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Old 04-03-2011, 10:12 AM
 
Location: San Diego, California Republic
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Don't know if this has been discussed here. My question is, are Canadian cities experiencing gentrification the way most large US cities are? If so at what rate and what impact is it having?
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Old 04-03-2011, 11:34 AM
 
Location: Beautiful Niagara Falls ON.
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That is a very interesting question and it really, to me anyway points out a huge difference between the USA and Canada. In all of the major Canadian cities there is very little urban decay like is very common in the USA. I was born a raised in downtown Toronto and during the immediate post WW2 era the city core started to decline pretty badly. That was the era of people moving from the city core out to the newly built suburbs. This trend lasted until the mid sixties when people discovered all the pluses of living and working downtown. I remember one of my friends buying an old but nice house about 2 blocks from Younge and Bloor which is the centre of Toronto. He had sold a big mansion he had about 15 miles north and moved onto Isabella street. At the time I joked with him about stepping over the rubbies and clearing the hookers off his sidewalk just to get in his front door. LOL. That was in around 1971. Well that house now would run you about 3 million dollars or so. The house I was raised in, we sold in 1972 for $21,000. My aunt told me that it had just sold recently for $475,000. That is a very common thing in all the major Canadian cities and the gentrification just keeps going on more and more. All old factories are either torn down and redeveloped or turned into Upscale lofts and condos.

It's a very nice thing to have beautiful city cores but it also creates some social problems with affordable housing for the working class. The worst areas you will find in Canadian cities are in the high density highrise developments in the inner suburbs. What I really like seeing is the development of really nice housing CO-OPS in the city cores. My daughter lived in one for a few years and it was wonderful. The rent is geared to income with people paying from nothing to $800 a month in her development. The people who pay no rent really do pay to the co-op board through the social services on their behalf. The co-op is self run with a board of directors that is elected by the residents. They are not allowed to run a deficit and the project has to be self sustaining except for the original capital investment which is covered by Ontario housing, A government department.

The reason these co-ops work so much better than the old style social housing projects is because you get a very representitive population of people living there. Everyone from poor or disabled to factory workers, teachers and so on. Because they are self administered the standards of conduct and the maintaince of facilities is probably just as high as in the most exclusive privately owned developments. The more of these developments that are built the less social problems we will have.
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Old 04-03-2011, 12:07 PM
 
Location: Verde Valley
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lucknow, are there co-ops in the Niagara region? I know of a nice one in Riverdale (Toronto).
Thanks!
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Old 04-03-2011, 12:49 PM
 
Location: Beautiful Niagara Falls ON.
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Originally Posted by adventuregurl View Post
lucknow, are there co-ops in the Niagara region? I know of a nice one in Riverdale (Toronto).
Thanks!
There are 33 co-op housing developments in Niagara. If you want to live in one it's best to get your application in ASAP. There is one just off Lakeshore road in St. Catherines that I really like. It's walking distance to Port Dalhousie and the beach. There are food stores and lots of other shopping within a mile and it's just a really nice part of town.

That one is, Regatta Place CO-OP homes Inc.
2 Lighthouse Rd. St Catherines.
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Old 04-03-2011, 08:15 PM
 
Location: Verde Valley
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I got mixed up, I was thinking of the co-ops that you buy....these ones might be interesting though. I found out one of my old friends from TO is living in Port Dalousie now so I would know 1 person!
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Old 04-04-2011, 08:51 PM
 
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Originally Posted by lucknow View Post
That is a very interesting question and it really, to me anyway points out a huge difference between the USA and Canada. In all of the major Canadian cities there is very little urban decay like is very common in the USA.
When I lived in Pittsburgh, I once described Canada to an American friend as "US without the extremes" and it probably applies to gentrification as well -- the problems gentrification ends up creating (housing affordability, crime/cultural issues) are here in Canada too but they may be less severe because inequalities -- between former residents and newcomers or between neighborhoods -- aren't as severe in the first place.

There are many neighborhoods in Montreal that have undergone various levels of gentrification in the past 20 years (St-Henri, Griffintown, Pointe St-Charles, the Mile End perhaps). Quebec City has seen some change as well on a smaller scale. I don't think it's anything like what areas in Pittsburgh, Chicago, NYC and others have seen (though Toronto may be up there).
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Old 04-05-2011, 10:42 AM
 
Location: Gatineau, Québec
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If it was mentioned already I missed it, but I want to point out that Canadian cities for the most part never saw the large-scale near-total abandonment that many American cities did. And so when gentrification took place, it was mostly "so-so" parts of cities that were involved. They weren't completely dead and revived, but just brought back up a few notches.
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Old 04-05-2011, 07:25 PM
 
Location: Toronto, ON, Canada
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I can't speak of any other part of Canada, except for Toronto (I live here).

