Business Retention and Expansion

Business Retention and Expansion

Group assignment discussing Economic Development for Urban Planners. Concept: To write a chapter in an instructional book (the tally of the class compiled in to a completed assignment)


Christopher Evan Jones

Natalie Lindsay

Personal Contribution

  • Section 5.3 A Case Study
  • Section 5.4 Developing Economic Communities
  • Section 5.5 Identifying Trends
  • Section 5.6 Predicting Trends and Pressures
  • Section 5.7 Conclusion


5.1 Introduction


Business retention and expansion (BR&E) Priority should be to work with businesses already in the area to ensure their needs are satisfied and help them expand; creating a supportive culture for businesses that will be attractive to other businesses.  Potential investors may interview local business owners during their site selection research process, and any demonstration of a community’s pro-business attitude existing programs such as local business support programs, are a strong incentive.

  • Statistics show that “around 60%-80% of all new jobs come from existing businesses in an area”, (Phillips, P. D., 1996).
  • Businesses are making relocation decisions every day.
  • One objective of having a BR&E program is to better understand the decision factors that influence intra-regional business relocations and to better understand the economic impact of the relocation on its current location’s community.
  • Recognizing areas of high turnover as indicative of issues that must be addressed through a strategic and comprehensive BR&E program.  Lengthy property vacancies hurt an area’s economic development and affect an outsider’s perception of an area.
  • High business retention projects the area in a positive light and motivates other businesses to also establish a base in the area.
  • A good strategy for expansion is both cost-effective and efficient.
  • Business expansion can mean anything from expanding the infrastructure to an increase in capitol, to the number of employees.
  • The benefits of a BR&E program include the evasion of potential lost jobs and the overall economic impact an area experiences when a major corporation or even a smaller established, local business shuts down or leaves.  Retained businesses have higher expansion potential and the employees from these businesses are already trained, providing an appealing human resource pool.
  • Every community should have a BR&E program because everyone benefits.  The factors that make a community attractive to outside investors – reasonable operating costs, available infrastructure and sites for expansion, a supportive and cooperative local government, and high quality living conditions – are the very same factors that ensure the continued operation, contentment and growth of existing businesses.  When local businesses thrive, so do their communities.  Supporting businesses development opportunities gives businesses contentment to remain where they are and they actively participate in a sustainable cycle of job creation and tax revenue.
  •  BR&E programs are in no way “mutually exclusive or antagonistic to business attraction programs”(Phillips, P. D., 1996).
  • When established companies move out of an area, or when corporate downsizing∕ restructuring occurs, the action has the potential to devastate a community.  When large numbers of people with similar job skills suddenly re-enter the job market within a smaller community, the competition makes it extremely difficult to get a new job.  Also, older workers that are close to retirement age have an even harder time finding new employment, because the cost for retraining may be too high and they are not viewed as a good investment by the company.  On the other hand, in dealing with corporate restructuring, retention and expansion have an upside as well. Generally, as a multi-location company closes some facilities, it moves the operations from the closed facility to remaining facilities, which in turn benefit from increased numbers of employees and investment.


Existing businesses are major contributors to a community’s economic development and tax revenues.  Collectively, they employ the highest numbers especially when they go through expansions and their role as ambassadors to the community provide valuable incentive to potential new business investors.

According to Phillips, the overall mission of a good BR&E program must be to support local businesses to become more competitive thus allowing for expansion.  To achieve this mission, a BR&E program must meet a variety of goals such as:

  • demonstrating commitment to existing industry
  • increasing productivity of the local work force
  • assisting local firms to find technical assistance
  • creating an early-warning system so as to be aware of facility reductions or closures
  • providing networking opportunities so that firms can work together to solve common problems
  • providing a unified voice for business in dealing with legislative issues
  • improving the local quality of life
  • working to correct general business climate liabilities and capitalize on assets
  • attracting local investment into the area
  • working with individual firms to address their specific problems


To accomplish these goals, a retention program would need a well thought out and comprehensive development strategy, along with passion and persistence to succeed.

5.2 BR&E Technical Models


The Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce BR&E program provides a model of the 4 keys to successful retention and expansion:

  1. Prioritize a business retention and expansion program within the company.
  2. Provide an unwavering commitment of funding and human resources to allow for up-to-date interactions and research that yield valuable information on a company’s position.
  3. Carefully plan and target efforts to allow for optimization of resources and higher success rates.
  4. Integrate retention efforts into all organizational activities so all relevant invested parties are informed and involved.

There are four key components of a good retention program:

  1. Compile Employer Information – Develop a detailed database of basic company information and statistics, such as number of employees, products, the company’s address, business contact person, phone number, e-mail address, who the company’s top executives are, etc.  This general knowledge portrays interest in the company and allows the CEO Interviews to be more focused on industry insights.
  2. Conduct CEO Interviews – Effective surveys should be purposive, strategic telephone or personal interviews that consist of open-ended questions regarding current market research, business climate options, business climate ratings, labour availability, corporate expansion or relocation plans, predictive information and customer satisfaction.  Changes in attitudes of customers are predictive of problem identification (if negative) and service improvements (if positive).
  3. Compile and Analyze the Data – Analysis of all the interviews and surveys, and preforming a risk-assessment through strategic questioning would enlighten the researchers to potential priority issues that need to be assessed.  The cumulative responses from the surveys help researchers identify competitive advantages, trends, opportunities and constraints.
  4. Compose a Strategic Marketing Plan – Give consideration to action indicators from survey assessments.  Decide how the survey results affects marketing strategy, consider any implications, risk factor, if more extensive research is necessary, attitudes, responses, opportunities for business attraction.  Focus responses to solving existing businesses’ immediate problems.  Pre-emptive actions work best in this scenario because action is taken before the situation is dire.


To show their support and foster working relationships and trust with the local businesses, community economic development offices could also consider offering the following services to existing manufacturing companies:

  • Compilation and publication of a directory of major corporations and employers.  It would serve as a human capital tool and a networking tool for the area that could also be utilized by other departments.
  • Formation of a liaison committee with the economic development department, community business managers, the mayor, city manager, or other city management officials whose purpose is to hold meetings (monthly or quarterly) to discuss any concerns or suggestions they have.  The goal being to foster and maintain working relationships that ensure companies remain.
  • Maintain a database of area statistics, including demographics, a current list of available expansion properties, utility information, and laws pertaining to zoning, environment and taxes.


5.2.1    BR&E Models


  1. The Ombudsman Approach – A proactive problem solving approach involving written communication between business leaders, the local government, relevant stakeholders and committees.  Review survey assessments and take action to solve issues. For example, if the issue is declining market, build a support team to research options, new or compatible markets for the company.  Operating within a specified time period, inform clientele of actions, and make periodic progress reports to company.
  2. The Cooperative Extension Model (An External Approach) – The Cooperative Extension Model is an early model for community based manufacturing outreach.  The program utilizes survey format to assess the needs of local manufacturing businesses and develops a task force of community leaders to make recommendations for any identified issues.
  3. NIST’s Manufacturing Outreach Model (An Internal Approach) – The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) created the model to help mid-sized manufacturing companies (less than 500 people employed) to upgrade their business practices allowing for improved business performance.  Some issues it addresses are poor quality, high inventory, long lead times, and shrinking margins.  NIST Centers work individually with manufacturers to make improvements to a specific aspect of their business operation.
  4. The Competitive Advantage Model – This model addresses both internal and external factors at the same time to effectively combine the best aspects of the other two manufacturing outreach models, the Cooperative Extension Model and the NIST’s Manufacturing Outreach Model, to give manufacturers a more competitive stance.  All manufacturing businesses must continually improve themselves to stay current and profitable.  This model suggests the company’s management team maximize their point of quality, price, and/or method of delivery.  Those companies employing the Competitive Advantage Model “can be super-innovative in their use of new process technologies, marketing, or service techniques to capture niches where others would find it difficult to compete” (Hines, B., & Clark, S., 1997).  External improvements pertain to taxes, labour force availability, fees and training, and are tied to conditions outside the influence of the company’s management such as the economic and political realms.  Public- Private Partnerships would be promoted for higher levels of community involvement with the company to maximize both internal and external improvements.Some retention programs consider soliciting other local businesses that stand to benefit from retaining these manufacturing companies, to raise funds to support them.
  5. MO-GRO: Missouri’s Growth and Retention Opportunities Program – Missouri’s Growth and Retention Opportunities Program utilizes best practices from other models to empower communities to establish effective BR&E programs.  The basic goals of the program are:
    • Identifying at-risk companies and providing necessary assistance to retain them.
    • Identifying growth- potential companies and providing assistance with their expansion efforts.
    • On-going involvement and support of community leaders for existing businesses, and educating them on economic development issues.
    • Create more opportunities for local governments to more efficiently direct financial assistance to existing businesses.

Various approaches to BR&E programs have different strengths and weaknesses. The reactive or responsive approach taken by most communities are usually more intensive, take on a ‘crisis management’ role, and provide immediate applicable technical assistance to the specific company.  Whereas, it is not anticipatory and may attempt to address problem after it is already too late. The anticipatory programs, usually found in university extension programs and communication companies extensively address all businesses within targeted community’s range, but due to the broad focus, may not always respond with the kind of intensive technical assistance as the former programs.


The primary reason for lack of success of a BR&E program is improper time management, “…activities with a critical time frame often push aside the vital but non-critical activities of business retention and expansion” (Phillips, P. D., 1996).


5.3     A Case Study


Case Study

Case Study

On February 3rd, 2012 the ElectroMotive Diesel manufacturing plant in London, Ontario shuttered their factory floor after 62-years of operation. This comes after a long strike by employees after first having their workforce cut down and them being asked by its new multinational parent company Caterpillar to halve the salaries of their remaining employees. The argument made was these measures were required to remain cost-competitive to other markets, regardless of their posting of a $5 billion dollar profit last fiscal year. The end result was the direct loss of over 700 people in the community and unforeseen losses from auxiliary jobs from the lost income and a $1 billion dollar hit to the regions GDP, or approximately 5% (Grant, 2012).

While London, Ontario has an active Economic Development department that helps with applications to government grants and export assistance, current models used in BR&E failed to keep this and other companies from moving out of other Ontario regions. London has a high number of educated people with sought-after skills; there was little incentive within the city to encourage Caterpillar from moving. Moreover this was not a loss to an overseas emerging economy, but a move of just 800-km over the border where union legislation is more lax with wages and employment was depressed after a hard economic recession (Grant, 2012).

There was no quick fix to this situation. Monetary incentives are not allowed under Canadian law and corporate tax rates are already lower in Canada than the United States. $5 million dollars of tax credits were dispatched by Prime Minister Stephen Harper in 2008. What could have been done would have been more long-term determination and actively seeking the advice of the parent company to discover their needs and potential reasons for leaving. As well, identifying the industry as a major contributor to the economy and leveraging their suppliers and customers with incentives for relocation closer to the city may have made it a more impossible situation for the company to consider leaving. Working with other levels of governments to promote the business on trade missions may have made them feel more inclusive to the Canadian market and entice loyalty.

Co-operation with the company would have also stopped the consumer backlash that occurred after the move. Mark’s Work Warehouse, the largest supplier of trade uniforms and the clothing arm of Canadian Tire, pulled all Caterpillar goods, including their high-selling construction boots, from their shelves after the announcement to close the plant until workers were fairly dealt with (Canadian Press, 2012). As we emerge from the recent economic downturn and return to levels seen before 2008, resource prices are distend to rise back up to record levels and the dollar will advance above and beyond parity. This will place pressure on industries such as manufacturing and exports, which still constitute the third largest job numbers in Canada. Creating an environment that will retain industry and allow them to flourish will ensure that the next decade is not a repeat of mistakes seen in the past (Bradford, 2003).

