January 2019 / Scarborough, Ontario, Canada

Changing Demographics in the Bluffs

By Derek Pinder
So you’re thinking of opening an East Indian restaurant in the Bluffs and are wondering where it would be best to locate it. A good choice might be Highland Creek and areas north where the ethnic origin of over 11% of the population is East Indian.  Or perhaps you are advertising items for sale in Birch Cliff and want to spread your appeal to people outside the English-speaking majority.  Translating your advertising into Bengali might work because that is the mother tongue of 7% of the population of Scarborough South West.  This is typical of the information that can be gleaned from the updated demographic profiles recently issued by the City of Toronto to reflect the new 25 wards that became effective on December 1st.  The statistics are based on the 2016 census.
Prior to December 1st, the distribution area for the Bluffs Monitor stretched across five wards: Ward 32 Beaches-East York, Wards 35 and 36, both named Scarborough South West, and Wards 43 and 44, both named Scarborough East.   That number is now reduced to four but the wards have been doubled in size and have been extended north, some beyond the 401.  The impact on the demographics of the Bluffs community is significant.
Beaches-East York has kept its name but has been merged with the old Ward 31 and has had some minor boundary changes to become Ward 19.  Its population has grown by 85% to 109,000 people.  English remains the largest ethnic origin while average household income has fallen from $124,000 to $104,000.
The two Scarborough South West wards have been merged and have had some minor boundary changes to become Ward 20.  The demographics remain much the same.
Old Ward 43, Scarborough East, has been merged with old Ward 38 Scarborough Centre and has had some minor boundary changes to become Ward 24 Scarborough-Guildwood.  The demographics have hardly changed.
Old Ward 44, Scarborough East, has combined with areas north up to Steeles Avenue and, with some boundary changes, has formed Ward 25, Scarborough Rouge Park.  The highest ethnic origin has changed from Canadian to East Indian.
Taking a look at the four new wards, the 10-year population growth in the Bluffs has been 1.7% which is lower than the overall Toronto figure of 4.5%.  The largest growth in the Bluffs was Scarborough South West at 3.3% while the population of Scarborough Rouge Park actually fell by 0.4%. It is the post-retirement age groups that have had the largest growth.
In the whole of Toronto, just 51% of the population claim English or French as their mother tongue.  The lowest figure in the Bluffs is 53% in Scarborough-Guildwood and the highest is 72% in Beaches-East York. 
Beaches-East York has the highest number of households, is the most stable in terms of the number of people moving residence, and has the lowest percentage of visible minorities.  It has the highest average household income which, at $104,123 pa is the only Bluffs Ward that is higher than the Toronto average of $102,271 pa.
Scarborough-Rouge Park has the lowest number of households and tops the lists of residence-movers and visible minorities.  It also has the lowest percentage of residents in the low-income group.
All four wards have a remarkable spread of ethnicities.  The highest representation of any single one is found in Beaches-East York where English is the predominant group at 13% of the population.  This ward also has the lowest percentage of first-generation immigrants and refugees.  The highest proportion of first-generation immigrants is in Scarborough-Guildwood, and of refugees is in Scarborough-Rouge Park.
The average cost of renting a dwelling in Toronto was $1,242 per month.  Costs in the Bluffs are significantly lower with the highest being $1,097 in Scarborough-Rouge Park and the lowest being $930 in Scarborough South West. 
When it comes to education and employment, Beaches-East York enjoys the lowest percentage of citizens who have no high school diploma and the highest percentage who have post-secondary education.  They also have the lowest rate of unemployment and dependency on government sources of income.  Scarborough-Guildwood is the exact opposite with the highest percentage of no high school diploma, lowest in secondary education, highest in unemployment and dependency on government income; it also has the highest percentage of residents in the low-income group.
We are all affected by changes in the demographics of our community; none more so than our elected Councillors.  Not only do they have the challenge of responding to differing priorities of their ward populations, but they have also found themselves with twice the number of constituents.  We might not always agree with their decisions but we in the Bluffs have been fortunate to have had Councillors who have worked hard to improve our communities.  We welcome back Gary Crawford and Paul Ainslie and wish every success to newcomers Brad Bradford and Jennifer McKelvie.
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