Toronto's core has undergone a tremendous amount of gentrification, however its not a new phenomenon. Toronto has confronted deindustrialisation, which has affected many of the inner city neighbourhoods, where much of the manufacturing jobs were located. Increasingly, jobs have become more knowledge or service based, which has given rise to Richard Florida's 'creative class' discourse in Toronto (and my other cities). Basically, 'creative cities' attract human capital through the creation of authentic, diverse and tolerant communities, and 'creative' industries such as film, new media, music etc. are targeted in creative city initiatives. The idea of the 'creative class' (ie: artists, musicians, doctors, scientists, academics etc.) are the professionals that are now being attracted to the city's core through various 'branding' and marketing of neighbourhoods.

What does this all have to do with gentrification?
Well, this creative city discourse is not really about 'creativity' or 'creative people', rather is about marketing, consumption and real estate development. An example in Toronto could be Queen Street West, around Parkdale, which markets itself as a 'cutting edge', gritty, progressive. Anyone who has knowledge of Parkdale, knows that the area has many residents with addiction, mental illness, many rooming houses and low income people. Parkdale is located close to downtown, near several TTC routes (bus and streetcar) and is prime land in Toronto. These yuppies, or 'gentrifiers' come to these neighbourhoods because it gives them the image of being hip, progressive or tolerant, however in my opinion its all very superficial.

I have noticed a trend in Toronto regarding these 'hip' neighbourhoods - they all seem to look roughly the same (organic grocery store, expensive coffee shops, galleries, expensive clothing boutiques etc.). What I see are all these neighbourhoods becoming a blur, homogenous, and it seems as if there is a hipster monoculture that has evolved in gentrified neighbourhoods. Any real 'authenticity' that these areas once had is gone - and so are the original residents, as they've been priced out of the neighbourhood. Its the low income residents that really loose out.

While gentrification has positive aspects, it really has affected where certain people can afford to live in the city. There are HUGE clusters of low income neighbourhoods in North York and Scarborough, and the city is becoming increasingly polarized economically. Low income residents are increasingly being pushed to the 'undesirable' fringes of Toronto, and even the suburbs like Brampton and Malton.

Gentrification is a huge part of Toronto, and while it is necessary for the city to grow and redevelop, the development only seems like its benefiting residents that are in a certain income bracket. Property values are through the roof, and most working class people would not be able to afford to buy a house. Heck, even in the fringes of Toronto the houses are expensive. I looked at a small 50s style bungalow in North York, near Keele/Finch and it was nearly $400,000!

I could go on and on... but that was my rant
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Old 04-09-2011, 04:21 PM
 
625 posts, read 1,188,357 times
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Quote:
I have noticed a trend in Toronto regarding these 'hip' neighbourhoods - they all seem to look roughly the same (organic grocery store, expensive coffee shops, galleries, expensive clothing boutiques etc.). What I see are all these neighbourhoods becoming a blur, homogenous, and it seems as if there is a hipster monoculture that has evolved in gentrified neighbourhoods. Any real 'authenticity' that these areas once had is gone - and so are the original residents, as they've been priced out of the neighbourhood.
These same can often be true here in the U.S. where authentic neighborhoods have suffered from anti-urban public policy for decades. What really strikes me is the presence of some of the same niche chain stores - bakeries, etc - in many of these gentrifying redevelopments, as if they were simply packaging suburbia in urban form. That said, why should this be any more offensive than suburbia where every neighborhood looks the same and every shopping center has one of two major brand grocers, a couple fast food joints, a franchise hair place, and an Americanized Chinese restaurant with a name like "Great Wall." At least the gentrification is urban and thus more environmentally sustainable ...

My main experience in Canada has been Montreal and I always felt that this city maintained an authenticity of middle-class and working-class neighborhoods, which IMO makes cities so much more enjoyable to live in. Has this changed or is it not the case in Toronto? I tend to think some of the east coast cities have established middle-class cultures that enjoy city living, but that elsewhere people will flee the city for any suburb that has a larger house, yard or garage. Where I live in the western U.S., I work in affordable housing and I am constantly told things like, "well, upper-middle class white people might live in an urban environment and carry their groceries thru the front door or live in a rowhouse, but middle/working-class people NEED a single-family home with at least a two-car garage." I find the very idea that the less money you make, the nicer house you need (and that government should pay for it ...) ironic, if we're ever to become sustainable! I hope not, but perhaps the trend of cities being for upper-middle class urbanites, lower class folks, young renters, and some retirees is unavoidable?
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Old 04-11-2011, 10:51 AM
 
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It seems like urban renewal and sprawl are issues that have occurred in Canada. Look at Africville for an example of renewal and Beechville andd Hammonds Plains as examples of sprawl changing the fabric of communities. That's just in the Halifax area.
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