When I was a teenager, I read a single issue of Hamilton magazine, the Toronto Life for my hometown. It had the 100 coolest people in Hamilton, and I was in awe. I ached to be among them. I wanted to be like them. I wanted to know them. I wanted, most of all, to bed them.
And, as it turns out, I eventually did. Not all of them, mind you, but one. And man, I was I disappointed. She was depressive, she got bad marks in math, and she flunked out of school. She was just another person like you and me. Of course.
Later, I met the people (hi Jackie!) who put that issue together. Turns out, they ran out of cool people after, like, 14, and threw in anybody they could think of, including my ex. All the glamour photography, all the whispered confidence—it was a joke. Literally.
So yeah, I came late to the idea that you can’t trust a magazine that’s trying to sell issues. But you can take it from me, you shouldn’t trust Toronto Life. They are just making shit up starting at, like, neighbourhood 15.
Toronto Life has just told us the best neighbourhoods in Toronto. Weston did fine, thank you very much. We came in at 105 out of 140, which, considering that the criteria are plainly weighted to favour downtown, is pretty good. Mount Dennis, well, not so much. They came dead last.
But don’t sweat it. Because—about those criteria: there really are none. They’re making it up like Hamilton did.
Yes, they try to sound scientific. They even say they are (mostly) scientific on the cover. But scientists release their methods, and TL hasn’t.
They use nine criteria: housing, crime, transit, shopping, health, entertainment, community engagement, diversity, schools and employment. They don’t, though, define them or explain how they are measured.
The most important criterion is “Housing”. Excellent, I said, reading this, hearing my mind’s voice say “housing affordability”. Weston should clean up on housing affordability.
But “Housing” is not ” affordability”. “Housing” is… well… we don’t know. Forest Hill, though, has the nicest “Housing”. Baby Point comes in second. Clearly, it’s not affordability. It’s something else. It isn’t quality either. Downsview—a not-particularly-lovely neighbourhood—comes in 7th.
The other criteria are just as bad. “Crime” could be anything. Street crime matters most to residents, but crimes are usually committed indoors. (Domestic assaults are vastly more common than street violence.) And there is no way to tell whether the crime criterion is weighted by population or severity, as it should be. 10 murders matter much more than 10 stolen bikes. (Weston has had no murders this year thank you very much.)
Even if the criteria were well defined, readers also need to consider whether they value the same things as the editors do. Me, frankly, I don’t care about everybody else’s transit. I have a short drive to work, and when I don’t drive, I usually ride my bike. It’s a lovely ride on bike paths along ravine bottoms. If I do take transit, it’s an express bus from my house to my work. So, for me, whether Toronto Life thinks we have good transit is really unimportant. We have awesome bike paths, and that’s what I care about. But they didn’t include bike paths. Or walkability. Or tree canopy. Or housing affordability. Or whatever it is that you care about.
Toronto Life does have a few measures that I value. Weston and Mount Dennis have terrible shopping and terrible entertainment. I desperately wish we had more good restaurants. Strangely, though, Toronto Life ranks Weston highly in shopping. Inexplicably, we are 23rd, better than Trinity Bellwoods, the Junction, or the Beaches.
You wouldn’t know by cruising Weston Road, but according to TL we also have better entertainment than the Annex or the Church Yonge corridor. Yes, according to them, we have better parties than Boys’ Town.
Meditate on that. Weston has better shopping than the Beaches or the Junction and more things to do than the Gay Village. Need I say more about these criteria?
Allow me then, dear reader, to propose my own criteria, which have exactly the same scientific value as Toronto Life‘s (i.e. none). To my great surprise, Weston—Mt Dennis does shockingly well according to my measures.
- The Lawyer/Trader/Management consultant inverse index. We score a respectable -0. There are none. Riverdale comes in last at -99.
- Neighborhood kid awesomeness. Our kids are awesome. Try and deny it. 100.
- Architectural beauty and integrity. We are the equal of any hood. 80.
- Bikeability. We have fantastic ravine bike paths for recreational weekend rides. Don’t tell anyone though. 99.
- Backyard kayaking opportunities. None better than our fair neighbourhood. None other than ours, in fact. 100.
- Tree cover. Excellent. Emerald Ash Borer can go to hell. 90.
- Commuting times. My commute is excellent. I don’t care about yours. 80.
- Community love. Neighbours Night Out, movies in the park, June fair, Queens Drive at Hallowe’en, the Farmers’ Market…. We live in a small town in the city. 101.
Average score for Weston Mount Dennis: Who gives a shit? If you want to move to Rosedale, I’ll help you pack.