Shopping over leisure is city hall’s urban village idiocy

Scarborough, it’s time to bring in the fun.

Seriously. This town needs more entertainment. Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker et al can expound all they want about “urban villages” in progress. But these urban villages are just artificial little shopping villas that give us nothing we didn’t already have.

We’re all really impressed with the money spent on benches and windows at Scarborough Town Centre. But what happens when 9 p.m. strikes and residents are finished spending their money at the mall? When I’m thinking about a date place, or a place to hang out with buddies, I don’t think Scarborough. As a matter of fact, I probably don’t consider a spot within 20 kilometers of Scarborough.

There is a stigma that goes along with growing up in small towns. Kids get older and they struggle to find anything to entertain themselves with. They turn to vandalism, drugs, weapons — anything they can get their hands on — in place of the entertainment they can’t get.

Our local councillors seem to be hooked on the notion that Scarborough needs to be a gargantuan residential zone. But if it’s to be a more desirable place to live, it first needs to be a more desirable place to hang out. Bring in the strip clubs, bring in the theatres, the dance halls, the posh night clubs and the glitzy restaurants.

It’s a little much to ask people from the northeast reaches of Scarborough to travel 40 km downtown for a little entertainment. And gang violence may actually fall if teens on the street had something better to occupy their time.

I’m not suggesting we duplicate the neon mess that is Eglinton Avenue East all over town. Areas like that were sleazy in the ’70s when they were conceived and will continue to be sleazy until they’re finally knocked down and replaced with mediocre condo buildings.

But if some of the effort and funding that goes into upscale shopping centres around Scarborough’s “urban villages” was put into creating some nightlife, we may see some authentic urban development.

Why are we kidding ourselves with these overblown shopping circuses? Nobody sees Scarborough as a shopping destination. The city may attract some weekend shoppers commuting from the east, but it will lose out every time to more posh locations like Yorkdale, Eaton Centre and Vaughan Mills. What we need is to rebuild Scarborough as something separate and unique from Toronto.

Take Etobicoke. It maintained proper urban centres that include nightlife destinations. Etobicoke residents have fun options close to home while the downtown core awaits them should they feel the need to explore.

Scarborough residents can’t say the same. There are a million places to shop but nowhere to kick back. It’s a city to sleep in and nothing more.

Incoming mayor Rob Ford is cutting Scarborough loose with transit, and why wouldn’t he? There’s no reason to be here anyway.

About this article

By: Billy Courtice
Posted: Nov 26 2010 11:44 am
Filed under: Opinion