I am “Fearlessanalyst” for a reason: I just had to keep on compulsively analyzing after my December 21 post, reacting to the ‘Turner + Porter meeting’. Reflecting back over the decades, I thought about how my perspectives on development and urban planning have evolved. Decades ago while living in Kensington Market, I joined the opposition to the proposed “Doctors Hospital” development on the north side of College St. I was in a panic, felt like the end of the world would come if we lost.
We lost. We went into mourning. The beloved Victorian homes and other charms were ‘brutally’ shaved off the old block, and the new mixed-use development is now a major part of a thriving community. It is right, and I was wrong.
That was decades ago. My resistance to such changes, and the desire to preserve what we love, has changed somewhat. My perspective on development has become more tentative and open to new ideas, and more accepting of necessary architectural changes and mixes. My “preserving what we love” became a relative thing – relative to the realities I was gradually becoming aware of. Like the needs of neighbours which had nothing to do with architectural aesthetics.
“Heritage” architecture is important, but a healthy mixed community is relatively more so. For me, now, if the architecture can be saved and included in new mixed-use developments that contribute to ‘the greater good’, I am content. (By ‘the greater good’ in this case I mean especially more affordable rental housing.) What I love, now, is bigger and broader – and maybe deeper. I love a heterogeneous neighbourhood, the stimulation of differences: in ethnicities, races, designs, socio-economic levels, abilities. I love that among my neighbours are professors and people living with ‘schizophrenia’*; students and teachers; technologists working from home; elderly widows living on pensions; writers and lawyers; bank managers and servers.
But it’s evolving so subtly into what would probably be called a “class divided” community. Before long there will be two classes: the wealthy and those in public housing.** And when that happens, the inevitable result is ghettoes. The result of ghettoes is polarization, between people who don’t “get” each other.
Resist change? The reality is, everything changes, nothing remains the same. But we can have an influence on the quality of the changes. We can decide, pro-actively, what kind of community we want this to be, and make compromises for the sake of the greater good – which is ‘for our own good’ in the long run. More on this later…-
* – now that’s another story….