How many Torontonians does it take to open a daycare?

Posted on in Child & Family Delivery System

NationalPost.com – Full Comment – Some quail at the idea of hearing children at play. ‘The idea of tolerating (it) is frankly ludicrous, and completely incongruent with this residential corner,’ one couple wrote
.   Chris Selley

The front side of Ann Pikar’s Cabbagetown home as seen in Toronto, ON on Thursday August 24, 2017.Laura Pedersen/National Post

Every city has its Most Precious Citizens — that hyper-privileged group of over-comfortable supposed progressives who are too hopelessly tone-deaf to realize the rest of the city can’t stand them. MPCs can serve a valuable unifying purpose: Residents from all walks of life, who might otherwise struggle to share common experience, can bond in mutual appreciation of their ridiculousness.

Torontonians are truly blessed to have the Quintessential Cabbagetowners to play this role. These folks make the Ward’s Islanders look blue-collar. Riverdale might as well be a 1950s Welsh coal mining village. And the Quintessential Cabbagetowners’ most recent performance has been a classic: A businessman wants to open a daycare in a lovely corner house with storefront space. The MPCs have been freaking out in ways that have their reality-based neighbours hiding their heads between their knees.

Some claim a daycare is simply incompatible with Cabbagetown’s gorgeous 19th-century Victorian row houses. As a “de facto commercial operation,” one resident complained, it would represent “a slippery slope for this iconic neighbourhood” and “an outrage.”

“This is standard-issue capitalism run amok,” a local resident told the magazine Toronto Life. He’s a mining executive, which is absolutely perfect.

The most precious quailed at the thought of hearing children at play. “The idea of tolerating (it) is frankly ludicrous, and completely incongruent with this, or any other, residential corner in this city,” one couple wrote to the city.

More reasonable folks claim daycare in Cabbagetown is a fine idea, just “not on this particular street,” because it is “too narrow,” with “too many cars on it.” That describes all streets in Cabbagetown, though.

“I worry the kids would be run over by the cars when they’re being picked up,” one resident fretted. “I could see major gridlock during rush-hour times,” warned none other than Barbara Hall, the arch-progressive former mayor and head of the Ontario Human Rights Commission. “It just seems like a massive change for the neighbourhood.”

Traffic concerns won the day at the Committee of Adjustment in April. The Toronto Local Appeal Body — the new entity replacing the Ontario Municipal Board — is now hearing the case. MPCs continue to grace us with wonderful insights like those of Cabbagetown’s Marxist mining executive. It’s all very entertaining for childless misanthropes like me, but it’s not helping anyone find a daycare space.

Setting aside the more cabbage-brained concerns, what I find most peculiar is the ease with which everyone, including the media, seems to accept the basic assumption that children have to be dropped off and picked up by automobile. It’s obviously not true. According to the 2018 Transportation Tomorrow Survey, in 2016 some 28 per cent of Toronto households were carless. In downtown wards it’s over 50 per cent. And if there’s any daycare clientele you would expect not to be auto-beholden, it would surely be this one’s. It would be surrounded by some of the densest areas of the city — and MPCs hate cars on principle. It would be a 15-minute walk from Castle Frank subway, seven minutes to the College streetcar, four and three minutes to the Wellesley and Parliament buses, respectively.

There’s a widely accepted subsidiary assumption, too, which is that parents must park directly outside the day care to effect their drop-offs and pick-ups. Again: Not true! There is plenty of parking on Parliament Street — the aforementioned three-minute walk away. There is parking for Riverdale Farm roughly seven minutes’ walk away on the far-eastern end of Carlton Street. Perhaps the local Catholic school, 190 metres away, or the local public school, 500 metres away, might be willing to offer their parking lots for parents’ use after school hours.

Can we really not figure out how to enforce a no-parking zone such that a daycare can open in a residential area that by all accounts sorely needs it?

There seems to be a profound failure of imagination at play here. So it would be great to just say this is a wholly invented problem: Open the damn daycare, everything will be fine. Yet there’s every reason to believe the traffic would, in fact, end up being an enormous problem. You would only need a fraction of the 80 kids’ parents to show up on their Mercedes tractors before you had a problem. I’ve never witnessed it firsthand, but parents speak of school drop-off zones as barely civilized battles royal in which kids could very easily get hurt (not least since Torontonians have no idea how to drive).

The solution in every case is obvious: Put a traffic cop (or a real one) on the scene and absolutely refuse to let people stop or park where they’re not allowed to. Done. Schools and daycares foist all kinds of inconveniences on parents, from garbage-free lunches to usurious late pick-up fees. Can we really not figure out how to enforce a no-parking zone such that a daycare can open in a residential area that by all accounts sorely needs it?

The question sounds ridiculous. You want to mock it. But this is the terrible truth about so many of Toronto’s problems, both big and small: To borrow a line from The Simpsons, we’ve tried nothing, and we’re all out of ideas.

Chris Selley: How many Torontonians does it take to open a daycare?

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This entry was posted on Thursday, December 13th, 2018 at 2:03 pm and is filed under Child & Family Delivery System. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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