-friendly restaurants and stores. We take a trip down to King and John for the Farmer’s market at Metro Hall on Thursdays, where we can play in David Pecault Square, pick up some fresh produce and enjoy a locally baked cookie. We also visit the Nathan Phillip’s Square farmer’s market on Wednesdays and go up the ramp to the roof-top garden. My son loves to wave hello to all the people we meet. We took him to Riverdale Farm for his first birthday. The chickens were a big hit.
I’m a short walk from my job at the University of Toronto, which means that I can spend more time with my family because I don’t have to commute.
We love living downtown, and make full use of the programs, parks and markets. Judging by the other happy children we meet every day, many other families feel the same. I hope you will reconsider your remarks and spend some time exploring the diverse resources that downtown actually has to offer before you make sweeping generalizations about families in your city.
p.s. the pictures here include: our son learning to walk on the grass at Grange park, at Riverdale park with dad and looking at the chickens at Riverdale Farm.
(sent to Councillor Doug Holyday)