Was I in serious danger?
April 25, 2007 9:01 AM   Subscribe

TorontoFilter: What can you tell me about this place/area just east of downtown Toronto? (description follows)

Three tall apartment-looking buildings on the southeast corner of Gerrard St E. and River St. in Toronto, Canada. I had the unfortunate incident of visiting Toronto in 2002 and found myself in the courtyard area of these buildings late one night, alone. I ended up skittering along buildings and bushes, to not be noticed by the locals, and headed south along River Rd. to Dundas. There, I got the attention of a cab and made my way back to downtown. What's that area like and how much danger was I in? Was I an idiot for getting myself into that situation? Or was there no problem?

(maybe this link will help, but not quite sure...)
posted by UnclePlayground to Human Relations (18 answers total)
You were around Regent Park, certainly one of Toronto's poorest neighbourhoods, but I wouldn't say you were in any particular danger just walking around.
posted by transient at 9:36 AM on April 25, 2007

Lots of subsidized housing around that area, but walk just two blocks north to Riverdale and it's all BMWs...

I don't think you were in much danger, but certainly I imagine it's a little sketchy at night.
posted by anthill at 9:49 AM on April 25, 2007

Just out of curiosity - why are you worried today about whether you were in danger on one occasion five years ago?

I hope that didn't sound snarky, I'm genuinely curious.
posted by pdb at 10:47 AM on April 25, 2007

Yeah, Regent Park. I wouldn't go there for fun on a Friday night, but I wouldn't panic and call the cops if I found myself there unexpectedly.
posted by DrJohnEvans at 11:11 AM on April 25, 2007

You were in Regent Park.

Why was the incident unfortunate? What happened that made you scared exactly?
posted by chunking express at 11:15 AM on April 25, 2007

I've been there at night and never had any problems, and I am a girly-girl, dressed most of [at that] time in very short skirts for clubbing. It was a multicultural area so maybe if you aren't used to that it would be threatening. Otherwise, I wouldn't have wanted to live there but the people were mostly great. The teenagers there were just like any teenagers, which can be overwhelming in groups if you aren't used to teens. Sorry you were scared by the experience but at least you have a story you can dine out on: "Not all Canadians are friendly, one time in Regent Park I hid in the bushes from them!" Heh, now you can say you were in Canadian Bush.
posted by saucysault at 11:36 AM on April 25, 2007

Response by poster: um... let's say I met a local lass who took us there and she disappeared on me, into those apartments. Then the cabbie said he wasn't waiting around for her and was either driving off with me or leaving me there. That gave me cause for concern. So I got out, hoping she'd come back out soon (she didn't) and having not followed her in, was standing there for a few minutes when a few people in a group seemed to take notice of me and I got skittish. My spidey sense tingled and a mugging seemed inevitable.
And I'm not sure what triggered the memories recently, but I thought to Google-map the place, just to see if I could locate where I had ended up and wanted to hear from you what sort of situation I had been in. Thanks for the input everyone.
posted by UnclePlayground at 12:06 PM on April 25, 2007

Aren't they apparently planning to tear Regent Park down eventually? And yes, as places go, it's not half as bad as the stereotype about the area, I'm guessing.
posted by rmm at 12:07 PM on April 25, 2007

Wow. Dude. It's Toronto. Retroactively chill.

Regent park gets a bad rap because there are poor dark-skinned folk living there, it's on the east side, and it's ugly. Yeah, there's a been a shooting or two in the area, but there's been a shooting or two in every area. Were you selling drugs? No? Then the only danger was of insufficient transit service.
posted by poweredbybeard at 12:21 PM on April 25, 2007

My guess is you were in more danger than in most other areas of Toronto, but less danger than in the slummy areas of the average American city. Hiding in bushes was probably unnecessary.
posted by Krrrlson at 12:32 PM on April 25, 2007

Response by poster: poweredbybeard - What did I say that is causing you to mention 'dark-skinned folk', as if you think I'm calling out particular races in that area?

And 'chill'? Did I seem to be freaking out?

My intent was not to insult. I knew nothing of the history or reputation of the place that I had found myself in, and in retrospect, I was interested in knowing from people who know. Just askin' is all.
posted by UnclePlayground at 12:41 PM on April 25, 2007

rmm, they've already torn down the big towers. All that is left are the low rise buildings now. It's kind of strange. Of course, they are now planning to put up new giant towers.
posted by chunking express at 12:46 PM on April 25, 2007

As an aside, the area was used in the film Narc as a location in Michigan. Its currently undergoing a revitalization and parts of it have already been torn down. It was Canada's first and largest social housing project.
posted by phirleh at 12:56 PM on April 25, 2007

Sorry - didn't mean to imply, at all, that it was a racial thing for you. But in your story it seemed that the cabbie's nervousness affected you; apprehension around certain areas, especially on the part of people living elsewhere, are usually very understandably based on the feelings of people who are residents but not locals. So I thought I'd just fill in the backstory on the place's reputation.

Telling you to chill (retroactively) was an attempt at humour. You were obviously not chilled at all when this happened, and it's too bad that you probably missed out on a fun time with your "local lass." :)
posted by poweredbybeard at 1:16 PM on April 25, 2007

One more voice saying "no real danger."

I used to live at Gerrard and Broadview just across the river, and I biked through Regent Park at all hours of the day and night. Saw a drug dealer or two, but saw far more Indian couples in kurtas and saris going for walks and such. There was a guy who lived in one of the Regent Park units facing outward on Dundas who sat on his porch hosing down passersby (if they wanted it) on scorching-hot days. I generally partook. That's the closest I ever came to being assaulted in Regent Park.

Just south of it - around where you caught your cab, I guess - I had friends who lived in an old warehouse there who used to see johns getting serviced in their parking lot with some regularity, but this was largely an aesthethic problem, not any kind of threat.

Lots of subsidized housing around that area, but walk just two blocks north to Riverdale and it's all BMWs...

Not lots, mostly just that one development, plus a couple of shelters and a notorious needle park. Two blocks north is Cabbagetown, which has its share of BMWs but also the concrete high-rise jungle of Jamestown and a very mixed streetscape of yuppie restaurants, Sri Lankan grocers and dive corner donut shops. Riverdale is east of there, across the Don, and has an even smaller ratio of BMWs to residents.


posted by gompa at 3:26 PM on April 25, 2007

poweredbybeard: "Dude. It's Toronto."
posted by loiseau at 4:00 PM on April 25, 2007

I think the neighbourhood was featured in one of those "reality shows" for the world's/country's worst home fixer upper.
>There was a guy who lived in one of the Regent Park units facing outward on Dundas who sat on his porch hosing down passersby (if they wanted it) on scorching-hot days.
posted by philfromhavelock at 8:19 PM on April 25, 2007

For future reference, if you do find yourself in a sketchy neighbourhood in a big city, the safest route is the one where you can be seen by the most people, not the fewest. You want the brightest-lit and most well-travelled street. The more people you can see, the better.

If there had been a reason to be scared, then the route you took should have terrified you, while walking straight down the sidewalk on River St or Gerrard should have been relatively comfortable. No matter how bad the neighbourhood, almost everybody there does not want to hurt you.
posted by winston at 4:02 PM on June 9, 2007

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