Nate Berg is a freelance reporter and a former staff writer for CityLab. He lives in Los Angeles.
He argues against requiring developers to build family-friendly units downtown.
Downtown Toronto is not for families, according to the city's deputy mayor.
At a recent city council meeting, Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday raised concerns about a policy requiring the developer of a proposed 47-story downtown residential tower to provide a minimum of 10 percent of the units with at least three bedrooms. Requiring these units, geared toward families, has been pushed by the area's council representative and the city's acting planning chief.
Holyday, himself a suburbanite, is flummoxed at the mere thought of a family wanting to live downtown. "Maybe some people wish to do that. I think most people wouldn't," Holyday said, according to the Toronto Star.
He also offered this hypothetical conversation between two urban parents:
‘Where’s little Ginny?’
‘Well, she’s downstairs playing in the traffic on her way to the park!’
Though a pretty clear case could be made that downtown living for children does not consist solely of playing in traffic, it's also fairly obvious that the density of an urban core can't provide the space and openness afforded in less dense or suburban areas. But that doesn't mean the city center is incompatible with children and their need to play. In fact, the parcel in question, 322-323 King Street West, is actually surrounded by parks. As you can see in this map, there are at least five parks within a five- or six-block walk of the site in each direction, in addition to the Lake Ontario waterfront a few blocks farther.
Holyday tabled a proposal that the 10 percent requirement be eliminated. The motion was defeated 27 votes to 4. While some people may agree with Holyday, others will at least have the option of moving themselves and their kids downtown.
*An earlier version of this article mistakenly referred to the proposed development's address as 322-323 King Street East. The correct address is 322-323 King Street West.
Photo credit: Jay Woodworth/Flickr