I got inspired to respond to an article in Toronto Life. I’ve never done this before. Here goes…
Re: Sarah Fulford’s Editor’s Letter in the August 2013 issue of Toronto Life, “The Party Pooping Parkdale Moratorium”. (Click here to read: Toronto Life Editorial)
I am the Director of Parkdale Neighbourhood Church (PNC), a place committed to being a welcoming space for all people, while particularly valuing those who are marginalized, in the neighbourhood for which it’s named. In your editorial you state that the City’s report “comes down hard on the side of safe-guarding the status quo, even though its authors can’t identify what’s worth preserving”. You go on to say that cities are never “static”, site Yorkville as a success story and close with the thought that “Parkdale is following in the footsteps of many beloved neighbourhoods”.
Here’s the thing: Parkdale is already beloved. I can list many reasons why it is worth preserving, not least of which is its village quality, one where people of varying social status co-exist.
Those dingier storefronts you mention are where many of my friends can afford to buy what they need. I agree that nothing is static: I am not opposed to some changes in Parkdale if what it actually amounts to is a sharing of space. The problem is that all too often it means another Yorkville- a neighbourhood where services and restaurants are out of reach for the average person. Those “last-resort jewellers (‘we buy gold’) and payday loan outlets” do often prey on the people who are most vulnerable. It will not serve them well though to simply have those places replaced with high-end restaurants where they cannot afford to eat. Economic growth is not the only sign of a healthy city. It would be good to explore alternative economies, ones where people share their belongings, wealth and abilities. At PNC we are attempting to figure out what it means to invite people into full participation of a community; we believe that everyone has something to give.
I think that Councillor Perks is trying to stand up for those who quite often don’t have much of a voice. I need to do the same. As you admit, this isn’t merely a fight about noise, it goes much deeper than that. I think it necessary to come up with a plan that ensures Parkdale can retain its diversity. Diversity is worth preserving. Let’s not party poop on that.