The Evolving Neighbourhood Commercial Landscape in Toronto
journal contributionposted on 21.05.2021, 11:53 authored by Zhixi Cecilia Zhuang
This study explores the evolution of the neighbourhood commercial landscape in Toronto. First, we review the major character and historical changes of Toronto’s commercial landscape, most notably Queen Street and Kensington Market; how they emerged and how they continue to exist today. We then explore present day trends of neighbourhood commercial development. We discuss how to retain main street commerce (benefits, threats, and the role of Business Improvement Areas). We also investigate the challenge and success of growing new tower-based businesses in Toronto (looking to Regent Park and Thorncliffe Park as examples). Next, we look to the future of retail, exploring innovative business approaches from Toronto and elsewhere, including models such as shared spaces, pop-up retailing, mixed use light industrial, and small-space curation. Based on the insight from the literature, best practices, business performance, site observations, and interviews with key informants, we identify actionable recommendations for developing vibrant, inclusive, and sustainable commercial spaces in Toronto’s future neighbourhoods. These recommendations suggest how new neighbourhoods can “achieve new standards of sustainability, affordability, mobility, and economic opportunity” (Sidewalk Labs, 2018). We explore the past, present, and future of Toronto’s commercial spaces in order to glean transferable lessons.