Note to my readers: this and the other “Lesson 15” posts are part of a school project that required me to post my test answers to an online blog. If you want to know more about this, please check my article: “What are the lesson 15 posts?”
Note to my teacher, I copied the Key Question into this article, as a frame of reference to give context to my answer. If this somehow violates a policy on ILC copyright, please notify me and I will delete the Key Question excerpt from this post.
For your first blog entry, you will be using data from the activity you completed in Lesson 11, called “My community’s demographic profile.” You must title this blog post “Lesson 15: Task 1: Where do I live?” In this blog entry, you will write an essay covering the questions and answers from the document you filled out earlier. YOu can incorporate test, graphics, audio and video. Be sure to include some visuals and photographs of your community.
[Answer begins below]
I live in Toronto, Canada, on the corner of Gerrard and Coxwell. This intersection is the east end of a neighbourhood called Little India, which I have lived in for years and–therefore–is the community that I will be writing about. Because my family does not drive, we have depended on the local businesses during all of our time here. Furthermore, two of my childhood friends’ families own or have owned storefronts in the India Bazaar. One of those friends’ stores appeared in one of the newspaper articles I cited for this post, and their father was interviewed. Because I spent many formative years here, Little India is My Community.
I compiled both the demographics of Little India, and those of Toronto at large. This is because the city is interconnected, and communities do not exist as isolated bubbles. In fact, the populations of Mississauga, Brampton and other districts of the GTA have had a significant effect on my community, in ways that I will explain later in this post. Many of the statistics on gender and age also apply to Little India, which have not been reported to be out of the ordinary.
Toronto’s population is increasing , having surpassed Chicago in 2013 , making it the fourth-largest city in North America [after Mexico City, New York and Los Angeles] . Furthermore, between 2005 and 2015 Toronto’s population had increased by 17% . Gender statistics are surprisingly uneven, as women outnumber men 52% to 48% . In other words: there are 92 Toronto men for every 100 Toronto women .
Toronto is one of the most multicultural cities in the world , with around 45% of its population being foreign-born  . The city is part of what is called the Greater Toronto Area [GTA], which includes several neighbouring towns and suburbs. These districts of the GTA include–but are not limited to–Mississauga, Brampton, Markham, Scarborough, Vaughn and Richmond Hill. The population of the GTA is 6,625,695 people as of 2015. Toronto proper’s population is 2,615,060 people, also as of 2015 . Racially and ethnically speaking, Toronto’s demographics are very mixed, with several distinct ethnic, national and racial groups being represented in the population . In my community, the most prominent of all racial groups are white Caucasians   , which includes myself. 110,595 people live in a 3 kilometre radius around Little India, of which 5,110 are of South Asian heritage .
A portion of Little India–centered around Woodbine Ave–is part of Ward 32 according to the city of Toronto’s 2011 census . 48.7% of Ward 32’s residents live in houses, 46.2% live in apartment buildings of any size, and 5.1% live in townhouses. The ward’s population increased by 2.7% in the years between 2006 and 2011, recovering from a 6.4% decrease experienced between 2001 and 2006 .Little India has been changing since the time it was first formed, in the 1970’s. In 1972, Gian Naz opened up the Naaz theatre, on the corner of Ashdale and Gerrard. There, it became the first cinema in Canada to showcase Bollywood films. People came from all over the city–and even as far as Naigara and Montreal–to see the movies from their country of origin, something that many South Asians had grown nostalgic for. Unfortunately, the theatre closed in 1985–due to competition with video rentals–but by that time a thriving East Indian community had formed in the theatre’s neighbourhood, one with still stands to this day    .
Now, in the 2010s, my community is undergoing another shift, both economically and culturally. While it was once the only South Asian community in the GTA, the Gerrard Indian Bazaar is now facing competition from similar ethnic neighbourhoods in Brampton, Scarborough and Mississauga    . For people living in these far-off parts of the GTA, they no longer need to travel to Gerrard Street to find Indian food, clothing and media, because these goods are now available in stores close to their homes   . This has lead to difficulty for the remaining business owners, who are having to adapt to a harsher financial climate.
In recent years, the neighbourhood has been shifting from being traditionally South Asian to more culturally mixed . This can be seen in the younger generation of Indian store-owning families, who are more interested in finding culturally-neutral career paths . One of the biggest factors for this change, is how thriving South Asian communities have formed in the nearby towns of Brampton and Mississauga  , to the point that people are moving there from Little India.
For much of the 2010s, Little India’s shops–both South Asian and non-South Asian–have suffered from a depleting clientelle , to the point that there are multiple abandoned storefronts in the area    . Furthermore, the Toronto government has been giving tax rebates to store owners around the city. While this sounds good on paper, in reality, 50% of the people who received rebates owned abandoned stores. This system rewarded people for owning empty properties . It has gotten to the point that business owners are unable to hire clerks to watch the store, because if they did, the store would not be making any profit on a day-to-day basis . Winter is harsh for business, as not many people choose to walk on the street during the cold, and Christmas shopping is typically done elsewhere .
However, there is a silver lining. Real estate has risen in recent years , largely because of the Bazaar’s proximity to downtown Toronto . Also, Mayor John Tory–in a plan outlined in November of 2016–has discussed the issue about tax rebates and said he will support tax reform that produces extra revenue . Even better, people are working together to improve the neighbourhood. Little India is a Business Improvement Area [BIA], and therefore has its very own BIA board. The board has spent $120,000 on beautifying the area with better lighting, new signage, and general landscaping . The BIA has laid out plans regarding the annual South Asian festival, hoping that by placing multiple stages throughout the neighbourhood, they can allow as many businesses as possible to take advantage of the festival goers .
Many of the stores in my community have survived, some are even starting to thrive. In fact, new ones are opening up, in spite of the shifting times. Most of these stores sell non-South Asian goods , and include a toy store, cafes, pet care shops and an art gallery  . These new cafes and stores have brought increased clientele to Little India, which the BIA hopes will restore the neighbourhood .
However, this does not mean that Little India will lose its South asian heritage, as younger store owners innovate upon their wares. According to Toronto’s Asian cultural magazine, The Origami, “The next generation, it seems may help rejuvenate the strip, as they decide to approach things differently” . Stores are finding a balance between keeping much of its traditional culture–one of the Bazaar’s key attractions–and modernizing it for a younger South Asian audience .
In my community, my neighbours have hope that an increasing mixture between South Asian and Western culture will increase business to what it once was, while making the area truly Canadian and multicultural   .
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