Planning Amidst Diversity: The Challenges of Multiculturalism

in Urban and Suburban Greater Toronto


Marcia Wallace


A thesis

presented to the University of Waterloo

in fulfillment of the

thesis requirement for the degree of

Doctor of Philosophy 



Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, 1999

Marcia Wallace 1999




Titlepages - chapter:  1 |  3  |  4  |  5  |  8  | Appdxabiblio 




I hereby declare that I am the sole author of this thesis.

I authorize the University of Waterloo to lend this thesis to other institutions or individuals for the purpose of scholarly research.

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Planning Amidst Diversity: The Challenges of Multiculturalism

in Urban and Suburban Greater Toronto


This dissertation explores the varied ways in which demographic changes from immigration are challenging traditional planning practice in Canada. The research is tied together around three themes: diversity, planning and citizenship. These themes provide the means to examine the impact of ethnocultural diversity on participation and belonging as seen through local decision making. Focusing on the experience of the Toronto area, the redevelopment of George Brown College in the urban community of Kensington, and the development of retail condominiums (or Asian malls) in the suburban community of Markham are used as case studies.




This thesis was completed with the financial assistance of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), through a Doctoral Fellowship (no. 752-97-1047).


I would like to thank my committee of Bob Murdie, Trudi Bunting, Pierre Filion and Beth Moore Milroy for their assistance throughout the writing of this thesis. Their constant support and critical input always encouraged me to stretch. I would especially like to thank Beth Moore Milroy, for without her confidence in my abilities and the value of this research area when I first arrived, this thesis would never have been attempted.


As always I am indebted to my parents for instilling in me a desire to reach. And for times when the task seemed too daunting I thank Ted, who never failed to be my support, my cheerleader, my friend.











