Commercial Displacement in Vaughan’s Emerging Downtown
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This paper addresses issues of commercial gentrification using the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre as a case study. For the purpose of this research, commercial gentrification will be defined as, “higher value, more competitive business or more profitable residential conversion/ redevelopment typical of the post-industrial era” (Ferm 2016, pp. 402). The Vaughan Metropolitan Centre is a transit-oriented development (TOD) area currently undergoing massive redevelopment encouraged by planning and smart growth policies in order to support economic growth. TODs have the tendency to raise surrounding land values and rent costs, displacing long-running businesses. A literature review was conducted in order to provide background knowledge and explore the themes of transit-oriented gentrification, commercial gentrification/displacement, and its connections to city branding. This paper also employed the use of a media content analysis and semi-structured interviews, to provide perspective on the commercial changes occurring throughout the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre. The research has found the existence of commercial gentrification and displacement pressures in the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre area. A majority of existing businesses are operating in low-rise and single-use commercial units, which are no longer supported under municipal policy. As a result, many of these commercial spaces are set to be redeveloped into more profitable high-rise and mixed-use commercial towers. This paper concludes with a discussion on the inherent contradiction between how the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre is dictated by policy to commercially develop and how the market economy is actually responding.