The narrative in this fairly recent FastCompany article about Toronto’s CityPlace neighborhood is that the area was initially planned and built for young professionals who wanted to be close to work and party. But that it has since evolved to become a more mixed residential community. Over time, the young professionals started having children and now the area is filled with a surprising number of urban families. “Hundreds” according to FastCompany. In response to this shifting demographic, the Canoe Landing Campus was recently completed, containing a community center, two public schools, a public park, and childcare facilities. And apparently it was long overdue.
This is interesting for a few reasons. CityPlace has long been criticized for its planning. Local Toronto lore has been that the area was destined to become a slum. But is that actually playing out? Anecdotally, it would seem that families are sticking around (and being attracted to the area) and that it’s settling in nicely as an urban residential community. In fact, I wonder if CityPlace might be emerging as one of the areas in the city with the highest concentration of high-rise urban families. I quickly tried to find some data on this but couldn’t.
Something else worth pointing out: One of the objections that you’ll often here when it comes to new development is that there isn’t the infrastructure in place to support it. Where are the schools? Where are the community centers? And where are the hipster coffee shops? Because without these invaluable things, development should be stopped immediately. Now I’m not suggesting that these things aren’t important. But the CityPlace example is yet another reminder that cities and neighborhoods evolve — often in fortuitous ways. The best city building is nimble and entrepreneurial.