Little Jamaica coming to TorontoSunday, November 28, 2021
Jamaican culture and the contributions of immigrants from Jamaica feature heavily in the plans of the city of Toronto in Canada to establish a cultural districts programme to maintain and advance its identity and international reputation as one of the world's most multicultural cities.
According to the plans, the programme in Toronto will allow for more flexibility and opportunity for the city to engage in economic and cultural initiatives to help communities thrive, in particular Church-Wellesley, Little Jamaica, Downtown Chinatown and Geary Avenue, and at least one community and neighbourhood in the former cities of Etobicoke, North York or Scarborough.
To lead this initiative and the Little Jamaica master planning process, the city is working with Jay Pitter Placemaking, which will engage a diverse range of Torontonians to co-develop the parameters, policy approaches and equitable placemaking and place-keeping principles to guide future cultural districts, which will be sent to City Council for approval. Furthermore, the firm will collaborate closely with a number of city divisions to co-create an equitable and expansive framework for the Little Jamaica Master Plan, which will centre the contributions of the Jamaican community, while embracing a pan-Africanism lens that will recognise black contributions more broadly; and create space for all Little Jamaica residents, businesses and organisations to participate in the process.
Jay Pitter is award-winning placemaker whose practice mitigates growing divides in cities across North America, she specialises in public space design and policy, forgotten densities, mobility equity, gender-responsive design, transformative public engagement and healing fraught sites. Her multidisciplinary approach, at the nexus of urban design and social equity, translates community insights and aspirations into the built environment.
“My grandmother, a gifted seamstress and baker, made considerable sacrifices to immigrate to Canada from Jamaica so this project is profoundly personal for me. Her indomitable spirit and community service will guide me as I lead the Little Jamaica Master Plan development process in close collaboration with city of Toronto staff, members of my cultural and racial communities and everyone who shares my passion for this iconic place,” said Pitter.
The move to develop Little Jamaica has also been lauded by mayor of the city, John Tory.
“Cultural districts are a proven strategic approach to protect and promote a stronger sense of belonging for diverse communities through a combination of tools to support businesses, cultural and heritage spaces within delineated areas that are meaningful community hubs. I'm glad to see that the city of Toronto is working with Jay Pitter to move ahead with the creation of a cultural districts programme to maintain and advance Toronto's identity and international reputation as one of the world's most multicultural cities,” he noted.
Toronto is home to more than 2.9 million people whose diversity and experiences make this great city Canada's leading economic engine and one of the world's most diverse and liveable cities. As the fourth-largest city in North America, Toronto is a global leader in technology, finance, film, music, culture and innovation, and consistently places at the top of international rankings due to investments championed by its government, residents and businesses.