Toronto, with half of its population born outside of Canada and speaking more than 140 languages, is well known as one of the most multicultural cities in the world. Its ethno-cultural diversity is often manifested in urban landscapes with long-lasting imprints of ethnic-oriented facilities and institutions. With increasing suburbanization of immigrant populations, the stereotypically homogeneous suburban landscapes have been transformed by ethnic communities who bring new identities and new meanings to the space. This documentary explores the evolution of ethnic neighbourhoods in Toronto's suburbs and how ethnic communities have played a role in suburban place-making and the challenges they face. It raises critical questions for municipalities in terms of how to engage diverse communities equitably and inclusively, how to enhance the advantages of urban diversity, and how to manage unprecedented social, cultural, economic, physical, and political changes that challenge conventional suburban planning.
Dr. Zhixi Zhuang is a Registered Professional Planner and an Associate Professor at Ryerson University ’s School of Urban and Regional Planning. Her research focuses on ethnocultural diversity, migration and cities, and ethnic place-making. Her research addresses the impacts of global migration on local governance and inclusive community-building. It sheds light on equity-based approaches to planning and design with diversity.