Well, I expected tonight’s RMRA* meeting to be a potential ‘barn burner’. Rumour had it that the city was trying to re-zone Roncesvalles Avenue in a way that would allow for more development, possibly more commercial and retail businesses on the west side, etc. I gathered that the rumours came out of the results of the last meeting, in which Gord Perks, our city councillor, asked if residents wanted a “study” (that has an official connotation) as to whether the zoning needed to change, and a majority voted for said study.
The message out of tonight’s meeting was clearly in favour of retaining the current zoning status, with the dominant sentiment being retention of the unique and wonderful character of Roncesvalles Village. I agree with this — for now.
I was happy with the tone of the meeting – though I’m sure if there had been double the 32+ crowd, as apparently was the case last time, it might have been rowdier, and less productive. But the group was small enough that I think most people who had any passionate concerns did have the chance to speak.
But I’ve lived in enough neighbourhoods in my life to know that things are going to change. We may not want change, but change is as predictable as disappointment. It will change without our input and thought, or it will change with our participation, but it will change. I’d like us to take charge of that change.
So I hereby put my own agenda on the table: I want the character of Roncesvalles Village to remain nourished as long as possible – but of course that’s R.V. as I see it. I see Roncy as a neighbourhood that not only accepts difference, but nourishes it; a neighbourhood that believes in “Inclusion”; a neighbourhood that can accommodate artists, musicians, teachers, social workers, retail clerks, bar servers….. whoa! Is that true, just because I want it to be?
Our home of eighteen years is worth a fortune. Yes, the houses have been restored, renovated and replaced, and property values have soared. But the downside of gentrification is that our writer friends, musician friends, and our children, can’t afford to live here anymore. Who can? Well, we all know the answer to that.
I do hope we can find a way to get some ‘control’ over the gentrification process, and slow it down a little. I’d like to see main streets consciously and deliberately developed with apartment buildings on both sides of main streets (“Main Streets Intensification”) of perhaps four or five stories – with policies that actively encourage such development.I’d like to see co-op housing encouraged.
Otherwise, I fear we’ll have an assortment of condo developments with no street-connection, helter-skelter, some too high, some too luxurious with owners who shop in Miami, rather than Roncesvalles Village.
I am encouraged lately by chats with other residents who see this reality too. And I’m pleasantly surprised by the number of people who also prefer that this not become Yorkville. Let’s not have change by default, by letting it sneak up on us as we snooze by the lovely stream. Let’s stay conscious and involved, and keep reminding ourselves how precious this is. We’re a creative, mature community, and we can do this.
*Roncesvalles-MacDonell Residents Association