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Parkdale: Where Goes The Neighbourhood?

D

Darkstar416

Guest
I just found this editorial on the GayWest Newsletter, but figured it would be of interest to many on here. It sort of gives another view about an increasingly contentious neighbourhood. It's a decent read, if nothing more.

Toronto Inside Story, Wednesday January 25, 2007.

The public forum announcement issued by Parkdale Liberty Economic Development Corporation (PLEDC). “WHERE Goes the Neighbourhood? Managing Gentrification in Parkdale†on Monday January 22, 2007 - 7 pm-9 pm. Was misleading. "In the past several years Parkdale neighbourhood has undergone a considerable amount of change. Is that a good thing? Is that a bad thing? And what happens next?†the forum announcement asks.

The forum was supposed to bring together residents, local business owners, community service organizations, and political and media types, to discuss, debate, and brainstorm how we can achieve a socially sustainable neighbourhood, but didn’t.

A team of fourth-year Urban Planning students at Ryerson University made a twenty-minute presentation based on a comprehensive study that they recently completed about gentrification in Parkdale. (actually, only a small tract of land in South Parkdale.. D.Q., editor)

The Public Forum was presented by: Parkdale Liberty Economic Development Corporation (PLEDC) dedicated to community economic development in the Parkdale and Liberty areas. Their projects seek to improve work opportunities for community residents, retain and increase community-oriented businesses, create an attractive investment environment, strengthen links between Parkdale and Liberty, and promote environmental stewardship in the community. Who's aim is to represent the diversity of our community and to respond to changing needs.

The Panelists included:

Matthew Blackett, 32, is a Parkdale resident and the founder/publisher of Spacing, a Toronto-based magazine that examines the city's urban landscape. He is a former member of Mayor David Miller's Clean & Beautiful City Roundtable and a frequent speaker at city-building conferences and panels. He also teaches at Humber College's School of Journalism and is an award-winning graphic designer and marketer.

Misha Glouberman runs the Trampoline Hall Lectures, Room 101 Games, and teaches classes in improvised music, theatre, and charades. He was also the founding member of the Queen/Becaonsfield Residents association, an informal group of neighbours concerned about the impact of bars on West Queen West.

Craig Peskett president of the Parkdale Residents Association.

Victor Willis is the Executive Director of the Parkdale Activity - Recreation Centre (PARC). He has been involved in community and mental health initiatives for twenty years.

Margaret Zeidler, Toronto Architect Her company - Urbanspace Property Group specializes in the renovation of derelict buildings into living and working spaces for artists and social entrepreneurs.

Carl Wilson (panel moderator) writes about music and culture for The Globe and Mail

Toronto Parkdale has two City Wards 14 and 13. This forum had more to with South Parkdale Ward 14, for that reason I found it lame and badly organized. The event on Monday night (January 22nd, 2007) was all about marginalized tenants in ward 14 and nothing about homeowners, other than a show of hands and no developers or city planners.

Paneliest appeared out to scare monger residents. Many times the forum panelists went completely off topic and talked about their own community agenda’s, wasting our time with mundane hot air.

Parkdale Politicians that should have been given panel status, were made to line-up in Q&A line, with the common folk. What would have been interesting would be to hear how the new Queer West Village is changing the face of Parkdale, but no representatives were invited to sit on the panel.

I would have hoped, we would do more than establish affordable housing as a priority and bash the former Harris Conservative government. Parkdale NDP Member of Provincial Parliament Cheri DiNovo, housing and tourism critic, stood in the community question line with rest of the residents, but instead of asking the panel a question, went into lengthy political commentary, saying she's asked for 20,000 units of affordable housing to be built in this part of Toronto.

At which point a member of the audience beside me got fed-up and shouted, "What's The Question?" DiNovo gave him a sour look and sat down.

It would have been better if Parkdale’s NDP politico's DiNovo, Gord Perks, Parkdale City Councilor and Federal Member of Parliament, Peggy Nash had been given panel status with 3 to 5 minutes to bring to community up-to-speed, news wise on new developements in Parkdale.

God only knows where DiNovo is going to build 20,000 units in Parkdale? This is typical of the NDP housing policy, promise residents anything, because your are not in power, and can't be held accountable for broken promises, except at election time when you can be voted out of office.

Parkdale currently has a large percentage of renters and, Councilor Gord Perks pointed out, it is one of only a few communities that still has legal rooming houses. Many young families are moving in as well, renovating homes and taking pride in their new neighbourhood. No one wants any displacement of current residents however. So what it needs is a plan for growth and a way to ensure that rent and property taxes don't skyrocket.

