Monday, July 20, 2009

If the kids are united

When he is not finishing marathons in sixth place or, conversely, riding around enjoying American Spirits, Malibu and "North Enders" from Fazzo's takeout window with me, my friend Gareth is writing. Mostly iPhone apps, but also articles like the one that was published in the latest Summer of The Uniter. It deflates the flawed logic of the neighborhood saviors who moonlight as anti-gentrification crusaders (before buzzing off to the hipster quarters of real cities, that is).

It should be understood that there is a very real correlation between improvements at street level and the economic value of the property and the neighborhood. And so the best way to prevent gentrification is to quit cutting the grass and put off painting the picket fence. Don't plant a garden in a vacant lot, or apply for a fix-up grant, or think of joining a residents association. Start wearing more EXCO gear and less stylish Goodwill finds. Rottweilers running wild instead of pugs on leashes. Stolen mountain bikes instead of fixies. Or, better yet, just stay in the suburbs. Please--before a place that sells books [literacy promotion] or healthy food [chronic disease prevention] opens up north of Portage Avenue.

Speaking of displacement, here is another article in the The Uniter, an historical account of the ill-fated Lord Selkirk Park neighborhood, put together by yours truely.


Blogger Backspace said...

Ugh, your friend should consider making an actual argument next time he writes an article rather than merely sniping with nothing to say. What do you have to say regarding displacement?

I am aware of the irony of this comment.

2:07 AM  
Blogger Dallas said...

Yo Backspace, what do YOU have to say about displacement?

Here's an idea—if you're broke, work harder. If you're working hard, work smarter. If you can't afford inflation-rate rent increases, ask yourself what you're doing wrong. In nearly every case outside of war or actual famine, poverty is a self-inflicted disease.

BTW my Saab has 2.3L of engine displacement.

5:44 PM  
Blogger Louis Riel said...

Displacement is a very legitimate concern.

I'm pro-development. But I also understand that there is development that makes white people more comfortable in urban neighbourhoods, and there is development that actually betters the lives of the people living in a neighbourhood. We would be wiser to acknowledge the difference.

The housing development the author states has actually been quite frustrating for the neighbourhood. In fact, his article is another in a long line of U of W missives (either for or against development) that conveniently omit the fact that they are actually a PART of the West End community. Its written exclusively against activist UofW'ers (admittedly a fickle group) - but doesn't address what gentrification actually is, or the University's role in it.

Lastly, as a child of privilage with no experience of poverty, Dallas' insolence is outstanding.

Family history, abuse, education, reserve life, depression, etc all play a role in poverty. Its not so cut and dried.

2:30 PM  
Blogger Owen said...

I'm just going to copy and paste this from The Uniter's web site. Thanks to The Rise and Sprawl for your commitment to these things, and to Winnipeg.

My comments in The Uniter:

It’s great to see that people are thinking about gentrification in Spence - many thanks to Mr. Du Plooy, Maggi, and Mr. Galston for weighing in. Since the next issue of The Uniter will be published in a month or so, I’ll submit my response here as well. I urge all three of the above-mentioned people to read the actual piece referred to in the letter below. No where do I propose a moratorium on housing improvements, in-moving higher-income households, restaurants, book stores, or the like. The simple reality is, these things drive up housing costs for low-income people, which cause either displacement, homelessness, or higher housing costs which leave households with less money for things such as food and childcare. The solution lies in guaranteed affordable housing for low-income Spence residents so that revitalization can occur without gentrification. All our findings are based on in-depth interviews with neighbourhood residents and landlords. To ignore the realities of low-income renters in Spence is irresponsible and, frankly, tasteless.

July 18th, 2009

This letter is in response to Gareth Du Plooy’s article Crying Wolf Over Gentrification published in the July 16, 2009 Uniter. First, I would like to thank Mr. Du Plooy and the Uniter for questioning the merits of an anti-gentrification stance in Spence. Certainly the 48 Spence residents who participated in our research last summer welcomed - just as Mr. Du Plooy does – the new amenities and improved housing stock Spence has received in approximately the past three years. Many low-income renters, however, cannot afford to enjoy Spence’s renaissance and thus severely qualified their endorsement of these changes. Most participants regretted that housing improvements are almost always accompanied by prohibitively high housing cost increases. Many low-income renters have been forced to take money from food budgets to pay raised rents. A majority of the 25 Spence landlords consulted for the same project reported replacing low-income renters with higher-income households, or intending to do so in the near future. In the case of low-income rooming houses this almost certainly results in homelessness for a great number of former residents. In the written report based on this research – which was conducted at the request of the Spence Neighbourhood Association – published in the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives 2009 State of the Inner City Report (available at, I anticipated Mr. Du Plooy’s argument and called for greater public investment in guaranteed affordable housing units in Spence, rather than a halt to private investment. Bedbug-free apartments, breakfast joints, and safe streets ought to be for everyone, not just those who can afford them.

