Gentrification can crowd out, or displace, communities (typically ethnic) and social networks whilst newcomers transform the very character of our vibrant communities. It is a blow to low-income residents who often move out or stay behind only to pay higher rents. Our hidden agenda is not so hidden: Sustainable gentrification triggered by planned urban development -- not a brazen force blindly driven by dollars--that protects the most vulnerable in our communities long after the Pan Am athletes pack their bags.
It's hard to have a conversation about gentrification, with all the baggage around the word. As long as many argue that any level of gentrification is to be absolutely avoided, positive and responsible change remains virtually impossible. Recently urbanist Richard Florida joined others in suggesting we need a new word to replace gentrification, asking "if all economic development and neighbourhood revitalization is gentrification, how do we grow and improve our urban areas?"
Sustainable urban planning, with walkable streets and neighbourhoods, with architecturally pleasing buildings that prioritize liveability, should not be the property of only the wealthy and the middle class. Overall, having liveable neighbourhoods and buildings for people of all incomes serves as a source of pride for the city as a whole.
Buying a property in a neighbourhood that is in the early stages of such a process is generally considered one of the best ways to build equity in terms of real estate investments. The media constantly runs stories along these lines. Unfortunately however, they couldn't possibly be further from the truth.