The City wants your input on the priorities, concerns and hopes to inform the new Cultural Districts Program. Please complete the online survey. Check out the series of Cultural Districts Program participatory panels under Meetings & Events below.

In response to community-based advocacy and efforts to support local culture across several neighbourhoods, the City of Toronto is moving ahead with the creation 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 Cultural Districts Program participatory panels are intended to gather a wide range of professional, academic and lived-experience expertise to inform the program. The panels explore a broad range of topics such as housing, intergenerational connections, accessibility, play, 2SLGBTQ+ spaces and more. The invaluable information gleaned from these panels will be integrated into the Cultural Districts Program proposal and a special Cultural Districts Program co-learning toolkit.

See Meetings & Events below and register to participate in a Cultural Districts Program panel.

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-stewarded spaces and bring forward a program proposal inclusive of design and implementation components 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.

Staff Reports

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.)

Cultural Districts & Land Use and Planning

Wednesday, April 20, 1 – 2 p.m.

Panel facilitator: Paul Lowes, MCIP, RPP, OPPI President

Panelists:

  • Manny Zanders, RPP, Planner, The Biglieri Group Limited
  • Sipo Maphangoh, RPP, Senior Planner, City Planning Division, City of Toronto
  • Zhixi Cecelia Zhuang, RPP, Associate Professor at Ryerson University
  • Gil Meslin, MCIP, RPP, Senior Manager, Research and Development, Artscape

The panel explored how urban planners can enhance their approaches to better support local culture, especially intangible culture such as unsung histories, informal sacred sites and local rituals.

Cultural Districts & TCHC Communities

Thursday, April 21, noon – 1 p.m.

Panel facilitator: Likwa Nkala, Interim Director Programs & Partnerships, TCHC

Panelists:

  • Sandra Costain, Director Children and Youth at Dixon Hall
  • Noah Slater, Senior Director Capital Planning, Design and Engagement, Facilities Management, TCHC
  • Adam Sweedland, General Manager West Region Operations Division, TCHC

The panel explored how Toronto Community Housing residents, staff and spaces contribute to local culture. Case studies and stories were presented to help illuminate the conversation.

Cultural Districts & Diverse Abilities

Thursday, April 28, 7:30 – 8:30 p.m.

Panel facilitator: Bryan Keshen, CEO, Reena

Panelists:

  • Dr. Faisel Saeed, Reena Board Member and Former Chair, Risk & Audit Committee, March of Dimes Canada
  • Maayan Ziv, Founder & CEO, Access Now
  • James Holzbauer, Assessment & Referrals Coordinator, Community Living Toronto

The panel explored how to ensure that Toronto’s new cultural districts accommodate and embrace individuals living with disabilities.

Cultural Districts & Intergenerational Placemaking

Friday, May 6, 11 a.m. – noon
Virtual event

Panel facilitator: Jay Pitter, Principal Placemaker, Jay Pitter Placemaking

Panelists:

  • Amanda O’Rourke, Executive Director, 8 80 Cities
  • Lanrick Bennett Jr, Managing Director, 8 80 Cities
  • Sue Lantz, Board Member, 8 80 Cities
  • Jayne Armstrong, Project Manager, 8 80 Cities

The panel explored principles and approaches for ensuring that cultural districts address the needs, aspirations and connectivity for all generations.

Cultural Districts & Mutual Aid

Monday, May 9, 6:30 – 7:30 p.m.
Virtual event

Panel Facilitator: Serena Purdy, Chair, Friends of Kensington Market

Panelists:

  • Mita Hans, Founder, Caremongering
  • Thorben Wieditz, Ambassador, Fairbnb Coop
  • Shahnaz Stri, Delivery Person, Bike Brigade
  • Colleen Krempulec, Steering Committee Member, 100 Women Who Care
  • Dane Gardener-Williams, Black Urbanism TO (BUTO)

The panel explored how mutual aid networks and organizations can contribute to local culture.

Cultural Districts & Queer Space

Tuesday, May 10, 6:30 – 7:30 p.m.
Virtual event

Panel facilitator: Sherwin Modeste, Executive Director, Pride Toronto

Panelists:

  • Sean Major, Engagement Lead, City of Toronto’s Chief of Staff Office
  • Mark Smith, Founder, NG3 & former Board Member, Pride Toronto
  • leZlie lee kam, 2SLGBTQ+ Senior Community Activist and Elder

The panel explored what the 2SLGBTQ+ community requires in placemaking to create a safe and enriching neighbourhood where culture can thrive.

Cultural Districts & Place-based Research and Practice

Wednesday, May 11, 1 – 2 p.m.
Virtual event

Panel facilitator: Dr. Pamela Robinson, Director School of Urban and Regional Planning, Ryerson University

Panelists:

  • Dr. Nemoy Lewis, Assistant Professor, Ryerson University
  • Dr. Zhixi Cecelia Zhuang, RPP, Associate Professor at Ryerson University
  • Thomas Allen Harris, Interdisciplinary Artist and Senior Lecturer, Yale University
  • Jeffrey Chusid, Associate Professor and Recent Chair of the Department of City and Regional Planning, Cornell University

The panel explored critical research and practice approaches for co-creating equitable and vibrant culture districts.

Cultural Districts & Play

Sunday, May 15, 12 – 1 p.m.
Outdoor event at Nathan Phillips Square (Toronto City Hall)

Panel Facilitator: Adil Dhalla, Director of Community, Camp Reset

Panelists:

  • Luke Anderson, Executive Director, The StopGap Foundation, Advisor to Reset
  • Sylvia Cheng, Founder, Growing Tkaronto, Collaborator with Reset
  • Dylan Rudder, Social Entrepreneur, Collaborator with Reset
  • Melissa Brizuela, Poet, Admissions/Liaison Officer, Ryerson University, Advisor to Reset

Using an equity-based placemaking lens, the panel explored how cultural districts can foster play and leisure for all.

There are several ways you can provide your feedback in the coming months:

  • Complete the survey.
  • You can submit your feedback and questions at any time to the project team by contacting Elena Bird, Policy Development Officer, Economic Development and Culture through Elena.Bird@toronto.ca or calling 416-392-8671.