By Jake Kivanc
A new documentary by Ryerson students focuses on gentrification in one of Toronto’s most diverse neighbourhoods.
This House Is Not A Home is a film aiming to shine light on real estate agencies in the low-income area of Parkdale. It’s an issue director and radio and television arts student Katrina Singleton said she feels strongly about.
“I’ve always been really invested in social justice,” Singleton said. “I remember coming downtown as a kid and seeing the inequality between there and my home in Scarborough.”
Gentrification occurs when wealthier residents and businesses pop up in a drastically poorer area, sometimes raising the cost of living for long-time residents and often times forcing them out.
The documentary reveals Parkdale residents’ struggle against gentrification partly caused by Akelius, a European real estate agency that has purchased four local properties for development. They did not respond to the film team for an interview.
“We wanted to tell [the issue] through human stories — through the community—so people who aren’t aware of the issue can see how truly connected and unified Parkdale is,” Singleton said.
Last year, Singleton and her team built connections within the community through word-of-mouth.
“One person would hear about the film and they would refer us to three others. It was like a domino effect,” she said.
Local artists like Rage Williams helped fund the film’s production by selling their pieces.
“[Art] is a way for our team to get our name out there,” producer Adam Hopwood said. Hopwood said the film crew is also writing a “sparse” music score to make sure “people’s words speak for themselves.”
Writer Jamie Hurcomb said one of her greatest challenges making the film was extracting the personal stories of these residents. “We’ve heard stories about racism and people with economic issues. The key is to make them feel comfortable,” Hurcomb said.
“We’re trying to tell the story from both sides so people can make the verdict for themselves on who is right and wrong,” Singleton said. “[The issue] isn’t black or white.”
This House Is Not A Home is now in the post-production stage with a release date in March.