(Images: top right: Community March for shelters, bottom left: Project proposal site, bottom right: Resistance against Gentrification)
Gentrification is new to Moss Park
By: Amanda P.
It is truly fascinating how “space” can change in time. “Space” in this context, refers to the infrastructural developments that take place to make mobility to a particular destination more immediate and efficient. It is almost to say, that as time goes on and the “space” develops more, the infrastructure of roads and subway stations etc. keep updating to the ever-evolving technological world that we live in. However what does this evolution mean for those parts of the space that have grown accustom to and made that space their home? Gentrification a term coined by Ruth Glass, a British sociologist, denotes that it’s, “ a physical, economic, social and cultural phenomenon. Gentrification commonly involves the invasion by middle-class or higher-income groups of previously working class neighbourhood or multi-occupied ‘twilight area’ and the replacement or displacement of many of the original inhabitants. It involves the physical renovation or rehabilitation of what was frequently a high deteriorated housing stock and it upgrading to meet the requirements of it’s new owners. In the process, housing in areas affected, both renovated and renovated, undergoes a significant price appreciation. Such a process of neighbourhood transition commonly involves a degree of tenure transformation from renting to owning,” (Hamnett, 1984, p.2415). The neighbourhood of Moss Park is currently within the beginning stages of this tenure process, “Although in its early stages, the plan – which comes at an estimated $80-100 million cost – has critics saying it will speed up the gentrification of the area,” (Vendeville, 2016). The process of gentrification also usually targets the less desirable and marketable aspects of the neighbourhood and turns it into an attractive safe for potential real estate investments; retail spaces and overall adds to the urban appealing ascetics that the City of Toronto is currently aspiring to achieve, “ A change from manufacturing based industries to service based industries in the inner cities results in a simultaneous change in the occupational class structure from one largely based around manufacturing working class individuals to one increasingly dominated by white-collar professionals whose financial, cultural and service industries are located in major cities,”(Hammnett, 1984, p. 2186). However, through the gentrification process the positive aspects of the neighbourhood, which includes, the community’s local history and building types are changed. Therefore, this process is met with community resistance, as many residents, retail shop owners and community agencies, are against the new changes coming to their home.
In an article in the Toronto Star Newspaper by Robin Levinson King, a staff reporter, King explains that, “Almost one-quarter of the city showed some sign of gentrification, but less than 1 per cent of neighbourhood actually made the transition from low to high household income in the past decade,” (King, 2016) Through our observations, as we walked through the neighbourhood, we noticed that there were several project proposal sites for new condominium buildings to built. As we continued to walk ago the perimeter of the neighbourhood we also notice that there were several retail spaces that were for sale and some even had a sold sign tape right cross it. It made us stop for a second, in order to truly take in the modernization process that was happening right before our eyes. We noted that many of the people and retail owner found in this neighbourhood were in a financial battle with the growing expense of living this area is soon to become. In an article written by Geoffery Vendeville, a Toronto Star staff reporter says that, “About 30 per cent of people who live in the neighbourhood of Moss Park make less than $20,000 a year,” (Vendeville, 2016). With modernization moving into Moss Park, a neighbourhood rich in its history, the progress shows that people earning in a high-income pay bracket have the potential to displace people that have lived in the neighbourhood for years. With the proposal to rebuild the John Innes community centre, there was a community debate about the resident concerns about changing the space. In an interview conducted by staff reporter Ashley Csanady, she speaks to some of the residents about the progression of the process, “Now Harvey’s neighbourhood is the next gentrification battleground as a proposal to rebuild the nearby John Innes Community Centre winds its way towards city council,” (Csanady, 2016).
Though we were unable to interview residents and retail owners within the neighbourhood to further peak our investigations into this neighbourhood, we saw many signs of resistance through the form of art; graffiti. It was really great to be able to see the resistance within the community through their own expression and now it’s up to the city planners to interpret those loud messages of resistance and appeal more considerable to the already unique neighbourhood established there.
Csanady, A. (n.d.). Toronto’s rough Moss Park neighbourhood becoming the city’s next gentrification battleground. Retrieved March 20, 2017, from http://news.nationalpost.com/toronto/weve-been-waiting-a-long-time-for-some-change-moss-parks-fraught-lines-between-facelift-and-gentrification
Hamnett. C, 2003, Urban Studies, Gentrification and the middle class re-making of inner London, 1961-2001. p. 2401-2426, 40(12).
King, R. L. (2016, September 13). The hidden pockets in Toronto where gentrification is really happening. Retrieved March 19th, 2017, from https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2016/09/13/the-hidden-pockets-in-toronto-where-gentrification-is-really-happening.html
Vendeville, G. (2016, August 31). Moss Park development sparks gentrification concerns. Retrieved March 20, 2017, from https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2016/08/31/moss-park-development-sparks-gentrification-concerns.html