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Two and a half cities: Hulchanksi sees a bleak, bleak future for Toronto

Three years ago the University of Toronto’s David Hulchanski produced a report titled “The Three Cities Within Toronto,” spotlighting the fact that Toronto was divided between a wealthy urban core and a working class outer ring of suburbs, with a thin buffer of middle class neighbourhoods between them. Well, Hulchanski has updated his report with census data from 2006, and projecting forward. The results are pretty bleak for those concerned about income equality in the future.

Writing about the geography of the future, the report states:

By 2025, if nothing is done to change current trends:

• City #1 [the richest] will include 30% of the city’s census tracts, compared with only 19% in 2005; • City #3 [the poorest] will comprise 59% of the city’s census tracts, an increase from 40% in 2005; • City #2 [the middle] will decrease dramatically from 40% of the total in 2005 to 9% in 2025.

Thus, the number of census tracts in Cities #1 and #3 will increase substantially at the expense of City #2.

That’s right, the middle class neighbourhoods of the city will decline by a factor of four in just 15 years. Meanwhile, the other 91 per cent will be divided between the rich and poor, giving Toronto the same feeling as great global cities like London, circa Oliver Twist.

Of course, this wouldn’t be The Informer if we didn’t point out the politics of this—City #3, in Hulchanski’s lingo, is also known as “Ford Country.” And broadly speaking, City #1 voted in large numbers for Smitherman. Income polarization is a pretty good predictor of political polarization.  Hulchanski suggests we can avoid this fate with smart policies, though it sounds like they went to press before the election—the report specifically calls for implementing Transit City and the Tower Renewal Project, two parts of the Miller legacy that Rob Ford has slated for the trash. Whoops!

• The Three Cities Within Toronto 2010 (PDF) [Centre for Urban and Community Studies] • Shrinking middle class makes Toronto a city of socioeconomic extremes [Globe and Mail] • Income divide deepening in Toronto neighbourhoods: Report [Toronto Star]

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