In response to community-based advocacy and efforts to support local culture across several neighbourhoods, the City of Toronto is moving ahead with the development of a Cultural Districts Program. The City’s overall goal is to co-create a program that brings together resources, policies and new approaches for fostering culture.
Understanding that culture is boundless and complex, Jay Pitter Placemaking has established a co-stewardship model that positions the City of Toronto as a key program administrator and champion for the program, while recognizing the important roles and expertise of other co- stewards such as not-for-profit organizations, philanthropic leaders, corporations and grassroots groups.
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:
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.
November 9, 2021 – Staff Report to City Council (At this time, Toronto does not have a formal cultural districts program. This report outlines why Toronto needs to develop a cultural districts program, and the potential benefits it may bring for diverse communities, the city’s culture sector, and for Toronto as a whole.)
In the spring of 2022, Jay Pitter Placemaking and the City of Toronto partnered with a variety of community organizations, academic institutions and not-for-profit organizations to host a series of community engagement panels. These panels explored key issues and topics relevant to the development of the Cultural Districts Program, and were intended to gather a wide range of professional, academic and lived-experience expertise to inform the program. Topics included:
A public survey was also conducted between April 20 and May 20, 2022. A social media campaign was launched to promote both the survey and the panel events, as well as to raise general awareness of the initiative. The invaluable information gleaned from the panels and public survey will be integrated into the Cultural Districts Program proposal and a special Cultural Districts Program co-learning toolkit.