5.4     Developing Economic Communities


As with any structure, the survival of a viable and expansive business culture requires as sound and sure foundation. The communities that surround a business support their staff, production and ability to grow; and the quality of these communities provide reasons to remain, curtailing the lure of other economic areas and encourage growth if they are seen as attractive and stable over the long term.

A region must be open, creative, sound and, more relative today, green in order to retain and attract business. New or expanding industries need the support both of the community and its levels of administration in order to thrive – building new economic connections and leverage the surrounding physical and social capital to excel.

5.4.1 Open Communities

  • Transparent and Co-operative Policy Structure – A change in the recent administration at Toronto City Hall called in to question the expediency of the Waterfront redevelopment, a plan that called for systematic and thorough allocation of services and development over the next two decades. The existing internationally-awarded plan attracted the attention of multinational, Texas-based Hines development group and their proposal became their first foray in to the hot Canadian market. Differing views and closed-door maneuvering of the new administration threatened the project that would have brought over 650,000 sq. ft. of new office and retail space (Hume, 2012)Developing a transparent and transitional policy structure is required to effectively attract and retain business.
  • Multi-Tier Participation and Co-operation – Businesses require support from all levels of governance, specifically if they are geared toward inter-regional or international trade. Working with upper-tier economic development departments or combining policy to eliminate bureaucracy will simply business expansion and cut costs on transactions, freeing revenue for other activities. Smaller communities can benefit from regional or national program, such as capital funds, tax rebates or training programs. Tying local economic policy to other agencies can show strong support for businesses and communities (Bradford, 2003).
  • Web Portal Technology eGovernment refers to services and information about municipal policies available openly online as well as connecting the differing silos of services together. By eliminating the leg-work and time required to approach city services businesses feel better suited to conduct expansion in a specific area. See Chapter 8: Information Technologies as an Enabler to Economic Development

  • Open Data – Open Data facilities works off the concept of the Open Source movement in computer programming, where public information is freely and easily distributed by city departments for non-commercial uses.  This not only projects a vision of a transparent government but encourages research and development with social ingenuity. Currently, most major metropolitan areas in Canada have adopted – in varying degrees – open data technology with measureable success and provincial government beginning to follow suit (Open Knowledge Foundation, 2011)

5.4.2   Creative Communities

  • Post-Secondary Education – University and Colleges not only contribute to a growing creative class, but add research avenues to the community that businesses may leverage or collaborate with. Schools can provide valuable research at limited costs, new technologies or methodologies of manufacturing and stand to replenish the workforce with highly educated young adults – required to combat trends in demographics as baby boomers retire (Florida, 2002).
  • On-Going Training – Shifting economic conditions, new technologies and changing international social dynamics require employees to be up-to-date with new methodologies of conducting business and manufacturing. Providing the facilities and grants to continue to improve human capital will ensure industries that a rolling-stock of employees is readily available and able to work in complex or technical employment.

    Ontario Ministry for Agricultural, Food and Rural Affairs works with small communities and businesses through its RED (Rural Economic Development) program creating skill-based training for the food processing sector for jobs retention (M0AFRA, 2011).

  • International Accreditation Acceptance – Canada has been built by immigration since its inception, but recent arrivals are finding it harder to ply their profession. The immigration system requires, through a point-based system, to have specific levels of education for entry which local schools or businesses do not recognise. Developing training and programs to integrate new arrivals can provide higher levels of available human capital as well as connections to overseas markets (Schellenberg & Boyd, 2008).
  • Research & Development (R&D) Investment


    Business expansion comes from new opportunities and ideas. Providing loans for small business or creating culture centres for the open sharing of ideas can create new innovations or help industries find new business partners. Design exchanges and collaborative environments, seen with the health sciences and technology driven MaRS facility in Toronto not only provide services to the surrounding hospitals, they create new markets and inter-industry trade. Often, these facilities require only a small bit of seed money to begin and incentives through donated land, simplified application and development processes and incremental financing to ensure time for roots to take hold in the business community (Treurnicht, 2011).

  • Subject Matter Experts (SME) Availability – Industries, particularly small- or medium-sized or new technology up-starts do not necessarily have the resources to hire full-time employees for particular tasks, such as patent lawyers, computer developers or marketing executives. Attracting these professional services available within the community encourage smaller companies to remain and expand and attract new clusters as success builds. Larger businesses benefit from these outside consulting services for fresh ideas or third-party confirmation for policies.

5.4.3   Sound Communities

  • Fiscal Stability – Industries perform due diligence on every investment, including its potential hires. Establishing a new business or expanding an existing one follows the same process and it is ideal for a community to easily show its potential value in the present and in the long-term. Having a sound budgetary process and wide margins in tax levies allow more room for creative financing or capital support meet changing business needs.
  • Incentives and Opportunity – Even large businesses sometimes need assistance in capital investments, even at the best of times. Taxes incentives, such as incremental financing, simplified development charges, research and development grants and creative partner-pairing can build loyalty within the community.
  • Established Social Services – While universal access to health care and lower cost prescriptions have been a draw for companies from the United States – other services have to be ready and plentiful within the community and geared to current or potential employees. Understanding the needs of each industry and their workers can direct city services to encourage growth and attract similar businesses.
  • Happy & Healthy Employees – Leveraging the natural capital and providing recreational facilities create a healthy and productive work force, expanding business opportunities and providing incentive to keep businesses local. The City of Caledon uses its natural resources to develop recreational and outdoor programs not only to benefit tourism, but to keep one of its largest employers, Husky Injection Moulding – known for its program of maintaining healthy and fitness-oriented work environment – active in the community.

5.4.4   Green Communities

  • Carbon Footprint – LEED certified buildings, recycling programs, alternative energy sources and zero-impact landscaping are all bonuses used by companies to reflect a green initiative that attracts customers, meets ISO or FSC requirements and allows for trading in eco-funds, building interest, loyalty and capital with its customer base.
  • Environmental Credits – Developing credits for inventive eco-friendly ideas or offering community services matched to time shifts to ensure that a company’s employees are serviced with a public transportation alternative help alleviate or eliminate traffic, often an undue stress placed on workers that affects productivity. Attracting creative talent often needs an employer to show interest in making life easier and better for them and the community.
  • Government Support & FIT Programs – Not only do green technologies reduce the carbon-footprint and make energy consumption costs more predictable, often with government support and Feed-In Tariff programs can create profit for industries with large excess output. Combine the uses of waste and want between industries can create a network chain of disposal that will not only benefit each business but limit the expenditures for city departments that service these business areas. Development charges can also be lowered for green-roof technologies (MoEDI, 2012).

5.5     Identifying Trends

5.5.1    Enterprise Clustering

  • Broad and Deep – The ideal economic climate is one that has a multitude of differing industries with a number of supportive industries to create networks, limit costs and foster competition. The ideal marketplace for business is one that fosters creativity; a dynamic spectrum of services, markets and feed-ins; and hold regional and international connection (EIU, 2012).
  • Horizontal and Vertical – Economic clustering, horizontally with similar industries or vertically with feed-in or out-put sectors of existing companies can lead to expansion of existing business. This can be from competition or collaboration, building economies of scale and decreasing transportation costs and meeting Just-In-Time delivery (JIT). Horizontal expansion also allows for economic redundancy so that if a firm fails for whatever reason, others would be available to ensure that there is no stoppage in the supply chain (Casico, 2009).
  • Diversity – Depending on a single industry, however lucrative, is open to changes in the economic climate or changes in technology or consumer sentiment. Elliot Lake is a prime example how a city, once dedicated to Uranium production collapsed not because of lack of the resource, but changes in international policy, public opinion and commodity speculation. Capitalising on its former success, profits were used to create two alternative industries, one vertically from its original becoming the leader in decommissioning mines and the other leveraging the natural and physical capital left over from the industry – creating a tourist destination (Planscape, 2006).
  • Inventorying Existing Businesses – Understanding the current business climate and its direction aids in finding current deficiencies in the overall economic health of the region. Querying local business leaders and conducting annual surveys help expose trends, track successful policy and quickly indicate when certain policies may have outlived their usefulness – freeing up capital for other development. The Toronto Employment Survey, conducted annually by students, helps the economic development department find areas of new clustering and exposes warning signs that can grow in to unwieldy problems down the road.
  • Projecting Future Opportunities – Understanding the needs of current industries is only the first step in retaining employment. Working with companies in preparing a long-term vision and providing the resources to determine future needs can help executives build investment in capital and ensure that city resources are efficiently and effectively spread.


5.5.2   Competitive Indexes

  • Quality of Life and Human Capital – Professional services companies and international organisations such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Economic Forum regularly develop indexes rating cities and countries on their performance and opportunity for business development. In recent years, metrics such as the quality of life and knowledge capacity have been ranking more heavily in the termination of successful regions (WEF, 2011).

    Ensuring that the people of a region are properly serviced and have access to quality healthcare and education creates capacity to attract new industries that are evolving out of the wake of globalisation and the shift of business overseas.

  • Repairing Physical Capital –
    Physical Capital

    Physical Capital

    Much of the utility and transportation infrastructure in Western nations was built just after World War II and has long past their expected life-span. It is estimated that the infrastructure deficit for municipalities alone in Canada is over $100 billion (Mirza & Sipos, 2009) dollars while austerity measures both federally and provincially is making it difficult to partner with these governments for matching money.

    A recent report by the Economist Intelligence Unit places Toronto at 12th in the world as a Competitive Hotspot (2012). While impressive, this value severely under represents specific parameters, such scoring extremely high on Institutional Effectiveness and Fiscal Maturity. This is because Toronto ranks only 36th when compared to other economic centres in Physical Capital. Toronto currently has one of the worst commute times of all major economic centres and at the root of this issue is the lackluster development of interregional transportation networks and decades of planning that encourages sprawl rather than transit-oriented development.

5.5.3    Think Locally and Act Globally

  • Online Interactive Presence – Reaching out to new business connections in the past required tradeshows and leg work. While this has not fundamentally changed, more often businesses search for new locations individually using the Internet. Having an online presence that is complete, concurrent and comprehensive will leverage new industries that may not have thought of a specific region for redevelopment and advertise the existing businesses to a global market.
  • Trade Missions – Trade missions to the locations where current local businesses conduct businesses can cement current contracts and foster new ones. Understanding their existing customers and inviting business leaders along will strengthen the ties that bind economic communities. The province of British Columbia has established strategic offices in the United States, Europe and China to assist companies to conduct business overseas and create and foster international relations easier (City of Vernon, 2010).
  • International Ambassadors – Once having a connection with another trading partner, keeping that connection alive and healthy requires constant care and consistent attention. Foreign companies require constant feedback on their investment and having a direct source for answer questions and providing new opportunities will ensure that local businesses have the capacity to expand (City of Vernon, 2010).
  • Emerging Markets and Leveraging Immigration – Western nations have been destinations for immigration for over a century, integrating people, language and cultures from around the world in a single location. As these former immigration source countries’ economies emerge, industrialise and modernise, creating valuable business networks between them is vital to maintaining local businesses and preparing them for full globalisation.

    By understanding the local community and encouraging businesses to hire recent immigrants will bring the nuances of cultural differences, break language barriers and provide contacts to conduct business in other parts of the world. These connections will also foster international interest in the local economy and may bring foreign investment.



5.6     Predicting Trends and Pressures

  • Emerging Economies – BRIC economies (Brazil, Russia, India and China) have dramatically changed the industrial manufacturing community in North America and Europe, but these emerging economies are also entering white-collar markets, developing computer software sectors, financial and customer service centres. Industries that once solely supported an entire town now outsource services to these nations who have been active in developing the technology and knowledge to effectively provide these services at the same quality but with more efficiency (Thomson Reuters, 2012).

    More effort in the future will be required to approach international and global enterprises to build bridges between Western and Emerging markets and encouraging innovation-heavy industries that develop new products rather than repeat existing designs (Pink, 2005).

