Establishing a new foothold: an economic, social and cultural model of integration for new Canadians

Madiha Khan

With Canada’s rapidly aging population and low birth rate, immigration is critical to the future of the country and Toronto, as a gateway city and one of the most multicultural and multiracial cities in the world, is a prime destination for these newcomers. However, due to rising rents within the city, many recent immigrants are being pushed out towards the inner suburbs in search for affordable housing and they often find themselves living in the residential towers which were built during the postwar years throughout the country. Unfortunately, majority of these towers are deteriorating, both physically and socially, due to lack of social infrastructure such as public transport and close proximity to amenities and services and as such, they are not meeting the needs of their tenants. Combined, these factors create significant difficulties for new Canadians and can prevent them from becoming healthy active citizens within the community. Consequently, this creates areas of low income and high poverty, resulting in a fragmented city. This thesis, looking specifically at the Bangladeshi community located in Oakridge, Scarborough, Toronto, explores and investigates ways in which physical infrastructure and urban design strategies can promote economic resilience and social and cultural integration, within the society, for new Canadians. The goal of this thesis is to create a socially inclusive and dynamic model of community engagement and public space activation through urban intensification and the leveraging of economic opportunities and cultural capacities of an existing tower neighborhood.

Project Date