The Eglinton West corridor / Little Jamaica is a community of great cultural heritage significance. The City is undertaking a study of the area, intended to support and celebrate this cultural corridor. We invite you to get involved.

The Eglinton West corridor is a commercial main street that has been of great cultural heritage significance to the City of Toronto as a distinct ethnic and cultural hub for Caribbean and African immigrants for many decades. Commonly known as both “Little Jamaica” and “Eglinton”, the area is known for the clusters of Black-owned businesses of cultural relevance including barber shops, restaurants specializing in Caribbean cuisine, Black aesthetics and hair shops, recording studios, and music stores. The corridor plays an important role as a commercial and cultural destination for both local residents and visitors from other parts of the city and the surrounding GTA.

Community leaders and activists have called upon the City to formally recognize this area for its cultural heritage significance and take action in response to a number of challenges along this corridor including significant closures of Black-owned business over the past few years, the impacts to businesses from construction of the Eglinton Crosstown LRT and rising commercial and residential rents. City initiatives must actively resist the processes of gentrification, Black displacement and cultural erasure.

City Council adopted two separate motions at their September 30, 2020 meeting that direct staff to develop economic measures to help existing businesses experiencing challenges and to create a district or hub that recognizes the cultural heritage of the area.

The Eglinton West / Little Jamaica Study is a study led by the City Planning and Economic Development & Culture divisions to:

  • Determine how to best support businesses on Eglinton Avenue West;
  • Develop a local planning framework to guide growth and future development along Eglinton Avenue West and surrounding neighbourhoods; and
  • Create and designate a Caribbean and West Indies-focused cultural district including development of a variety of strategies, programs, guidelines, and implementation plans to support a cultural district.

This study is being advanced by the City of Toronto as a legacy project of the United Nations International Decade for People of African Descent, which has its theme: Recognition, Justice and Development. The City proclaimed its official recognition of the International Decade on March 25, 2019.

 

The study area is roughly between the Allen Expressway and Keele Street along Eglinton Avenue West.

City staff will conduct an engagement session to obtain community input on other areas that should be considered for inclusion into the boundary, such as:

  • Connecting north-south corridors including Oakwood Avenue, Dufferin Street, Caledonia Road, and Keele Street.
  • Portions of surrounding neighbourhoods:
    • Forest Hill North
    • Humewood-Cedarvale
    • Oakwood Village
    • Caledonia-Fairbank
    • Briar Hill-Belgravia
    • Keelesdale-Eglinton West
    • Beechborough-Greenbrook

 

The study area graphic depicts a geographic area from which a more specific boundary will be determined through community input. This graphic shows an area that generally consists of the Allen Expressway to the east, Keele Street to the west, Castlefield Avenue to the north and Rogers Road to the south.

Two separate motions were brought forward at the September 30, 2020 City Council meeting:

  1. Councillor Matlow and Deputy Mayor and Councillor Michael Thompson brought forward a motion (Item No.MM24.36) that had a number of directions regarding supporting Black-owned and operated businesses and preservation of the cultural heritage of Eglinton Avenue West’s Little Jamaica neighbourhood including:
    1. Directing the General Manager, Economic Development and Culture to:
      1. Explore measures to provide financial relief to Black-owned businesses
      2. Collaborate with Business Improvement Associations and key community stakeholders to rebrand the area to reflect the Jamaican-Caribbean history and culture
      3. Develop a plan with Business Improvement Associations and key community stakeholders to bring back and develop new culturally-focused events and initiatives
    2. Directing the City Manager to create an Interdivisional team to develop a Cultural District Plan with specific direction on various Cultural District Plan components to be conducted by Economic Development and Culture, City Planning, Housing Secretariat, Transportation Services, Toronto Parking Authority, and Parks.
  2. Councillor Mike Colle and Deputy Mayor and Councillor Ana Bailão brought forward a motion to City Council on September 30, 2020, (Item. No. MM24.17) that directed the City Manager to report back on a list of urgent actions related to support and assistance to business on Eglinton Avenue West.