Businesses in the area are also seeing a shift. There is a much smaller percentage of variety and grocery stores, while home decor and reno stores are gaining popularity. However, commercial vacancy currently sits at 13%, maybe gentrification isn't the real problem.

A panel member says it's the high-rise condos that will anchor Queen Street West, in Parkdale's neighbouring Ward 18 Dupont, just east of the tracks, that frighten Parkdale residents, or so it would appear, if one is to believe Misha Glouberman and Margaret Zeidler comments.

About Toronto Parkdale

Parkdale was one of the most upscale neighbourhoods of Toronto. The wealth of south Parkdale’s residents and the quality of its housing stock challenged that of even Rosedale. It was a lakeside village, with the massive, Coney Island-esque waterfront playground known as the Sunnyside Amusement Park at its doors.

Combined with the more middle-class oriented North Parkdale (above Queen), the entire neighbourhood offered popular appeal to a broad range of Toronto residents.

Unfortunately, Parkdale’s prominence took a major downturn in the 1950s with the closure of Sunnyside Amusement Park, and the construction of the Gardiner Expressway. With access to Lake Ontario severed by the Gardiner, many of Parkdale’s affluent citizenry departed the community.

Property values began to decline, and further plummeted with the construction of various low-rent apartment buildings and social housing. The remaining South Parkdale mansions fell largely into disrepair, as they increasingly became divided into rooming houses and bachelor apartments through the 1970s.

Though Parkdale lacks the mega renewal projects taking place in other inner Toronto neighbourhoods, there are many indications that the community is slowly reinvigorating itself. Property values are on the rise, as the trendy shops, bars, cafes, restaurents and galleries of Queen Street West, continue to pop up further and further west, now reaching into Parkdale.The Palais Royale dancehall on Lakeshore Boulevard (one of two surviving buildings from the Sunnyside Amusement Park) have been renovated and are now open for business. Former hotels such as The Drake and The Gladstone in neighbouring Dupont Riding, have been transformed into cool urban nightspots.

The new lofts and townhomes of King West and Liberty Village are also at Parkdale’s doorstep and with that, a new generation of homeowners with fresh eyes will continue to drive improvements to Parkdale’s commercial stretch. At the other end of Parkdale is Roncesvalles Village, a neighbourhood very much on the rise in popularity, with its sphere of influence touching the western periphery of Parkdale.

The landscape of downtown Toronto has changed over the last few years. This spatial change, based on economic growth and development, is often called gentrification - a process which has come to mean the transformation of downtown neighbourhoods through an increase in housing prices, land-use speculation, and a shift toward accessibility for people with bigger incomes.

Gentrification in Toronto is pushed forward by the profit interests of the private sector and the needs of the public sector. It will probably mean that in the future we will see more posh cafés, bars, boutiques, and condominium developments as well as the transformation of working class, politically active neighbourhoods like Parkdale into what sociologist Christopher Mele calls “bourgeois bohemia.†A place where the neighbourhood’s eclectic character is used to sell expensive cups of organic coffee and $10 brunches to uptown folks and tourists.

But is the gentrification model as commonly understood, even accurate? Does gentrification force poor people from their neighborhoods?

Common sense says that of course it does. But Lance Freeman, who teaches urban planning at Columbia University, conducted a major study in 2005.

His findings surprised him. The data, he says, tells us that the poor on average actually stay in their homes for a longer period of time in gentrifying neighborhoods than they do in non-gentrifying neighborhoods, even though their rents go up in gentrifying neighborhoods. Why? Because there are all sorts of reasons people move and stay.

When your neighborhood sucks (not Freeman's word), you have an incentive to move--perhaps to a comparably priced, but slightly less sucky neighborhood. But when your neighborhood gets spiffed up by all those Yuppies, you have an incentive to stay--and may be willing to pay more.

Now, no doubt many of the urban poor cannot pay more. And no doubt plenty stay put with the aid of rent controls or rent subsidies. But ability to pay is only one factor in residential location, even among the poor.

Freeman and others, such as Duke's Jacob Vigdor (who reached similar conclusions in a study of gentrification in Boston), note that those opposed to gentrification often presume that the poor neighborhoods are stable to begin with, with settled populations.

This appears not to be the case, according to our best studies. The opposite seems to be the case: Gentrification actually increases neighborhood stability, including among the poor. Certainly things to keep in mind in Parkdale, where gentrification is already beginning.

