Before I begin, I will make an important announcement on this site Sunday (September 10th, 2017), and it will be in the form of a video blog post.
My decision to move to the Waterloo Region was motivated by financial reasons. I couldn’t afford to live in Toronto any more, especially now that I earn below the poverty line.
That decision did not come without consequences. I left behind my network of friends and co-workers. Coming here meant dealing with a slower pace of life, including a slower transit system with no subway. Never in Toronto did I have to walk for over half-an-hour just because I missed the bus. Even during off-peak hours another TTC bus would be along in just 15 minutes. My wallet thanked me, but it made a negative impact on my job search.
Sometimes the consequences go far more than just inconvenience, however.
Large cities have more social assistance programs, medical services, and places to go when you are bored. These are very important to the homeless and the impoverished, yet what happens when cities become playgrounds affordable only for the rich?
One of two thing happen.
Low-income earners who choose to remain in large cities struggle to get by and are denied affordable housing. The upper-class look down at these people — whose only crime is being underemployed if not unemployed — huff, “Ugh! There goes the neighbourhood!” and flood City Hall with complaints about these pesky vermin.
Those who decide to move to a smaller city or even a town might find things more affordable but they also find a transit system (if one even exists) they are not used to. The system might not run overnight so there goes night work. The commute time taken to get their job radically increases, so they either decide to buy a car (an expensive option!) or tough out the commute. Smaller urban centres have fewer social services, fewer medical specialists like cardiologists and physiotherapists, and less social opportunities to build a network needed to return to gainful full-time employment and financial self-reliance.
Changing the urban landscape to push out the poor is no way to solve the issues of homelessness and poverty. It’s like continually sweeping dirt under a carpet. You can’t see it, but it’s still there and growing. Sooner or later, something has to be done about it.
Urban planning, from the largest cities to the smallest towns, must include a place for those less fortunate in society, beginning with affordable housing.
Thanks for reading!