Scarborough may be well known, but it hasn’t been known well. This area of the city has been woefully underserved in terms of public investment—certainly in public transit, economic
development and health facilities.
From United Way reports, we see how things have unfolded. As people with the most wealth moved into the city’s core, the inner suburbs, and Scarborough in particular, became identified with highrise, warehouse-like public housing, signalling impoverished neighbourhoods amidst the mid-century style characteristic of the area.
Yet there are proud local traditions here, beautiful natural landmarks and creative endeavours in community building, sports and the arts. These are led by educational institutions, hospitals, sports clubs, artists, immigrant associations and local businesses.
Cities and neighbourhoods aren’t static, and neither are their stories.
As we update the Scarborough story, we also need to revise the Toronto narrative. With the GTA now ranking among the 10 largest urban agglomerations in North America, we need to leave behind the idea that a city is just one thing. Toronto celebrates diversity and difference—let’s rethink the city from that lens.
From my discussions with U of T President Meric Gertler and others, I know there is an understanding that the University must leverage its three distinct locations—downtown Toronto, Scarborough and Mississauga—and the accompanying community relationships, geographies, economies, academic strengths and student populations. Our three distinct narratives are linked by common policies and tremendous synergies, making U of T the university for the GTA. Each of the three campuses provides a window into—and a very special resource for—our very complex region.
The eastern GTA has many good things going for it. Being located here is a tremendous opportunity. We are contributing to the Canadian dream of many families—educating their children, engaging in community-based and globally relevant research, and partnering in planning improvements. We train local youth; we support local business. We are helping people in Scarborough to tell their stories of creativity, compassion, community building, arts, culture and sport. We’re a partner. That’s an important achievement for the University.
Bruce Kidd, OC, PhD, LLD
Vice-President, University of Toronto, and Principal, UTSC