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Toronto’s Green Line: Noticing the more-than-human in environmental gentrification

Authors: Loren March*, University of Toronto
Topics: Environmental Perception, Urban Geography, Animal Geographies
Keywords: more-than-human, environmental gentrification, affective geographies, queer urban ecology, multi-sensory ethnography
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

The parks-led redevelopment of Toronto’s Dupont hydro corridor into the ‘Green Line’ – touted as the city’s own version of New York’s High Line – has generated excitement among planners and activists in the city concerned with increasing downtown residents’ access to green space. This revitalization project serves as an example of how gentrification processes in the city are increasingly tied to the creation of ‘green’ urban playscapes, involving the alteration of existing urban ecologies to fit specific anthropocentric aesthetic and leisure functions as well as ideals of urban ‘nature.’ Drawing on multisensory ethnographic methodologies and grounding itself in a queer ecological approach, this paper examines the more-than-human impacts of environmental gentrification processes in the hydro corridor. I also ask what it might mean to be affected by these impacts in the colonial capitalist city, exploring the bio and necropolitical implications of human activities and upscaling, and hierarchies of ontological mattering. I direct attention to absence and presence in the changing landscape, and attempt to translate the shifting more-than-human atmosphere of a place in flux. I argue that affective encounters with places in transition help us to notice the multidimensionality and layeredness of displacement caused by gentrification, and suggest that this noticing is an ethico-political imperative that geographers cannot ignore in our work.

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