Media Releases

Whose city? Gentrification, inequaility, and the future of Toronto

January 20, 2012

TORONTO, ON – The fourth lec­ture in the pop­u­lar Toron­to in Ques­tion Lec­ture Series host­ed by UofT’s Cities Cen­tre will focus on the extreme­ly uneven changes in hous­ing and land costs in Toronto’s neigh­bour­hoods.  The event will take place on Tues­day, Jan­u­ary 24, 2012 at 6:30 p.m. at the John H. Daniels Fac­ul­ty of Archi­tec­ture, Land­scape, and Design, Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to, 230 Col­lege Street, Room 103.

Speak­ers David Hulchan­s­ki (Asso­ciate Direc­tor for Research, Cities Cen­tre, UofT) and David Miller (May­or of Toron­to 2003–2010) will dis­cuss the chal­lenges of cur­rent trends and exam­ine pro­pos­als to cre­ate a bet­ter future. Richard M. Som­mer (Dean, Fac­ul­ty of Archi­tec­ture, Land­scape and Design, UofT) will act as guest mod­er­a­tor.

Hous­ing and land costs are far out­pac­ing infla­tion while a major­i­ty of Toron­to­ni­ans have not seen a real increase in income for more than a decade. Res­i­dents of neigh­bour­hoods in almost half the city, main­ly the inner sub­urbs, lack ade­quate tran­sit and social ser­vices. Togeth­er with gov­ern­ment bud­get cuts and the con­tin­ued neglect of phys­i­cal and social infra­struc­ture invest­ment, these trends are cre­at­ing a divid­ed city, both struc­tural­ly and geo­graph­i­cal­ly. Half of Toronto’s house­holds are renters, with half of all renters liv­ing in the clus­ters of high-rise apart­ment build­ings that are now approach­ing fifty years old. Many of these build­ings are occu­pied by large num­bers of recent immi­grants, most with lim­it­ed finan­cial resources. The 20% of the city where resident’s incomes are increas­ing is receiv­ing most of the investment—private reha­bil­i­ta­tion of old­er hous­ing stock and new con­do­mini­ums, pri­mar­i­ly in the inner city. Mean­while, accom­mo­da­tion costs are dri­ving more and more peo­ple out of the city core, includ­ing those who work down­town. Whose city is this? Who will be able to afford to live here? Will we have one Toron­to or sev­er­al? What will hap­pen to our qual­i­ty of life? Giv­en the uncer­tain­ty of polit­i­cal sup­port what is the like­li­hood of pro­posed strate­gies for enhanced pub­lic trans­porta­tion, afford­able hous­ing, high-rise apart­ment revi­tal­iza­tion and var­i­ous com­mu­ni­ty-build­ing ini­tia­tives com­ing to fruition?

Ques­tions and dis­cus­sion will fol­low the pre­sen­ta­tions.

David Miller is Coun­sel, Inter­na­tion­al Busi­ness and Sus­tain­abil­i­ty, at Aird & Berlis LLP, and the for­mer may­or of Toron­to (2003–2010). Since leav­ing office, he has been appoint­ed as an advi­sor to the World Bank and the OECD, and is affil­i­at­ed with the Club de Madrid (the Inter­na­tion­al orga­ni­za­tion of for­mer Pres­i­dents and Prime Min­is­ters).

David Hulchan­s­ki is a pro­fes­sor of hous­ing and com­mu­ni­ty devel­op­ment at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Toronto’s Fac­tor-Inwen­tash Fac­ul­ty of Social Work. He heads up the Cities Cen­tre research team that is ana­lyz­ing socio-eco­nom­ic and eth­no-cul­tur­al inequal­i­ty and polar­iza­tion trends in Cana­di­an cities. He is the author of “The Three Cities With­in Toron­to” (2010).

Richard M. Som­mer is an Archi­tect, Pro­fes­sor, and Dean of the John H. Daniels Fac­ul­ty of Archi­tec­ture, Land­scape, and Design at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to. His pro­fes­sion­al and aca­d­e­m­ic expe­ri­ence is diverse and includes serv­ing as a fac­ul­ty mem­ber, and Direc­tor of the Urban Design Pro­gram at Harvard’s Grad­u­ate School of Design for a decade before join­ing the Daniels Fac­ul­ty. Sommer’s research, writ­ings and projects have been pub­lished in pub­li­ca­tions such as Per­spec­ta, Metrop­o­lis, JAE, Har­vard Design Mag­a­zine, and in the books Fast For­ward Urban­ism, Shap­ing the City, and The Demo­c­ra­t­ic Mon­u­ment in Amer­i­ca: A Twen­ti­eth Cen­tu­ry Topog­ra­phy. His work has been sup­port­ed by the U.S. Nation­al Endow­ment for the Arts, The Tozzi­er Fund, The Wheel­wright Fel­low­ship, Uni­ver­si­ty of Ulster’s O’Hare Chair in Design and Devel­op­ment, and The Gra­ham Foun­da­tion for Advanced Stud­ies in the Fine Arts.

The City of Toron­to is over 175 years old, and over the years it has gone through many changes and respond­ed to many chal­lenges. In the 1990s there was the chal­lenge of amal­ga­ma­tion, and the resul­tant absorp­tion of six munic­i­pal­i­ties (Toron­to, Eto­bi­coke, York, North York, Scar­bor­ough and East York) into a sin­gle one-tier city.  In the first decade of the mil­len­ni­um, the new City of Toron­to grew into a world-renowned metrop­o­lis, and became a focus for inter­na­tion­al tourism, a flour­ish­ing film and media indus­try, med­ical and oth­er hi-tech devel­op­ments, and many oth­er new and relat­ed fields. Now, the City is being chal­lenged to jus­ti­fy and explain itself, in the face of major fund­ing issues and con­cerns about pol­i­cy and gov­er­nance.

To dis­cuss some of these impor­tant ques­tions, the Cities Cen­tre has orga­nized six events, all open to the pub­lic. Each event fea­tures an urban “prac­ti­tion­er” and an aca­d­e­m­ic asso­ci­at­ed with Cities Cen­tre. Under the over­all rubric, “Toron­to in Ques­tion?,” Cities Cen­tre will host most events at John H. Daniels Fac­ul­ty of Archi­tec­ture, Land­scape, and Design, Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to, 230 Col­lege Street, Room 103, from 6:30 to 8:30 in the evening.

Com­ing events in the series include:

  1.  “Who Gov­erns? City Hall and Cit­i­zen Par­tic­i­pa­tion” Speak­ers: Adam Vaugh­an and Dr. Richard Stren. Feb­ru­ary 28.
  2. “Who Needs Arts and Cul­ture in Toron­to?” Speak­ers: John Ral­ston Saul and Dr. Mark King­well. March 27. (Venue TBA)


WHAT:     Whose City? Gen­tri­fi­ca­tion, Inequal­i­ty and the Future of Toron­to

WHEN:     Tues­day, Jan­u­ary 24, 2012, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

WHERE:   John H. Daniels Fac­ul­ty of Archi­tec­ture, Land­scape, and Design, Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to, 230 Col­lege Street, Room 103, just east of Spad­i­na.

For more infor­ma­tion, or for media RSVPs, please con­tact:

Richard Stren
Pro­fes­sor Emer­i­tus, Polit­i­cal Sci­ence and Senior Advi­sor, Cities Cen­tre
(416) 817‑1330 (cell)