A ‘Bedford Falls’ kind of place: Neighbourhood branding and commercial revitalisation in processes of gentrification in Toronto, Ontario
Drawing on in-depth stakeholder interviews and media accounts, we explore a case of civic activism over the opening of a strip club in a neighbourhood of Etobicoke, one of six municipalities amalgamated in 1998 to form the current City of Toronto, Ontario. In 2008, the growing residential gentrification of the area had not yet extended into the commercial district and the opening of the strip club challenged the gentrifiers’ nascent ‘revitalising and family-friendly’ neighbourhood brand – a brand that became integral to their civic and legal strategies to impede the opening of the club. This case highlights the ways in which gentrifiers participate in processes of commercial gentrification by enacting place marketing strategies that express social and spatial class-based disaffiliation and that define suitable uses of neighbourhood public spaces. The political contestation of neighbourhood boundaries takes shifting civic and legal forms, and the place branding expressed and promoted by these strategies encourages commercial gentrification by inviting particular patterns of class-based consumption into neighbourhood business districts. The case also underscores the contingent meaning of neighbourhood land uses for gentrifiers and the growing potential importance of commercial identities for gentrifiers’ relational constructions of ‘community’ and its boundaries. We contextualise this case within literature on commercial gentrification and the constitution of identity – individual, neighbourhood and class – through processes of ‘othering’, demonstrating that gentrification is a politically contested social and spatial practice with affective and material consequences.
Keatinge, Brenna and Martin, Deborah G., "A ‘Bedford Falls’ kind of place: Neighbourhood branding and commercial revitalisation in processes of gentrification in Toronto, Ontario" (2016). Geography. 342.