  • Shifting Middle-Class – With the disappearance of manufacturing jobs leaves too the monies these middle-class jobs provided and that supported the small to medium size businesses associated with disposable income. Department stores, Restaurants and independent industries that provide services to local markets cannot survive without a strong and predictable customer-base with adequate level of income, contributing to a downward spiral and the race to the bottom (Hulchanski, 2006).

    Attracting new technology industries and encouraging growth of current industries will be required to build a new class of citizens to support secondary services. The City of Sudbury has lost a number of high paying jobs due to efficiencies in mining operations. Leveraging on being the high-education centre of Northern Ontario and with subsidies from both provincial and federal departments, Sudbury is now a leader in creative technologies and application development, creating a diverse economy that can feed in to the existing mining sector (Donald & Hall, 2009).

  • Environmental Challenge – Regardless of what side of the global warming debate you may exist on, it would be without merit not to agree that environmental and meteorological conditions are changing throughout the world. Dealing with record droughts, increasing severe weather events and inconstant seasons can affect industries that require temperate weather for delivery or construction, tourism industries both summer and winter and manufacturing that requires energy or water input. In the more extreme cases, ports or rivers could dry up or land connects cutting-off or washing away could cost an area and its industries billions in lost revenue and productivity (WMO, 2012).

    Climate change will affect a regions ability to retain business and mediating before mitigating the problems will better show a administrations goal of protecting the private industries assets, encouraging productivity and expansion.

  • Peak Everything – While there has been talk over Peak Oil for over half a century, there is in fact a peak to all resources we use in manufacturing including aluminum, coal, phosphorus and copper (Biello, 2006). More disconcerting is the availability of rare-earth metals, currently only located at-large in countries such as China – and the costs required to extract and distribute these resources effectively. These metals are much of the driving forces behind many new technologies in the green energy and home electronic sectors (Washington Post, 2012).
  • Resilient vs. Sustainable – A paradigm shift has occurred in planning direction is from the status quo of sustainable development – integrating the economic, social and environmental capacities of a city to arrive an equilibrium –to a resilient model that is both sustainable in the short-term but impervious to outside pressures in the long (Casico, 2009). Shifts in economic stability and the effects of ecological and environmental change require planners and business leaders to project 100 years down the road, rather than 5, 10 or 25 years as previously sought milestones.

5.7     Conclusion

Attracting a business to a region is only the first step in creating a dynamic economic community. Cataloguing industry, creating liaisons between the administration and business leaders, listening and understanding the needs of both the business and its employees and partnering with different levels of government, participating in trade missions and providing the incentives for expansion are all activities required to be conducted to ensure that new business thrive and propels expansion.

While there are many BR&E models to choose from, picking the best one for a single community or region can being committed with immediacy or incrementally depending on the resources available and conditions that exist or those desired. The use of new technologies, including web portals and social networking has made selling a community much easier, specifically for smaller towns – but this has also upped the ante in competing for new industries as more markets are made available for real estate research.

Whatever the collection of utilities and activities used, it must be geared toward developing a sustainable and resilient community that creates a productive workforce and a stable business environment that attracts new business while encouraging existing industries to remain and expand their services. While the global world economic is extremely lucrative, it is also fraught with new problems. The interconnectivity of regional markets can start a domino effect when one component falters – destroying the insular effect that once protected local businesses. New multinationals can create hostile environments for small and burgeoning businesses while attracting and keeping these large business can also mean a windfall for community revenue. Changing business methods and models must mean new planning regiments and the municipal Economic Development departments are not immune. Integration between silos and having a proactive staff is required to foster these economic communities and business connections – and move above and beyond the status quo.


5.A      References

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Task force to develop best practices model for business retention, expansion in charlotte region. (2006, Jan 12). PR Newswire, pp. 1-1.

[Vernon] (2010) Business Retention and Expansion Program; Vernon. Economic Development Office. City of Vernon. Retrieved from

Washington Post (2012, Mar. 15) Loosening China’s grip on rare-earth metals. Washington Post Editorial Board.

World Economic Forum (2011) The Global Competitiveness Report 2011-2012. Geneva.

World Meteological Organisation [WMO] (2012) Natural Hazards. Switzerland.

Socioeconomic Pressures on the Elderly and Newly Homeless in Toronto

Socioeconomic Pressures on the Elderlyand Newly Homeless in Toronto

The upcoming 2012 City of Toronto budget seeks to drop spending levels ten percent across the board (Dale, 2011), regardless of the need for services, increasing demand or consideration on the effects to the most marginalised within our city. One such cut will see the closure of homeless shelters gears to the elderly poor – a group that is considered one of the most at risk for abuse, neglect and health issues on the street or at other generalised shelters. This decision comes on the heels of the largest ever cohort of people entering old-age – the baby boom generation (MacDonald, Dergal & Cleghorn, 2007), – and on the cusp of the financial downturn that eradicated a large part of peoples’ retirement savings. Even those with proper housing are facing dramatic increases in property value and, in turn, property taxes based on new assessments that may be well outside any structured retirement plan they have in place (Gillespie, 2007). Persistently high unemployment along with near stagnant economic growth, leaves the elderly, along with the young, as the first groups to be rejected as potential candidates for hiring due to their age and perceived long-term value to a company which denies them the ability to supplement their retirement income (Cohen, 1999). This perfect storm of socioeconomic conditions sets the stage for what might be the largest influx of elderly homeless on our streets at a time when we callously rollback services.


The pathway to homelessness in the elderly is not unlike that of street youth in that it consists of multidimensional factors including the lack of affordable housing, employment or institutional services (Stegiopoulos & Herrmann, 2003) – but the risk factors are different, including the of loss of stable income, death of a spouse or significant other, lack of a proper caregiver or eviction (Crane, 1999). Others that have been institutionalised for a long period for physical or mental health issues and have lost their housing within that time (Hecht & Coyle, 2003) and are often released to shelters as a last resort. Further still, some have become homeless in their middle-age as they were living with elderly parents – due to economic or health concerns – who since passed away leaving their offspring little-to-no social safety net (Crane & Warnes, 2000). All of these factors are pressured by past economic ability – with many surviving in poor or near-poor conditions most of their lives – and never having the benefits that full- and long-time employment provides, such as personal saving or pensions (Cohen, 1999). While the relative population of this subgroup is falling when compared to all homeless people, in absolute numbers it is in fact increasing and expected to climb in North America by an estimated half million people (Cohen, 1999) in the next fifteen years as our general population ages.


Many studies argue that the defining age for elderly homeless be decrease by 10 to 20 years than in the average population since the physical and mental health effects of living on the street causes the appearance and behaviour of being older (Crane & Warnes, 2000). It is expected that a homeless man over the age of 45 were twice as likely to die prematurely than the average male and that “the cost of being homeless in North America is losing about 20 years of your life expectancy” (Wright, Rubin & Devine, 1998, 167). Unlike the rest of the homeless population, women outnumber men –  possibly due to life expectancy (Cohen 1999) but also because men spend 50% more time on the street in comparison (Crane & Warnes, 2000) and women tend to enter street life in their later years (Crane, 1999). The lack of adequate and safe hospice for the elderly in shelters tends to bring the on-set of street sickness – a combination of a number of issues including respiratory problems, skin afflictions and malnutrition from exposure to the elements and poor hygiene (Higgitt, et al, 2003) – that further accelerates physical and mental health issues already progressing in the elderly population. This can lead to an increase of degenerative diseases and chronic conditions such as hypertension, anaemia, cardio- and cerebro-vascular diseases (MacDonald, Dergal & Cleghorn, 2007). Unlike other homeless groups whose mortality is more often caused by AIDS, suicide or homicide, the elderly tend to die early from cancer and heart diseases and mostly alone in a hospital or residential setting (Hwang, 2000).


Mental health issues are often sited as a driving factor to homelessness in the elderly population, such as the on-set of early dementia or Parkinson’s disease (Stegiopoulos & Herrmann, 2003), but often the conditions from living on the street and isolation from family and friends are the catalyst for these issues. One third of older homeless men were found to be clinically depressed (Cohen, 1999) which stresses am already weakened immune systems and physical health. Elderly women tend to be even further debilitated depending on age: with 57-75% reporting depression over the age of fifty in comparison to only 10 % under the age of twenty (Crane & Warnes, 2000). The lost of a long-time partner, isolation from a community or the inability to adapt to a life of poverty leads to an entrenched feeling of isolation and loss of pride that leads to depression, hostility, poor self-esteem and psychosomatic illnesses (Rokach, 2003). Males are four times more likely than women to engage in long-term alcohol abuse which follows them to the street and increases with age (Cohen, 1999) and is often neglected upon medical review, being incorrectly attributed to physiological changes due to aging or dementia (MacDonald, Dergal & Cleghorn, 2007).


The lack of services and support is sited as the causation and continuance of both mental and physical health issues and reliance on the street. Often, without encouragement, physical ailments go undiagnosed because of the lack of a family physician, inability to recognise the severity of the issue or fear, either of being shunned by or directly suspicious of, the medical community and potential institutionalisation (Crane & Warnes, 2000). Others were barred from seeking medical help because of the lack of a health card or insurance and from the reluctance of health providers to register homeless people because of their multiple inflictions and transient nature (Hwang, 2000). The Daily Bread Food bank also notes that 40% of their older recipients of their service often had difficulty paying for their prescription medications every month with as many as 27% declining outright to purchase them simply because of affordability (2001). The newly elderly homeless also tend also to stay with services familiar and close to them, such as onsite clinics where they take shelter, but are seemingly oblivious to community outreach programs and drop-in centres (MacDonald, Dergal & Cleghorn, 2007). They are also subject to more victimization within these shelters from other residents due to their frail condition, including physical assault, thief and rape (Cohen, 1999).


Traditional services to aid the homeless rely on as methodology of crisis intervention and attempt to focus on building independence and self-sufficiency (MacDonald, Dergal & Cleghorn, 2007) a program better geared to youth and young adults. Elderly homeless require greater access to mobility and care during the day, often unavailable in shelter as they only operate during the evening hours (Stegiopoulos & Herrmann, 2003). Mental health issues – including depression, requires constant and static care to stymie isolation – and chronic and multiple physical health conditions need support and aid for medication (Cohen, 1999). While income among older homeless people is reportedly two times higher than their younger counterparts due to social assistance, old age security and past pensions (Cohen, 1999; Crane & Warnes, 2000) their ability to find alternative sources of income from temporary employment or street services is limited by their physical abilities and public perception (Crane, 1999). The MacDonald, Dergal & Cleghorn study in Toronto also showed that 50% of the recently elderly homeless also are immigrants to Canada and have suffered from family breakdowns and little communications with ex-spouses and community. Those who are moved immediately out of standard social programs to dedicated, specialised shelters where they can obtain services and a proper network suffer less from chronic health issues and are more likely to survive longer and find permanent homes (2007). Regardless of who, where, when and how they arrive, the elderly homeless population struggle with differing needs that require much more substantive and long-term care and need for these programs, particularly when socioeconomic conditions are pushing more into old age and near poverty, has never been more prevalent. The audacity to close services rather than opening more seems ludicrous, untimely and wholly unpalatable.




Cohen, C. I. (1999) Aging and homelessness. The Gerontologist, 39(1). 5-14.

Crane, M. (1999) Understanding Older Homeless People. Housing Studies, 15(2). 325-327.

Crane, M & Warnes, A. M. (2000) Lessons from Lancefield Street: Tackling the needs of older homeless people. National Homeless Alliance. London.

Daily Bread Food Bank (2001) Aging with Dignity? How governments create insecurity for low-income seniors. Toronto.

