The hidden pockets in Toronto where gentrification is really happening

Almost one-quarter of the city showed some sign of gentrification, but less than 1 per cent of neighbourhoods actually made the transition from low to high household income in the past decade.

At the corner of Morse St. and Queen St. E. in Leslieville, the signifiers of gentrification are on full display at Mercury Espresso Bar — a man with an artfully trimmed beard reads the paper while Kate Bush music plays cloyingly in the background, drowned out by the hiss and whistle of the espresso machine.

“I am the eye of the storm, I am the gentrification,” jokes barista Tyler Semrick-Palmateer as he makes a perfectly crafted Americano.

Semrick-Palmateer, the barista, is himself a bit of a hybrid gentrifier — he works in Leslieville and lives at Clinton and Harbord Sts., another bastion of Toronto’s affluent hipsterism. But the 30-something musician also grew up not far from the café, on Broadview Ave., and remembers the neighbourhood’s less shiny past.

A block away from the café in Leslieville, Jim’s Restaurant, a classic family restaurant famous for its Western sandwiches, is boarded up to make room for a six-storey condominium.

“It’s a vastly different place,” Semrick-Palmateer said. “I don’t know what it will be replaced with, probably not some old-school … diner. Probably some sort of specialty vapour shop.”

In 2006, the average household income in South Riverdale/Leslieville was $70,093, placing it in the bottom 40 per cent of neighbourhoods in the city.

By 2015, that figure had leapt to $103,384 — a 47 per cent increase that placed the neighbourhood in the top 35 per cent by income in the city. On some blocks, incomes rose as much as 76 per cent.

House prices skyrocketed there, too. Excluding condominiums, the average price of a home increased by a whopping 140 per cent — from $319,753 in 2005 to $764,124 in 2015, according to data provided by Realosophy.

(The neighbourhood was defined as the area within the Don Valley, Eastern Ave., Coxwell Ave. and Gerrard St. E.).
From the Junction to Trinity Bellwoods to South Riverdale, you might think you see the signs of gentrification on every corner of Toronto.

Home prices have skyrocketed across the city in the past decade, but very few neighbourhoodshaveactually met the technical definition of “gentrified,” a Star analysis has found.

While 22 per cent of the city showed some sign of gentrification, only 0.4 per cent actually made the transition from low- to high-income neighbourhood over the past 10 years.

Where it did happen, however, the change was astonishing.

Artisanal salami hanging in a storefront window. Baskets of tomatoes ripening in the sun at a farmer’s market. Parents and children enjoying dripping cones of gelato on their way to the park.

Gentrification is about more than just the clip-clop of designer heels on pavement — it’s a total economic and social transformation, says Alan Walks, a researcher at the University of Toronto who studies gentrification.

Areas that are gentrified
14 specific dissemination areas (DAs) in Toronto were defined as gentrified between 2006 and 2015.