By Mieke Anderson
The well-to-do are arriving in Parkdale, and Ryerson urban planning students are worried about the possible consequences.
Nine students recently completed a study that looked at how local Parkdale businesses can cope with and take advantage of gentrification — the process by which lower-income houses and businesses are displace by the middle-class. The study was part of a final yeal studio project for the Parkdale Liberty Economic Development Corporation. “
If the residents of Parkdale don’t agree on what they want, they’re going to miss the boat. They need a common voice,” explains Ryerson urban planning student Phil Castro. On Monday night, Castro, along with classmates Josh Tzventarny and Brian Hanger, took part in the “Where Goes the Neighbourhood? Managing Gentrification in Parkdale” forum.
They all agree that gentrification hurts neighbourhoods, but also acknowledged that it is inevitable. Tzventarny calls it a natural process. “But when it gets out of contro,” he said, finishing the thought by shrugging his shoulders and shaking his head.
Parkdale residents are witnessing rapid change in the ward next door to them — home to the infamous Drake Hotel and a soon-to-be highrise condo development. They’re worried that the trend is moving westward. Matthew Blackett, a Parkdale resident and founder of Spacing Magazine, a publication covering public-space and urban issues in Toronto, said that gentrification is not always a bad thing.
“It’s when things are done to capitalize on the character of a neigbourhood…that’s when it becomes extremely negative,” Blackett said. “It’s not about just turning away Starbucks, it’s about mapping out a plan so that when businesses want to move into the neighbourhood, they know what the deal is.”