Gentrification is like cancer: everything seems to cause it, and there’s no cure; there’s no answer. We all know by now that when artists start to move into an affordable neighbourhood, they are soon followed by architects, photographers, advertising creatives, trendy cafés and restaurants, eventually making the area attractive for the conversion of dwellings into tourist apartments or new soul-less luxury residential developments for foreign investors. Meanwhile, the artists can no longer afford the rents, along with the original inhabitants who lived there for generations, forcing both to move to another run-down part of the city (where the cycle is then set in motion all over again). A vicious circle if ever there was one.
But artists aren’t the only ones to blame. Increasingly, improvements to streetscapes or parks, or even the creation of cycling lanes are being blamed. Yes, public works are increasingly seen as literally “paving the way” for gentrification. This is in many ways more politically onerous, since public money is being used to displace the poor for the benefit of the rich (even worse: rich foreigners!). Taxes, it would seem, aren’t only for the little people to pay, but also for forcing them to go away.
But there’s a simple solution to this grave social injustice: stop all public works. Stop all road improvements and the construction of bike lanes. Stop maintenance on all parks, and stop planting trees. While we’re at it, let’s put an immediate end to all garbage collection and street cleaning. All those things only serve to make a neighbourhood more attractive…for capital, and we certainly can’t have that!