Liberty Village is Overrated?

the grid newspaper copywriting

via Flickr, by Karoy

Last month, The Grid published the results of a poll which found that readers consider Liberty Village overrated and St. Clair West underrated. At first glance, the Grid article appears to merely draw on reader opinion and earlier coverage on the two neighbourhoods in order to arrive at certain, inescapable conclusions. At second glance, however, the story seems set on stirring up trouble and creating rivalry where none is needed or called for.

Laas Turnbull, editor-in-chief and publisher of The Grid, famously said at the newspaper’s inception in 2011 that it would be “a younger, hipper, more provocative version of Toronto Life in a weekly guise.” It certainly got the provocative part right.

The poll asked The Grid’s readership to nominate their favourite and least favourite neighbourhoods, and 6,000 readers can’t be wrong: according to poll results, the Distillery District, Yorkville and Liberty Village are overrated; East Danforth, the Junction Triangle and St. Clair West are underrated. Actually, getting lumped together with Yorkville and the Distillery District doesn’t sound so bad; it means Liberty Village is a popular destination. Did I just say ‘popular’? That’s so mainstream.

Judging by the alternative weekly’s record of giving Liberty Village bad press, it should come as no surprise that its readers are inclined to hate on the modest but bourgeoning community. Traffic congestion is an issue in plenty of downtown areas; Toronto as a whole is notorious for being pedestrian-unfriendly. As for raising a family—what’s so great about that? Maybe the double-income-no-kids demographic are perfectly happy with their lot and want to live close to like-minded people. Children aren’t always the future, you know.

The readership poll can be seen not so much as a barometer of neighbourhood development, but more as an example of just how influential The Grid can be in swaying public opinion. True, Liberty Village may have been making headlines recently, and the condo-building boom in the area has been a hotly contested issue, but it seems a bit much to call it “a giant bubble cut off from the rest of the city.” The neighbourhood has its quirks and problems, but many people proudly call it home. Calling it ‘overrated’ might be a way of saying it’s too much the talk of the town.

And there’s much to talk about. Liberty Village is a vibrant community of artists, business owners, and workers who all have an impact on where this small part of the city is headed. They helped shape a military area into a space where commerce and recreation meet. It’s home to the Model Railroad Club of Toronto– a part of the city’s wartime heritage–as well as a number of restaurants, cafes and clubs. In short, Liberty Village is a hospitable place; it’s up to the reader to decide if it’s too hospitable.

Writers David Topping and Edward Keenan say Liberty Village has “transformed over the last two decades from industrial lands into a much-praised and sought-after place where people live and work and play but can’t get in or out of, can’t raise a family in, and can’t really get around on foot”—meaning it’s not good enough for hipsters and other twenty- and thirty-somethings who do little else than … live, work and play. What’s the problem again?

Word Count: 545;

June 11, 2012:

editor writer


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