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

Biello, D. (2008) Measure of Metal Supply Find Future Shortage. Scientific American. Retrieved from

Bradford, N. (2003) Cities and Communities that Work: Innovation, Practices and Enabling Policies. Canadian Policy Research Networks. Ottawa.

Bradford, R. (1996). Elements of a BEAR (business expansion and retention) program. Economic Development Review, 14(3), 8.

Canadian Press (2012) Mark’s Work Warehouse pulls Caterpillar boots. London, Ont.

Casico, J. (2009) The next big thing: Resilience. Foreign Policy. Retrieved from

Clark, P. (2003). Business retention, expansion plan incorporates mayors forums. Northern Ontario Business, 23(5), 7B-7B. Retrieved from

Communities develop business retention strategies. (2002). Saskbusiness, 23(4), S5-Insert 5,8.

Donald & Hall (2009) Innovation and Creativity on the Periphery: Challenges and Opportunities in Northern Ontario. University of Toronto

Economist Intelligence Unit [EIU] (2012) Hot Spots: Benchmarking global city competitiveness. The Economist. Retrieved from

Florida, R. (2002) The Rise of the Creative Class. Basic Books. New York.

Forum looks at how to retain business. (2003, May 03). Tribune, pp. A.7-A7.

Hines, B., & Clark, S. (1997). The competitive advantage model: The case of business retention and expansion in bowling green, ohio. Economic Development Review, 15(1), 18-22.

Hume, C. (2011, Sept. 15) Fords on the way to becoming another waterfront wreck. Toronto Star. Retrieved from–hume-fords-on-the-way-to-becoming-another-waterfront-wreck

Hulchanski, D. (2006) The Three Cities within Toronto. University of Toronto.

Lenzi, R. C. (1991). Business retention and expansion programs: A panoramic view. Economic Development Review, 9(1), 7-7.

Maxwell, D. (2009). Business retention and expansion in phoenix. PM.Public Management, 91(7), 12-12.

Mirza, S. & Sipos, C. (2009) Canada’s infrastructure deficit a sad legacy for future generations. Municipal Leader. 33-34. Retrieved from

Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development [M0AFRD] (2011) Rural Economic Development (RED) Program. Queen’s Press. Toronto. Retrieved from

Ministry of Economic Development & Innovation [M0EDI] Improving Ontario’s FIT Program. Queen’s Press. Toronto. Retrieved from

Open Knowledge Forum (2011) The cost of closed data & the economics of open data. Cambridge, United Kingdom.Planscape (2006) Official Plan for the City of Elliot Lake. City of Elliot Lake. Retrieved from

Phillips, P. D. (1996). Business retention and expansion: Theory and an example in practice. Economic Development Review, 14(3), 19-24.

Pink, D. (2005) A Whole New Mind. Riverhead Books. New York.Treurnicht, I. (2011) Innovation: Then, Next, Now!. MaRS. Toronto.Thomson Reuters (2012, Mar. 6) The Grown-Up BRIC: Innovation & Brand Expansion in Brazil. Thomson Reuters.

Schellenberg, G. & Boyd, M. (2008) Re-accreditation and the occupations of immigrant doctors and engineers. Statistics Canada. Ottawa. Retrieved from

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




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



The Junction Briefing Note : Part Four

Submitted: December 6th 2010


Download the original Junction Briefing Note 



Image One - Context

Image One – Context

Situated in the north-west corner of the old City of Toronto (Image 1), The Junction once was a railway hub for the food packaging industry. Growing linearly along the a major route out of town, Dundas West, this historical working-class neighbourhood suffered from three decades of shifting economics as industry scaled back operations or closed entirely – leaving brownfields in its wake. While Dundas defines an historical attractiveness that has drawn a new class of citizens – rejuvenating the surrounding homes and businesses and increased education, income and mill rates – little benefit from this extended north of the railway lands. Previous attempts to redevelop these lands left the neighbourhood disjointed – reflecting values better suited for suburban living than the heavily transit-connected community that it is.