Dale, D. (2011, Dec. 7) Environmentalists, child-care advocates speak out: Follow it Live. The Toronto Star. Retrieved from:–environmentalists-child-care-advocates-speak-out-follow-it-live

Gillespie, K. (2007, Sept. 27) Who can rescue seniors from property tax trap? The Toronto Star. Retrieved from:

Hecht, L. & Coyle, B. (2001). Elderly Homeless: A Comparison of Older and Younger Adult Emergency Shelter Seekers in Bakersfield, California. American Behavioral Scientist, 45(1). 66-79.

Hwang, S. (2000) Homelessness and Health. Canadian Medical Journal, 164(2). 229-233.

MacDonald, L., Dergal, J. & Cleghorn, L. (2007) Living on the Margins. Jornal of Gerontological Social Work, 49(1-2). 19-46.

Rokach, A. (2003) The Lonely and Homeless: Causes and Consequences. The Institute for the Study and Treatment of Psychosocial Stress, Toronto.

Stergiopoulos, V. & Herrmann, N. (2003, July) Old and Homeless: A Review and Survey of Older Adults Who Use Shelters in an Urban Setting. The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 48. Canadian Psychiatric Association. 374-380.

Wright, J. D., Rubin, B. A. & Devine J. A. (1998). Beside the golden door: Policy, politics and the homeless. Aldine de Gruyter, New York.

Homelessness in Canada

Homelessness in Canada

Describe and discuss the challenges and policy implications of defining homelessness

The common stereotype of the homeless is based on those in direct visibility – often unwashed, crazed individuals that roam aimlessly through the streets seeking whatever pittance afforded to them by the passing public. This is a reflection of absolute homelessness – those who live on the street or in emergency shelters – but it is argued that this only represents the “tip of the iceberg” (Echenberg & Jensen, 2008) not to mention begin facetious and misinformed. Two further categories that should be considered or those that are concealed and in relative homelessness – living in places not of their own or are in conditions that are unfit or intermediate (Girard, 2006) – and can be given temporal qualities such as the chronic, cyclical or temporary (Being, et al., 1999). While this may expose more of the issue and help delineate between particular groups in order to define policy approaches, it remains broad and too exclusive definition whereas members can easily move between or out of groups over time depending on a number of factors (Springer, 2011).


The definition of homelessness also hinges on the bias of those whose responsibility it is to develop policy and approach the issue – often influenced by the perception of the public who prefer to pass blame to the homeless rather than adopt social and fiscal responsibility (Layton, 2008, 42-44). This creates a schism between those in the position to provide aid and those who are in need of it – with governments creating a minimalist construct of the issue as to limit negative public response (Chapham, 1990). Neo-conservatives Mulroney, Harris and Lastman took views to appease the public sentiment (Layton, 2008, 39-45) and curtailed social assistance, distancing themselves under the premise that homelessness is a “choice” and it is up to the individual to mete out their own fate (Fallis & Murray, 1990) or by out-right dismissing the argument – insisting it doesn’t exist or that unfettered market forces will ultimately solve the issue by removing the impediment to competitiveness made by public welfare spending (Harvey, 1989, 7-16).

The inability and will to develop a holistic definition of homelessness – coerced by public and political leanings bent toward neo-liberalist ideals – leads to a statistic that is immeasurable and thus impossible to develop an overarching policy (Hulchanski, 2000). Houselessness helps define a broader view of the issues that are staging grounds for more transparent definitions including those who are inadequately housed. These are families or individuals that are without long-term legal tenure to ensure security; removed from required social and natural resources that affect health, safety and community; lack affordable housing – not only at the offset but over time – where less than 50% of their income is required for proper shelter; or bee made available a space which provides adequate privacy, sound living conditions and accessibility for those with special needs. A home should encompass not only the bare minimum standards of outlined by the United Nation Declaration of Human Rights (1948) but be resilient against social, environmental and economic shifts that – with globalization and an ever-changing environment – occur at a more frequent scale (Springer, 2000).


Annually, 22,000 make use of the 3,800 shelter beds available in Toronto, 68,000 remain in line for affordable housing, 150,000 pay more than 50% of their income towards rent (StatsCan, 2006) and 260,000 pay more than 30% – an amount that encompasses approximately 20% of all households (QuickFacts, 2011). The issue of homelessness under the auspices of houselessness attempts to capture a much greater group than the official count of 5,000 under the absolute definition (QuickFacts, 2011) and shows how close many are to being At Risk (Hulchanski, 2000). But even this number leaves out the number of hidden homeless – those who have lost their homes only to be taken in by friends or family, commonly referred to as “couch-surfers” – and should be considered too for inclusion in the At Risk category (Hwang, 2000). It is estimated that mitigating the needs of the homeless through programs and shelters on a interim basis costs taxpayers an estimated ten times that it would cost to house them properly in the long-term facilities (Blueprint, 2007) – not including the effects of stress that physical and mental health will have on our social and health infrastructure budgets (Hwang, 2000) – a amount that, if acted upon pre-emptively, can atone neo-conservative ideals of shrinking government expenditures if the initial capital outlay is made to mitigate the At Risk population.


Public policy is driven by clear and balance declaration and said definition may be based on bias – particularly when discussing an emotionally-charged issue such as homelessness (Cassavant, 1999). Major educational and economic players – including Finance Ministers, Bank Governors and Professors – have recently contributed their concern over continuing global economic turmoil (Whittington, 2011) a city becoming increasing divided by income disparity (Hulchanski, 2007) and activism reflecting the public disdain for inaction (Torobin, 2011). With continued policies that hinder our cities ability to solve the issue – such as the recent decision to sell TCHC units (Vincent, 2011) – we are shown the direct result of not having a clear, cohesive definition to provide concrete quantitative measures needed to define policy that can lead public discourse toward a viable, fiscally and socially responsible solution (Cassavant, 1999).


 “No one chooses to be hungry, dirty, sleepless and afraid” (Hector, homeless youth, 1999). Discuss this statement critically with specific reference to the health, morbidity, social stigma and legal issues facing street youth.

Out of all the sub-groups in the homeless population, adolescents experience the most extreme of conditions – with increased health concerns and higher morbidity and morality rates than all other groups.  It is also the group with the highest rate of increase (Report Card, 2003) and faces greater social and economical resistance while being exposed to more instances of physical and sexual assaults on the street, alcohol and drug abuse and disproportionate amount of conflicts with the law (CMHC, 2001). No one chooses this life to be “hungry, dirty, sleepless and afraid” (Hector, 1999) but often the opportunities they have to avoid or escape are limited and they have either fled worse conditions at home or have never known a home in the first place (Rokach, 2003).


Many homeless youth identify a problematic childhood as a driving force (Kidd, 2003) with physical, mental and sexual abuse being the catalyst to them leaving home (CHMC, 2001). Stability at home or within the child welfare system also plays a major factor where neglect, family continuity or domestic violence (Kidd, 2003) pushes adolescents to the street – while pull factors, such as a desire for independence, resistance to rules or authority and desire for experimentation also play a deciding factor (Miller, et al., 2004). Differing sexual orientation is disproportionately higher in street youth then their counterparts and has been on the rise in recent years – specifically from those who traveled from smaller communities –  (McCreary, 2007) and can be attributed to lack of acceptance by family members or social problems at school (Higgitt, et al. 2003).


Half of street youth start to become involved between the ages of 11-14 years old (McCreary, 2007) with many having left school prior to completing a basic level of education due to alienation, poor achievement (Higgitt, et al. 2003) or have been expelled for reasons spawning from their troubled lives (McCreary, 2007). As a result, they have trouble obtaining employment or suffer from low wages which along with the lack of affordable housing have driven them to the street (CMHC, 2001). Welfare assistance programs in many provinces are not available to those between the ages of 16 and 19 where they are outside the catchments of child welfare policy and below the cut-off for social assistance (Kelly & Caputo, 2007) driving many to seek less mainstream employment and become relegated to more marginal sources of income such as panhandling, “squeegeeing”, selling drug and prostitution (Baron, 2001). This requires adolescents to form bonds with other disenfranchised youth – often described as their street family – and further perpetuates their reliance on street lifestyle (Higgitt, et al. 2003).


Youth are at higher risk of being exposed to violent crime (Kufeldt & Burrows, 1994) which makes them adverse to shelters leading to more time being spent on the street where a condition that Higgitt et al. describe as ‘street sickness’ occurs (2003). Poor hygiene, exposure to the elements and a substandard diet exacerbates existing conditions, specifically those who encounter a laissez-faire attitude to sexual encounters (Dachner & Tarasuk, 2002) – either by choice, lack of means or requested or forced in-trade (AHS, 2003). Drug abuse is common as a part of sexual encounters (McCreary, 2007) or to combat or subdue mental health issues (Kidd, 2003) which can lead to increased violence and injury (Kelly & Caputo, 2007). This high-risk lifestyle coupled with poor living conditions (Dachner & Tarasuk, 2002) and lack of funds for medication (Caputo, 1996) or ability to store or regulate those provided for free (Kelly & Caputo, 2007) leads to a higher morbidity rate than other homeless people for similar and preventable ailments.


Unchecked mental health (Kidd, 2003) driven by the malaise of poor health (Higgitt, et al, 2003) coupled with feelings of inadequacy, loneliness through ostracism and anxiety over the future (Rokach, 2003) can lead to a higher rate of drug and alcohol abuse – compounding the problem – as well as increased violence and suicide rates among street youth. Increased violence not only leads to a higher rate for murder (Roy, et al., 2004) but more theft and drug arrests and convictions among adolescents on the street (McCreary, 2007). This causes a social backlash against street youth and forces governments to enforce laws that limit the remaining “legal” sources of income that are less prone to health or safety issues – such as panhandling or “squeegeeing” (Layton, 2008).


While it is the combination of physical and mental health issues that contribute to the lessened life expectancy of adolescents on the street, many of the factors that drive these conditions are often unavoidable and seen as a better alternative to that which they escaped. Without recourse to elevate from their current position and the “comfort” that is provided by the street community, many are stuck in a vicious cycle of depression and abuse that makes them easy prey for exploitation. Street youth are, by far, the most marginalised of the homeless population – but by no means is it a construct of choice. It is the negative and misinformed perception from society that has directed policy against this group that has limited the means for survival and caused many to live in conditions fraught with repetitive, life-threatening choices.



[AHS] Adolescent Health Survey (2003) McCreary Centre Society, Vancouver.

Baron, S. (2001) Street Youth labour market experience and crime. Canadian Review of Sociology and Anthropology, 38. 189-215.

[Blueprint] Framework for the Blueprint to End Homelessness in Toronto (2006) Wellesley Institute, Toronto. Retrieved from

Cassavant, L. (1999, Jan.) Definition of Homelessness (PRB 99-1E). Political and Social Affairs Division of the Parliamentary Research Branch, Government of Canada.

Chapman, D (1990) “Conclusions” Homelessness: Public Policies and Private Troubles. Cassell, New York. 232.

CHMC (2001, July) Environmental Scan of Youth Homelessness. Research Highlights: Socio-economic Series, 86;

Dachner, N. & Tarasuk, V. (2002) Homeless ‘squeegee kids’: Food insecurity and daily survival. Social Science & Medicine, 54. 1039-1049.

Echenberg, H. & Jensen, H. (2008) Defining and Enumerating Homelessness in Canada. Library of Parliament, Ottawa.

Farris, G. & Murray A. eds. (1990) Housing the Homeless and Poor: New Partnerships among the Private, Public and Third Sectors. University of Toronto Press, Toronto. 3.

Girard, M. (2006) Determining the Extend of the Problem: The Values and Challenges of Enumeration. Canadian Review of Social Policy (58). 104.

Harvey, D. (1989) From managerialism to entrepreneurialism: The Transformation in Urban Governance in Late Capitalism. Geografiska Annaler 71B(1). Wiley-Blackwell, Sockholm. 3-17.

