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Jostling for space on the grass

The talk this weekend in Toronto is about how everyone is jamming into downtown parks — like Trinity Bellwoods — to enjoy the beautiful weather and drink outside with friends.

Some, including our mayor, are “extremely disappointed” by this selfish behavior. Others are chalking it up to those hipsters. And others, such as Richard Florida, are being highly sympathetic: these are young people who live in small urban spaces and they are clamoring for some green space. Let them be human.

This, of course, is a debate that is playing out not just here in Toronto, but all around the world as we flirt our way into a reopening. Videos of the Lake of the Ozarks were making the rounds on Twitter when I last checked.

I’m not here to pass judgement or predict a second wave (though a few waves are probably inevitable). I’ll leave that to the epidemiologists. The silver lining to all of this, I think, is that it is a clear demonstration of just how persistent urban life remains in the midst of this pandemic. The desire to be around other humans is a powerful force of attraction.

Here is an excerpt from a recent FT Opinion by Ben Rogers called, Cities are not dead — they will get younger:

Cities have always worked particularly well for young people. They flock to them to build up vital social and professional networks, meet their mates and learn how the world works. Around the world there is massive unmet demand for city homes and workspace. The idea that the centres of London, Paris and New York will turn into tumbleweed towns is fanciful. The age composition of these cities might change, but people and business will still be jostling for space near the centre.

In Toronto this weekend, that jostling for space played out on the grass of Trinity Bellwoods Park.

Photo by Adrien Olichon on Unsplash

1 Comment so far

  1. Here’s a comment I posted on my Facebook page in response to this article:

    “At the very least, governments and urban planners will have to rethink current growth plans calling for increased density in cities, big and small. People are aware that sharing elevators with your neighbours in high-rise condos comes with a new element of unavoidable risk if the coronavirus lingers for long. Moreover, the attraction of working from home in a 500 square-foot box quickly loses its appeal after any length of time as does heading to the local park if you expect to be berated by the mayor and social-media busybodies. The single-family home with a backyard is now the gold standard, but how many can afford one of those? It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

    “As the COVID-19 pandemic rages on and people continue to work from home, two real estate brokerages have noticed that property buyers are citing space in their moving decisions.”

    I’m still trying to wrap my head around this.


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