Toronto Walk: Little India

Today we’re headed to Little India, or the India Bazaar, in Toronto.

Fueled by South Asian entrepreneurs immigrating to Toronto and settling around the beacon of the Naaz Theatre, Little India has been a vibrant community in Toronto since the 1960’s. The sights, sounds, and smells of the strip of Gerrard has been a siren call to many, leaving friends who have lived in the area earning Pavlovian reactions to cardamom and curry.  The street, lined with the eateries, grocers, jewelry shops, travel agencies, and sari shops, has collectively earned the name India Bazaar, (even though the area has it’s own little Pakistani, Little Bangladeshi, Little Afghan and Little Sri Lankan segments) and over the years the local BIA (the Gerrard India Bazaar Business Improvement Area) has spent it’s effort and resources making drastic improvements and focusing on cultural street festivals.

Toronto’s personal Delhi of downtown is chock-full of history, including the Naaz Theatre

Over time, the Bazaar has changed, with many South Asian settlers choosing to move to the suburbs where property prices are cheaper, changing the face of Etobicoke, Scarborough, Mississauga, Brampton, Markham, and Vaughan and sparking the creation of Little India’s across the GTHA. Still, the India Bazaar calls many back to the six blocks between Coxwell and Greenwood Ave which supports 200+ shops. 

In the last two years, a growing concern is that the Little Indias across the GTHA have been “sucking up business” in the off season, today we’ll see what the impact has been on the Original Little India, one of North America’s largest South Asian Bazaars. 

Toronto Walk: Galleria Mall

Galleria Mall and other timeless wonders

Galleria Mall and other timeless wonders (Photo credit: simon.carr)

In my job I’ve heard of the terms “Greenfield Development” and “Brownfield Development” for underdeveloped rural land use and contaminated urban land use planning, but this week I read up on “Greyfield Development” in a 2007 paper from the University of Toronto. The paper defines greyfields as “large, developed sites that are due for redevelopment”. As a kid from Scarborough, I know what greyfield areas look like, and was shocked that over 5 years ago Galleria was a poster child for future solving the problem with grey.

The report describes the history of the site (Highlights mine), “The Galleria Shopping Centre was developed in the early 1970s as a single storey, enclosed mall. The mall is approximately 19,325 sq m (204,000 sq ft), surrounded by approximately 550 surface parking spaces. A McDonalds and a gas station are located at the eastern end of the site at the corner of Dupont Street and Dufferin Street. Zellers, Price Chopper, PharmaPlus and LCBO anchor the centre, supported by a variety of smaller, local tenants. On the edge of an existing residential neighbourhood, with obsolete industrial uses to the north, the site has been seen as possessing substantial redevelopment potential since the early 1980s, including being recognized in both the old Toronto Official Plan and new Toronto Official Plan as a site for a “large scale redevelopment”. Applications to redevelop the mall were submitted by the owner, Marca Development Corporation, in 2002.”


Today,  this isn’t in existence, but we’re going to pretend it is. While TorontoWalking today, we’ll be imaging what the redevelopment of Galleria, and the proposed new urban amenities for the Wallace-Emerson by spacing, would be like; what impact, improvements, and challenges face a grey region and how do we prepare for them?

For those who are interested:

More about the Galleria development plans,

A Great Series of Posts  on Galleria Shopping Centre by “a bit more detail”

Galleria’s Twitter Account:

For Galleria, it appears that better Master planning of the site, a clear vision (with community buy in and engagement), and strong public consultation are critical to transform this greyfield into the true, profitable, neighbourhood hub it was dreamed to be.