Without a doubt, you can find some of Toronto’s best string hoppers, jerk chicken and halo-halo in Scarborough. It is, after all, one of of the largest and most diverse communities in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). But if you don’t have access to a car, getting to these delicious food items usually requires a long ride on public transit.
Everyday, many Scarborough residents make a lengthy commute to go to work, attend school or just see their doctor. When you talk to people in this community, which is predominantly made up of working-class immigrants whose average total income falls significantly below Ontario’s average — some of them holding down two or more jobs to survive — the topic of transit comes up a lot. Other issues such as community safety and affordable housing are also top of mind.
That’s the feedback we got from a month-long research project The Discourse undertook this summer, which looked at four GTA communities that are underserved by existing media organizations, including Scarborough. Despite the community’s sizeable population of more than 630,000, it gets lost in the daily churn of the news cycle. And when Scarborough does get mentioned in the news, residents complain that reports focus on gun violence and other criminal activities. At the same time, local media outlets haven’t been able to keep up with Scarborough’s growth to accurately reflect residents’ daily lives.
As we noted before, a well-functioning democracy relies on an informed and engaged citizenry. Research suggests that civic engagement is linked to local news habits, and that municipal governments become less efficient following the loss of local newspapers. With Toronto’s municipal election right around the corner (get out and vote on Oct. 22, folks!), we think it’s more important now than ever for Discourse journalists to serve overlooked communities by spotlighting long-ignored and emerging issues.
After spending a month listening to residents across the GTA, we’ve decided to first focus our lens on Scarborough, and fill in gaps in news coverage there. The conversations I have with community members will drive my storytelling, whether that’s a deep dive into the Scarborough subway extension, or a photo gallery highlighting artwork in Scarborough’s alleyways and underpasses.
As part of our research, The Discourse has already spoken to several Scarborough residents, ranging from grassroots activists and aspiring politicians to artists and student leaders. Over the next few weeks, I’ll continue to speak to community members to find out what they love about Scarborough and what they’d love to change about it.
I’d also love to hear from you. Tell me about how you live your life in Scarborough. What are the issues you feel so passionately about that you’ve missed your bus because you were deep in a heated discussion about them? What would your ode to Scarborough be? What’s your favourite Scarborough spot that you always recommend to out-of-towners?
Here’s how you can reach me:
- Shoot me a note over email or Twitter.
- Sign up for my weekly Scarborough newsletter
- Fill in this survey
- Meet me for a quick chat during my office hours every Wednesday from 3 to 4 p.m., either in person at the Scarborough Civic Centre library or online via Twitter
- Join The Discourse’s dedicated Facebook group for Scarborough residents (please give me your best suggestions for group names)
I look forward to listening to you.[end]