Porches, parks, pubs, chance encounters - this is how communities are forged.
By Ben Bull
Published September 28, 2009
There's a memorable scene in Seinfeld when Jerry slams the door to his building in a man's face.
"I'm sorry," Jerry mouths through the glass, as the guy tries to explain that he's forgotten his key. "I don't know you."
The next day, Jerry sees the same man in the lobby and they ride the elevator together. Jerry watches in dismay as the man alights - on his floor. His angst turns to horror as he watches the man trudge over to his apartment - right across the hall, from his own front door.
I don't like high rises. But I'm not the only one. Here in Toronto the high-rise love-hate affair continues. The latest erections to ignite the ire of local residents are clustered around the trendy Yonge and Eglinton locale.
Yonge and Eglinton has always been a battlefield. In 1837, rebels killed a loyalist colonel at the corner of Montgomery Ave. and Yonge St., in one of the first shots of the Upper Canada Rebellion.
Almost 200 years later, it's hard to tell who the rebels are - the developers pushing for high-rise condos or the residents trying to preserve the low-rise way of life in the adjacent neighbourhoods.
Yong and Eg is an area in dire need of intensification. The amenities are great, transit improvements are slated and all-in-all it's a great place to live - if you're rich. The problem is that the only housing options available right now are single family homes starting at $500k. More variety and affordable housing options are needed.
But high rises aren't the answer. Regardless of the obvious impact to the low-rise character of the area, condo towers don't create good neighbourhoods. What high rise areas do you know where you can find bustling community centers, quirky coffee shops exchanges and chance street corner conversations?
Condo neighbours are anonymous. Healthy communities condos do not make.
Yong and Eg needs more people and more different types of people ('the rest of everything' as Reg Beadry so eloquently put it on RTH the other day). But we need to find a more imaginative way to cram people together. How is it than cities like Paris can be bustling and high-density with only one tower in sight?
Yonge and Eg residents are not happy:
(Aaron) Graben (a member of the Eglinton Park Residents Association), says he knows people will move to the area, he just wants to see it done properly. He doesn't want front porches exchanged for tall glass condos. He wants a space to park his car, walk his dog and play with his children. If development fits in with that, he has no problem.
Porches, parks, pubs, chance encounters - this is how communities are forged. Not by slamming the door to the foyer in your neighbour's face because he forgot his key.
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