Higgitt, N., Wingert, S. & Ristock, J (2003) Voices from the margins: Experiences of street-involved youth in Winnipeg. University of Winnipeg.

Hulchanski, D. (2000, Dec.) Categorizing Houselessness for Research and Policy Purposes: Absolute, Concealed and At Risk. University of Toronto Press, Toronto.

Hulchanski, D. (2007) The Three Cities within Toronto. Cities Centre Press, Toronto.

Hwang, S. (2000) Homelessness and Health. Canadian Medical Journal, 164(2). 229-233.

Kelly, K. & Caputo, T. (2007) Health and Street/Homeless Youth. Journal of Health Psychology, 12(5). 726-736.

Kidd, S. A. (2003) Street Youth: Coping and Interventions. Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal, 20. 235-261.

Layton, J. (2008) Homelessness: How to End the National Crisis. Penguin Books, Toronto.

McCreary Centre Society (2007) Against the Odds: A profile of marginalized and street-involved youth in BC. Vancouver.

Miller, P., Donahue, P. Este, D. & Hofer, M. (2004) Experiences of being Homeless or At Risk of being Homeless among Canadian Youth. Adolescence, 39. 736-755.

QuickFacts (2011, May) Toronto Shelter, Support & Housing Administration. City of Toronto. Retrieved from

[Report Card] Toronto Report Card on Housing and Homelessness (2003) City of Toronto.

Rokach, A. (2003) The Lonely and Homeless: Causes and Consequences. The Institute for the Study and Treatment of Psychosocial Stress, Toronto.

Roy, E., Haley, N. Leclerc, P., Sochanski, B., Boudreau, J. & Boivin, J. (2004) Mortality in a cohort of street youth in Montreal. Journal of the American Medical Association, 292(5). 569-574.

Springer, J. (2011) Defining Homelessness: PLE845 [In-Class Lecture].  RyersonUniversity, Toronto. September 21st, 2011.

Springer, S. (2000) Homelessness: A Proposal for a Global Definition and Classification. Habitat International, 24. 475-484.

Torobin, J. (2011, Oct. 14) Bank of Canada head calls Occupy protests ‘entirely constructive’. The Globe and Mail.

United Nations (1948) The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 25.1.

Vincent, D. (2011, Oct. 21) Toronto Community Housing approves sale of 706 houses. The Toronto Star. Retrieved from–toronto-community-housing-approves-sale-of-706-houses

Whittington, L. (2011, Oct. 21) European debt crisis has Flaherty worried. The Toronto Star. Retrieved from


Business Improvement Areas Toronto

Business Improvement Areas Toronto

Redefining Toronto’s Mainstreets


Redefining Toronto's Mainstreets

Redefining Toronto’s Mainstreets

Main street commercial retail is experiencing a decline. This decline can be partially attributed to ongoing pressures from other forms of retail. Such pressures are found in e-commerce, which allows the consumer to stay at home to shop. Large format centres such as malls and big box stores also pose a threat. Lower prices and the perceived convenience of ‘one stop’ stores such as Wal-Mart, can often erode the consumer base of traditional main street commercial areas. Despite this, some BIA’s in Toronto have managed to be more successful than the average retail strip within the city.

At the request of the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas (TABIA), Planning Partners of Toronto (PPT) has been given the opportunity to develop a comprehensive report looking at the strengths of successful BIAs in the city. PPT will yield a template of the best practices, for the purpose of assessing and strengthen less successful BIAs in Toronto.


Kailey Lamont

Christopher Jones

David Bigwood

David Addington

Aidan Ferriss

Esther Imm

Brandon Langille

Brent O’Neill

Mark Tiburcio

Peter Giampa

Negar Javaherian

Andrew Randell

Personal Contribution


Retail Data

Walkability Studies

Metrics Calculation

Presentation Design & Delivery

Communication Director


Download the Final Report for Redefining Toronto’s Mainstreets

Download the Final Presentation to Ryerson and TABIA




Metrics Primer

Metrics Primer

What is a Metric?

A metric is a value that can be measured on a scale, whether as a percentile (0% to 100%) or as an integer (ages from 0 to 120 or income from 0 to infinity). Metrics help place data into context by providing a baseline (or an acceptable average) to compare to.

For example: approximately 50% of Toronto residents live at or below the LICO (Low Income Cut-off); if an area surrounding a BIA has a greater number, a metric can show how an area either reflects a better or worse standing in comparison to another area or the city as a whole.

Metrics can also have attributes, such as thresholds (either upper, lower or both), sweet-spots (targets or ideal conditions), trends (the velocity of the variable over a span of time) and descriptive ranges that can make a number’s inherent meaning more familiar to the audience.


Real Life Examples

A simplistic example of a metric is the measure of temperature via Celsius. It has values (positive and negative), baselines and thresholds (freezing and boiling), trends (rising and falling), sweet-spots (room-temperature, or whatever to liking) and ranges (cold, mild, hot). But, as a metric, it is fairly static, aside from pushing down absolute zero and finding new states, such as plasma.

A better example is the TSX S&P500 Index as a metric. It is a select list of stocks that combine their collective value and indicates, on a whole, how the entire market is fairing. Standard and Poors – the S&P – takes a sample of select blue-chip stocks in the market, for example Research In Motion (RIM), the maker of the venerable Blackberry or Telus(T), the deregulated offshoot of BCTel, and compares their performance to create a value, or metric, that can be used by the financial industry and investors to garner a overall understanding of market sentiment. When the newsreports announce that the TSX dropped 100 points, this reflects the overall performance of only specific stocks, not all stocks. In any case, some stocks may have risen but others may have fallen, regardless if they are used within the metric or not.

Example: As the price of oil increases, the index reacts by falling as market variables dependant on disposable income, holders of household debt and airlines will fall because the price of fuel will eat away not only at their ability to make profit but their customers’ ability to purchase their goods and services or make ends meet. But, oil producers and energy companies, such as Suncor, stocks will increase, along with related industries: the manufactures of pipelines, big-rig machinery such as Caterpillar and engineering firms that design and build oil fields such as SNC-Lavalin.

It also consists of thresholds, such as the bear and bull markets where, over a span of time, the metric has lost or gained a specified percentile of value. The metric is designed to weigh a comparison of the overall market and includes a cross-section of industries (rolling up sub-metrics) to create a value that we can use to quickly create a common reflection. Often, this metric changes as companies are added and removed. During the 1990’s and 2000’s, online companies were heavily weighed in the S&P500 in comparison to other industries where before in the 1980’s computer manufactures and software companies comprised most of the value in the metric. Metrics are reviewed to ensure that they reflect the intent correctly. For example, Nortel was removed from the TSX after dropping over 98% in under a year since it skewed the true perspective of market value.

Example of a metric in use

Example of a metric in use


Teasing Variables

While it’s never nice to make fun of a number – teasing values from a set of data is required to create and discern a metric. Simply stating that there are 12 art dealers in an area is irrelevant without context. Comparing this number to the amount of art dealers in other areas creates a metric. Metrics can be found in almost everything that can be measured on a scale, but occasionally, data can be misused or malformed. For example: Age, by itself, is not a metric. Average age, however, can be. Determining what is and what’s not a metric can be difficult. Data that can be categorised and not comparable, such as eye colour, cannot become a useful metric. But, the number of people with green eyes, however, can be, since it is a value that can be compared to other sets of data.


Independent and Dependent Metrics

An independent variable is a value that sits by itself and describes a topic without requiring background knowledge. An example of this can be employment or store vacancies. While comparable to values within other areas, this kind of metric does not need outside information to create meaning. 8% vacancy is just that, 8 out of 100 stores are empty.

Dependent variables, however, require an immediate comparison or a ratio. A metric that shows the percentile of ethnic stores holds value by itself, but a metric that compares this percentile to the number of ethnic people within an area can depict a much different message. While Corso Italia has a large Italian-centric marketplace, the surrounding area has very little Italian population in comparison to other ethnicities. This, as a metric, can show that it is a destination area, rather than a locally serviced area.



Baselines help place metrics into perspective. Often, this is the average value of all data, minus the area under review. In the example of store vacancies, the city average at around 8.8% would be a baseline. What is important to note about baselines is that while they depict an average, the average may not be ideal. Unemployment, overall at 10%, is a baseline, but at 9%, while better, is still too high. This is where thresholds come in.



Metrics can have thresholds. Average income, for instance has lower threshold, called the LICO, where being below this amount indicates that someone may have trouble making ends meet in their specific area. Age, on the other hand, may have an upper threshold, where above a certain amount may mean that there are less people who are willing to be employed or require differing needs. Or you’re dead or close to it.

Some metrics have dual thresholds: an upper and a lower. The Bank of Canada insists on keeping inflation between 1% and 3%; above would be too high for consumers to make debt payments and employers to match or meet wages demands. Below, investment in businesses will falter and growth – the driving force of capitalism – will whither. A practical example of this is store vacancies. Above a certain point can cause breakage in the streetscape, a negative reflection that can spiral out of control. Below a certain point, however will raise average rents as demand outstrips supply, placing pressure on existing businesses to compete for space with increasing rates.



Metrics are fluid, much like a bubble in a construction level; forces on either side tilt the metric forward and backward. Determining the scope of time required to capture a trend is sometimes difficult, specifically when limited by the availability of data, but understanding and depicting this can change the direction of policy.

A median income above the city average (or baseline) can be a positive for an area, but if that metric is trending downward, specifically over a set period of time, might mean a shifting demographic that will influence a business. Alternatively, an increasing median income might force businesses that currently exist under pressure to either change the quality of service or be forced out by new market forces that wish to gain benefits from the traction. (Starbucks, *ahem*)

Not only should a metric show trending, but it should also show the velocity of said trend. Leslieville, for example, in the past 12 years has seen the average price of housing increase from 155,000 to 450,000 – an increase by a factor of three. In an area once dotted with drop-in clinics, derelict stores and pawnshops, this pressure has changed the retail landscape dramatically. Alternatively, Forest Hill (along Eglinton Way) has seen an increase in housing prices, but at a lesser extent, not changing the retail market that dramatically.




After determining the thresholds and velocity of trends, a pattern emerges: the sweet-spot. This is where conditions are ideal. To use the inflation example again, 2% is a renowned sweet-spot: the economy is growing – expanding wealth – but not at such a level that it can become oppressive to industry and where wages can be adjusted by business to match easily. This allows sober reflection on direction and time to change accordingly. The ideal condition for the economy is not just growth, but measurable and stable growth.


Sweet-spots, much like everything else in a metric, are fluid – in as such, they move with trends. Levelling outside factors, aiming for a sweet-spot or maintaining one that has been achieved is the ultimate condition for a business to obtain.



While predominate classification of a metric is often as simple as: below-scope, at-scope (or sweet-spot) and above-scope; quite often ranges can be defined in a more normalised manner. As in measuring household income with quintiles, the definition of ranges can help provide context to a metric.

For example, defining a metric on a specific ethnicity may be concluded as such:

0%-5% Insignificant
5%-10% Emerging
10-20% Influential
20%-40% Dominate
40%+ Saturated


Each one of these ranges can help define an area, specifically when combined with the velocity of change and have a wide range of implications to either planning policy or businesses in the area, specifically when opposing metrics are competing


Equating Metrics

Metrics are not stand-alone; they can be combined to garner meaning. The sum of specific metrics aid in defining an area’s unique cache and can be leveraged to build more success or used to discover opportunities and threats.


On occasion, the combination of metrics can define an area, providing it with a persona and indicating specific qualities that it can control or aim for. These metrics can show where they are strong, where they are growing and where there are deficiencies.


Not all metrics can be combined, but often sets of metrics can be compared to create a profile that can be compared either directly or indirectly to other sets.


