Schedule for Thursday, October 3
Toronto never experienced the inner-city decline that befell most American Great Lakes cities after the Second World War. It certainly faced challenges, with areas of poverty, dilapidated housing, and obsolescent industries. But a combination of fortunate circumstances, sound planning policies, wise political leadership, and astute entrepreneurship – where the balance rests among these is a matter of opinion – kept central Toronto reasonably alive and safe through the postwar decades. Since the 1980s the city’s central area has prospered. Its residential population and property values have steadily risen, making the inner city more attractive than ever for the middle-class but eroding the city’s remaining lower-income residential areas.
This growth pressure, combined with ongoing de-industrialization of the city’s waterfront and aging of its buildings, is prompting inner-city redevelopment and revitalization on a scale which, taken altogether, is quite extraordinary. Much of the central city is being transformed, more than many locals realize, as sites long used for industry or commerce are being converted to residential uses. Some projects involve demolition and rebuilding, while some are being built on re-purposed, largely vacant land. Some are private ventures, some are public-private partnerships, and some are purely public undertakings. They are producing housing with a range of tenures and building forms as well as public amenities of various types.
Taking advantage of the fact that several of the largest and most striking of these redevelopment sites are in the south-east quadrant of the central city, within a few miles of the SACRPH conference hotel, the local arrangements committee has organized a full-afternoon pre-conference tour of four such sites where participants will be given an orientation and brief tour by a working professional involved in its planning.
The four sites will be:
- Regent Park – Toronto’s first major public housing project, initially built in the late 1940s, is in the midst of a major reconstruction and revitalization that is bringing in a mix of incomes and uses.
- East Bayfront – This formerly industrial waterfront area is being redeveloped into a large residential, mixed-use area under the direction of Waterfront Toronto, an administrative body created by the municipal, provincial, and federal governments in 2001; much of the public infrastructure has been built in advance of the private-sector condominium developments planned for the area.
- West Donlands – This is another redevelopment area being overseen by Waterfront Toronto; it includes a public housing building, the athletes’ village for the 2015 Pan-Am Games, as well as two private-sector condominium projects.
- King/Parliament Redevelopment Area – This stretch of King Street East, on either side of Parliament Street, has seen a great boom in residential construction in recent years. Until the 1980s the area was a mix of low-income residences and light industries, in aging but still functional buildings, and some of this remains, but the area is in the process of complete transformation.
The tour will conclude in the nearby Distillery District, an extraordinary enclave of nineteenth-century industrial buildings. It was redeveloped in the 1990s into an arts and culture precinct, and now includes several new high-rise residential buildings.
Means of travel: Walking / Bus
Start/Finish: Courtyard Marriott Hotel (meet at hotel registration desk)
Host: Richard White, University of Toronto Mississauga
Time: 1:00pm to 5:00 pm
Note: The bus will depart the Distillery District for the conference hotel at 4:45, concluding the tour (the trip should take less than 15 minutes). [/gn_spoiler][gn_spoiler title=”6:00pm-9:00pm: Bousfield Lecture and Reception” open=”0″ style=”2″]Location: Alumni Hall, Victoria College, University of Toronto
Twice-Cleared Communities: The North American Struggle For (and Against) Public Housing
Speaker: Lawrence Vale, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Comment: Sean Purdy, Universidade de Sao Paulo
This talk will contextualize the rise, fall and redevelopment of Toronto’s Regent Park public housing by discussing some places in the United States that have also combined slum clearance to create public housing (mid-20th century) with a second clearance on those same sites a half-century later, once public housing itself had become regarded as the “slum.” It will focus on Atlanta and Chicago cases, but will also mention cases from a few other wide-ranging cities such as Washington, D.C., Boston, New Orleans, San Francisco and Tucson, to suggest that the phenomenon of “twice-cleared communities” has broad resonance in the United States. Professor Vale’s remarks will be followed by commentary from Professor Sean Purdy, who will focus on Regent Park itself.[/gn_spoiler]