Bridging the Edge


Image 2 – Rail Divide

The railway lands – a hard edge crossing the neighbourhood (Image 2) – divides this previous work-live community to the north and south. While strong community action revitalized the south; automobile-centric big-box retailers and infill housing devoid of pedestrian legibility and continuity dominate the north. Development of the brownlands – with increased densities from mixed-use, mid-rise development and greater north-south connectivity – will draw more pedestrian traffic and small retail to the district and provide a cohesive transit-oriented nodes and open up existing but underutilized green spaces with the potential of designating others – benefiting both sides of the barrier.


Lynch states that by carrying through character along paths with visible end-points scaled not to isolate or overbear[1], aids in developing a district that is recognizable and comfortable for its users. St. Clair’s vast, open parking lots with little recognisable character increases the perceived walking time and without useful paths, nodes are difficult to cultivate and maintain[2]. Three major nodes within the northern district fail to maintain the critical flow to become a viable, even though they possess favourable elements, such as retail, transit and recreational space[3]. Increasing densities (Image 3) along major roads provides lifeblood to form public squares or open green space. As pedestrian density increases, so can the viability of small commercial retailers and restaurants, feeding off nodes as places to collect or reflect[4]. Alexander argues the placement of street windows and sidewalk cafes elevate effective use of avenues and break the monotony of the street for residents and commuters[5]. Buildings should hug the avenue and interact with the streetscape to provide an adequate thoroughfare, a concept big-box retailers currently violate.


Image 3 – Concept Plan




Whyte defines open space as requirements for human interaction and establishing a vibrant community. With little ability nor comfort to congregate and participate, these sparse and underutilized nodes draw little attention, limiting exposure and safety[6]. Light penetration can be preserved by following the step-backed design defined within the Avenue and Mid-Rises[7] guideline and tree-lined streets provides waypoints for travel, alternating shade and seat places for resting or observing. While currently designated as employment lands (Image 4), mixed-income housing on the empty lot near Runnymede Park in tandem with a north-south link over the railway lands will redefine the node and spawn a symbiotic relationship with residence, retail, recreation and transit.

Image 4 - In-Fill

Image 4 – In-Fill


While not ideal, Trinity Development plans to bring higher density retail north of the area[8] – with mixed big-box and street-fronting retail and stacked rear parking (Image 5) – it shows increased interest in creating potential pedestrian visibility in large tracts of brownfield lands. The bike and pedestrian bridge planned for Fort York[9] with an unique configuration to span two sets of rails, including one slated electrification (Image 6) – demonstrates how connectivity can change a neighbourhood as a developer is now planning to add new condominiums directly adjacent[10]. And even with TransitCity’s uncertain future, increased development and density can justify a new regional transit node via the MoveOntario 2020 plan on the 15-year conceptual Crosstown route[11].

Image 5

Image 5

The Toronto Official Plan, in sections 3.1.1, 3.1.2 and 3.2.1 recommends the following: A neighbourhood that offers a wide variety of housing types; A positive and lively environment at transit-supportive densities; Emphasize pedestrian and cycling connections; Disallow big-box frontage on large avenues; and Enhance parkland and community services as a part of redevelopment – the aim of this imitative[12].

Image 6

Image 6


Jacob states how we observe our urban environment also defines how we interact with it[13]. With low connectivity, underutilized nodes, limits to pedestrian movement and insufficient density, the northern section of The Junction fails to find uniformity and intrigue with its neighbours. The economic transformation over the past decade provides an opportunity to rebuild what was once a vibrant work-live community. By implementing the Avenue and Mid-rises plan, coordinated with the St. Clair Weston draft concept with the new connections and mixed housing, we’re not only reconnecting a lost section of The Junction neighbourhood, we can potentially duplicate its southern half’s success. Increased density and transit usage will justify improvements to the St. Clair LRT and provide a new destination with economic, recreational and employment opportunities for the surrounding neighbourhoods – meeting the goal of the city to maintain a sustainable, viable and inviting community while maintaining our budget’s bottom line.

[1] Lynch, K. (1960). The Image of a City. The MIT Press. Cambridge. 50-51.

[2] Lynch, K. (1960). The Image of a City. The MIT Press. Cambridge. 138.

[3] Lynch, K. (1960). The Image of a City. The MIT Press. Cambridge. 84.

