Thestar.com released a story today on Toronto neighbourhood health indicators released by St. Michael’s hospital.
“The hospital’s Centre for Research on Inner City Health spent the last year developing a new tool that grades every neighbourhood in the city on 15 measures of health and well-being: everything from education to voting rates, the number of healthy food stores and the rate of premature deaths.
“Researchers used 11 databases, extracting information and then geo-coding it, for example, based on postal code, to reveal precise details on neighbourhoods. Most of the information has never before been available drilled down to such a local level.”
The report identifies the area known as the Junction Area ( #90 in the above city neighbourhood map ) to be average in almost all indicators. We are sandwiched between have neighbourhoods to the south and west, and have-nots to our north and east. We know the neighbourhood is undergoing rapid gentrification as well, so this is an important time to ask where will all the old time residents go if the housing and business rents continue to skyrocket.
And where will all the new residents coming into developments like Heintzman Place and the new Duke residence find healthcare, community space and be able to meet their neighbours from diverse backgrounds. Right now our only meeting places are coffee shops lining Dundas West. On the other hand we know the Junction is very walkable, as long as you don’t need to cross the street anywhere along Dundas, Keele or Annette.
This report is especially interesting to us at the Junction Commons Project because we’ve been researching our neighbourhood in detail over the last 5 months, both through community meetings and by considering census driven reports like this one. We’ve been told by the local Health Links that West Toronto is a Health Desert, meaning we don’t have enough health care providers to serve the current and anticipated future populations. We think part of the 209 Mavety site would be a perfect central location for this kind of Health care service delivery. And we can see as churches and other public spaces get bought up for condo conversions that preserving spaces like 209 Mavety that are centrally located, on transit lines and beautifully built, for public use is going to be a high priority for Toronto residents who want to build a liveable, walkable, economically fair and healthy city.
We’re in talks with some health providers right now about this possibility and will be giving you more details in the coming weeks about the very positive conclusions of our feasibility study. We’ll be doing a call out for more volunteers to run for our board in the next year, and will be inviting you all out to another town hall in the next 4 weeks or so – where we will release the findings of the feasibility report, and ask for your feedback and help to get 209 Mavety converted into a functional Community Hub for the Junction and surrounding areas.
The St.Michael’s executive summary of the report concludes:
“Urban HEART @ Toronto paints a picture of a city where many people are doing quite well, but too many others are at risk of falling behind. It also reveals a picture of a city where people in each local neighbourhood are connected to — and depend on — the health and well-being of those around them.
“Examining multiple indicators across several domains serves as a powerful reminder that assessing the success of our city involves a complex and inter- connected matrix of individual factors.
“While this rich source of data helps us to identify which neighbourhoods in our city need a closer look, that’s just the first step in building stronger neighbourhoods. The next step is for governments, funders, and community organizations to use this information to develop effective strategies for local renewal.
“One of the key learnings from Urban HEART @ Toronto, and the relationship we can see between various indicators, is that it’s not effective to focus on a single issue. Every aspect of neighbourhood health must be considered and interpreted in relation to all other indicators. That’s why neighbourhoods across our city need a coordinated, comprehensive strategy for renewal that involves multiple aligned efforts.
“The good news is that Urban HEART @ Toronto will enable this kind of collaboration among multiple partners, improving their ability to target issues and improve access to opportunities across all neighbourhoods. Ultimately, this tool will provide an evidence base that organizations can use to close the gaps between Toronto’s neighbourhoods and ensure Toronto meets its full promise: a city of thriving neighbourhoods, where every resident has the same opportunity for a healthy and successful life.
Reports referenced in this blog post: