Neoliberalism and Portuguese-Canadians

So I entered this assignment by briefly reading a little bit of each of the four articles. I ended up gravitating more towards the Toronto’s Little Portugal and the article on neoliberalism.

What I would like to begin with is the Portuguese-Canadians and Toronto. This trend of gentrification in Toronto is actually very interesting to planners. All of the forces that combine to create these effects make it unique to the context while falling into an internationally typical urban phenomenon. Due to Little Portugal’s location in Toronto, it makes sense that property values have exploded as many people are finding it to be cool and hip to live in the heart of the city. When a resident of Little Portugal leaves and stops renting their apartment or sells their home, the people responsible for making gentrification happen swoop in and remodel and re-imagine the landscape to fit the current demand. Those that cannot move are now stuck with a neighborhood that is slowly losing its Portuguese character to other immigrants. The unique systems of informal renting and how the elderly depend on Portuguese establishments for day-to-day needs are slowly becoming history. The article raises a very good point in that most tests do not take into account how the incoming immigrants or population looks at their newly transplanted life in the neighborhood.

In the second article, I read about all of these different things about what neoliberalism is and is not. Neoliberalism is marked by changing market shifts and in connection different transformations, be they social, spatial, or political. Neoliberalism can be context specific, but it depends upon an active state power, a history of regulation and contesting space, and a current level of contest. These are just some of the summarized points. What I would like to highlight are the points where the author talks about how neoliberalism has ‘pervasively dysfunctional social consequences’ and that the concept is driven by a free market and protected to make sure you can do what you want without harming or being harmed by others.

Taking these two things and mashing them together, from the description of what neoliberalism is and the knowledge of Little Portugal, the neighborhood in Toronto is experiencing neoliberalist ideas. The area is changing due to the freedom of a capitalist market, but at what cost? That is my main question: Is losing this neighborhood known for its Portuguese character a bad thing? If the residents are moving out to go join the suburbs with other immigrants, investors are staged to make a lot of money off of the acquired property, and the neighborhood is actually become a very diversified neighborhood in terms of nationalities. These all sound like win-win situations. From the other standpoint, many people are concerned about losing such a cohesive and unique aspect to the city, the Portuguese elders are stuck with whatever is happening to that neighborhood whether they like it or not, and gentrification is happening to what remains of Little Portugal. This becomes an opportunity to make a decision in our mind: is it actually worth it to keep a neighborhood’s character from changing over time? Does that limit the neighborhood? I don’t necessarily have answers, but I know that the citizens and businesses of Toronto would be the best the figure it out amongst themselves.

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