If you haven’t heard, Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday recently said he did not think downtown Toronto was a great place to raise kids. He spoke these contentious words when arguing that a condo developer should not be forced to have a minimum number of units with 3 bedrooms, specifically targeting families with children.
So you know I am not a fan of Rob Ford’s nor of his allies such as Holyday. However, I can’t understand why everyone is up in arms over his comments. First of all, he’s expressing an opinion, which he has every right to do – he said that he personally would not want to raise his own kids in the downtown core, but he knows that there are people who would and he’s not saying they are not allowed to. Secondly, if you’re a parent in the Greater Toronto Area, do you really disagree with him? Given the choice between a home on a quiet street with minimal traffic and a condo tower at King and John Street, which would you seriously choose as a better place to raise a child? Holyday isn’t suggesting that one has to live in the suburbs if you have kids. I feel like everyone’s missed the point that his comment related to the downtown core, not to Yonge and Avenue Road or Bloor and Danforth. King and John is an incredibly busy intersection both day and night. I cannot imagine a fun life for DQ living there; when she’s 21, sure, but not when she’s 5!
If Toronto city councillors looked at who is buying and who is attracted to the hundreds of condo towers that are being built, it would be clear that it is the Gen Yers, and some empty nesters, perhaps. Downtown Toronto is exciting! Clubs, shopping, cafes, restaurants, museums: all the things parents rarely have the time to enjoy! Downtown Toronto was not built for families.
Which brings us to the real crux of the debate: why should a condo developer be forced to include “family-friendly” units in an area of the downtown that doesn’t have any appeal to families? I can see if this was a discussion about a development happening at Yonge and St. Clair, or even Queen and Woodbine or College and Bathurst. If this particular developer did have 3-bedroom units available in his building at King and John, they would have greater appeal to young adult couples who are both self-employed and need home office set-ups rather than to couples with children. Holyday is right when he says “I’m not going to dictate to a developer that they must provide 10 per cent of their units in the three-bedroom form when there may or may not be a market for it.”
Call me slow, but I just don’t understand what is so wrong about what he is saying. City councillors and residents should take a few minutes and really listen to what someone is saying so that they can engage in an appropriate debate before they start with their drama.