Toronto has changed a lot in the 46 years since we moved here, especially (the lack of) affordable housing.
Back in 1968 when we emigrated to Canada from the US, Toronto was a very different place from the big, bustling, cosmopolitan, and multicultural city it is today. As my Ma — a Chicago girl born and bred — likes to tell it, the first Sunday she went “downtown” (to the current site of the Eaton Centre and Dundas Square) “it was so empty you could roll a bowling ball down the sidewalk without hitting anyone. When I finally found someone to ask where “downtown” was, she just looked at me and said “This IS downtown!” (thanks for the anecdote, Ma!).
Even if T.O. Hadn’t introduced Sunday shopping back in the early 90’s, downtown now would still be nothing like downtown then. Condos continue to be thrown up faster than beavers build dams in flood season, so there’s a lot more people on the streets now than then. Immigration has also changed dramatically since then, as Edward Relph’s website, an online companion to his new book Toronto Transforms, maps out. Finally, and this is probably old news to most of us by now, Toronto’s housing costs continue to boom and boom and boom: according to this Toronto Real Estate Board website, in 1967 almost 12,500 houses were sold in the city for an average price of $24,000; in 2012 it was almost 86,000 houses at an average price of nearly $500,000 (still well behind Vancouver, Canada’s most expensive city).