Research Paper 203, April 2005, vi, 26 pp. Urban theory has historically viewed ethnic commercial strips as a more-or-less organic extension of nearby ethnic residential enclaves. This paper argues that some of these areas function as a branding mechanism (intended or not) to produce nearby residential gentrification. Certain forms of ethnic identity attract affluent professionals looking for an alternative to suburban life. Some neighbourhood institutions have recognized this attraction and begun to manufacture a saleable form of ethnicity to tourists and prospective residents alike. This paper explores the influence of ethnic packaging on the process of gentrification in Toronto, using the examples of four ethnically defined business improvement areas (BIAs) – Little Italy, Greektown on the Danforth, Corso Italia, and the Gerrard India Bazaar.
Research Paper 214, September 2008, viii, 72 pp. This study explores how commercial change contributes to wider processes of exclusion and gentrification, as well as the resources available to counter this trend. The researchers studied three commercial strips in Toronto’s downtown West-Central neighbourhoods (West Queen West, Roncesvalles Village, and Bloordale Village), representing different characteristics and stages of commercial gentrification. The report focuses on themes such as ownership structure in relation to local investment; the politics of strip “branding,” and the role of immigrant-owned businesses in building social cohesion; the role of Business Improvement Areas in promoting local development and fragmenting the urban landscape; and the challenges and opportunities for business finance. The report concludes with some recommendations for policy and community organizing.