As the name suggests, every Friday Spacing profiles Facebook groups that are using the social network to articulate their experiences and share information about Toronto.
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This week I searched for Toronto-based groups that are dealing with urban housing issues. While each group took a unique approach to the topic, three major themes seemed to emerge: development, revitalization, and advocacy.
Of major concern to many Torontonians seems to be how our city, as it continues to grow in size and density, is being developed to sustain increased numbers; but, new affordable housing is undermining existing communities, replacing much needed green space, and harming the environment. Stop the housing development @ Downview Park!!! is one such Facebook group. The government currently wants to replace one of the biggest urban parks in all of Canada with a housing complex. Advocates against the proposed development are arguing that the neighbourhood’s infrastructure could not support such a drastic density increase. Moreover, members of this group feel that the proposed high density buildings are not energy efficient and, unlike the existing park, they would worsen the environmental situation of the area.
That being said, other Toronto-based groups, such as Unite the Caring Cooperative Cohousing Project, are demonstrating the benefits of well-planned urban housing development in creating community. Members of this group, including local activists and planners, are proposing the development of an eco-village near the downtown core. Buildings would be retrofitted or designed to be energy efficient so as to reduce residence’s ecological footprint, consumption rates, and living expenses.
Local communities are also using Facebook to articulate how they feel about existing and proposed revitalization projects. Lawrence Heights (Jungle) â€œRevitalizationâ€ Project, for example, discusses how the physical revitalization of their neighbourhood would result in urban gentrification; a phenomenon whereby existing residents would be displaced by wealthier residents who can afford property as values increase. Revitalization Sucks!!!! is another one of these groups. Members are currently addressing the issue of development around Dufferin and Lawrence and how government sponsored surveys are strategically muting community protest.
There are also those groups that address housing more generally, as a moral and social issue. Stop Toronto Slums and Homos4Housing, for example, are in fact petition groups whereby people join as a way of showing that they want property values to go down.
All in all, these groups reflect a range of often conflicting viewpoints about Toronto’s housing issues. That being said, in doing so Facebook is offering urbanites a way of finding out about development and revitalization issues that they might not have known about otherwise; and, they have direct, unmediated access to community opinions.
photo by Geoffrey Wiseman