From time-to-time in the Greater Toronto Area a group called OCAP, the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, can garner attention for its activism. The general public alternates between apathy toward, and disapproval of, anything to do with OCAP. Among recent efforts is the open letter to Premier McGuinty at the link below. It makes a specific criticism of a municipal program designed to relieve homelessness in Toronto. The group objects to the way the program involves relocating those experiencing homelessness out of downtown areas to the edges.
Open Letter to Mayor David Miller, Councilor Joe Mihevc and Streets To Homes Manager Iain De Jong
The difficulty of accurately perceiving social conditions in suburban communities is rooted in space and structure. Much of our definition of cities attaches to their evolution under nineteenth century industrialization. When we think of say Paris or Baltimore the weight of our general definition of them is shaped by this older process of identity building. When the era of ex-urban hyper-building got going after 1945 new approaches to understanding human communities were required and began to come about – but have been only partially successful. It seems that wherever the land, capital, political relationships, and economic imperatives are in place multiple worlds developed, inner and outer ones.
There are still arguments over exactly what constitutes suburbia but… well, we feel we know it when we see it. Suburbia is misunderstood, changing, and remains screened by the larger, older identities of place. This pair of links, to items from NewGeography.com, offer general approaches to a more integrated understanding of place.
The two worlds of Buenos Aires
Toronto: three cities in more than one way
Children’s Aid Society of Toronto released a report at the end of 2008 that makes for alarming reading. Really, child poverty is the worst kind. It would seem that Canada is not exactly like some small Scandinavian country with zillions of Krona to spend on sensitively applied, boutique social programs. Too bad if you live in suburban poverty, huh?
In areas such as Mississauga, Markham, Richmond Hill and Oakville, child poverty rates have soared since 1990, closing in on levels once isolated to downtown Toronto, says the report, which used census data from 2006.
The United Way takes a look at ‘vertical poverty’ in ageing inner suburbs. ‘Moving up in the world’ doesn’t really mean what it used to.
Vertical Poverty Press Conference
YouTube 16:47 (highly recommended)
Created in 1974, Mississauga is a vast Edge City in the western part of one of North America’s largest city-suburb agglomerations. For decades there it was all about growth, growth, growth. Now, the buzz has begun to wear off a bit, especially in areas with older high rise buildings. This article from the Globe and Mail, a relatively conservative newspaper for its century-or-so of existence, encapsulates the dawning of an awareness of post-growth issues, including poverty. Targeting priority neighbourhoods for social spending, as is done in Toronto, has begun to get support. The tagline of the City of Mississauga is ‘Leading Today for Tomorrow.’ We’ll see what that means soon enough!
Poverty hides in the suburbs: will ‘priority neighbourhoods’ help?