For decades now, Torontonians have referred to this city as a community of neighbourhoods.
We’ve boasted Toronto’s a great place to live because it’s grown into a thriving, exciting metropolis without losing the homey, small-town feeling in its preserved residential areas.
But is this still true?
Or put the question this way: Do we still identify ourselves as residents of specific neighbourhoods in Toronto? Many of us do. Town Crier reporters and editors are painfully aware some of our readers become irate if we interpret the boundaries of their neighbourhoods creatively.
A few locals even become upset when we use the term “midtown” in reference to issues that affect the larger area in which our papers operate. They aren’t “midtowners,” they say, but Leaside residents, Deer Park residents, Summerhill residents, Bedford Park residents, North Toronto residents, Hoggs Hollow residents, and so on.
However, we are also sadly aware that some of our readers have no idea which “official” neighbourhood they reside in.
Paradoxically, the very appeal of our communities may be working against neighbourhood identification. Note, for instance:
- The trend of chains and big-box stores edging out the smaller shops that help give us local character and more personal interaction.
- The growth of the highrise market attracting inhabitants who don’t always identify with the street-level residential scene.
- The greater mobility of residents today — such that many of us have lived in multiple Toronto neighbourhoods during our working lives, and increasingly see ourselves as having a wider loyalty.
But being a proud Torontonian does not have to negate having an appreciation of the local community. For the sake of our quality of life, it behooves us to do whatever we can to nurture both.
And by “us,” of course, we mean you and me, neighbour.
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