Developing a Profile

Much like an online dating site, metrics are used to develop a profile. You might think of this as a supra-metric where the addition of metrics combine to make a new metric that fits within a specific threshold. An area that requires input from outside customers can be defined via different metrics: ethnicity, as in Corso Italia or Gerrard with little or low similar demographics; clustering of retail, such as college street’s computer row; or low residential parameters to maintain the level of stores, such as downtown areas (although, with condo development, these numbers are trending in the opposite.)


Why This Is Important

Combining and comparing metrics, either individually or in sets, can help us define the qualities that make a BIA successful, or alternatively, unsuccessful. This will help categorise the type of BIA that best suits (ethnocentric, localised, clustered business, etc…) but also show the trends that may be affecting the area.


From this, we can describe planning remedies or policies that can help either deter the onset of change or propel an area to a desired sweet-spot. The marriage of policy to metrics is important to ensure that efforts are directed in the most effective and efficient manner possible, removing overlap or conflicting ideas and perhaps developing new ideas that can be applied elsewhere.


Metrics Explained

Metrics Explained




Do all areas possess the same metrics?

No. But, the data garnered from all areas help build the total list of metrics that apply to all areas. If this is an area that possesses little ethnicity or clustered stores, a metric may not be necessary – but, its weight in the context of the city does affect the outcome of dependent variables elsewhere.


Can an area be a part of two differing sets of metrics?

Definitely. An area that can be classified as a ethnic cluster could also possess a retail cluster. Kensington Market can be classified as a multicultural cluster and a food services cluster. These are defined by sets of metrics that are non-opposing, but when viewed in the scope of a supra-metric, can fall into two categories – or more.

Defining and Mediating the Cause of the Newly and Elderly Homeless in Toronto

Defining and Mediating the Cause of the Newly and Elderly Homeless in Toronto

While there are many studies on the cause and effect of homelessness within our cities that provide analysis and policy remedies – even for subsections of this problem, such as families and youth groups – little research has been committed to a growing trend in our culture: The newly-elderly homeless. In the past, this stratum of poverty has been extrapolated from more generalised statistics and merely speculated on the berth and condition of its members (Cohen, 1999) offering little insight in how to combat the problem or even provide a solid definition of the core issue. A recent study by MacDonald, Dergal & Cleghorn sought to identify issues revolving around the recently homeless who are elderly, identifying the causation and current policy and regiment gaps that allow these members to silently suffer more so than their counterparts (2007) and shed light on this growing cohort. Shifting demographics with an aging population coupled with economic turmoil and subsequent austerity measures have placed elderly people who live at the margin in peril of losing adequate shelter and services – breeding a new housing condition which is complex to anticipate and demands further research and planning intervention.


Determining the pathway to homelessness in the elderly is cumbersome and not unlike that of street youth in that it consists of multidimensional factors including the lack of affordable housing, employment or institutional services (Stegiopoulos & Herrmann, 2003). But the risks are different, harder to measure and often more abrupt:  the sudden loss of stable income, death of a spouse or significant other, lack of a proper caregiver and even eviction (Crane, 1999). Others that have been institutionalised for a long period due to physical or mental health may have lost their ability to maintain housing within that time (Hecht & Coyle, 2003) and are often released to shelters as a last resort. Further still, some have become homeless in their middle-age as they were living with elderly parents – due to economic or health concerns – who’ve since passed away leaving their offspring little-to-no social safety net (Crane & Warnes, 2000). While generally better educated, these factors are pressured by past economic ability – with many surviving in poor or near-poor conditions most of their lives – never having the benefits that full- and long-time employment provides, such as personal saving or pensions (Cohen, 1999). Alternatively, they may have had their pensions rescinded through bankruptcy or corporate raiding or their retirement savings dwindled by sudden economic decline (MacDonald, Dergal & Cleghorn, 2007; Gillespie, 2007).


Capturing the scope and severity of the issue through traditional services who aid the homeless – which rely on a methodology of crisis intervention in an attempt to focus on building independence and self-sufficiency (MacDonald, Dergal & Cleghorn, 2007) – is often untenable as they are programs more attractive to youth and young adults. Elderly homeless require greater access to mobility and care during the day, often unavailable in shelters as they only operate during the evening hours or are inaccessible for those with disabilities (Stegiopoulos & Herrmann, 2003). Mental health issues – including depression – requires constant and consistent care to stymie isolation and chronic and multiple physical health conditions need support and aid for medication (Cohen, 1999). The current lack of services and support are cited as the causation and continuance of both mental and physical health issues and further isolation and reliance on the street. Often, without third-party encouragement, physical ailments go undiagnosed because of the lack of a family physician, inability to recognise the severity of the issue or fear, either of being shunned by or directly suspicious of, the medical community and potential institutionalisation (Crane & Warnes, 2000). Others were barred from seeking medical help because of the lack of a health card or insurance and from the reluctance of health providers to register homeless people because of their multiple inflictions and transient nature (Hwang, 2000). The newly-elderly homeless tend to stay with services familiar and close to them, such as family doctors or neighbourhood clinics where they make shelter, but are seemingly oblivious to community outreach programs and drop-in centres (MacDonald, Dergal & Cleghorn, 2007) where research can be completed more comprehensively. Agencies, such as The Daily Bread Food bank have conducted their own surveys that show 40% of older recipients of their service often had difficulty paying for their prescription medications every month with as many as 27% declining outright to purchase them simply because of affordability (2001). The MacDonald, Dergal & Cleghorn study in Toronto also showed that 50% of the recently elderly homeless are also recent immigrants to Canada and have suffered from family breakdowns and have little communication between ex-spouses or the community and suffer from a language or cultural disadvantage. The elderly are also subject to more victimization within these shelters from other residents due to their frail condition, including physical assault, thief and rape (Cohen, 1999) but rarely are these events reported out of neglect, indifference or shame.


Those who are moved immediately out of standard programs to dedicated, specialised shelters where they can obtain services and a more appropriate social network suffer less from chronic health issues and are more likely to survive longer and find permanent homes (MacDonald, Dergal & Cleghorn , 2007). Similar studies in the United States and Britain confirms the stark difference in needs and services between the elderly homeless and existing policy structures. While programs are available to provide economic support in both nations – including old age security and medical care – often these are only enough to mitigate the current problem and not enough to permit a further decline in physical or mental health (Hecht & Coyle, 2003). As well, the qualification cut-off rate to obtain these services often disallow the ability to earn other income, however little or temporary, rendering those who claim this aid constantly reliant and remain at the upper-edge of poverty (Crane & Warnes, 2000) where they become an invisible statistic. Defining the issues that cause elderly homelessness and capturing the potential size of this problem will require resources from multiple agencies and personal interviews to create effective and preventative policy and support services that will not only take undue strain off of existing social assistance – but better and lengthen the lives of those who spent theirs building the community we have today.




Cohen, C. I. (1999) Aging and homelessness. The Gerontologist, 39(1). 5-14.

Crane, M. (1999) Understanding Older Homeless People. Housing Studies, 15(2). 325-327.

Crane, M & Warnes, A. M. (2000) Lessons from Lancefield Street: Tackling the needs of older homeless people. National Homeless Alliance. London.

Daily Bread Food Bank (2001) Aging with Dignity? How governments create insecurity for low-income seniors. Toronto.

Gillespie, K. (2007, Sept. 27) Who can rescue seniors from property tax trap? The Toronto Star. Retrieved from:

Hecht, L. & Coyle, B. (2001). Elderly Homeless: A Comparison of Older and Younger Adult Emergency Shelter Seekers in Bakersfield, California. American Behavioral Scientist, 45(1). 66-79.

Hwang, S. (2000) Homelessness and Health. Canadian Medical Journal, 164(2). 229-233.

MacDonald, L., Dergal, J. & Cleghorn, L. (2007) Living on the Margins. Jornal of Gerontological Social Work, 49(1-2). 19-46.

Rokach, A. (2003) The Lonely and Homeless: Causes and Consequences. The Institute for the Study and Treatment of Psychosocial Stress, Toronto.

Stergiopoulos, V. & Herrmann, N. (2003, July) Old and Homeless: A Review and Survey of Older Adults Who Use Shelters in an Urban Setting. The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 48. Canadian Psychiatric Association. 374-380.



Toronto Harbour Commission Building

Toronto Harbour Commission Building

The Building

Toronto Harbour Commission Building

Toronto Harbour Commission Building

Started in 1917 and completed a year after, this six-storey building was developed on reclaimed waterfront land called Harbour Square at the end of Bay Street south of Lake Street (Goad’s) – Now known as Lakeshore Blvd West – to house the newly formed Toronto Harbour Commission. It was designed in the Beaux-Arts style by the architectural firm Chapman and Oxley and clad in Indiana limestone. Given the date it was constructed – just after the war – it wasn’t prudent to construct ornate or monumental civic structures, but the predominance that this building had on the waterfront did request some special treatment; with window mouldings and mantles accompanied by a central sculpture helped dignify the simplified frontage and three-quarter decretive columns added depth and shadow (Gagnierm, 1919, 37).

Inside, the building hosted some marble and wood treatment; but most floors, aside from the Commissioner’s room lined with walnut panels, focused on simple dressings around the ceilings and crown moulding. Only the basement, first, sixth and part of the second floors were designated for the Toronto Harbour Commission with the rest to be leased out to like-mined industrial and commercial concerns – specifically those with an interest having office space close to the harbour and ports. Services included a switchboard reception, elevators and lavatories with a bulkhead to conceal plumbing – and given that this was mentioned, perhaps a luxury at the time (Gagnier, 1919, 35).

The Architect

Alfred Hirschfelder Chapman is regarded as a well-known architect of the early 20th Century and his buildings have become local cultural icons with many remaining standing to this day. Born in Toronto in 1878 he attended Harbord Collegiate before graduating from The National Fine Arts School in Paris, France (École Nationale et Spéciale des Beaux-Arts) in 1902 – where he studied his traditional style. After a brief stint in New York, he returned home to design several Carnegie libraries, including the Toronto Reference Library on College, now the University of Toronto Bookstore (Achieve of Ontario, 1976).

After the war, he combined forces with engineer J. Morrow Oxley and developed some the more predominate pieces of institutional and commercial architecture in the city, including many of the buildings on the Canadian National Exhibition ground and its grand entry, the Prince’s Gates. He slowly evolved his style to match the Art Deco movement as seen with the old Toronto Star Building – since demolished to make way for the TD Centre – and the Toronto Hydroelectric Building on College which remains today (Achieve of Ontario, 1976).

Toronto Central Library

Toronto Central Library

His final project was to be the 16-storey contemporary classical-designed Bank of Montreal building at Bay and King but was halted in 1940 during the war and Chapman, after suffering a stroke in 1943 only just saw its completion in 1948 a year before his death (Montreal Gazette, 1946). With his wife Doris, he raised six children, one of which, Howard D. Chapman, followed in his father’s footsteps and became known for his modern architecture style for a number of Toronto landmarks, such as the Riverdale Hospital – now demolished and under replacement by Bridgepoint Health (City of Toronto, 2011).

The Style

The Beaux-Arts style of architecture is often described as ornate but imposing, mixing a number of other styles and building members onto on façade, including classical, renaissance and baroque details and over-sizing elements over doors and windows (Kyles, 2002). Often criticised for its garishness and opulence, it was the style of choice for governmental buildings, city institutions and financial headquarters in North American from 1880-1920’s. The style is developed by the accumulation of talents over centuries both teaching and studying at the Fine Arts School in Paris, where Chapman trained (Cunliffe & Loussier, 2006, 178-179).

A number of examples, aside from those worked on by this architect, can be found in and around Toronto – from as early as the 1880’s with the Bank of Montreal branch at Front and Yonge to the most familiar of which is Union Station, on Front just north of the Commission building. The latest example of notice would be the Canada Life building, one of the only implementation of the master grand avenues plan developed by the city after the war to beautify the downtown and provide better traffic flow with the advent and growing popularity of the car only to be halted by the on-set of the depression (Osbaldeston, 2011, 45; Hayes, 2008, 138-139).

