Central Etobicoke is a large geographic area composed primarily of wards 3 and 4, located in the west-end of Toronto. The boundaries stretch north to the 401, south to Burnamthorpe Road (with some parts reaching Dundas), west to include Centennial park and east just beyond Royal York Road. The area includes smaller neighbourhoods like The West Mall, the East Mall, Kingsview village, Mabelle, Scarlettwood court, Willowridge and Capri.
Historically central Etobicoke has been perceived as a well-to-do middle-class community. However, the City of Toronto is seeing major changes in its socio-economic geography. According to University of Toronto Professor David Hulchanski’s 2010 study: The Three Cities within Toronto: Income Polarization Among Toronto’s Neighbourhoods, this transformation entails high levels of wealth emerging increasingly in the downtown core and increasing pockets of low-income in the surrounding inner suburbs1. Hulchanski states that many smaller communities have become parts of “City three” — areas where income levels have decreased 20% or more since the 1970’s.
The common perception of many communities as middle class has traditionally glossed over the reality— that within the inner suburbs, there are numerous pockets of poverty. As a result, these populations are severely underserved, as these areas have few services and resources geared to the low-income population. Over the years, little has been done to increase access to services to better accommodate community needs and there is limited research exploring the realities of “special mismatch” faced by these populations.
This report uses data on a census tract level to provide a closer look at the realities residents face, the needs of the community, and the gaps in support they encounter. The data shows a more complex picture than what has previously been assumed. The data demonstrates serious needs in the area, and few resources to address them. The community has various pockets of poverty, which have gone unrecognized. These pockets, which are scattered throughout the community, have poverty rates which reach as high as 26.9%3 overall, with specific populations like children in poverty reaching rates as high as 38.7%4. In addition, the community also contains a large population of two vulnerable groups - youth and seniors; populations which typically require increased access to services. This is coupled with the fact that there is an unusually low number of services in the area. The community also lacks mobility and has some of the lowest scores in both walkability and transit accessibility which has created a challenge for the community as residents have further constraints on access to services and resources.