Like the other cities described in this book, Toronto has experienced major structural changes in the retail sector since the early 1990s. Large-format retailing has filled suburban industrial lands vacated by processes of economic globalization. Big-box stores achieve large “footprints” at relatively low rents, which, combined with innovations in logistics, inventory control and category management, gives them an advantage over small, individually owned shops. Operating with high volumes, narrow margins and low price points, “retail suburbanization” poses a challenge for traditional local shopping streets. Recently, clusters of big-box retailers have formed “power centers” or “power nodes” that further concentrate retail, while big-box formats have also begun to penetrate downtown markets.
Of our two streets, Bloordale is the downtown strip. It is located on the west end of Bloor Street—the major east–west thoroughfare that cuts through downtown Toronto—under which a major subway line runs. It is one of the few remaining affordable downtown neighborhoods, having only recently been colonized by the ABCs of gentrification, art galleries, vintage fashion boutiques and cafes, as well as the middle-income gentrifiers who typically follow. It may follow a path like that of Orchard Street in New York or Karl-Marx-Straße in Berlin. Mount Dennis is the inner suburban strip. It falls within the poorest provincial
electoral district in Ontario and is known as a neighborhood of immigrant settlement. At the same time, however, Mount Dennis faces considerable pressures for redevelopment, around which various stakeholders are mobilizing competing visions for the future of the neighborhood. In that sense, like Fulton Street, Javastraat, and Muellerstraße in this book, Mount Dennis may face pressures for gentrification.
The shopping strips of Bloordale andMount Dennis also serve as incubators for the low-margin, independent businesses commonly operated by new immigrant entrepreneurs. At the same time, both streets are undergoing significant change: overt gentrification in the case of Bloordale, and revitalization pressures associated with planned transit infrastructure and redevelopment of adjacent vacant industrial land in the case of Mount Dennis.
Katharine Rankin, Kuni Kamizaki, and Heather McLean
Gallery with photos from Toronto:
Photos © Gary Griffin 2015
Click here to view the photos on Flickr
This video is © by Alice Arnold, 2015.