Comprised of Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon this publication’s home region, Peel, is famed for strained social services. That makes very welcome whatever media attention is available regarding social conditions here.
Stunning statistics drive need to help Peel’s homeless youth
mississauga.com – access three-part series via link
An old school-new economy moment appears daily in Peel, the large mostly suburban region west of Greater Toronto. Citizens there arrange to have white goods picked up for a small fee. Scavengers get the goods first – dead washers, defunct dryers, icky old ovens – for some quick cash. The result has become something of a by-law enforcement and financial inconvenience for Peel.
Peel homeowners arranged for dead appliance pickup 2,812 times in 2012 and yet the firm contracted to do the work of removal made only 1,025 pickups. Professional scavengers cruising in beater vans and pickups throughout the day and into the night are intercepting literally tons of material. The discarded appliances are sold for scrap that would have returned revenue to the regional government to cover the costs of despatching contractors to lift appliances.
You don’t have to spend a lot of time in the GTA or any other large urban-suburban region to encounter scavenging. Appliance removal generates some statistics but scavenging remains an imponderable, really. Yet we see that for many the costs and incentives are balanced in favour of it. Scavenger trucks often ramble by the suburban-poverty.com office complex between mid afternoon and maybe one in the morning. The backs are piled with stuff, everything from lawn mowers, cast aluminium barbecue lids, unwanted metal lawn furniture, broken office chairs, to TV sets. Often a bed frame or two are employed to extend the height to which an old pickup truck can be stacked with scrap metal objects.
image: via Wikimedia Commons
Peel Region, a vast, high-growth area in the west of the Greater Toronto-Hamilton Area increasingly looks to the province of Ontario to redress what it considers serious shortfalls in the funding of basically everything. The region has become known for stretched and stressed social services but must be seen as both perpetrator and victim. The North American ethic of high growth first and foremost expressed as serious sprawl has possibly its best single example of the Canadian approach to this manner of living in Peel. As the region fills up with people and its public and private infrastructure begins to age and face the challenges of adaptation there is a growing unease. This item from the Toronto Star highlights the situation for school boards and the Children’s Aid Society in Peel. Having been enthusiastic about high speed growth for decades the region’s agencies are crying for more funding based on need and social difficulty. Peel seems not to be getting its preferred level of sympathy from Queen’s Park.
A classic suburban dilemma: who pays for social difficulty there after the billions in residential and commercial development have been slapped down in what were once corn fields and people must live there, presumably for generations to come?
Peel Region seeks a ‘fair share’ from Queen’s Park after years of fast growth: social service agencies and educators say funding formulas aren’t keeping up with the region’s population and deepening needs
The trend for Peel Region is towards suburban poverty. Recent numbers collected by an ongoing effort to assess social conditions in Canada at University of Toronto provide the story. Decline in real incomes, growth in accommodation costs, rising car-related expenses like gas and insurance and a weakened picture for employment have moved many into poverty despite continued population growth and the vast sums invested in the artefacts of sprawl (roads, houses, commercial strips).
Peel seems to be developing a pinched class where once there was a middle class. Growth in population appears to be stressing social services and draining prosperity. “In 1980, Peel had just two low-income neighbourhoods. Three decades later, 45 per cent of neighbourhoods were considered low-income or very low-income, nearly the same proportion as in the city of Toronto,” says a recent item on the large, suburban area immediately west of Toronto, linked below.
This must be tough to swallow in a place that prided itself on growth, was a vast construction site for decades, where it seems like the 80s never ended if you were a property speculator, a builder or a municipal bureaucrat. The elected representatives in the communities making up Peel region tend toward conservatism and have not begun to strategize for the future. The two large city governments within Peel, Mississauga and Brampton, are at odds with each other regarding the formulas used to determine their share of regional spending. Mississauga’s mayor, facing a renewed legal approach in regard to conflict of interest with the development industry, is in her nineties now and will leave behind a dysfunctional and underachieving city council when she leaves office shortly. Brampton presents a very mixed picture as well.
Low crime rates in Peel are appreciated by its residents. The place is neither Bangladesh nor Detroit. A big, expensive, impressive plan for light rail transit for Highway 10 is on the books, too. But…
…a lack of political imagination has helped build the present in Peel Region, as surely as any demographic development. The faster a relationship is discovered with the former the sooner those demographic developments can be responded to in a meaningful way and bigger problems ameliorated. The political culture of easy income through rubber stamping development permits won’t be put to rest without pain we suspect. So, expect more findings like the ones in this article.
photo: Cryptanalysis computer in the 1940s taken by J Brew via Wikimedia Commons
A grotto is simply a shallow cave or underground passage, a chamber. In more than one culture, grottoes are viewed as places of mystery and have associations and embellishments relating to spiritual life. A fashion for decorative, Christian-themed grottoes developed in the eighteenth century in Europe and grottoes near water or built into gardens are often tourist sites. We came across the grotto as a metaphor of suburban poverty and homelessness in a paper about Peel Region recently.
Homelessness in the suburbs: engulfment in the grotto of poverty
Studies in Social Justice Volume 6, Issue 1, pages 103-123, 2012
via Homeless Hub – 21-page .pdf file