editorial: Toronto is a great city for kids in both suburbs and the city core
KJ Mullins-Toronto: Last week Toronto’s Deputy Mayor made a startling statement, the city is no place to raise a family. He prefers the lush grass carpet layout of his suburb home for his family and grand kids.
What concerns me more than the current debate over where a child in Toronto should be raised is that one of the city’s top people would slam one area over another. When the deputy mayor of a city basically shows one area of their city is not family friendly it appears to say a city is not safe. If a city isn’t safe to raise children how safe is it over all?
Toronto’s Mayor Rob Ford screams loudly at the fact that Toronto is a safe city but his own inner circle just challenged that statement this week. If the city is indeed one of the safest ones in North America then it doesn’t matter where you raise your children, they are safe.
There’s nothing wrong with the life of suburbia, where the little boxes live. There’s also nothing wrong with living the city life with kids in Toronto, where the boxes are higher and quite a bit smaller.
Children can thrive in the city or in the suburbs. They can also fall to gang violence, drugs and other types of crime in either area. If you look at the stats from Toronto Police where the shootings occur you see that there is as many shootings in what is considered as the suburbs as in the downtown core.
The kids in our family have lived in the city. My husband’s children went to school on Toronto Island for a time while young, something that kids in the ‘burbs would not be able to do. They also went to schools in their neighbourhood while young and further out when they went to high school. They were in contact with a very diverse mix of other kids while in school. That mix though is present in the Greater Toronto Area at most schools.
Our city kids played in the common grassy area of our residence and in the nearby parks. They didn’t play street hockey in the streets. That is one thing that the kids in the suburbs have a better chance at.
When they were ill there were several hospitals to choose from within a 10 minute ride. That ride was taken by taxi or public transit.
With everything so close to home owning a car hasn’t been needed. As they grew up and became more independent they traveled to where they wanted by foot, bike or transit.
The kids could go to a museum if they wanted with very little planning. There are always events taking place in the city that are family geared that they could just hop on a streetcar to attend at the last minute. They venture to Toronto Island whenever the mood strikes.
In contrast, the further from the city a child lives the less likely they will go to an event at a moment’s notice. They have to plan out the traveling details and at times rely on their parents for transportation.
So perhaps suburb kids learn better planning skills while city kids are better at being spontaneous.
Yes, the kids have seen street people during their growing up years. Parents are more likely to teach their children basic street smarts if they live in a city, a skill that benefits everyone.
Today, as young adults, they have compassion for those living a hard life and will bring a homeless person a coffee at times. That, however, comes more from the way they were raised than where they were raised.
For parents in Toronto there are many options on where to settle down to raise their families. The downtown is as good an option as the suburbs, it depends on what the needs of the parents are. Where the parents are happiest the children will be happier. City life or suburbia can both produce happy children, but that happiness is more dependent on the parents than where a kid’s bedroom is.