What used to be described as inner city or urban problems – insufficient medical care, crime, not enough exercise and poor diets – never really had anything to do with city living. These were and continue to be problems of poverty.
Similarly flawed thinking is now being applied to condo living. Despite the quality lifestyle that many consider superior to living elsewhere including amenities and activities for all, some continue to suggest that condos are not the right place for children.
Sam Reiss describes the problem in a Toronto Star article where he says “We’re conditioned to think that you have to head for the ‘burbs when the kids come along, but this is a uniquely North American mindset, largely a simple case of wanting to give our kids the things we didn’t have. Our immigrant parents grew up with either too little space in a crowded city or an unwieldy abundance of it in services -strapped rural areas where they worked on the family farm as soon as they were old enough to walk. The suburbs seem like the perfect antidote to a hard-knock life – vast expanses of green lawn, low crime rates, little (at least visible) poverty.”
Condos are a superior lifestyle for many. For children indoor activities and access to friends without crossing busy roadways, plus walking access to schools, parks and entertainment is not a harsh environment.
And, truth be told, condos need children. The reality is that the number of preschool-age kids is rising fastest where condo towers are going up. Yet most condos are not suitable for children. Urbanation reports that the vast majority of condo buildings currently under construction will not include three-bedroom units making them too small for growing families. Furthermore, two bedroom units are getting smaller – from 900 square feet in 2009 to 797 square feet. Given the need for more space, older and larger units are likely to be in greater demand by growing families.
Buildings without children are not and never will become true communities. Children who grow up happy in a condominium are more likely to live their adult life in a condo. Keep condos “adult only” and we end up, 20 years from now, with buildings filled with old people or where most no longer choose to live.
Most young adults eventually get married and have children – which Toronto Life calls Condo Kids. They will require space, daycare, schools and playgrounds. Public libraries will be more heavily utilized.
It means condo building programs for children and their parents.
Building adult only communities is short sighted. It discourages the things that attract people to an area. We need to plan today so that our high-rise condo towers do not become the isolated enclaves or abandoned buildings of tomorrow.
Condo towers were not built to accommodate young families. They are, or will, be forced to address this growing demographic if they want to remain relevant. We need to turn our condo towers into communities that serve all stages of life beginning from birth through to eventual retirement.