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: