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Assessing the Impacts of Investment and Disinvestment in High-rise Residential Towers in Toronto on the Quality of Life of Immigrant Families: Towards Socially Just and Inclusive City Building

For urban planning and development initiatives to be socially just and inclusive, investment decisions must promote equitable access to healthy environmental conditions. This study employed spatial analysis and mixed qualitative methods to examine:

  1. patterns of investment/dis-investment in high-rise residential towers across Toronto,

  2. how select neighbourhoods with high proportions of immigrants compare with other parts of the City

  3. impacts of built, social and environmental conditions upon the well-being of immigrant families, and

  4. barriers and opportunities facing immigrants in having greater influence over processes that shape their living environments

Results revealed how substandard conditions and gentrification are unduly impacting low-income newcomers, particularly those with precarious status, forcing individuals into unsafe situations. Results also revealed stories of resilience and innovation. This work contributes to the growing evidence-base on healthy built environments by asserting an equity and inclusion lens that is largely absent. Findings reveal impacts and barriers that are unique to newcomer populations, and include recommendations on how to better support their inclusion in urban development processes such as Community Benefit Agreements, resident councils or City renewal strategies. Examples of health promoting investments in high-rises are also documented such as spaces that support community-organizing, community kitchens, gardens, or resident-based microenterprises. Community Engagement and Knowledge Exchange Workshops communicated findings back to those most affected and enabled opportunity for immigrants and service providers to share their interpretations and reactions to the results and strengthen opportunity for underrepresented voices to influence existing knowledge on high-rise conditions, redevelopment and planning initiatives.

With Dr. Sara Edge and Dr. Sutama Ghosh.

Findings from this project have been published here.

This project was funded by RBC Immigrant, Diversity and Inclusion Project Funding for 2017-2019.

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