Ask Mimico residents about their neighbourhood, and they’ll get a starry, faraway look in their eyes as they rhapsodize about their little commuter village by the lake. It’s easy to get swept up by the small-town feel of neighbours looking out for each other’s kids, or by the tiny waterside parkettes at the end of the streets, some with chess tables. Or, for that matter, by the bucolic cottages and bungalows on generous plots that go for about the same as a condo downtown. Every weekend, cyclists take to the lakeside trails and dog walkers brush by joggers in Mimico Waterfront Park, a new kilometre-long green space with pockets of wetland habitats, and boardwalks along the shore that connect to the waterfront trail. The Humber Bay Shores area just to the east is quickly filling up with 38- to 66-storey towers whose meretricious names evoke Miami Beach—Ocean Club, Jade, Eau du Soleil—but Mimico itself has so far resisted that kind of intensification.
A revitalization plan recently approved by city council caps off new Mimico buildings at 25 storeys while sprouting parkland and increasing access to the lake (it also allows developers to replace the crumbling apartment blocks from the ’50s and ’60s). After years of planning, GO trains are now running every half hour to Union Station (it’s a mere 15-minute jaunt for Bay Street–bound commuters), and new businesses are slowly creeping in, like FBI Pizza, a delivery outfit run by Queen Margherita Pizza alumni. Whatever real estate agents might say, the area is a long way from becoming the western Beach. The pace is less harried here, there’s not nearly the density of cutesy restaurants and shops, and Starbucks has yet to invade. And that’s precisely how Mimico residents like it.