The Striving of Scarborough Village

Can the residents of Scarborough Village turn their neighbourhood around? And will the city’s planning department help?

Scarborough Village is economically depressed and demographically divided. One of the thirteen priority areas identified by the city and the United Way, with Markham and Eglinton as its major intersection, it’s considered a low-income community, with a significant population of immigrants from various backgrounds and language groups. But in fact, the population south of Kingston Road to the lake is largely white and established, with most newer, low-income residents living north of Kingston Road.

On March 1, I attended a special meeting of the recently-formed Scarborough Village Advisory Committee (“SVAC”). David Baird, a life-long Scarborough resident, brought together an impressive cross-section of local business owners and residents from both sides of Kingston Road, as well as local councillors Ashton and De Baeremaeker, to talk about how they could bring new life to the neighbourhood. The room was jammed, and the energy palpable.

The meeting started with a discussion of some smaller projects: a new basketball court, a new walkway for a Toronto Community Housing building, and support for the annual Scarborough Village Fair.

But what Baird and his colleagues really want is a city-led revitalization plan, similar to what had been done for the , west of Scarborough Village. That revitalization plan – a comprehensive strategy that looked at land use, urban design guidelines, transportation strategy and streetscape improvements, all with an eye to encouraging reinvestment and redevelopment in the area – was just passed by City Council last January. A similar study is now taking place in the Lawrence-Allen Road area. But when put on the spot, Councillor Ashton indicated that city policy is shifting on this point, with the planning department moving to Avenue Studies rather than revitalization studies (although he was not particularly clear about the difference). While he ultimately agreed to set up a meeting between SVAC and the Director of Planning for the Scarborough Region to discuss an Avenue Study, he didn’t seem particularly bullish on the prospect, perhaps because of what he referred to as the city’s “undercommitment” to the public realm. And indeed, as of the date of this post, no meeting has yet been set.

So will SVAC have to do it on its own? Or will the city step up to the plate? I’ll keep you posted.

Comments

I live in the area and I don't think Scarborough Village is as bad as it is made out to be.
Do the high-rises need fixing? Yes they do. But other than that, the neighbourhood has a mix of established residents and new immigrants. The sector of the neighbourhood that is considered in poverty, is really just an area of the city where new immigrants establish themselves. How is that bad?

Sat, 2013-02-16 12:33

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