Parkdale has developed and retained a range of affordable housing options – private rental housing, rooming houses, supportive housing, cooperative housing and public housing. They are, however, increasingly at risk due to pressures from gentrification and real estate reinvestment. On a day-to-day basis, low-income, immigrant, and vulnerable community members face resulting housing insecurity and displacement pressures. In particular, pressures on the affordability of high-rise apartment buildings have increased as corporate landlords have attempted to implement above-guideline rent increases. The need for affordable housing is apparent.
Attention to land ownership and its use, rather than a sole focus on affordable housing, offers unique insights into ways to understand challenges in neighborhood affordability and equitable development. Our research and community consultation reveal that local land use decision-making often fails to prioritize community needs, involves limited coordination with diverse stakeholders, and lacks transparency and accountability to residents. The recent redevelopment of a three storey building into a new single-storey LCBO site in Parkdale is an illustrative example.
In light of these challenges, directions for Parkdale foregrounds two broader objectives: 1) the democratization of local land use planning and 2) a tandem strategy for development without displacement that simultaneously promotes various initiatives and policy for preserving and strengthening affordable housing. Proposed directions should be also built on Parkdale’s unique assets such as strong community organizing capacity, the experience of various non-profit housing organizations, and the Parkdale Neighborhood Land Trust, a community land trust that acquires and owns land for community benefits such as long-term affordable housing