Retrofitting old industrial areas for the new economy, a case study of the leaside industrial district, borough of east York, Metropolitan Toronto

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Lam, Sunny.
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The rise of the new economy involves many forces of change that have dramatically impacted our environment--in particular, it has caused the decline of old industrial districts. In the context of the new economy, this thesis uses the Leaside Industrial District, located in East York, Metropolitan Toronto, as a case study to examine the viability of areas dedicated exclusively for traditional industries. Also, there is an exploration as to what retro-fitting measures are necessary to economically restructure old industrial districts. The general research method employed is a case study, and includes a review of relevant literature, comparable cases, and secondary data. The results indicate that the deindustrialization of old industrial districts will continue, due to a multitude of unfavorable factors such as the lack of functional industrial space, high operating costs, and residential encroachment. It is therefore recommended that the district establish a new economic base comprised of new media type firms(e.g. digital processing, multi-media, internet). Such firms are ideal targets because they are not adversely impacted by the same factors that cause traditional industries to decline. At the same time, new media-oriented firms represent a thriving aspect of the new economy. In order to attract such firms, the district needs to first remove segregative zoning measures that restrict their entry. Instead, greater land-use flexibility that permits a wide range of uses compatible with existing healthy traditional industries should be encouraged. It is also suggested that the Borough of East York consider means to add value to such locations--primarily by investing in high-speed communications infrastructure. In addition, it is recommended that large, single-use old industrial buildings be redeveloped, and sub-divided into smaller units.