Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Toronto's Wellbeing

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There’s a new urban website called Wellbeing Toronto. Since Toronto’s wellbeing is always uppermost in my mind, I went to take a look.

For openers, the site brags, “Wellbeing Toronto is a new web-based measurement and visualization tool that helps evaluate community wellbeing across the city's 140 neighbourhoods. Wellbeing Toronto allows you to select, combine and weight the significance of a number of indicators that monitor neighbourhood wellness. The results appear instantly on easy to read maps, tables and graphs.”

The site maps the neighbourhoods of a city bordered by Brampton and Mississauga to the west, Pickering to the east, Steeles Ave. to the north, and Lake Ontario to the south. Next to the big map of them is a stack of “Layers”: factors such as Housing, Education, Recreation, and Safety. I learned that the average family income of Bridle Path-Sunnybrook-York Mills is $678,933.00, and that Wychwood, my own neighbourhood, has a population of 14,195, including 2,755 seniors. When, under Transportation, I clicked on Parking Lots, the big map became speckled with cute little Ps. Under Civics, I glanced at Wychwood on the map and discovered that it had no Penal Institutions, which was reassuring. When I clicked on Convenience Stores (layered under Health), the map revealed that Toronto has no convenience stores.

Seeking something vaguely cultural, I looked under the layer Recreation, and found the sublayers Pool outdoors, Sports facilities, and YMCA. No Theatres, Art Galleries, or Music Halls. Nor, on this statistically impressive site, were there any other qualitative measures of wellbeing, the factors that give neighbourhoods their character: the densities of greasy spoons, mumbling panhandlers, raccoons — and writers.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

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Fraser Sutherland

At last count, Fraser Sutherland has published fifteen books: one of them short fiction, four nonfiction and ten poetry, His most recent poetry collection is The Philosophy of As If. A freelance editor, he may be the only Canadian poet who is also a lexicographer. Born and raised in Nova Scotia, he lives in Toronto.

Go to Fraser Sutherland’s Author Page