What makes a neighbourhood? Is it the houses, or the people in them?
I was dismayed to come across this article. It describes one family's plan to knock down a hundred-year-old house in Toronto's Beaches neighbourhood, and then to design and build a completely accessible dwelling for the wife and mother who is paralyzed from the neck down.
So far so good, as far as most of the neighbours are concerned. However, there is a small but vocal group who have managed to get the community council to agree to report on designating the current house, with its stairs and narrow hallways, as a heritage property.
This means the plans to build an accessible house are on hold until at least 2011.
You know, it's not even like the people who want to build an accessible house are intruders, as if you could label anyone in this age of mobility with that epithet. They already lived in the neighbourhood when the degenerative neurological disease struck, and they wanted to stay in the only neighbourhood their sons have known, and where services and amenities are easily reached.
I wonder how many of the owners of the other hundred-year-old houses in the area prepare their meals in kitchens that have been gutted to make way for granite counter tops, stainless steel fridges and dishwashers.
Some may argue that the kitchen is on the inside, and its decor doesn't interfere with the century-old streetscape - but I've often noticed that modernized open concept family rooms and up-to-date appliances are easily seen from large, double-glazed front windows when the inside halogen lights are on after dark.
This family has undergone quite a blow, and it will take a lot of effort on their part and the part of others to make sure that Mom, as well as her family, doesn't end up socially limited.
What if the NIMBYs spent their time and energy recognizing the gift of these people in their midst and made sure instead that this gift is acknowledged and appreciated, instead of clucking over the possible loss of a "circular turret and five-sided dormer window."
You know, by saying something like, "How are you doing? Maybe I could give you a hand with something," instead of "I'm reporting you to the community council."
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