The motion also directs General Manager, Economic Development and Culture, the Chief Planner and Executive Director, City Planning and the Executive Director, Social Development, Finance and Administration, along with Anti-Black Racism Unit (CABR) to report to Council on the immediate actions required to establish the Eglinton West area as a Little Jamaica Heritage and Innovation Heritage Hub that recognizes and promotes the local Black History and culture of the area.

Study Process & Timelines:

The study’s overall design and work plans are currently being developed through input and collaboration with the community. We encourage you to get involved in this process and to check back as the study progresses.

An Interdivisional Team comprised of 10 City divisions will be advancing the work detailed in the Council motions. The study’s overall design and work plans will be developed through input and collaboration with the community. We encourage you to get involved in this process and to check back as the study progresses.

We need you to get involved. The City is responding to a call to action to help support the Eglinton West retail corridor and its Black-owned and operated businesses, create a local planning framework, and to recognize the area as a Cultural Heritage District.

Together let’s take this opportunity to develop a Cultural District Plan with economic development programs and initiatives to allow Little Jamaica and Eglinton West businesses and neighbourhoods to flourish now and into the future.

Join us for the first public meeting to discuss the purpose of the initiative, what we’ve heard to date, what actions the City is taking, and to provide your input on the study name, study boundaries, and what’s most important to focus on.

Date: March 4, 2021
Time: 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Register in advance via WebEx Events.

Alternatively, join us by phone (416) 915-6530 using the access code: 133 888 6071

You may join the meeting 30 minutes prior to the scheduled start time.

There will be a variety of ways you can get involved as the study progresses. Please check back to this page often. We invite you to continue being involved and engaged over the coming months.

Thank you for signing up to receive email updates on the Little Jamaica and Eglinton West Neighbourhoods Initiative! If you know someone who might be interested in this Initiative, please forward this email to them.

The City is responding to the community’s desire to sustain, support and celebrate the Little Jamaica retail corridor on Eglinton West. Together let’s develop a plan for the commercial main street and local Black businesses, the surrounding residential neighbourhoods, and the area’s vibrant cultural character.

Speakers Announced!

The first meeting for the Initiative is this week on March 4 between 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. There’s a lot of interest in this event, and we’ve tried to pack in a diversity of speakers and voices. Take a look at the list below! We hope you’ll join us to listen to the speakers, and to contribute to the conversation.

You can join online by registering here, which we encourage. However, if you’d like to participate by phone instead, you can do so by calling (416) 915-6530 and entering the access code when prompted (133 888 6071). If joining online, we encourage you to register in advance, but you may join the meeting a few minutes in advance of it starting.

Can’t make it to this meeting? Note that there will be more opportunities to engage in the future. For more information and updates, visit www.toronto.ca/littlejamaica, and stay tuned for more updates!

Speakers Announced for the March 4th Launch Event

Event Speakers:

Members of Toronto City Council
  • Mayor John Tory
  • Deputy Mayor Michael Thompson and Chair of the Economic and Community Development Committee – Scarborough Centre (Ward 21)
  • Deputy Mayor Ana Bailão – Davenport (Ward 9)
  • Councillor Josh Matlow – Toronto-St. Paul’s (Ward 12)
  • Councillor Mike Colle – Eglinton-Lawrence (Ward 8)
Community Leaders
  • Jay Douglas, Jamaican-born Reggae, soul and R&B singer
  • Ross Cadastre, Vice President of the Black Business and Professional Association BBPA and thelittlejamaica.com
  • Dane Williams, co-founder and Director of Partnerships Black Urbanism TO
  • Romain Baker, co-founder and Board Chair of Black Urbanism TO
  • Cheryll Case, Founder and Principal of CP Planning and author of Black Futures on Eglinton
City Staff
  • Cheryl Blackman, Acting General Manager of Economic Development and Culture, City of Toronto
  • Anthony Morgan, Manager, Confronting Anti-Black Racism Unit, City of Toronto
  • Gregg Lintern, Chief Planner and Executive Director of City Planning, City of Toronto

 

Little Jamaica & The Eglinton West Neighbourhoods flyer - February 26, 2021

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