Owen Toews

3:33 PM  
Blogger Dallas said...

How a simpleton like Toews ended up as a Fulbright scholar is just baffling. Yo Owen—you ever consider that incomes might improve in tandem with the neighborhood? You know—new jobs, new opportunities, new customers? Did you forget that, in Manitoba, rental increases are capped by law? Have you not noticed in Spence the outstanding dearth of high-end restaurants, million-dollar home sales, designer boutiques, luxury vehicles, and indeed even a Starbucks that are the hallmarks of gentrification?

Spence might be (kinda) de-slumming, but gentrification? You must be retarded, or riding out an academic gimmick for your own sick self-glorification. It's not greedy landlords who exploit the poor—it's poverty pimps like you that make excuses for idleness, addiction, and generally poor life choices and try to pin it on "the [capitalist] system—man!"

It's remarkable how many pseudo-intellectuals can collect a living spouting nonsensical academese.

No, you Marxist tool, we don't need *more* public housing, thank you. If you want a guarantee that housing will be affordable, try using your talents & abilities to earn an income—there's plenty of "affordable housing" in the private marketplace.

4:58 PM  
Blogger Dallas said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

5:23 PM  
Blogger Dallas said...


"September 4, 2008


Finance Minister Greg Selinger announced today the 2009 guideline for rent increases has been set at 2.5 per cent."

That's a whopping $12.50 a month increase on a $500 rent bill. Who would "displace" oneself just to save $12.50 a month?


Min. wage in Ontario: $9.50
Average 2bdrm apt in Toronto: $1061

Min. wage in BC: $8.00
Average 2bdrm apt in Vancouver: $1084

Min. wage in Manitoba: $8.75
Average 2bdrm apt in Winnipeg: $740

5:23 PM

5:24 PM  
Blogger Backspace said...

Surely you recognise that rent increases over the minimum are significant in gentrification? Building owners can amortise the costs of “improvements” into rent for years, so increases over the minimum are common.

Ad hominem doesn’t get you anywhere.

12:41 AM  
Blogger Dallas said...

I realize y'all want to hop on some academically trendy neo-New Left anti-gentrification bandwagon, but in common with In-N-Out Burger, boat shoes, and Korean tacos, it just hasn't hit Winnipeg yet.

Wow the moment people with jobs move into the 'hood the big government lovers start seeing problems only public money can fix. When Safeway on Sargent turns into a Whole Foods then we can invoke the G word—till then STFU and GTFO with this BS.

Oh, and Louis Riel, "as a child of privilage [sic] with no experience of poverty" I'm keen to see your manuscript of my bio before it reaches the publisher.

3:14 AM  
Blogger The Great Canadian Talk Show said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

2:05 PM  
Blogger The Great Canadian Talk Show said...

On another note,

Rob: your MTS account is bouncing emails back to me. I'm trying to send you something.


2:07 PM  
Blogger Gareth said...

Hey Rob, thanks for the mention. You make my life seem so exciting!

Here is what I posted at the Uniter in response to Owen's comments. I'll leave it at this:

Owen, you state that “Bedbug-free apartments, breakfast joints, and safe streets ought to be for everyone, not just those who can afford them.”

They will only ever exist for those who have an appreciation for them, and a true appreciation of these types of things is only ever awarded to those for whom they are not guaranteed, especially by the state. This is true in theory, it is true in practice, and the sense of entitlement instilled in these community members by organizations such as the CCPA has and will continue to cripple them. It needs to stop.

6:38 PM  
Blogger The Analyst said...

Thanks for saving that comment here, Gareth. It seems to have be obliterated via the reformatting of The Uniter website - it's nice to know that some urbanists can have an utterly "Let them eat cake" attitude.

10:43 PM  

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