My own love affair with Toronto began quite early; I was born in the downtown core and grew up just north of the city. Although I often felt marooned in the 'burbs, I was not only close enough to become completely captivated by Canada's largest city, but also (thankfully) just close enough to access the TTC at its northern-most reaches. As a teenager, I took every opportunity to ride the Red Rocket down to explore the heart of the city that I found to be so alluring; although the Queen and University haunts of my teenage years have come and gone, my excitement about Toronto, and my scope of this dynamic city as a whole, has continued to widen.
Earlier this year, The Economist published a report in which they ranked Toronto as the best city in the world to live in. That's right - Best. City. Ever. In being from this magical place, their findings came as no surprise to me. It would seem that despite our qualms with the dated infrastructure and all the resulting woes, Toronto actually has plenty going for it: we are quickly becoming a culinary center of the world, according to The Edible City: From Farm to Fork, we have a vibrant arts community that continues to evolve, and incredibly diverse populations who bring an abundance of cultural nuances, events, and interests with them. These elements are just some of what gives this city it's unique feel and helps to shape it's dynamic identity.
With so much going on across the city’s various boroughs, deciding where to live is always such a personal choice with people prioritizing very different things in their quest for a home, balancing lifestyle necessities, food and cultural considerations, transportation requirements, and so on. Despite the tricky business of finding a home and the high cost of living, people are fighting tooth and nail to stay here, and even more people keep coming. Where generations before us tended to “trade-up” and move to the 'burbs in favour of big yards, double-garages and a commute, many of us can't see ourselves leaving any time soon and are electing to build our lives down here instead. Interestingly enough, it's not only the young and fresh moving into the heart of downtown. Folks who are looking to downsize are also choosing the city as their destination so that they have easier access to public transportation, amenities and culture. If you factor in the people from outside of Ontario moving into the city every single day, the swelling student populations, as well as the occasional long-term tourist, you've got a booming city on the rise!
But what is it about Toronto that makes it such a dreamscape, what is it that keeps people coming, and coming back? What is it about this city that has kept me here, trumping that seemingly universal teenage instinct to get the hell out of the town you grew up in? For me, fundamentally, it's the people themselves. We reside here, are building our individual lives, cultivating our respective communities and, by extension, an authentic Torontonian vibe that leaves a lasting impression on an international scale. It simply wouldn’t be the same place without all of the eclectic elements at play, and this is only possible because of the people who live, work and play here. We continue to invest our time, money and energy into this city because this is our home and we protect it with a sense of pride that is often a source of derision from the rest of the country. While we are not exempt from the pitfalls of dense urban living - class and race issues, homelessness, accessibility, etc. - what feels different to me is a collective commitment to seeing the city - our home - improve and prosper.
Which is ultimately to say I'm in it for the long haul. I love you Toronto, here’s to many more years together.