As we know, Toronto is the largest city in Canada and the administrative center of the province Ontario. The population of Toronto accounts more than 2,6 million people (Statcan.gc.ca, 2015). At the same time, Toronto together with the nearest cities of Mississauga, Brampton, Markham and some others forms agglomeration of the Greater Toronto Area. It is the most populous metropolitan area in Canada. The rapid growth of population in Toronto has started in the 1970s (Riverdaletoronto.com, 2016). It was connected with the outflow of the English-speaking population and business from province Quebec. Nowadays, Toronto is a multinational city with big differences between its regions. Let’s analyze the neighbourhood Riverdale in more detail.
The core city area of Toronto continues to be split into many coded districts. The last ones contain neighbourhoods. In our case, neighbourhood Riverdale together with Danforth (Greektown) and Leslieville is included to district E01. Riverdale is located in the north- west of the region East End. Its environmental boundaries are as follows:
This neighbourhood differs by the high density of population. There are large streets, which divide Riverdale to the several paths. The largest streets are Danforth Avenue, Gerrard Street East, Dundas Street East, Queen Street East and Pape Avenue. Riverdale has been a small rural community till the 1860s (Riverdaletoronto.com, 2016). But the start of construction of the railway through Riverdale brought great industry and employment opportunities. Nowadays, Riverdale can be considered as a quiet prosperous region. The CN Railway separates Riverdale into two parts: North Riverdale and South Riverdale. The first area is located between Danforth Avenue (north) and Gerrard Street (south).
South Riverdale consists of a lot of smaller neighbourhoods: Riverside, East Chinatown and Studio District. Each of them differs by the architecture of buildings, specialized employment and other features. There are other communities: Blake-Jones and the Pocket.
Generally, houses in South Riverdale are smaller and are not such expensive as in North Riverdale. It can be assumed, that northern part of Riverdale is more developed and characterized by higher rates of population welfare, than the south part.
Nowadays, Riverdale is represented in the Ontario provincial parliament by Peter Tabuns. The last one is a deputy leader of the Ontario New Democratic Party.
Community of Neighbourhood Riverdale
Riverdale’s community is large enough and diverse. It is well-known for its colorful shopping districts, Victorian and Edwardian homes. The most of them have been constructed in the 1800s as boarding room for workers. The majority of current residents has redeveloped such houses into homes for young families. It should noted, that prices of local houses have increased significantly (Raphael et al., 2001).
Riverdale is an ideal location for commuters (Torontoneighbourhoods.net, 2016). The main streets are all quickly accessed from this neighbourhood. One more feature of this neighbourhood is a large recreational area. There are three medium and large parks in Riverdale:
Community of Riverdale has their own structure around which political activity is organized. There are different cultural, health care and other organization in Riverdale. The main source of income for people in Riverdale is provided by the employment at the transport and railway companies, film and television and other industries. Riverdale can be considered as a bustling commercial and cultural area. There are a lot of artists from middle- to upper-class professionals, who live here. The South Riverdale still retains the post-industrial character.
The neighbourhood Riverdale differs by quiet developed infrastructure (Relph, 2014, 157). Let’s analyze them in more detail. According to the ranking of Toronto’s neighbourhood, Riverdale is considered as North and South. The indicators of both parts are represented in the table 1 (Toronto Life, 2016).
The above mentioned ranking is based on the methodology of the Martin Prosperity Institute. Some indicators show direct dependency: the higher figure is - the higher level of development of the region. Other indicators (crime, transit) show opposite effect. As we can see, the rates of the North Riveale are much better than the South.
As a whole, the transportation system of Riverdale provides excellent access to public transit. There are regular bus service or streetcar service and the Bloor-Danforth subway.
As for recreation, there is a lot of parks and similar areas, which are located through the neighbourhood. Riverdale Park East, Withrow Park and Jimmie Simpson Park are the largest parks in Riverdale. Each of them includes tennis courts, hockey rink, location for baseball.
Riverdale is known as the region with great number of educational institutions: schools, gymnasiums, high schools. It should be noted, that the North Riverdale has a high score of the indicator “schools”. More and more families relocate to this region in due to the high quality of educational services.
Schools in Riverdale can be divided into three groups:
three catholic schools (including, Holy Name Catholic School);
more than 20 public schools;
one private school (Riverdaletoronto.com, 2016).
Great attention can be given to the Riverdale Collegiate Institute. It is the neighbourhood's local high school. There are two alternative local schools: Quest Alternative School and East Alternative School of Toronto. Riverdale has several public libraries. They offer a large number of programs for children as well as for adults.
