Mapping Change

I feel fortunate to have come across Matthew Dance’s blog very recently, thanks to mention in a roundup in Karen Unland’s blog seenandheardyeg.

Dance does a great job of sifting through a mass of development data – in this case, development permits – to provide a graphic summary of what is going on in the central neighbourhoods of this city.

This is the graphed and plotted reality on the streets: building, development, money changing hands, people moving and being moved … change everywhere, and not all of it for the better.

And Dance notes in an earlier post on the notion of gentrification:

Questions of gentrification are important as they highlight power shifts at a variety of spatial scales; from small public spaces to neighborhoods and cities. As urban land use changes (the development and naming of ‘Ice District’, The Quarters, infill housing) those without a voice can haver their communities dismantled, impacting individuals by putting them out of home, and requiring them to move from their social networks and communities of support. It is not just the questions that are important, but also but how we frame and attempt answer them.

This process also raises questions (in my mind at least) regarding the dramatic, almost violent scope of these changes in some areas. The construction blitz that hit the Boyle Street neighbourhood over the last couple of years has rendered swaths of the area virtually impassable for months on end.  Hardly a method of working that reveals any sort of consideration or sensitivity toward those people actually living there … and especially not for those who call the area home, but may not have long-term, permanent accommodation.

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From Matthew Dance’s Blog. His caption reads: Figure 5: The Quarter’s Boundary. Small red dots are residences (apartments, condos, houses) and associated structures (detached garages, sheds, etc). Blue are engineering (infrastructure maintenance, utilities, hoarding, etc). Green are various retail, restaurants and bars. Yellow are offices.

It doesn’t seem like a lot- just a few dots on a map – but the changes mapped here are profound, and will continue to be felt for many years to come.

What the future holds (other than a gaping hole or two as developers back out of plans for the area) is anyone’s guess at this point, regardless of the intent of various stakeholders.

I worry for our  city, for the people in it who have so much at stake and so little voice or power in the face of these  shifts.

And I worry for the fragile history of this place as it disappears.

-sydney

 

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