If numbers don’t lie, then they sure aren’t telling the whole truth when it comes to Scarborough-Agincourt.
The area located in the northern part of Scarborough has seen the rate of its population growth decline steeply. According to Statistics Canada, it has the lowest population growth of all the federal electoral ridings located in the Scarborough area. Only 0.2 per cent growth from 2006 to 2011, also calculated as an additional 181 people.
Other ridings in Scarborough have seen much bigger jumps in population growth. Scarborough-Guildwood has seen a jump of 2.1 per cent, Scarborough-Rouge River has grown by 3.2 per cent, Scarborough Centre has gone up by 3.6 per cent and Scarborough Southwest sees the biggest gain at 6.4 per cent.
To outside observers, the lack of population growth in Scarborough-Agincourt may suggest that there are significant problems within the community such as crime, schooling or transportation issues, but those who work most closely with the area don’t believe that to be the case at all.
“My riding has the best schools in the system. The best public education in the city of Toronto.”
— Soo Wong
Soo Wong, member of provincial parliament for Scarborough-Agincourt, is one of these people. Wong sees the community as one of the premier locations to live in Scarborough.
“My riding has the best schools in the system. The best public education in the city of Toronto,” she said.
Wong specifically noted the accomplishments of Agincourt Collegiate Institute, a high school whose principal Lecourgos Papathanasakis recently received an award for being one of Canada’s best principals. The school was also in the public spotlight in January when two of its students launched a Lego man into the Earth’s atmosphere and recorded it, garnering worldwide press.
The area also has a lot of parks and other green spaces which don’t allow for much housing development and lead to lower population growth. This is not a negative issue according to Wong.
“There is a lot of green space protected by city bylaw, which is a good thing. You don’t want the area to be so densely populated.” She said.
Coun. Mike Del Grande (Ward 39 Scarborough-Agincourt) agrees that there is a lack of development space in the riding, but believes that the construction of more condos in the area will help.
“The amount of land mass in the riding is limited but we are going to have projects,” Del Grande said. “At the Bridlewood Mall there’s going to be a number of condos and there is another project at Victoria Park and McNicoll. Spots are limited but projects are being undertaken.”
Depending on what the city decides, the prospect of a LRT or subway that will be built on Sheppard Avenue in the future will make Scarborough-Agincourt an even more attractive place for potential residents.
While both community leaders acknowledge Scarborough-Agincourt’s immediate struggle with growth, they also consider it one of the best places to live in Scarborough with the potential of getting even better.