[4] Alexander, C. (1977). A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction. Oxford University Press. Patterns 88, 123, 160.

[5] Alexander, C. (1977). A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction. Oxford University Press. Patterns 88, 100, 164.

[6] Whyte, W. H. (1980). The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces. Project for Public Spaces. New York. 108.

[7] Brooke Mcllroy Planning & Urban Design/Pace Architects, et al. (2010, May) Avenues and Mid-Rise Building Study.

[8] Bryne, G. (2008) 30 Weston Road – Zoning By-law Amendment and Site Plan. City of Toronto.

[9] Stantec, MonigomerySisam (2009) Fort York Pedestrian and Cycle Bridge: Class Environmental Assessment Study. City of Toronto. Retrieved from

[10] Markowiak, J. (2010) 30 Ordnance Street – Rezoning Application. City of Toronto.

[11] Metrolinx (2008, November) The Big Move: Transforming Transportation in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area. Greater Toronto Transportation Authority. 106.

[12] Wright, G. (2002, 2009) Toronto Official Plan. Toronto. 3.1-3.34.

[13] Jacobs, A. B. (1985) Looking at Cities, HarvardUniversity Press. Cambridge. 11, 81. From Robinson (2010) Learning to See: Systematic Approaches to Neighbourhood Analysis. RyersonUniversity.


Images: (1) Damba, N. (2010) Ryerson University Library; (2, 3: Base Map): City of Toronto (2007) Property Maps; (4: Base Image) Microsoft, NAVTEQ (2010) Retrieved from; (5) Trinity Development Group (2010) Retrieved from; (6) Stantec, MonigomerySisam (2009) Fort York Pedestrian and Cycle Bridge: Class Environmental Assessment Study. City of Toronto;

The Junction Analysis Project : Part Two

Sample of the Junction Analysis Display Boards

Sample of the Junction Analysis Display Boards

Submitted: November 3rd, 2010

Part two of The Junction Scoping Project was an independent analysis of the streetscape,  public space and housing based on our visits during the first assignment. The purpose of the assignment was two-fold: to conduct the analysis given the tools and methodologies provided in lecture and; to display our results using a variety of methods and standard visual tools.





View the Streetscape Analysis display board

View the Public Space Analysis display board

View the Housing and Density Analysis display board



  • Sample of the Junction Analysis Display Boards








The Pickering International Airport: 40 Years of Regional Planning

Sample of the report

Sample of the report

Submitted: November 10th, 2010

Group assignment on the policies reflecting land-use and the controversial Pickering Airport plans.


Abby Besharah
Daniel Gordon
Christopher Evan Jones
Brandon Langille

Personal Contribution:

Layout / Design

Timeline Graphic

History, Analysis & Conclusion


Since 1972, a number of attempts have been made to create a second international airport to service the growing GTA region. While the first attempt to establish a multi-nodal air transportation system within the region failed in 1975 due to failing political support and the changing socio-economic atmosphere of Canada. The need to alleviate future air capacity issues has become critical to the local and national economy. Local municipal airports are experiencing pressure for redevelopment, and limited operational capacity is advancing their eventual closure. Final attempts to maximize capacity at Pearson International are soon to be completed, so that action on the Pickering Airport Lands – an area north-east of Toronto under federal control for 38 years – has become a front-burner issue for planners and aviation policy makers in recent years.
It is important that remnants from the past do not go unheeded. Planning around four levels of government, some spanning multiple territories directly from land implications or indirectly through noise and air pollution can be an overwhelming and daunting task. Not taking lessons from history and understanding the full implications of externalities, this initiative could once again fail for the same reasons as 35 years ago. It risks becoming detrimental to the development and strength of local, regional, provincial and national economic engines implicating many industries including trade, tourism and housing.
Complicating this process is the exponential development of surrounding towns that once made this airport location so desirable. Developing business clusters, such as the high-tech industries in the westerly Markham region and the automotive industry to the east in Oshawa both require new support structures to continue growth or maintain their current trajectory. The introduction of environmental conservation policies and smart growth initiatives monetizes the surrounding lands rapidly, and places pressure on municipalities to continue with the current plan or declare it a finally dead proposal.


Download the Pickering International Airport assignment