Friday night as I dined at my favourite window table in the Blue Plate, I could see a rainbow. No, this is not a fairy tale. My daughter, purely coincidentally, took a picture of it on her cell phone. I’m posting it here. I’m sure hundreds of thousands in Toronto saw the same rainbow. But it seemed symbolic of the fact that we had been in Yorkville and had intended to eat there; but it seemed so dead, so many businesses closed, and we decided instead to just “go home”.
As we headed west, I reflected on the historical cycle of Yorkville – part of which was dramatically shown in a documentary* – from charming hippie haven to wealthy enclave. Now only the wealthy can afford to live there and in parts it has the feeling of a vast mausoleum. Except for tourists. They make it ‘lively’. But unlike the sixties, now the tourists are dressed in expensive clothes and drinking martinis on expensive outdoor restaurant patios. The old charm is gone, and for me it has the shallow feeling of bar scenes in the “theatre district”.
We may not believe that could happen to Roncy, but it could. Unless we pay attention, get involved, and take the time, energy and creativity to understand and deal with the roots of the most important issue: affordability.
If our writers, poets, painters, social workers, teachers, servers, and even our veterinarians, our MRI technicians, our small business owners, can’t afford to live here, before long this will not be, simply put, ‘Roncy’. It will be like Yorkville: corporate lawyers; financial experts; banking executives, and so on. (Though to be fair, I have met some nice ones, and I suppose it’s possible that even some of them are secret radicals – I’m known to dream in technicolour!)
This is a community full of creative people, with enough who still ‘get it’: that we have to step up, get conscious, and take action. One opportunity has suddenly popped up: the Parkdale/High Park Residents Association is having its annual meeting Thursday, and no one is standing for election so far. Know anyone who might be interested???