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Cliffcrest (Counter) Map

Mapping the affects of City-permitted building variances and infill projects.

This is not a regular blog post. It is a community-produced map. If you're interested, read on.

Update: This project is now working in partnership with the Cliffcrest Scarborough Village SW Residents Association, a not-for-profit corporation established by concerned citizens wishing to take an active role in municipal affairs.


The City - via the Committee of Adjustments (COA) - continues to allow residential construction variances and property severances despite civil protests by those living in the immediate, affected areas. I believe this is causing recognitional, procedural, and distributive justice issues at the residential street and local governance levels.


"Recognitional justice refers to the acknowledgement of and respect for pre-existing governance arrangements as well as the distinct rights, worldviews, knowledge, needs, livelihoods, histories and cultures of different groups in decisions;

Procedural justice refers to the level of participation and inclusiveness of decision making and the quality of governance processes; and,

Distributional justice can be defined as fairness in the distribution of benefits and harms of decisions and actions to different groups across space and time."

- Bennett et al., 2019, p. 5-6



This aim of this mapping project is to informally attend to these justice issues by giving residents of the Cliffcrest neighbourhood an opportunity to 1) exercise their worldviews, knowledge, and histories; 2) participate in a transparent and public forum; and 3) present the personally-experienced impacts of decisions made by the COA.

This community-based, grassroots approach to mapping is known as a counter-map: a form of critical cartography that seeks to disrupt traditional power structures (Dalton and Stallmann, 2018). It is my hope that the data generated in this map facilitate transparent conversation about the developments happening in our neighbourhood as well as bring awareness to (un)democratic community/city planning.


Residents of the Cliffcrest neighbourhood are invited to participate. Any information you add will be done so anonymously and will be publicly shared.

1. Click on the map below in the top right corner ("View larger map").

2. Sign into your Google/Gmail account (top right, click "Sign in").

3. Click "Edit" in the top left.

Before you go any further:

Locate the "undo" button at the top (arrow pointing to the left). If at any time you make a mistake, click this "undo" button.

Familiarize yourself with the map: click around and notice what others have contributed and how they have chosen to add information to the map.

Please do not edit or delete any existing markers. Only add and edit your own. The honour system is in place here.

4. Select the "Variances granted, Lot severances" layer on the left panel. Any information added to the map will be added to this layer that is now active (notice the thin blue highlight bar on the far left of the panel that indicates the active layer).

Add markers either by a) clicking the marker tool and 'dropping' a marker or b) searching an address and click "add to map". A pop-up box for the marker will appear. Click the "Style" icon to change the icon image and colour. Click "Edit" to add details to your marker (e.g. "variance granted"). Repeat this process to add more variances and lot severances granted.

5. Select the "Affects: Emotions, Mental Health, Well-being" layer on the left panel. Ensure that this layer is now active. Add markers to the same places you added in the previous step. Change and edit these markers using the description as well as the colours and icon images: allow these to help you convey your feelings about these places that you are 'marking'.

The Map

If clicking on the map above doesn't allow you to edit, please click here.

Thank you for contributing!


Bennett, N. J., Blythe, J., Cisneros-Montemayor, A. M., Singh, G. G., & Sumaila, U. R. (2019). Just Transformations to Sustainability. Sustainability, 11(14), 3881.

Dalton, C. M., & Stallmann, T. (2018). Counter-mapping data science. The Canadian Geographer / Le Géographe Canadien, 62(1), 93–101.

McCall, M. K., & Dunn, C. E. (2012). Geo-information tools for participatory spatial planning: Fulfilling the criteria for ‘good’ governance? Geoforum, 43(1), 81–94.


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