CHAPTER ONE: Setting the Context 1

A Local Look at Immigration 1

Immigration in Toronto: Setting the Demographic Context 4

Absent Voices? Research on Immigration and Cities 6

Urban Immigration and Local Planning 8

Diversity, Planning and Citizenship 9

A Guide to the Structure of the Dissertation 13


CHAPTER TWO: Citizenship in Canadian Communities 16

Understanding "Community" 16

Comparing Apples and Apples: "Community" in this Dissertation 17

Planning, Community and the ‘Public Interest’ 20

A Note on Methodology: Comparative Case Study Research 24

Defining Citizenship 27

Citizenship in the Canadian Context 29

The Limitations of National Citizenship in Canada 31

Beyond a Formal-Legal Approach: Substantive Citizenship 33

Substantive Citizenship at the Local Level? 34

Diversity and the Challenges of Substantive Local Citizenship 36

Evaluating Substantive Local Citizenship 37

A Modified Communitarian Approach 39

Criteria for Evaluating Substantive Citizenship 44


CHAPTER THREE: A Short History of Canadian Immigration 46

The History of Canada’s Multiculturalism and Immigration 47

The First Steps to Non-Racial Immigration Policy 50

Instituting the Principle of Universality 52

The Geography of Canadian Immigration 53

Integration of Immigrants: An Area of Overlapping Jurisdiction 55

Accessing Immigrant Services: The Toronto Context 58

Immigration as an Economic Tool 60

The Economic Benefit of Business Immigration 62

A Critical Look at Business Immigration 65

Changing the Patterns of Immigration Settlement 66


CHAPTER FOUR: Diversity and Planning in Kensington 69

Kensington 69

A History of Diversity 72

Kensington Today: An Empirical Portrait 75

Period and Source of Immigration 75

Ethnicity, Visible Minorities and Language 76

Income and Education 77

Housing 80

Redevelopment in an Urban Community 80

Urban Planning and the Kensington Market Area 82

Planners and the Kensington Community 84

A Balancing Act: Residential vs. Commercial Interests 88


CHAPTER FIVE: The Redevelopment of George Brown College 90

A Closing is an Opportunity 90

Collective Action Among Diverse Interests? Kensington Market Working Group 92

The Search For a Buyer 97

The Province’s Role 97

The City’s Role 99

The Kensington Working Group’s Role 101

Examining the Kensington Case Study 104

Participation in Public Decision-making 105

Democratic Equality 109

Social Structures and Associations 113

Solidarity and Tolerance 118

Epilogue: New Hope for Kensington? 122


CHAPTER SIX: Diversity and Suburban Planning in Markham 125

Markham 125

Looking Back: A History of Markham 128

Contemporary Markham: An Empirical Portrait 130

Period and Source of Immigration 130

Ethnicity, Visible Minorities and Language 132

Income and Education 133

Housing 135

Development in a Suburban Community 136

Defining the Trend: An Alternative Form and Function 136

The Success of Asian Malls 140

Suburban Planning in Markham 142

Planning in an "Edge City" 146


CHAPTER SEVEN: Retail Condominium Developments in Markham 148

Markham’s Asian Malls 148

Creating Challenges for Planners 150

Traffic, Parking and Other Site-Related Concerns 152

The Politics of Multiculturalism in Markham 153

The "Carole Bell Incident" 154

A Political Response: The Mayor’s Advisory Committee 156

The 1997 Election: A Footnote 158

Examining the Markham Case Study 159

Participation in Public Decision-making 159

Democratic Equality 164

Social Structures and Associations 166

Solidarity and Tolerance 169

Epilogue: Markham’s Future as a Growth Community 174


CHAPTER EIGHT: Evaluating Citizenship in Kensington and Markham 176

Comparing the Case Studies 176

Participation in Public Decision-making 177

Politicians, Planners and the Public 178

Community Participation: Proactive vs. Reactive 179

Does "More" Equal "Better" in Public Participation? 180

Inclusion and Representation 182

Democratic Equality 184

Sources of Influence 184

Distribution of Power 185

Social Structures and Associations 187

Alliances and Associations 188

Continuity in the Local Social Structure 189

Solidarity and Tolerance 190

Solidarity in an Urban / Suburban Identity? 191

Ethnocultural Diversity and Community Solidarity 193

Tempering Communitarian Idealism: Examining Tolerance 194

Multicultural Planning? 196


CHAPTER NINE: Multicultural Planning and Citizenship 204

Canada’s Urban Immigration: The Themes of This Dissertation 204

Diversity 205

Planning 207

Citizenship 209

Multicultural Planning and Citizenship 213

Planning Amidst Diversity 216

Future Directions for Research 219







1.1 Percentage of Immigrant Population in Selected Canadian Cities (CMAs), 1996 2

1.2 Immigrant Population by Period of Immigration, Toronto CMA, 1996 5

3.1 1996-2000 Immigration Plan, Planned Percentages 61

4.1 Immigrant Population by Period of Immigration, Kensington, 1996 75

4.2 Language Spoken at Home, Kensington, 1996 77

4.3 Population by Household Income, Kensington, 1996 79

4.4 Population (15 years and over) by Highest Level of Schooling, Kensington, 1996 79

6.1 Immigrant Population by Period of Immigration, Markham, 1996 131

6.2 Language Spoken at Home, Markham, 1996 133

6.3 Population by Household Income, Markham, 1996 134

6.4 Population (15 years and over) by Highest Level of Schooling,

Markham, 1996 135

6.5 Pacific Mall, Floor Plan: Markham’s First Retail

Condominium Development 139

9.1 Community Influence over Local Decision-making:

Kensington and Markham Case Studies 212



1.1 Top 10 Places of Birth for Total Immigrants and Recent Immigrants,

Toronto CMA, 1996 5

3.1 Timeline of Important Dates in Canadian Immigration Policy 48

3.2 Structure of Canadian Immigration, Entrance Classes and Categories 61

4.1 Top 10 Places of Birth for Total Immigrants and Recent Immigrants,

Kensington, 1996 76

6.1 Top 10 Places of Birth for Total Immigrants and Recent Immigrants,

Markham, 1996 131

8.1 Participation in Public Decision-making 183

8.2 Democratic Equality 187

8.3 Social Structures and Associations 190

8.4 Solidarity and Tolerance 195



1.1 Locating the Case Studies: Markham and Toronto 10

3.1 New City of Toronto in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) 59

4.1 Kensington in the former City of Toronto 70

4.2 Kensington 71

4.3 The George Brown College Site, 1995 81

4.4 Kensington, Recommended Official Plan, 1978 83

6.1 Markham in Toronto’s Suburban Fringe 126

7.1 Location of Retail Condominium Developments in Markham 148



Titlepages - chapter:  1 |  3  |  4  |  8  | Appdxabiblio