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The Downtown Core

August 15, 2011

Where I live is uptown, the upper echelon and fine crust of Toronto’s affluent (and conservative). It’s old wealth, Jewish bakeries, Porsches…and a whole lot of children. Nay a day goes by (dare I say an hour) where I do not hear or see a child, a stroller or an enlargened belly. I am flanked left and right by daycares, schools, children’s stores and the such. This is all fine. I decided to live here (and wish to forever) because it’s a safe community where everybody knows each other’s names and I have everything I need nearby: coffee shops, book stores, parks and ravines and trails, grocery shops and more. It’s got quite the hustle-and-bustle in the day yet drops dead at night. I did not come here for the best schools in the city (and some in our country) UCC, Appleby, Havergal College. I did not come here because of its perceived prestige and the Fendi bags and prim coiffure. I came because it’s nice, and yeah, I dig organic coffee.

I am a 15 minute drive from downtown where it can be the most unfriendly place for children–especially those in strollers. They are not welcomed in the subway where everybody herds together and squishes in like it’s the last train of the day. Certainly if there is not room for a suitcase, the mother with the shiny red Orbit is out of luck! Not every station has escalators and I see many mothers carrying heavy strollers up the many stairs–often with nobody offering help. Everyone is in a rush. This is downtown. There is business meetings where large amounts of money are at stake. There are photo shoots where the beautiful need to scurry too, dates with hot 30-somethings and bars with line-ups that are growing by the nanosecond. Downtown is for the young professionals, the dame who shops at Holt Renfrew and has tea at Cafe Noir. It’s for penthouse powerhouse men and the singles who frequent Richmond Street in showy Ferraris and Louboutins. You could do motherhood–but here is why it’s not a good idea downtown.

1. Safety–From the mall to the McDonald’s….homeless people, prostitutes and druggies walk the day and the night. They are enmeshed with downtown. This downtown is every bit theirs as it is the jet-setters in the Rosedale mansions. Not to mention the thick as hornets crowds at any given time at every light, bustling and never looking down for little tiny toes.

2. Noise—construction, construction, construction. If you are downtown, the sound of a fire truck should put you to sleep. Police sirens, ambulances, loud drunken young adults and even more liquored up thugs will ruin your bedtime story. The sound of the street cleaning trucks, garbage trucks and the likes would have you thinking the world was coming to an end. Imagine a peaceful baby sleeping in all that din.

3. Lack of green space–condos are going up quicker than you can see “Lease” and parks are delegated to postage-stamp size patches of grass near the condos save for one or two parks that are so well-known, you are sharing the path with 80 or so other people at any given time. The yards in the schools are concrete and asphalt, with no grassy hills to be seen and no track for the runners. It isn’t suburbia, it is the polar opposite of.

There are many more reasons of course. The people of downtown are there to work, to get educated and to have fun. They come downtown from the countryside, the outer city and the suburbs or from their own apartment and they outnumber the families that are scurrying past a crowd of University of Toronto students to the ROM (Royal Ontario Museum). It is obvious that while they aren’t despised, they don’t exactly fit in. Downtown is (and rightfully so) designed for adults. From the silvery vast financial building towers to the $20 and up parking, men in suits and the Asian students with backpacks, black-rimmed glasses and BlackBerries…a woman with a young child can feel out of place. Alien.

I love downtown. You’re so anonymous there. But it’s a mutual feeling of “getting life done” that everybody has. Whether it’s the Pakistani girls giggling on their way to Pickle Barrel, or the Newmarket men with their Maple Leaf jerseys on the way to watch a hockey game at the Maple Leaf Garden or even the two sexy blondes in their Little Black Dresses showing off sexy ivory skin–they all have one thing in common: we’re too busy enjoying our own life. Most downtown cores are like this. The families have the farms, the outer city and the suburb. We can all come downtown and live a little.

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