Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Urban Research

Rethinking Multicultural Planning: An Empirical Study of Ethnic Retailing

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Urban Research

Rethinking Multicultural Planning: An Empirical Study of Ethnic Retailing

Article excerpt

Abstract

The recent waves of immigration have dramatically impacted urban landscapes and economies of Canadas largest metropolitan regions. One notable phenomenon is the rise of ethnic retail strips and centers as physical markers of increasing multiculturalism. The dynamics of ethnic retailing pose various opportunities and challenges for municipalities; yet, our knowledge of its complexities is limited and current literature on multicultural planning offers little useful guidance in planning practice. This study examines three retail strips in the inner city of Toronto, namely East Chinatown, the Gerrard India Bazaar, and Corso Italia, and one suburban Asian theme mall, the Pacific Mall in the City of Markham in an attempt to identify the role of urban planning in responding to the rise of ethnic retail neighbourhoods. The findings of the four cases indicate that urban planners have been unable to intervene actively in ethnic retail and direct its development and growth. The planning legislative structure and the lack of policy support hinder planners' capacity to be proactive. Planners cannot work alone to build multicultural cities. This paper concludes on the importance of municipal intervention and interdepartmental collaboration as useful implications for multicultural planning practice.

Keywords: Ethnic retailing, multicultural planning, ethnic strip, Asian theme mall

Resume

Les recentes vagues d'immigration ont considerablement affecte les paysages urbains et les economies des plus grandes regions metropolitaines du Canada. Un phenomene remarquable est la montee de bandes ethniques de detail et des centres en tant que marqueurs physiques de multiculturalisme croissant. La dynamique du commerce de detail ethnique posent diverses opportunity et des defis pour les municipality, et pourtant, notre connaissance de sa complexity est limitee et la litterature actuelle sur la planification multiculturelle offre peu d'indications utiles pour planifier la pratique. Cette etude porte sur trois bandes de detail dans le centre-ville de Toronto, a savoir East Chinatown, le Gerrard India Bazaar et Corso Italia, et un centre commercial de banlieue theme asiatique, Pacific Mall dans la ville de Markham dans une tentative d'identifier le role des villes la planification pour repondre a la hausse des quartiers ethniques de vente au detail. Les resultats de ces quatre cas indiquent que les urbanistes ont pu intervenir activement dans ethnique detail et orienter son developpement et sa croissance. La structure de la programmation legislative et le manque de soutien politique entravent la capacite des planificateurs d'etre proactif. Les planificateurs peuvent pas travailler seul a construire des villes multiculturelles. Cet article conclut sur l'importance de l'intervention municipale et la collaboration interministerielle comme consequences utiles pour la pratique de planification multiculturelle.

Mots cles: commerce de detail ethnique, la planification multiculturelle, ethnique bande, centre commercial theme asiatique

INTRODUCTION

The recent waves of immigration have dramatically impacted urban landscapes and economies of Canadas largest metropolitan regions. One notable phenomenon is the rise of ethnic retail strips and centers as physical markers of increasing multiculturalism.

This ethnic retail phenomenon is important to study because its dynamics pose both opportunities and challenges for municipalities. On one hand, ethnic retailing generates significant benefits to urban economies, to immigrant integration, to the retrofit of traditional neighbourhoods, and to community building. On the other hand, the enclave-setting of many of the ethnic retail districts could be easily construed as cultural exclusivity and insularity leading to weak community relationships with surrounding neighbourhoods. There are also controversial issues related to land use, traffic flow, and parking allocation in extreme cases (Preston & Lo, 2000; Qadeer 1997, 1998; Wang 1999). …

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