Suburban vs. Urban Divide: Toronto

It never occurred to me that the suburbanites and urbanites were at war with each other until the last mayoral election. I’ve always thought the two regions were like neighbours who are barely courteous to each other when they meet. Instead , they spend their time peering through the curtains and gossiping about each other.

So if it’s a war, we’re battling it out with cars vs. public transport, haves vs. have nots and desirable ethnic votes vs. non-desirable non-ethnic votes. Where does that leave the man or woman on the street who likes where they live?

I chose to live in Toronto for a number of reasons. Some of them are serious, some aren’t but all are true.

I lived in the suburbs when I moved to Canada

When I first came here I lived in Mississauga and Brampton. For a teenager who knew no one and had just moved to a new country, it was hell. There was nothing to do and everything shut down at 9 p.m.

And waiting for the bus in winter while in the suburbs was agony. At least in Toronto I can hide (and bitch) in a coffee shop before making a desperate dash to catch the TTC.

I didn’t want to live in a cultural ghetto

I had no desire to live in Little Whatever nor did I have any desire to live close to relatives. I had decided that if I was going to immigrate to Canada then I was going to assimilate. Living with other West Indians wasn’t going to help.

I got freaked out by my print journalism professor

My professor and I were talking one day and he told me that I should stay in the cities. Newbie-me got quietly freaked out by the thought of being hated for my skin and being the only non-white person in town. I promptly stayed in the city.

I know better now.

Toronto’s not world-class but it’s pretty interesting

Toronto is like an onion. You have to peel back several layers before you find something you really like. Before my brother moved to the city, we would choose a neighbourhood and spend a day walking it. That meant checking out the houses, the stores, the restaurants and the cafes. I did the same when I moved to Toronto and still walk a neighbour to explore it. I always find something interesting. Try it, Toronto’s very good at street level.

I like going to Shoppers at three in the morning

I also like grocery shopping at 2 a.m. There’s something peaceful about doing mundane chores at that time of night. Plus I don’t have to speak to anyone as we’re just not interested in talking to each other. I can also do all this without a car.

I feel safer in the city

Maybe it was all those stupid teenage horror movies but all that open space in the suburbs instantly makes me think of serial killers. Empty fields? They totally have chupacabras or werewolves. Ok, they mostly have cows but that still doesn’t stop my overactive imagination.

I appreciate the suburbs when I visit my parents but in all honesty after a weekend of peace and quiet, I’m dying to leave and head back to the city.

This post is part of the Ethnic Aisle blogging project. If you’re interested in race, ethnicity, diversity and the GTA, check out the other posts by some great writers.

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