At openning

At openning

The Tenant

The Toronto Harbour Commission was established by Act of the Parliament of Canada in 1911 to manage the port facilities of Toronto – then a major international shipping facility – and to encourage the reclaiming of shallow and swampy land that has limited the capacity for growth in the city. At the time, no single authority had control over harbour traffic and infrastructure development along the waterfront thus a single agency was sought to allow for the local management of industries and private concerns surrounding the area (Transport Canada, 2006)

After construction of the building, the THC embarked on an ambitious plan to perform dredging of the inner harbour to accommodate for larger ships that were expected after the creation of the Welland canal, piling for the infill of land with garbage to provide piers at the end of city streets and by marking out promenades and recreational reserves with shoreline breakwaters to limit erosion. The plans also called for a link over the east and west channels to connect the Toronto Islands and its inhabitants to the mainland and provide for new beaches at both ends of the waterfront located at Sunnyside and Ashbridge’s Bay (Gagnier, 1919, 37-39).

At this time over 300 acres of newfound land was created with over half leased to factories, warehouses and shipwrights. The full completion of this plan would see the present shoreline extend another 300 feet in to the lake from its current position with wharfs protruding another 500 to 700 feet further (Gagnier, 1919, 39). Changes to the waterfront, including the Island Airport and new marine terminals to handle increased load from the St. Lawrence Seaway increased the importance of Toronto as an international port. But, the Depression and the shift from shipping by boat to rail and transport trucks along with industrial and manufacturing concerns moving to cheaper lands outside the city, eventually led the dissolution of the Toronto Harbour Commission; transferring some of its land to the city and the remainder ending in Federal hands under the Toronto Port Authority, which still uses this building as its headquarters since the 1990’s (Transport Canada, 2006).

The Area

Pressures to expand the waterfront started with the adoption of railways as the primary mode of resource and product transportation. Rail, at first, required little, but linear land that could easily be formed along waterfronts and thus close to downtown factories and populations, sharing resource storage needs with the waterways but as war efforts and industrial expansion continued, competing railway companies and the businesses that rely on them for the movement of goods required more land in and around the waterfront (Hayes, 2008, 120-121). After two consecutives fires in the downtown core, cleanup efforts along with waste from reconstruction and expansion required a place to be disposed of – along with the growing waste produced by an expanding city (Fair, 2011). The waterfront and its marshy shallow waters provided a dual solution, quick access to dumping and reclaimed land to develop more rail and port lands upon.

The area

The area

The industrialisation of southern Ontario and capacity issues dealing with war efforts placing pressure of valuable land close to the core of the city, the expansion program in to the lake offered a simple, inexpensive way to expand a city continuous steps outward from the original shoreline expanded usable land by 500-700 metres. The areas south of the core were primarily rail yards while merchant buildings, warehouses, factories lined the shoreline. As industry and families moved further out of the city and after World War II and the automobile took over as the primary mode (Osbaldeston, 2011, 50-58) for transportation the usefulness of these lands centralised around the rail and water faded as employment lands opened on the outskirts of the city and suburbia exploded (Hayes, 2008, 154-157). As a result, many of the buildings were left vacant and more cost-effective to tear them down and turn the land into parking lots for the booming financial district (Wickson, 2002).

The push of people out of the city by the car and pull of cheap housing created an age where roadways were becoming infrastructure giants. The Gardiner Expressway promised to ease congestion by elevating traffic pouring in from the outer-suburbs directly into the city, bypassing crossroads and flying over the old industry lands (Hayes, 2008, 170). This created what Kevin Lynch regards as a hard edge – a barrier that visually and intuitively blocks the flow within and understanding of a city. While development continued north of the expressway, the reclaimed land on the waterfront saw only a small amount of development limited to properties on the water’s edge. Reconnecting the city to the waterfront – a difficult task undertaken in many eastern North American cities with mixed results – has had a number of false starts in Toronto over the past forty years (WTC, 1968, 126). Plans that show mixed-use office and residential towers lining the area around the Toronto Harbour Commission exist both when the CN Tower was planned and when the Metro Convention Centre was built in the seventies and eighties respectively (Osbaldeston, 2011, 234-235).

The Building Today

The building was listed as a Toronto heritage landmark in 1973 during the push to retain some of Toronto’s history while many buildings were lost to large-scale redevelopment of the downtown core. After modernization of the office space in the 1980s the building was designated under Section IV of the Ontario Heritage Act in 1987 as well as covered under the Union Station Conservation District by council in 2006. These successive designations limit changes allowed to the structure and require that consideration must be taken to land-uses on surrounding lands and abide by the limitations afforded by the Act (Toronto Preservation Board). The history and location of the building attracts many to question its origin and is regularly apart of the DoorsOpen event that takes place annually in Toronto to showcase the ornate commissioners office and nautical history. The basement of the building which once stored the documents and archive rooms for the Commission now contains a high-end steak restaurant.

The Future

With a more stable economy backed by sound banking practices and coupled with a vivid downtown with an active day and night-time street life that attracts the upwardly mobile individual has made condominium development within and surrounding the core a burgeoning industry (Waterfront Toronto, 2010). Reclaimed railway and industrial lands connected by both public and private transit provide ample land for redevelopment and efforts to contain sprawl within the GTA with provincial protection acts for the Oak Ridges Moraine and the Green Belt have made dense residential development more attractive to developers and young professionals over the past decade (Place to Grow, 12-13, 30).

Future Plans

Future Plans

With this, pressure on companies to relocate offices from the outer suburbs to find and appease new sources of young and creative employees plus incentives on commercial development and networking connections with other industries have brought forth a massive office construction boom that sees approximately 8 million square feet of office space being added south of the historic core of the city – lands that were once parking lots for sporting and entertainment events held by the close by Air Canada and Rogers Centres (UrbanToronto).

While previous expansion of the core centred in CityPlace west of the CN Tower and the area just south of Union Station; the area surrounding the Toronto Harbour Commission Building remain the last few prime locations plans are before council to integrate the underground PATH network within a few years. As such, the past few months have saw exceptional interest by major corporations, including RBC and development companies, such as Tridel and Menkes to become new centres of retail, residencial and office construction. The announcements of new development in this area occur so rapidly that since the draft of this assignment was completed just over a month ago, plans for three new 70-75 storey condominiums and another office tower have been made public and are slated to enter feasibility and design studies while construction of a new 30-storey office tower has went from the planning stage directly into construction without the need for sales. The area directly around the Toronto Harbour Commission that was once slated for low-density warehousing and port facilities 80 years ago that never came to fruition due to yawing economic climates and wars will soon see a canyon of 50-70 storey buildings gracing its streets within the next decade – that is to say if a global recession doesn’t rear its ugly head again in the coming months (UrbanToronto).

Download the Toronto Harbour Commission Building report




Achieves of Ontario, Alfred H. Chapman Fonds (C 18) (Toronto: Queen’s Press, 1976)

City of Toronto. A Work in Progress: Commercial Architects, Howard D. Chapman (Toronto: City of Toronto Achieves , 2011)

Cunliffe, S & Loussier, J. [ed.] Architectural Styles: Spotter Guide (San Diego: Thunder Bay Press. 2006)

Fair, R. HST527 In-Class Lecture (Toronto, RyersonUniversity, 2011)

Gagnier, H. Publishers, Ltd. Construction: A Journal for the Architectural, Engineering and Contracting Interests of Canada, 12. (Toronto: Gagnier, H. Publishers Ltd, 1919). pp34-40

Goad’s Fire Insurance Plans (Retrieved from the City of Toronto)

Hayes, Derek. Historical Atlas of Toronto (Toronto: Douglas & McIntyre, 2008)

Kyles, S. Ontario Architecture (Hamilton: 2002)

Mongo (sic). 60 Harbour Street (Toronto: UrbanToronto, 2011)

Montreal Gazette, The. Bank of Montreal Set to Resume Construction of Toronto Building (Montreal, Feb.22, 1946) Retrieved from,3657352

Osbaldeston, M. Unbuilt Toronto: A History of the City That Might Have Been (Toronto, Dundurn Press, 2008)

Osbaldeston, M. Unbuild Toronto 2: More of the City That Might Have Been (Toronto, Dundurn Press, 2011)

Places to Grow (2005) Growth Plan for the Greater Toronto Horseshoe (Toronto, Queen’s Press, 2005) 14-30.

Toronto Preservation Board [TPB]. Heritage Listings. (Toronto, City of Toronto, 2011)

Transport Canada. Review of the Toronto Port Authority Report (Ottawa: Government of Canada, October, 2006) Retrieved from

UrbanToronto [eds.] 120, 90 & 60 Harbour. (Toronto: Urban Toronto, 2011)

Wickson, Ted. Reflections of Toronto Harbour (Toronto: TorontoPort Authority, 2002)

Waterfront Toronto. Waterfront Toronto General Update (Toronto: Waterfront Toronto, 2010) [Slide Presentation]

Water Technical Committee [WTC]. Waterfront Plan for the Metropolitan Toronto Planning Area (Toronto: Metro Toronto, 1968)

Alexandra Park

Alexandra Park

Alexandra Park Secondary Plan - Sample

Alexandra Park Secondary Plan – Sample

Group project revolving around the redevelopment of Alexandra Park — a community housing project in Toronto owned and operated by the TCHC. Alexandra Park was developed in the era of large block-busting planning where roads were removed or realigned in order to create public space or walkable communities. Unfortunately, these design decisions isolated communities by removing flow between neighbourhoods and often created unsafe or unkempt spaces that deteriorated over time. Regent Park in the east-end of Toronto is currently undergoing a similar redevelopment with many success stories — but some irritation on how the process unfolded. The concept of the project was to continue with the success but address the failings from the first project.

Toronto community housing stock is currently under a massive infrastructure backlog. Most of the housing well beyond its build lifespan and little avenues for financing or years of neglect creating a crisis among it residents and neighbours.  Regent Park was the catalyst required to involve private sector developers with partnerships within the community and NGOs to leverage the condominium boom the City has experienced over the past decade to create an opportunity to address these issues.

Since this project was completed, the City of Toronto has embarked on a comprehensive rebuilding of the area, reconnecting the successful neighbourhoods surrounding the site and the appetite of citizens to live within walking or transit distance to a revitalized office and entertainment sectors nearby with providing more social housing that meets or exceeds the requirements of existing residents.


Anthony Di Santo
David Johnson
Paul Tobia
Stefano Guglietti
Austin Pernarella
Loralea Tulloch
Alexander Ruggieri
Cody Hashemi
Christopher Evan Jones

Personal Contributions

Land-Use Planning

Rezoning Requirements

Zero Displacement Staging

Massing Study

Cost Analysis

Maps and Schedules


Download the Alexandra Park Secondary Plan project



Read More

Torontoist article on the Toronto Plan

Toronto Star article on the social aspects of the plan

Link to the official TCHC plan



Rob Ford vs Filion

Rob Ford vs Filion

Rob Ford vs Filion

Rob Ford vs Filion (Source: Toronto Life, Oct. 2011)

Late Monday, after the kerfuffle at City Hall over the Rob Ford scandal, I wrote to members of council a thank you note which received a number of positive responses, including those from members, staff and high-profile members in the #topoli twittersphere. While I am still new to posting on this site and through Twitter — and my active participation in municipal politics — I must say I am very impressed with the responses thus far. This includes this very well-written response to my letter from Councillor John Filion of Ward 23 Willowdale.