In the north end Parkdale High Park Ward 13, residents, builders and developers came together in December 2006, to give full support to The Village a proposal to house 600 people in affordable and environmentally friendly buildings near Keele and Dundas Sts. Nobody opposed the variations, and the 30 residents present, told city officials they support the extra height and density requests. In fact, you might call this a case of YIMBY – yes, in my backyard.

The Nexxt Corporation came in, bought the Canadian Tire land, and had plans to build a large, upscale condo on the site. But residents against this type of building, fearing it would mean people with money would buy homes there, but eat and shop in better-heeled parts of town. Now with approval from local residents, construction is slated to begin in July 2007, with summer 2008 occupancy, if all goes as planned.

Over the past two years, the City of Toronto has contributed $2.4 million to improve Ward 13, Junction's appearance. Implemented in three phases, the project includes the addition of 172 historical street lamps, trees and a refurbished sidewalk.

Private investment has also contributed to the rebirth of the area by investing more than $5 million, including new property ownership in 12 buildings, and an additional $2 million in the restoration and improvement of buildings, triggered by the positive benefits of participating in the City's Facade Improvement Program.

There's so much promise in South Parkdale, all that's needed is a plan, community groups working together with residents and developers and a way to ensure it includes all kinds of people and mixed housing. That's the only way South Parkdale will retain its unique charm and character. The way I see it..Don Q., editor
 
Re: Parkdale: Where Goes The Neighbourhood?

Thanks for posting this article. I find it quite interesting, especially the counter-intuitive information about population stability in gentrifying neighbourhoods. There's certainly interesting stuff happening in Parkdale. And to some extent in the Junction, a long-overlooked neighbourhood briefly referenced here.
 
Re: Parkdale: Where Goes The Neighbourhood?

Considering what is happening around it, I doubt we will recognize today's Parkdale fifteen years down the road.
 
Re: Parkdale: Where Goes The Neighbourhood?

Parkdale NDP Member of Provincial Parliament Cheri DiNovo, housing and tourism critic, stood in the community question line with rest of the residents, but instead of asking the panel a question, went into lengthy political commentary, saying she's asked for 20,000 units of affordable housing to be built in this part of Toronto.

Property values began to decline, and further plummeted with the construction of various low-rent apartment buildings and social housing. The remaining South Parkdale mansions fell largely into disrepair, as they increasingly became divided into rooming houses and bachelor apartments through the 1970s.

You can't put too much social housing or affordable housing in one place. It needs to be spread across the city as evenly as possible. There should be a few units built into every regular condo building as social housing units. Building 20,000 new affordable or social housing units in an area already known as a neighbourhood ripe for gentrification makes no sense. Every ward should have similar numbers of social housing units. Having a whole building where everyone is on social assistance is a bad idea, it needs to be mixed.

His findings surprised him. The data, he says, tells us that the poor on average actually stay in their homes for a longer period of time in gentrifying neighborhoods than they do in non-gentrifying neighborhoods, even though their rents go up in gentrifying neighborhoods. Why? Because there are all sorts of reasons people move and stay.

If people feel safe and comfortable in their neighbourhood then I would think they are more likely to stay regardless of their income level. I think the key is to ensure the existing stock of dedicated affordable housing and social housing doesn't disappear while the gentrification is continuing, not to stop gentrification in its tracks. Nobody wants to live in a less wealthy neighbourhood... they just happen to be less wealthy. The key is balance.
 
Gentrification in Parkdale, Toronto - Questionnaire

Interesting article!

I thought some of you might be interested in filling out this survey about the process of gentrification throughout the neighbourhood of Parkdale.
The purpose of this survey is to gain some knowledge regarding the Parkdale neighbourhood and use the results for a University Urban Studies Research Paper. Your responses will remain anonymous.

I would really like to get some feedback from all of you. It would be greatly appreciated!
If you'd like to fill out this survey, simply click on the link below:

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/V5LQHDF

Thank you! :)
 
As I cycled through Parkdale on Saturday I thought gentrification can't come soon enough.

Its already there. Very visible on Queeen and King on many of the streets with stately old homes.

Where you don't see it so much is Jameson and the other apartment heavy sections. Still the area now has good restos, cafes, quality parks; 2 of the elementary schools are among the City's newest.

The rooming house situation remains an issue; but the issue is less the mode of housing than the absence of proper mental healthcare and social supports for those who need them; along with some rather neglectful landlords.
 
The rooming house situation remains an issue; but the issue is less the mode of housing than the absence of proper mental healthcare and social supports for those who need them; along with some rather neglectful landlords.
When I arrived in Cabbagetown the area was just ending the roominghouse era. There's a very few left, and those are for the most part nice enough.
 

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