New chapter proposed for Jane-Finch community as developers await approval

Mar 18, 2024 | GTA/Local News, News

By Delroy Davidson, Jeferson Quiros-Vargas

The Jane and Finch community, a sprawling North York neighbourhood born in the 1960s, is headed for a drastic redevelopment in the next decade.

The plan is to transform the community by adding new housing, along with commercial and retail development, after the completion of the Finch LRT line, slated to begin operating later this year.

Toronto-based developers Brad-Jay Investments Limited is now seeking approval from the city to begin construction. The two-phase proposal includes 10 new condos with affordable rental units, more green space, new shops and community spaces.

It’s expected the redevelopment will take about 20 years.

Locals first noticed major changes when Firgrove Grassway was demolished in 2022.

Many new services are promised but some residents like Tristen Jah, who also works at the barber shop in the existing Jane-Finch Mall, fear this new project is stripping away their local culture.

“I feel like it’s catering to a specific demographic. I don’t feel it’s catering to our demographic,” Jah said.

“Like it’s a regular case of new gentrification,” he said.

Troy Budhu, the Jane-Finch Community Hub Organizing Committee co-chair working alongside the developers, said the project planners have listened to community members.

Six community engagement members behind a white 3D model.

The community outreach committee, from the left, are Christine Le, Akida Alexander, Kayla Green, Pamela Phan, Toy Budhu, and Denelle Carvalho. Photo credit: Jeferson Quiros-Vargas

He said an example is how the original plan was for the mall to have more storeys, but community feedback changed the direction of the vision.

Budhu, born and raised in the Jane and Finch area, said the City of Toronto received numerous pitches regarding the area, but the mall remains a factor in anything moving forward.

“There are multiple projects that have gone to council and are still in the approval process,” he said.

“But when it comes to the Jane and Finch mall project, it is important to understand that conversations started about three years ago about maintaining the mall as long as possible,” Budhu said.

Pamela Phan, who was also born and raised in the community and now serves as a community engagement lead for the hub, says communication is her main role.

“My goal is to make sure the process stays accountable and transparent to the community,” she said.

a model map of the finished development for Jane and Finch.

A model map of the finished redevelopment for Jane and Finch. Toronto is reviewing plans for significant changes to the community. Some residents are wary of the proposals. Photo credit: Jeferson Quiros-Vargas

Phan said the community requires more spaces for youth and less surveillance, something the area is familiar with during the past few decades. She said she believes more police won’t solve the problem, but having a safe space for younger people would help the community more.

“We don’t need more surveillance,” she said. “We need spaces where people feel safe and empowered to do what they want to do.

“We need to invest in our neighbourhood to make sure people can fully live in Jane and Finch,” Phan said.

Christine Le is a fellow volunteer who says she is there “for the residents” representing the community.

“I’ve been a resident for a really long time and I really want this to be my home for 30 years,” she said.

Le said the area is her home but it lacks infrastructure in its current state.

She says there is a need for better employment and recreational activities instead of relying on other neighbourhoods within Toronto.

Le said the process can be overwhelming at times, with many different opinions but they hope the community can come up with a collective vision.

“I would like to see more [activities] instead of taking an hour on a bus to hop on to go downtown, to see something fun,” she said.