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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Building the Creative City : new industry formation in Liberty Village, Toronto Hii, Yvonne

Abstract

The "Creative City" has been heralded as a unilaterally positive development in industrial restructuring for North American cities. However, there are clear gaps in our knowledge of the effects that these changes bring to inner city structure, and to the city policies and state regulatory regimes which address related economic, social and environmental issues. This thesis examines aspects of planning for Liberty Village, a new industry site in inner city Toronto, as an example urban cultural regeneration and cultural industry formation. I investigate changes that have occurred in Liberty Village over the last 5 years, during a key period of development as a hub for new media employment in Toronto. Major land use and cultural policy documents are analysed for motivations for shifts in planning strategies. These documents are supplemented by data from Statistics Canada and the City of Toronto Employment Survey, as well as information from six interviews with Liberty Village planners and organizations. After an initial period of 'spontaneous'arts-led regeneration, City planners enabled cultural industry formation in Liberty Village through flexible zoning, public-private partnerships, and policies promoting city-wide new media functions. The successes of the site included significant employment generation, renewed interest in site development and investment, and the promotion of Toronto as a successful Creative City. However, the site's development did not respond to the needs of surrounding residents. Parkdale's longstanding issues are unemployment, poverty and housing vulnerability. While Liberty Village offers professional employment in skilled creative industries, employed Parkdale residents are more likely than average to work in industrial or retail occupations. Further, developments in and around Liberty Village typically target incoming residents and new media employees, including owner-oriented housing, office space, and other amenities. Recommendations that follow from this case study include the need for future site-planning projects to include strategies for local economic development, long-term planning and equity in planning partnerships. I provide an argument for.cultural site planning models which transcend traditional growth management and regulation, and which extend beyond lifestyle values of the "convivial" (Ley 1996) or "Creative" (Florida 2002) city, with particular emphasis on land use, holistic planning and consideration for local economic development and social housing.

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