Over the last few years, Toronto has been experiencing a period of rapid and widespread gentrification. If you have lived in a particular Toronto neighbourhood for a significant period of time, then you have probably have witnessed this change firsthand. Condominiums, cafés, boutiques, and other ‘cool’ new amenities are just some of the ‘on the street’ signifiers. While many may attest that these neighbourhood facelifts are necessary updates that are great for market value, some see damaging effects of this process in their community.
The Toronto Parkdale neighbourhood, is one area experiencing rapid and untamed gentrification, which threatens a diverse and tightly knit community. Some of the local residents who have been in Parkdale for many years have noticed the displacement and exclusion occurring as a direct result of new developments. In effort to combat ruinous effects, members of the community have formed the Parkdale Neighbourhood Land Trust (PNLT), a pioneering community force and the first ever land trust in urban Ontario. The PNLT has been working hard on developing professional partnerships and fostering community engagement in the Parkdale neighbourhood. Over the course of 18 months the Parkdale community members, agency staff, friends, academics and professionals collaborated on the Parkdale Community Economic Development (PCED) planning project in conjunction with the Parkdale People’s Economy Project. This project was a response to the recent trends of urban development and displacement occurring in the area, which threatens the cooperative character of the community. In effort to preserve the tightly knit, diverse neighbourhood, the PCED project established a vision and PLAN for Parkdale which emphasizes the values of inclusivity, affordability, diversity and equity.
On October 29th, 2016, the PNLT led a Jane’s Walk, sharing their new vision and initiatives in Parkdale. This was an inspiring walk during which community members voiced personal stories and experience in and around the area. It was also a great example of how Jane’s Walk can promote social justice and positive community building!
Co-op Cred program and food garden through Greenest City: An alternative currency program which enables trade of labour for goods through a credit program. This facilitates access to local, healthy and sustainable food in addition to supportive work experience opportunities for low-income and marginalized groups facing food insecurity and economic marginalization.
Milky Way Garden: First piece of land acquired by PNLT through Greenest City for urban community agriculture. Donated by John Greyson and Stephen Andrews, and maintained by local Parkdale residents as well as charitable donations.
Parkdale Activity-Recreation Centre (PARC): Community centre provides anyone who walks in the door with supportive services, counselling, and access to meal programs and recreational activities. 10 units of supportive housing are available to members, on the top floor.
Affordable housing project (Brock Ave. and Noble Street): Site of former LCBO is to include a percentage of affordable housing units in the new development.
Parkdale Solidarity Flag Mural (Queen and Callendar street): symbol of the PNLT and PCED PLAN in fight to keep Parkdale an inclusive and affordable place for all.
Kudos to PNLT and the Parkdale community on this amazing and inspiring project!
Photograph by Margaux Yiu.