Many Roncesvalles residents love their neighbourhood because they say they have everything they need at their doorstep.
Perhaps this is why Roncesvalles Village is, as of press time, in the lead in the Canadian Institute of Planners’ Great Places in Canada Award. Canadians can vote for the country’s most-loved streets, neighbourhoods and public spaces, including Roncesvalles Village, on the institute’s website.
“If you live around here you don’t have to go anywhere else,” said Deborah Peets, owner of the furniture store Green Light District. “It’s what everyone loves: great neighbours, a great neighbourhood and fantastic people.”
Her husband David agrees.
“(Residents) support you just because you have a business in the neighbourhood,” said David who moved to the area with his wife to be closer to their shop. “Then when they find out you live here — even more so. They appreciate you’ve made a commitment.”
He said the unique boundaries that surround the village give it a sense of community, adding with Lake Ontario to the south and High Park to the west, it prevents the village from expanding and dividing.
“People are really comfortable in their skins here, they’re really happy and there’s no one they care to impress,” said David.
It was Roncesvalles’s proximity to High Park that attracted Elizabeth Johnson, who admits she moved from Etobicoke three-and-a-half years ago for her dog Jenga.
“I took the subway to different places and I fell in love with this neighbourhood,” said Johnson. “It’s the best place for a dog.”
For others, Roncesvalles Village reminds them of the places where they grew up.
Heather McTavish, an area resident for 12 years, said the neighbourhood reminds her of the east coast, where she grew up.
“There are a lot of east-coasters here,” she said. “It feels like home.”
McTavish’s favourite spot is Cherry Bomb on Roncesvalles Avenue, the only cafe where she has found rooibos americano, an espresso drink made with South African tea.
Chloe Forsyth, 22, has been a resident since she was 8-years-old. On a recent walk through the neighbourhood with a childhood friend, they noticed how the street’s businesses have changed.
“I feel like there’s this trendy business community, which I’m interested in, but I feel bad for older businesses that aren’t keeping up,” Forsyth said.
Due to the need to replace the streetcar tracks on Roncesvalles, the area underwent a renewal, which included the addition of bike lanes and reconstructed sidewalks.
“A lot of businesses have changed and people have mixed opinions as to whether it has helped or not,” said McTavish. “It’s good as far as I can see.”
Parkdale is currently in second place in Great Places in Canada’s great neighbourhood category, but Roncesvalles Village’s lead is quite narrow.
“Ward 14 residents are the clear winners by having both of these great places within walking distance of their homes,” said councillor Gord Perks, who represents both communities at city hall.
Voting for Great Places in Canada closes Feb. 29.
As of Feb. 1, Roncesvalles Village is in second place, behind London, Ontario’s Woodfield. To see the current standings, and to vote, visit the Great Places in Canada website.
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