My friend told me the other day that her family has to find new housing by the end of the year because her neighbourhood is being re-constructed. In other words, gentrification is happening. She lives in Lawrence Heights also known as the “Jungle”, which is Toronto’s largest public housing community. The plan is to turn the area into new subsidized housing and market-priced units; a revitalization project they call it (Novakovic, 2016). Areas such as these including Reagent Park, Alexandra Park, and Leslie Nymark have been undergoing new projects in order to “change the setting”. She is not really happy about it because she’s been living there her whole life and has been told to basically pack up her stuff and find housing somewhere else. However, as we all know finding housing in the City of Toronto at an affordable rate is hard. So I was wondering as to where she and her family would go.
This whole revitalization project can also be looked at as gentrification. Gentrification has been considered an urban phenomenon associated with the renovation of old residential areas (Walks and Maaranen, 2008). Walks and Maaraneen (2008) did a study on the neighbourhood gentrification occurring in Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver and what they found is what gentrification does is remove the low-income households and turn it into a working-class community. There are positive outcomes of gentrification such as better access to services such as schools and parks, and there is an improvement in building structure. However, there are also many negative factors such as the lower-income population not being able to pay for these services. Also, those who are forced out of the area have to find housing in remote areas of Toronto. People who live in these low-income households are typically a part of the marginalized community and have to live on the outskirts of Toronto in apartments, relying solely on public transit in order to make ends meet.
It looks as if the poor are being hidden among those who are rich. You see these nice condos downtown for instance, and then have a bunch of people experiencing homelessness sleeping outside of them. They literally have nowhere else to go, and most of these condos stay empty. It is smart for Toronto to build more sustainable housing by replacing old areas, but it also looks as if they are freeing up area in order to create market-priced housing. It does not seem as if the focus is to create affordable housing for people who require them. I feel bad for my friend who has to find a new relocation unit since its obviously going to impact her families’ social and mental health. It is not easy to just relocate to an area that you have been all your life especially if your support networks are located in that area (August, 2014). I for one live in a TCHC community and understand the relationships people develop which they rely on such as school, work, daycare, etc. Possibly the whole gentrification of Toronto is leading to the increase in those experiencing homelessness. Who knows, maybe my neighbourhood will be gentrifyed next…
August, M. (2014). How ‘revitalization’ is leading to displacement in Regent Park. The Toronto Star. Retrieved from https://www.thestar.com/opinion/commentary/2014/05/05/how_revitalization_is_leading_to_displacement_in_regent_park.html
Novakovic, S. (2016). Lawrence Heights Demolition Kicks Off Largest Redevelopment Project in TCHC History. Retrieved from http://urbantoronto.ca/news/2015/10/lawrence-heights-demolition-kicks-largest-redevelopment-project-tchc-history
Walks, R. A., & Maaranen, R. (2008). Neighbourhood Gentrification and upgrading in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. Centre for Urban and Community Study,43, 1-9. doi:13978077271467