Background and History

The Toronto South LIP was formed in April 2012.  It is an amalgamation of 3 Local Immigration Partnerships: West DowntownToronto LIP, East Downtown Toronto LIP and Toronto East LIP.

West Downtown Toronto LIP

Downtown west Toronto has a long and historic tradition as a newcomer reception area for immigrants from around the world.  The very names of the neighbourhoods – Chinatown, Little Italy, Little Portugal, Corsa Italia – refer to their nature as centres of immigrant settlement for most of the past century.  From its earliest days, the area has been home to waves of immigrants and refugees from Europe and China in the 1940’s, ‘50’s and ‘60’s, and from Latin America, South Asia and Africa in more recent decades. This ethnic diversity has been sustained and is visible throughout the area.

According to 2006 Census data, downtown west Toronto is home to 119,472 immigrants representing approximately 43% of the total population.  It is also home to 35,613 new immigrants (less than 10 years in Canada) and 21,897 new arrivals (less than 5 years in Canada). 

The West Downtown Toronto Local Immigration Partnership was formed to develop local settlement strategies that coordinate and enhance service delivery to new immigrants and new arrivals in the area.  Our LIP continues and expands on the work of the West Downtown Toronto Settlement Service Planning Project, a two-year initiative that completed its mandate in February 2009.

The neighbourhoods in downtown west Toronto occupy a geographic area of approximately 26 square kilometres (16 square miles) and represent a microcosm of the diversity that is Toronto.  This patchwork includes:

  • neighbourhoods with high ethnic concentrations and cultural identities (such as Chinatown, Little Portugal, Corso Italia);
  • vibrant commercial hubs (such as Kensington, Queen Street West);
  • well established old neighbourhoods (such as Junction, Bloor West, Parkdale);
  • the main financial hub of Toronto;
  • the waterfront and entertainment districts;
  • Canada’s largest university – the University of Toronto;
  • the University Health Network and many other health care facilities; and
  • the seats of both the provincial and municipal governments.

For our purposes, downtown west Toronto includes the official City of Toronto neighbourhoods south of St. Clair Avenue and between Yonge Street and Parkside Drive/Keele Street (see map below).


East Downtown Toronto LIP

Based on the 2006 Census, the area of East Downtown Toronto is home to 85,460 people. Of that total population, 42% are considered immigrants. There are 9,145 recent immigrants in East Downtown Toronto, representing 10.7% of the total population.

Recent immigrants are more concentrated in some areas of East Downtown Toronto. In the area that roughly corresponds with the neighbourhood of St. Jamestown, recent immigrants comprise 37.8% of the population. The area that includes Regent Park has a recent immigrant population of 14.3%.  These two neighbourhoods represent over half of the recent immigrants in the East Downtown Toronto area.

St. James Town is Canada’s most densely populated community, and one of the most densely populated neighbourhoods anywhere in North America. The population is 68% non-white. Due to its cultural and minority demographics, St. James Town is often thought of as "the world within a block". It is also one of Toronto's poorest neighbourhoods.

St. James Town is a so-called minority community, largely filled with immigrants – especially those who arrived in the 1990s. The largest cultural groups in this community are South Asians (making up 18.3% of the population), Filipinos (17.1%), Black (13%), and Chinese (8%). Other cultural groups include Korean, Latin American, Arab/West Asian and South East Asian. Overall, St. James Town’s population is made up of approximately 68.2% visible minorities. Recent immigrants account for 22% of the population.

Cabbagetown is a neighbourhood where 34% of the population are immigrants and 26% are visible minorities. Cultural groups residing in this area include Chinese (5.1% of the population), Black (4.3%), Filipino (4.2%), South Asian (2.4%), Latin American (1.7%), as well as Korean, Japanese, Arab/West Asian and Southeast Asian. In this area, there are both residents who are very wealthy, with 39% of family incomes exceeding $100,000, as well as a large amount of people considered to have low income by Statistics Canada. This disparity in wealth could be explained by the fact that, according to the Cabbagetown Preservation Association, this neighbourhood comprises, “the largest continuous area of preserved Victorian housing in North America" - wealthy families purchase these restored Victorian homes and live along side people living in poverty in high density high rise buildings.

Regent Park is a neighbourhood located in downtown Toronto. It is an extremely culturally diverse neighbourhood, with more than half of its population being immigrants. Regent Park is Canada's oldest social housing project, having been built in the late 1940s. The average income for Regent Park residents is approximately half the average for other Torontonians. The majority of families in Regent Park are classified as low-income, with 64% of the population living below Statistics Canada’s Low-Income-Cut-Off Rate, compared to a Toronto-wide average of just over 20%.

Church and Wellesley is a community that is home to a large LGBTTQ population. It is roughly bounded by Gerrard Street to the south, Yonge Street to the west, Charles Street to the north, and Jarvis Street to the east, with the core commercial strip located along Church Street from Wellesley south to Alexander.

Moss Park is a neighbourhood just east of downtown Toronto. Moss Park was originally the heart of Toronto's industrial area, home to large factories and the densely packed homes of the workers they employed. In the 1960s a large swath of these buildings were demolished to make way for the Moss Park public housing project, a group of three large towers at Queen and Parliament Streets run by the Toronto Community Housing Corporation. After the deindustrialization of the 1970s almost all the factories left the area, and it became one of the poorest in the city. The area immediately around the housing complex remains quite poor, and this is the area today typically meant when referring to Moss Park. This neighbourhood is almost exclusively rented out, and houses many low-income families. Moss Park is also home to several homeless shelters. 


Toronto East LIP

The Toronto East LIP area covers the eastern portion of the old City of Toronto and what was the City of East York. The physical boundaries of the Toronto East LIP are roughly Victoria Park Avenue in East, Lake Ontario in the South, the Don River Valley in the West and O’Connor Drive in the North. The area includes 11 City-defined neighbourhoods and was home to 151,430 people in 2006, of whom 41% were immigrants and 9% were newcomers (arrived in Canada in the five years before the census).

While Toronto East, as a whole, has a proportion of immigrants slightly less than that for the City of Toronto , higher percentages of immigrants and newcomers are concentrated in four clusters that have distinct ethnic compositions. These clusters have incidences of low income higher than the average for the City of Toronto and much higher than the level found in the rest of Toronto East. The incidence of low income seems to be correlated to the occupations in which immigrants and newcomers find employment.

The three top regions of origin for newcomers settling in Toronto East are Southern Asia (35%), Eastern Asia (22%) and Europe (19%), however the proportions for each of these groups in the four clusters varies considerably.


Toronto South LIP Map

View Toronto South LIP in a larger map