Comparing Gentrification in Montreal and Toronto
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Gentrification is a phenomenon that most urban planners are intimately familiar with, and it is a subject that has been documented and debated extensively within academic literature. Proponents argue that gentrification has the potential to increase social mixing and rejuvenate depressed inner city neighbourhoods. Detractors claim that gentrification displaces working-class residents who cannot afford the increases in rent, housing prices, or property taxes. This report examines the relationship between displacement and gentrification through a comparative case study of Montreal and Toronto. Household composition and income characteristics have been analyzed using census data from 1971 to 2001. Consistent with the findings from Higgins (2010), gentrified neighbourhoods in Montreal also exhibited an increase in individual and household income, an increase in the proportion of individuals in higher income groups, and a decrease in the proportion of individuals in lower income groups. In Toronto, individual and household average income rose much higher than it did in Montreal, but changes in housing tenure indicate that gentrification might be more extensive in Montreal than previously thought. This research has implications for planners and policy-makers that should not be underestimated. Widespread displacement of working-class residents is possible if city planners continue to embrace it as a revitalization tool without a strategy to alleviate displacement. Cities therefore have a responsibility to prevent displacement, using policy tools like rent control and inclusionary zoning, and by supporting affordable and non-market housing alternatives.