The Ward. It's so ubiquitous to the city that you don't even need to identify it by its full name. It's just the Ward. In the (not literal) shadow of downtown, the Ward is one of the oldest parts of Guelph, and it's seen a lot of changes over the decades, but perhaps none so pronounced as what's happening now. The question: might there be some resentment about that from long-time residents?
This question was brought to the forefront a few weeks ago when a group called only "We Are the Ungovernable" engaged in Black Block-inspired rioting and property damage along Locke Street in Hamilton. This area of "The Hammer" was a working class neighbourhood that's since been gentrified with lots of new shoppes and residents, but that also means a lot of the people that used to live there were priced out.
As the media shook down the anarchist book fair looking for bad guys, it was remember that there had been months of rumblings about discontent in the area that showed there was friction along the socio-economic divide, and this is not something unique to Hamilton.
The Ward is an area that's seeing a lot of these changes too. Condo developments are springing up all over, and often in the places that carry some historical or cultural significance to the neighbourhood. Think of the Biltmore development, which borrows its name from the famous Guelph hat company, or Metalworks, which has incorporated the footprint of the old Woods building. Might there be any resentment in the Ward about the changing character of the area?
Our two experts this week say, "Not really," but these are interesting times for the Ward and its residents, and that was worth exploring. Annie Dunning and Janet Morton didn't write the book on the Ward, but they did put it all together. They completed their book, Mapping the Ward, in 2015, but the changes have continued, and are continuing, so it seemed like a good time to talk to the pair about Ward life, how people in the Ward are feeling about the changes they're seeing, and whether or not issues of gentrification and redevelopment might be an election issue.
So let's rap about Mapping the Ward on this week's edition of the Guelph Politicast!
Unfortunately, copies of Mapping the Ward are hard to come by, but you can inquire with the publisher, PS Guelph, about your chances of procuring one either on Facebook, or on their Shopify page. You can learn how Mapping the Ward came together by reading this article from September 2015 on the Guelph Mercury website.
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