Time to show some love for Sheppard Ave.
There’s a certain Toronto blog that I love to read every day with all the newspapers. One of the entries on this particular blog focused on the release of new maps of certain Toronto neighbourhoods.
I made the comment and suggestion of having more maps of different neighbourhoods that aren’t in a square bordered by the lake, Spadina to the West, Bloor to the North, and Jarvis to the East should be included in their selection.
Many people voiced their opinions about the pros and cons (mostly cons) of this idea but it got me thinking that, in general, there are some neighbourhoods in this city that don’t get any love from Torontonians. Willowdale, and Sheppard Avenue from Yonge to Don Mills, specifically, is one of these unloved neighbourhoods.
At first I was going to write about the negative opinion about the subway line, however short, but packed with people during the rush-hour commute. But there’s enough of a general dislike, or misunderstanding, of this neighbourhood to warrant more writing.
Is it because it’s still considered suburban even though it’s not? Are people frustrated because there’s a short subway line in the neighbourhood? Are people angry because there’s six lanes of road and cars still dominate? All of the above, perhaps?
If you haven’t had a chance to come up here, I would recommend you do because there’s a lot happening.
The first thing you’ll notice is that you don’t need a car to get around. I don’t drive. I gave up driving, on purpose, when I moved to the neighbourhood. Everything is transit accessible and within a reasonable walking distance.
The second thing you’ll notice are all the condo developments sprouting up near Bayview and further across Sheppard at Don Mills. The subway line has had a positive effect on this street contrary to what most people thought would have happened. It is encouraging development like any subway line should. This development goes largely ignored.
It’s too bad the subway couldn’t be expanded West to Downsview and East to the Scarborough Town Centre or the Zoo. I think the potential development in this area will eventually overload the planned LRT.
Don’t get me wrong, LRTs are a good thing. Had the subway never happened, I would have encouraged this technology in lieu of a subway line. But since there's a subway already here, I’d rather see money spent on expanding it bit-by-bit over time.
The third thing you’ll notice are the entertainment choices. There are plenty of bars, restaurants, theatres and cafes. My favourite place is a cafe called L’Opera. The Toronto Centre for the Arts is also nearby.
There is one public square for people to enjoy in Mel Lastman Square, with another one potentially in the works in the Yonge-Sheppard Square.
If you want to come up for some serious shopping there are three malls in the area. Two are subway accessible in Fairview and Bayview Village and one is accessible by bus, or a short walk, in Centrepoint. More importantly, if you don’t like malls, you can still find smaller local stores all over the neighbourhood to frequent.
Another bonus to the neighbourhood is its central location. I’m a half-hour (at most) from downtown and at any time I can hop on the TTC, Go Transit, VIVA and Brampton Transit to get anywhere in the GTA in under an hour.
If this sounds like an advertisement for the neighbourhood, it isn’t meant to be. I just highlight all of this because there is more to Toronto than the downtown core.
Just as we are all taught, rightfully so, not to pre-judge people, Torontonians shouldn’t be so quick to pre-judge a neighbourhood because of what it once was. Unfortunately, this happens with great regularity in this city.
If Toronto is a city of neighbourhoods, it’s only fair to expand the group and allow for up-and-coming neighbourhoods to join the group.
Maybe one day when my favorite Toronto blog publishes a map of the neighbourhood people will start to wake up, see how great it really is, and finally show it some love.