When Indian-born Sabina Ali and her family arrived here 10 months ago, they chose to live in Thorncliffe Park, a thick cluster of 1950s-era high-rise apartments overlooking the Don River as it curves through the middle of the city.
What attracted the Ali family may surprise those familiar with the neighbourhood's stereotype as a dense, high-rise community of low-income immigrants with social needs.
"When I visited this place, I really liked it," said Ms. Ali, a married mother of four young daughters whose family has no car. "Everything is accessible - the grocery store, the mall, the school and the mosque - and you can just walk [to them]...
Thorncliffe Park, one of 10 inner suburbs being studied, is surprisingly easy to walk around because high-rises are near shopping, schools and play areas. But other areas are much more spread out, with wide arterial roads, no sidewalks and other impediments to pedestrians.
Preliminary findings from Thorncliffe Park show the power of small fixes.
Ms. Ali, a volunteer member of the Women's Committee of Thorncliffe Park, said her group successfully appealed to the city for additional benches and picnic tables for a small park beside the local elementary school. Over the winter, the city agreed to shovel snow from sidewalks and footpaths.
Now, she said, more residents come out to sit and talk, and walk around the park, adding to a sense of security.
Jane Farrow, executive director of the Centre for City Ecology, said the volume of pedestrian activity in Thorncliffe Park is significant."
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