UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The ten cities of Toronto : patterns of socio-economic inequality and polarization throughout the Toronto Census Metropolitan Area McGuire, Liam


The Greater Toronto Area (G.T.A.), Canada’s largest urban region, is currently facing a strenuous experience of inequality and polarization. In the contexts of social, political, and economic landscapes, the Toronto region is becoming increasingly defined by a spatial divergence of social classes, a divergence that threatens the ability of many citizens to access the resources their wealthier neighbours enjoy. In the context of an increasingly unequal urban landscape, this thesis employs a critical quantitative and theoretical approach to explore the Greater Toronto Area, home to more than six million people. Following an introduction to the issues facing the G.T.A., chapter two explores the mechanics of a capitalist housing market, and examines the effects of a neoliberal urban governance strategy on the city. Chapter three outlines a multidimensional quantitative methodology to explore the presence of social inequality and polarization, whereby chapter four introduces a taxonomy of neighbourhoods, materializing social divides through the domains of housing, citizenship, wealth, and labour. Critical to this examination is the exploration of the gentrifying downtown, the declining inner suburbs, and the rapidly expanding outer suburbs. The fifth chapter more closely examines the relationship between immigration and housing in the G.T.A., mapping and analyzing the relationships between new residents and housing affordability stress. The results deepen an understanding of social inequity in the G.T.A., spatializing divisions between immigrant groups as they navigate the turbulent housing market. Finally, the thesis reflects on the challenges facing Canada’s largest urban region, arguing for new conceptualizations of our urban areas, and new conversations about urban housing strategies. These arguments strive to set a context for new urban governance strategies grounded in an interest of truly just and equal cities for all residents, challenging the existing social divisions that divide our cities today.

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