Our 10th an­nual real es­tate round­table

Of her­itage, pro­tect­ing neigh­bour­hoods and sky­rock­et­ing home prices

Richmond Hill Post - - News - by Ron John­son RON JOHN­SON

I’ve been think­ing a lot about gen­tri­fi­ca­tion and the neigh­bour­hoods of the city lately.

Orig­i­nally, it was while pass­ing through the Lit­tle In­dia area of the city in the east end, dubbed Ger­rard In­dian Bazaar. The street is chang­ing and quickly. But it’s a story be­ing played out in count­less neigh­bour­hoods from east to west, north to south.

I lived in a lit­tle bungalow in East York, and trips down for the many buf­fets or to La­hore Tikka House were a reg­u­lar oc­cur­rence. It was dif­fer­ent from any other part of the city — peo­ple sold paan and BBQ corn on the streets lined with sari shops.

Now chefs are be­com­ing at­tracted to the area be­cause of the cheaper rents, and a big-name craft brewer from Que­bec is open­ing up shop this fall and will surely usher in even more change.

Toronto used to be de­scribed as a city of neigh­bour­hoods. Re­mem­ber that? But that unique­ness is un­der threat if not full-on assault. The cur­rent de­vel­op­ment and real es­tate boom is chang­ing ev­ery­thing.

The city can­not keep up, de­spite what any­one down at city hall says. I’ve watched many de­vel­op­ment ap­pli­ca­tions head to the On­tario Mu­nic­i­pal Board be­cause city coun­cil took too long to rule so the com­pany right­fully de­cided to skip the city plan­ning process. Lo­cal stud­ies are ini­ti­ated, sure, such as a re­cent one in Lea­side. But be­fore it gets half­way, mas­sive de­vel­op­ments that will change the face of the neigh­bour­hood for­ever are al­ready ap­proved.

Gov­ern­ments say they are go­ing to slow things down, but we seem so hooked on real es­tate and the ren­o­va­tion busi­ness and the mas­sive land tax rev­enue that we can’t go back or surely our world would im­plode.

What are we left with at the end of the day? Our lead­ers might say this is the mark of a world-class city, that our real es­tate or own­ing a home is as un­achiev­able as it is in New York or Lon­don. Is that what we are count­ing as suc­cess these days? That the pow­ers that be have man­aged to plan our way into a sit­u­a­tion that makes home own­er­ship a pipe dream and makes one neigh­bour­hood un­rec­og­niz­able from the next? I’m not so sure. I like Lit­tle In­dia, but give it an­other two years, and it will be a sea of glassy mid-rise con­dos like any other sea. I like Lea­side too. Lea­side is so unique and has this cool in­dus­trial her­itage that still ex­ists to some de­gree across Laird Drive. But a decade from now, with stronger mea­sures from city hall, who knows?

These is­sues and oth­ers were dis­cussed dur­ing our 10th an­nual real es­tate round­table. Read it here or the longer on­line ver­sion.

Post City is about neigh­bour­hoods. We cel­e­brate them. We know how im­por­tant they are to this city and so should our elected of­fi­cials.

Post City’s real es­tate round­table

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