An Introduction to Gentrification and the Process in Guelph


Gentrifiction in the Ward has occurred simulataneously with the process of de-industrialization in the last decades of the 20th century. Guelph-based industries appear by and large to be victims of globalization. The 1980s was a particularly important decade in the transition from industry to gentrification. Two trends simultaneously emerged during the 1980s: firstly, trade liberalization which allowed capital far more mobility than it had previously had and secondly, the trend toward converting former industrial spaces into residential units. The City of Guelph has embraced these trends in their so-called Brownfield Redevelopment Strategy adopted in 2002 to prevent what the City considers urban decay.

What is Gentrification?

These processes, however, all contribute to a trend called gentrification which is, essentially, the discplacement of working class residents of a neighbourhood and the disruption of established neighbourhood social networks through the arrival of wealthier, middle class residents. Portrayed in more positive terms, some define gentrification as urban renewal by incoming middle class residents. This is the line taken by most of the companies partaking in the construction of condominiums in the Ward as visitors to this exhibit will see in the hyperlinks provided. Many of the condo developments now standing or being constructed on former industrial lots in the Ward are comparatively high priced with the surrounding housing developments originally created to house the Ward's factory workers. This is a phenomena that is happening nationwide from the Ward in Guelph to the Downtown Vancouver East Side.


The degrees of mobilization and tactics chosen by those opposed to gentrification also differ, from the non-destructive moderate activity of The Ward Residents' Association which chooses to participate in the development process to more radical tactics like those of the graffiti artists whose graffiti layers the sides of the Mill Lofts on Cross Street. Nationwide, struggles are underway to determine how neighbourhoods undergoing the process of gentrification will develop, and as you will see, the Ward is a prime example.