Media Releases

Scarborough’s services at stake

June 16, 2011

New report shows importance of maintaining social infrastructure in Scarborough’s low-income neighbourhoods

SCARBOROUGH, ON – In a city already sharply divided and with the probability of austerity budgets by all levels of government, neighbourhoods in Toronto’s inner suburbs have a lot to lose, according to a new University of Toronto report.

The past thirty years have seen a dramatic increase in the number of low-income neighbourhoods in Toronto. The report, to be released today, points to the importance of investing in “social infrastructure”—such as transit, community services, and public spaces—in order to improve the quality of life in our neighbourhoods and to help reverse this trend. Social infrastructure is just as important to strong neighbourhoods as physical infrastructure, like roads and sewers, the report argues.

The importance of social infrastructure, using Scarborough as an example, and how communities can maintain and even enhance public and private investments, are the topics of a community forum called “Inner suburbs at stake: Investing in Scarborough’s communities,” sponsored by the University of Toronto Cities Centre, Scarborough Civic Action Network and Social Planning Toronto.

“Social polarization and spatial segregation are clearly visible in the landscape, and our inner suburbs are home to more and more concentrated and racialized poverty,” explains University of Toronto professor Deborah Cowen, an author of the report and panelist at the forum.

“Investment in these suburbs is a key part of the solution, and yet its future is in question. How can we enhance investment in Scarborough when budgets everywhere are being cut? How do we unite across different issues and diverse communities?” asks forum moderator Israt Ahmed, a Scarborough resident and community planner with Social Planning Toronto. “This forum provides an opportunity for community members to come together to learn from research about the big picture of urban change, and to take action for the future of Scarborough’s communities.”

The report, “Toronto’s inner suburbs: Investing in social infrastructure in Scarborough,” by Deborah Cowen and Vanessa Parlette, will be launched at a forum this evening, June 16, 2011, 6 to 9 p.m., at Scarborough Civic Centre Council Chambers, 150 Borough Dr.

Other panelists will include:

  • David Hulchanski, Director of Research, University of Toronto Cities Centre, and Professor of Social Work, University of Toronto
  • Chris Brillinger, City of Toronto Director of Social Policy, Analysis and Research
  • Samantha Brookes, Manager of Health and Seniors Programs at Warden Woods Community Centre
  • Regini David of West Scarborough Community Legal Clinic
  • Jonah Schein of Commitment to Community Campaign

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For more information contact:

Deborah Cowen, University of Toronto: (416-795-8987) or

Israt Ahmed, Social Planning Toronto: