In order to best maintain and evolve Toronto’s identity and international reputation as one of the world’s most multicultural cities, City Council approved the creation of a Cultural Districts Program in Toronto at its November 2021 meeting.

A Cultural Districts Program will allow for more flexibility and opportunities for the City to engage in economic and cultural initiatives that can help communities thrive. Cultural district programs are well established in the United States and in 2020, Mississauga City Council introduced six distinctly themed cultural districts.

The creation of a city-wide Cultural Districts Program follows multiple 2020 and 2021 Councillor motions endorsed by City Council calling for recommendations and plans for the City of Toronto to provide ongoing support for multiple cultural communities and their businesses. City Council approved the creation of the program at its November Council session with the following parameters for City staff:

  • Identify planning policies to support the development of cultural districts and be of benefit to communities and neighbourhoods, in particular Church-Wellesley, Little Jamaica, Downtown Chinatown and Geary Avenue, and at least one community and neighbourhood in the former City of Etobicoke, North York or Scarborough.
  • Develop a Cultural Districts Program that strengthens local culture and communities, supports small businesses and retail, and promotes community-owned spaces and bring forward a final program design and implementation plan in 2022 that includes: eligibility criteria; program components; community role and ongoing engagement; and estimated costs and financial impact.
  • Work with Toronto Indigenous communities to ensure a Cultural Districts Program that reflects place-making, place-keeping and self-determination priorities, and is aligned with the upcoming City of Toronto Reconciliation Action Plan.

In addition to these parameters, City Council recommended that broad engagement occur with local City Councillors, community members, stakeholders, BIAs and relevant Council Advisory Bodies, prior to providing final recommendations for the program design and implementation in a 2022 staff report.