The main health care organization is Bridgepoint Health or Riverdale Hospital (Riverdaletoronto.com, 2016). There are other health care organizations. For example, the South Riverdale Community Health Centre is a community-based organization that offers primary health care services and health promotion programs to a diverse community. Riverdale Community Midwives function from 1994 in this region also (Riverdaletoronto.com, 2016). This center provides primary care to women and their babies throughout their low-risk pregnancy, labor and birth.
Generally, infrastructure is an important factor for understanding the development of a separate district or neighbourhood in the big city. Infrastructure level can vary depending on the district of the city, active position of its community and other factors. Thus, the level of infrastructure development gives an overview of the living conditions of the residents, opportunities for education, work and happy family life.
Main Problems in the Neighbourhood
The British magazine “The Economist”, that prepares annual ranking of the most attractive cities for living in the world, puts Toronto on the first position in 2015 (Statcan.gc.ca, 2015). Toronto is recognized as the safest city in North America, and one of the safest cities in the world. It has taken the 8th place in the world ranking of 2015 (Statcan.gc.ca, 2015).
The ratings of the magazine “The Economist” takes information of almost all big companies and the media as a basis. Actually, like any rating, assessment of “The Economist” magazine may not reflect completely accurate picture, but in general, it provides the overview of the place of a city in the world ranking. The evaluation was conducted on forty parameters, which are divided into four categories: information security, health care, infrastructure and personal safety.
Toronto has got to the top of the list of the fifty most attractive cities in the world by average total assessment parameters (Statcan.gc.ca, 2015). Given these facts, it can be assumed, there are no big problems in the Riverdale neighbourhood. Anyway, this issue requires a more detailed study.
In my opinion, the biggest problem is connected with the prices of local houses in the Riverdale neighbourhood. All of them have only a few floors. Thus, they have a small, effective area: only two or maximum three families can live in the same house. It is one of the main reasons that housing prices increases significantly. The average cost of one-bedroom apartments in Riverdale exceeds the average income of working young people aged 15 to 24 years by 40.6% (Statcan.gc.ca, 2015). Therefore, a large part of people aged twenty to thirty years live with their parents. The average cost of rental housing is also high in the analyzed neighbourhood. At the same time, there is a special organization that considers issues of affordable housing at the city level. It is Toronto Social Housing Connections.
More than six hundred buildings are managed by co-operatives, private non-profit organizations and community groups. Toronto Social Housing Connections controls the distribution of housing. The queue for subsidized housing accounted more than 170 thousand people in the whole Toronto (Statcan.gc.ca, 2015). Families can wait for such housing up to eight years. Thus, problem of affordable housing has not been solved yet.
Another problem is connected with public transport. More and more people complain about the irregular routes of buses and trams. It can be caused by traffic jams and heavy traffic in the Riverdale.
Perspective Ways to Solve Problems
In my opinion, the community may choose such perspective ways to solve the above mentioned problems as follows:
In conclusion one can say, that Rivedale is characterized by an active growth in different industries. The active development of Riverdale has started in the twentieth century and it is connected with the construction the railway. It should be noted, that region differs by quite high levels of community infrastructure development. It especially concerns recreation, health care and education sphere. For example, there are a lot of schools and gymnasiums in the region. At the same time, there are some problems in this region. Most important of them is connected with the lack of affordable housing and heavy traffic.
Raphael, D., Renwick, R., Brown, I., Steinmetz, B., Sehdev, H., & Phillips, S. (2001). Making the links between community structure and individual well-being: community quality of life in Riverdale, Toronto, Canada. Health & Place, 7(3), 179-196. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/s1353-8292(01)00008-9
Relph, E. (2014). Toronto Transformation in a City and Its Region. Philadelphia, Pa.: University of Pennsylvania Press.
Riverdaletoronto.com,. (2016). History | Riverdale Toronto Community Website. Retrieved 25 January 2016, from http://riverdaletoronto.com/riverdale-toronto/history/
Statcan.gc.ca,. (2015). Population of census metropolitan areas. Retrieved 27 January 2016, from http://www.statcan.gc.ca/tables-tableaux/sum-som/l01/cst01/demo05a-eng.htm
Toronto Life,. (2016). The Best (and Worst) Neighbourhoods to Live in Toronto | Toronto Life. Retrieved 25 January 2016, from http://torontolife.com/neighbourhoods/
Torontoneighbourhoods.net,. (2016). Toronto Neighbourhood Guide - Neighbourhoods. Retrieved 25 January 2016, from http://www.torontoneighbourhoods.net/ neighbourhoods/east-end/riverdale/transportation