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I just returned from visiting my daughter in Toronto. The drive wasn’t much fun taking nearly three hours stuck in traffic along the 401 highway. Over the years I have seen many changes; some positive and too many negative effects of living in a large metropolitan city with close to four million people living in the G.T.A.

Toronto is now a very diverse city with a rainbow of colours/religions/cultures from people from all over the world who have immigrated to Canada to try and make a better life for their families. You can visit China Town, Greek Town along with many other countries cultural make-up without leaving the city limits.

If you are into sports and entertainment then you have lots to choose from if you have the money. Leafs, Raptors, Argos, Toronto Symphony, Sony Centre for the Performing Arts, are but few choices that come to mind.

My observations shows me that Toronto is made up of mostly rich and poor with the middle class in decline. The poor are mostly immigrants who try to live (exist) in high rise subsidized apartment buildings in Flemington /Regent Park areas of the city. The vast majority of them can’t move away to better areas. There is a lack of social/economic mobility for the residents whose first language is not English. They are in need of social services/networking to try and get by.

The Jane/Finch infamous corridor has sadly become synonymous with crime, drugs and ultimately death to to many young people.

The rich, mostly professionals, with a university degree in hand live in their upscale neighborhoods: Rosedale Forest Hill, Bridle Path in their very expensive homes. Mom and pop little cottages have been replaced with Mc Mansions with wall to wall frontages. Memories of what was once an affordable family home is bulldozed to make room for an empty building lot.

The average cost of a two bedroom house in Toronto is now $466,000 which makes it nearly impossible for the average person to afford.

The affluent drive or if need be take the subway to their offices but rarely, God forbid, jump on the bus.

There is a growing trend for the upscale families to send their children to private, ($20,000 per year tuition fees) schools because it is assumed that the public schools are not quite up to par. It is hard to learn to socialize and appreciate those who are not well-off in the general population when you do not rub elbows with them in school. The rich and poor live in two separate worlds.
Let’s compare for a moment our lives in London. I can drive anywhere in the city in twenty minutes or less. that We have 350,000 people compared to the four million in the G.T.A.

There are a few areas of the city that have safe public subsidized housing but for the most part there are lots of affordable homes with an average cost of $231,700 for a two storey home. You can still rent a two bedroom apartment with all of the utilities covered for $896.00 per month.

With the majority of our disposable income going to housing Londoners can own a home at half the cost of those who live in Toronto.

The 2006 Canadian Census showed that Londoners are doing quite well: 90,000 owned their own homes. 53,000 had university degrees, 76,000 had a post secondary education, 42,000 had no certification.

The vast majority of Londoners have their children attend publicly funded schools. There is absolutely no need for private school expensive tuition fees. Western, King’s/Huron/Brescia and Fanshawe College offer up excellent financially reasonable education programs for all of our children.

I have told the tale of two cities; London and Toronto. Londoners are most fortunate to live in the Forest City. A mostly middle class city where you can aspire to be and do anything you want if you have the dedication. It’s not the quantity of life that matters; it is the quality.

London’s former Mayor, Dianne Haskett, in 2000 had a billboard advertisement on the “Gardner Express Way” East bound lanes into Toronto “If you lived in London you would be home by now?” The Forest City is not perfect but compared to Toronto we have a wonderful affordable way of life.

Len Lesser

Len Lesser posts a report every week

You can email Len at lenlesser@hotmail.com