Councillor Filion is no fan Mayor Rob Ford. His Ford Nation Voting Score is a mere 11.32% according to Matt Elliott and once wanted to limit  the Mayor’s powers during the contract-outsourcing of residential garbage pick-up worried about the mayor might be planning to do something impulsive” – but he writes back in the following letter, which picks up on a number of my points quite well as well as introducing some interesting new ones I’ve always suspected, but never confirmed. His summary of the acts and actions required was so well summarized that I felt impelled to share it with the rest of Toronto — and the world (I’ve highlighted some of the more impressive parts)


Hi Christopher,


Thanks for your e-mail.  The past few weeks have been without precedent in many ways: the amount of international, national and local attention focussed on City Hall; ongoing appalling behaviour by the Mayor of this city; new revelations, allegations and admissions regarding Mayor Ford’s conduct, with no end in sight; and finally the overwhelming vote to strip the Mayor of most of his powers.


My office has been flooded with phone calls and emails, partly due to the high level of awareness and concern but also due to my role in the calling of three Special Meetings of Council to deal with my motions to remove much of Mayor Ford’s powers.


Some calls were from angry Ford supporters, from as far away as Saskatchewan. But by far the majority of calls and emails from constituents indicated strong support for my position that the situation had deteriorated to such an extent that something had to be done.


The actions I took in writing the motions, and in initiating the Special meetings to deal with them, were taken after much careful thought, many conversations with my colleagues on Council, and a considerable amount of personal sadness that the Mayor had, by his choices, left us with no viable alternative than to separate and protect the decision-making process from his highly destabilizing influence.


I will not attempt to chronicle Mayor Ford’s misdeeds, some of which he has admitted to, and others which remain as allegations at this point.


Council’s Actions:


On Wednesday of last week, 30 Councillors signed a letter asking the Mayor to please step aside, for a period of time, to deal with his problems. I was one of the Councillors who initiated that letter. Before this, virtually all of the Mayor’s allies on Council, with the likely exception of his brother, had attempted to give this advice to Mayor Ford privately. When the informal approach was unsuccessful, Council, also on Wednesday, overwhelmingly supported a motion formally asking him to step aside and seek help. Again, the Mayor adamantly denied he had any serious problems and refused to take a break from his duties.


At this point, I asked Councillors to sign a petition for a Special Meeting on Friday to deal with my motion to remove the Mayor’s ability to hire and fire the Chairs of Committees and the Deputy Mayor. For more on the reasons for that motion, you can read the opinion piece I wrote for the Toronto Star.




On Thursday, the Mayor began the day with a public statement so grossly inappropriate that it cannot even be paraphrased. This was rapidly followed by the release of police documents including police interviews with several former members of his staff. If these statements are to be believed – the Mayor admitted to excessive drinking, and drinking and driving, but denied the rest – the  pattern of misconduct, was not only on his personal time but crossed over into his role as Mayor.


By Friday, Council was so shocked, alarmed and fed up that it approved (by votes of 41-3 and 42-2) my motions to remove his power over appointments, and to transfer, to the Deputy Mayor, his authority to deal with emergencies.


Still, the Mayor rejected many personal pleas from friends and allies to step aside to seek help. Members of Council became so concerned about the rapidly deteriorating situation that they supported my petition for a third Special Meeting, on Monday, to remove any other powers Council had conferred on the Mayor.


On Monday, all of my motions received the required two thirds vote of Council. Among other measures, many of the Mayor’s duties, including chairing the Executive Committee, are transferred to the Deputy Mayor.


Was the decision democratic?


All Councillors – and me in particular as the author of the motion – agonized over this point. Mayor Ford was duly elected and there are 11 months left until the next election.


To begin with, it is extremely important to note that all of my motions kept in place all of the councillors Mayor Ford had appointed to positions of authority. All of these councillors have supported his approach to government spending, in accordance with the mandate received by the Mayor in the 2010 election.  By ensuring that the Mayor’s team remained in place, Council made it clear that the decision to reduce the Mayor’s powers was not politically-motivated; we were driven to it solely by his terribly bad behaviour and the need to protect the functioning of city government from a Mayor who was clearly spiralling out of control.


Secondly, the motions were overwhelmingly supported by the Mayor’s ideological allies on Council, as well as by Councillors from all parts of the City. In response to the Mayor’s suggestion that it was “a coup d’etat,” one commentator replied: “I’ve never seen a coup d’etat with so much voting.”


The Mayor noted the 383,501 votes he received in the 2010 election. But, at the same time, voters in the same area collectively gave the members of Council 415,546 votes. Individual councillors have limited authority, but Council as a whole has tremendous power, including deciding what powers it wishes to bestow upon the Mayor in addition to those granted him by provincial statute. What Council has the legal authority to give, it also has the legal and moral authority to take away if it believes that such action is in the best in interests of the City and its residents.


What next?


A positive by-product of the drama at City Hall is that it has brought together councillors who have, unfortunately in recent years, grown accustomed to working in ideological and geographical pockets. I am very hopeful that Council will actually function better over the next year than it has in the past three.


I believe that Deputy Mayor Kelly, with his greatly increased powers, will encourage this.


Will the Rob Ford sideshow continue? Only he can decide that. Based on his behaviour during Monday’s Council debate – mimicking drunk driving, bowling over a female councillor, leaving his seat to incite the audience in the Council chamber, and vowing to wage war on members of Council, like George Bush did on Saddam Hussein – it’s not going to be pretty.


But – please – feel confident that, no matter how dysfunctional it may look at times – Council is made up members who are, for the  most part, rational, calm, intelligent, capable, hard working, and extremely mindful of the responsibility we have towards our constituents.


Best wishes,




The most shocking information was that of angry calls to his office regarding the decision coming from parts of the country nowhere close to our fine city. This should be a reminder to all of us that Ford Nation should not be dismissed as a subset of voters within our populous that are disenfranchised Toronto Sun readers living within the inner-suburbs. Ford Nation is more than just a grassroots municipal political movement — but that of a political ideology, one akin to that of the American Tea Party movement. While they state they are for democracy, transparency and fighting for the common-man — this couldn’t be further from the truth.  They are well-organised, well-funded, indifferent, irrational, disillusioned and ill-informed simultaneously — which is downright dangerous.

This should also be a reminder, to all of us, that we must be more involved in our local politics. While recent demonstrations and talk in bars and coffee shops (over lattes, perhaps, no less)  has been refreshing — the fact remains that political involvement during elections and voter turnout remain at all-time lows. Many I have talked to about the situation have either indicated that they never did vote in the previous election — or more worrisome — voted for Ford but did not understand how bad he would be. Sadly, I’d rather have inaction over ignorance — but ultimately, I’d rather have neither.

So visit, mail, call or tweet your councillor. Get involved!


*** On a side note. Doesn’t John Filion look a lot like Boris Johnson??? ***

Boris Johnson - Mayor of London

Boris Johnson – Mayor of London


Sidelining Rob Ford

Sidelining Rob Ford

Rob Ford bowling over fellow council member in chambers.

Rob Ford bowling over fellow council member in chambers. November 18th, 2013. Source: The National Post

On Friday November 15th and Monday November 18th 2013, two special meetings of Toronto City Council were held in order to strip the powers conferred by the chamber to the sitting mayor. These are powers that are not statutory as laid out by the Municipal Act of Ontario or the City of Toronto Act, 2006 and their removal would not contravene any law or negate the responsibilities laid out in the Acts — regardless of what Mayor Rob Ford, his brother Councillor Doug Ford and their lawyer George Rust D’eye may say.

But, under the threat of lawsuits both to the City, Council and perhaps individual councillors by Rob Ford and his newly obtained municipal lawyer, debate along with speeches throughout the day were wrought with worry over litigation, legality and the unknown and unfortunate precedent that the proposed motions would enact or establish. The decisions made by individual councillors were tough, formed under immense pressure and fear of retaliation.

Thankfully, the Mayor and his brother continued their rambunctious acts, insolent attitudes and thinly-veiled threats to their fellow colleagues, former-allies and friends — including an attack of intimidation of the members of the public that packed the chambers to express their interest in municipal politics and observe one of the most important and contentious political meetings held in Toronto since the Upper Canada Rebellion.

While these actions may have influenced those remaining on the fence, the ability to respond and act in defiance of those who manipulate and bully without concept of recourse — and to those who possess not only a boisterous and stubborn constituent but perhaps ties to dangerous drug and gun running gangs or organised crime — took amazing courage. It is these actions in voting for the motions, whether in-part or in-parcel, that our elected officials and our fellow citizens should be commended, appreciated and thanked.

Often correspondence to our elected officials is only in anger — venomous letters or response to single acts or votes that have upset us or continued protest to their political leanings or association. I, myself, have gone against leaders, representatives and legislative member — even when fundamentally I believe them to be excellent leaders and upstanding citizens — because of a stance or alignment that irked myself personally or professionally. But whether you are left or right aligned, light or heavy rail, socially or fiscally responsible — there comes a time when all political strips must align.

Council demonstrated this at both of these special meetings.

United against Mayor Rob Ford, his actions and his past — including his inability to show any legitimate remorse — the mass majority of Toronto Council voted to strip the powers they were legally allowed. In response, Mayor Rob Ford and his brother Doug Ford declared ‘war’ — equating himself to Kuwait and the remainder of council to Saddam Hussein — threatening to unleash the rabid Ford Nation on each and every one of them.

So, for a change, I took it upon myself to respond in kind — by writing a thank you letter to each member who voted, regardless of my previous experience with them or their political leanings. Each member who voted for the motions limiting Mayor Rob Ford deserves our support and kudos — because it was this that separates the real politicians from those hailing from Ford Nation.


And I encourage everyone else to do the same.


Here is the boiler plate for the letter I written. Please feel free to work off of it.


Subject: Thank you for your votes regarding Mr. Ford


Dear Councillor,


I would like to take this time to thank you – both personally and on behalf of all citizens of this great city – for voting to limit the powers of our absent, abrasive and often abhorrent mayor.


While I understand it was very difficult for some members to vote on all motions or specific line-items, the act of council as a whole demonstrated a common front that shows the public – and the world – that his recent activities, associations and abuses will not be tolerated by the good people of Toronto. This not only cements our faith in the operation of City Hall, but our faith in the political system as a whole.


I would also like to reassure you given the thinly-veiled threats – prior, during and after through the media by the Ford family, their supporters and their colleagues – that myself, my acquaintances and the people of Toronto stand by your decision now and that during upcoming election and campaign you will have our full support to denounce any opportunist or illicit acts that they may commit in the name of their so-called ‘war’. To paraphrase: You have a solid ally in the coming battle.


I truly believe in our political system when the fight is fair and those participating are forthright. What the City has observed and has been subjected to was beyond the extraordinary – and required the extraordinary measures that you have taken in the past few council meetings in order to restore belief, balance – and sanity.


Again, thank you. And keep up your excellent work and passion for our city.




Christopher Evan Jones, B.U.R.Pl




No more than 24 hours after sending the e-mails, I have had positive and heart-felt responses from quite a number of council members! I wish to thank the following members for their replies and proving that civil, community-oriented politics is not dead in Toronto:


Councillor Josh Matlow (Ward 22, St.Paul’s)

Councillor Michelle Berardinetti (Ward 35 Scarborough Southwest)

Councillor Raymond Cho (Ward 42 Scarborough-Rouge River)

Councillor Josh Colle (Ward 15 Eglinton-Lawrence)

Councillor Gord Perks (Ward 14 Parkdale-High Park)

Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon (Ward 32 Beaches-East York)

Councillor Mark Grimes (Ward 6 Etobicoke-Lakeshore)

Councillor Mike Layton (Ward 19 Trinity-Spadina)

Councillor Sarah Doucette (Ward 13 Parkdale-High Park)

Councillor John Filion (Ward 23 Willowdale) – See his full response here!

Councillor Jaye Robinson  (Ward 25 Don Valley West)

Councillor Janet Davis (Ward 31 Beaches-East York)


*** And I should note that none of these councillors have a staff of 20 apparently required to respond so promptly  :) ***