Parkdale - Canada
The Toronto West End neighbourhood of Parkdale, home to nearly 40,000 Parkdalians,is a diverse and dynamic part of Toronto. Since the building of the Gardiner Expressway in the 1950’s and 60’s, which divided the neighbourhood from the lakefront and was followed by the construction of many apartment buildings, Parkdale has become an area with a large population of newcomers and low-income renters.
In the 1970’s the Ontario Government decided to release many long-term mental illness patients into the community. Around this time large mansions were being turned into multi-unit rental stock and illegal rooming houses. The area developed a reputation as a neighbourhood rife with poverty, crime, drugs, homelessness, and large numbers of people living with mental illness.
Parkdale is a focal point in Toronto and representative of the character of its booming population. The mixed income neighbourhood is at the center of conversations about gentrification as issues around home affordability and rising real estate prices are ever present. The city’s condominium boom is beginning to encroach into Parkdale. Some have gone as far as to dub the neighbourhood “Vegandale”, as a sign of its gentrifying nature.
These photographs were made while exploring Parkdale with a desire to meet, learn from, and better understand people in its midst, especially those most vulnerable to the changes being experienced in their neighbourhood.
Photographs taken in 2019 and 2020.