April 23, 2014 6:45 pm

Residents worried about persistent poverty want to revive Scarborough

Watch video above: Campaign launched for ‘Scarborough Community Renewal.’ Mark McAllister reports. 

TORONTO – Despite parts of Scarborough being assigned a priority designation by the city of Toronto, pockets of poverty persist in Toronto’s eastern suburb. But a group of concerned residents is trying to change that.

Dave Hardy, secretary of the North Scarborough Rotary Club, is launching a campaign Wednesday night to try to revive a sense of community in Scarborough.

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“We’re finding that after the priority neighbourhoods were assigned that we’ve actually increased poverty,” Hardy said in an interview Wednesday. “So the Rotarians said, we’ve got to do something about this and it’s something more fundamental than just assigning priority neighbourhoods.”

Eight of the city’s 13 priority neighbourhoods are located in Scarborough including Kingston-Galloway, Malvern and Dorset Park. The designation allows city staff to target the area with increased spending and social services.

But Hardy notes Scarborough is lacking cultural amenities that bring people to the community.

“There’s no chamber of commerce in Scarborough, there’s no museums, there’s no culture, there’s no symphony halls, there’s no art galleries in Scarborough,” he said. “So we’re not really benefitting from all that we see that is going on wonderfully in the city of Toronto.”

The group isn’t immediately launching into projects without funding or plans however. Hardy will announce Wednesday a six month plan that will see discussion papers on economic development, education, transit, social development, arts and culture and urban planning.

After round table discussions on each paper, the group will present an action plan – including business cases and funding options – to bring those ideas to fruition.

“We’re saying this is not about what government should do, it’s about the whole community needs to come together,” Hardy said. “We need to own this, we need to have a stake in the importance of the outcome, and once we do have the gains, we need to be able to celebrate that as a community.”

In July, 2013 Global News poured over troves of tax-filing data and found a shifting landscape of wealth in the city. In the west, incomes are rising in west Toronto and Etobicoke while in Scarborough median incomes are falling.

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Scarborough (and the city of Toronto as a whole) was rocked by the Danzig Street shooting in 2012 when two people were killed and over 20 others were shot at a community barbeque in the Kingston-Galloway neighbourhood of the city. Median family income in that neighbourhood fell 6.4 per cent from 2001 to 2010 from $48,745 to $45,640.

Another area of Scarborough, near Bob Hunter Park, has seen their median incomes fall 11.1 per cent from $71,990 to $63,980.

- With files from Mark McAllister


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