Theses Master's

No Country for Old Chinatowns: Better Cultural Governance of Toronto’s Chinatown West

Lin, Victoria

Chinatowns in Canada and the United States have been subject to similar planned destruction, displacement, and redevelopment patterns, reflecting broader trends in urban ethnic enclaves. Competition among metropolitan regions for talent and investment has driven a demand for growth and neoliberal policies but also results in gentrification despite politicians’ promises of increasing housing affordability in Toronto. A diverse variety of communities, businesses, and government stakeholders aim to protect these enclaves but have different ideas of what to prioritize economic development or the cultural heritage of Chinatown West.

In this study, I examine the influences shaping Chinatown's development, including displacement, uneven real estate development, and cultural preservation. Legacy businesses, Chinese signage, and mixed-use functionality contribute to the community's character. Despite an influx of international students and young professionals, the residential demographic relies on the neighbourhood's businesses.

Toronto's development-driven nature, driven by planning strategies and recent political changes, challenges Chinatown West. Civic organizations provide support, but legacy businesses face obstacles such as high property taxes and competition from international chains. The neighbourhood must consider whom it aims to preserve for, given changing demographics and the appeal of ethnoburbs. This thesis explores threats and opportunities for development and preservation, proposing policy and land use activism solutions.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Urban Planning
Thesis Advisors
Slater, Thomas S. J.
M.S., Columbia University
Published Here
July 26, 2023