Categories
Brampton Development Ontario Urban Planning

Requiem for Ontario’s regional malls

IMG_8782-001Shoppers World Brampton, 2016, before the Target store was replaced by smaller stores, including Giant Tiger

Recently, I wrote about the history of Ontario’s downtown malls. Most of these shopping centres, built in the 1970s and 1980s in the downtown cores across the province, failed by the end of the 1990s. The collapse of the Eaton’s department store chain and competition from larger, suburban malls and new big-box retailers drove customers away from Ontario’s downtowns. Only in Toronto and Ottawa, with large downtown office employment, residential development, and good urban transit, did these major shopping malls thrive.

But that does not mean that all suburban shopping centres are doing well, especially after the loss of Target in 2015 and Sears Canada in 2017. For TVO, I wrote more about how smaller regional malls in Ontario are re-positioning themselves.

The Brampton house that I grew up in was a ten minute walk from Shoppers World, which, in the 1980s, had a full line department store, Simpson’s, as well as Marks and Spencer, K-Mart (where I had my first paying gig, delivering shopping carts back to the store abandoned in nearby parks), a Pascal hardware store, and two supermarkets, Food City and A&P. Larger, more popular malls like Mississauga’s Square One and Bramalea City Centre were one bus ride away, but Shoppers World held its own, even if it was second tier. By the 1990s, though, it was clear that the mall was in decline: national retailers were leaving and there was a noticeable lack of investment in the property.

When RioCan REIT purchased Shoppers World in the late 1990s, it made some improvements and attracted big-box retailers like Canadian Tire, Staples, and Winners. Zellers took over the K-Mart store, which was expanded. But The Bay (which replaced Simpson’s) was closed down and the store later demolished. I had left Brampton in 2006, but I was still sad to see my one-time local mall decline. Now RioCan has talked about downsizing the mall, and redeveloping part of the property. Competition from larger, stronger shopping malls, newer retail power centres, the mismanagement of several retail firms, and internet shopping have all taken their toll. Shoppers World isn’t a dead mall, but like many smaller malls, it will be adapting to changing times.

In the TVO article, I take a look at a few other malls, like London’s Westmount Mall, in similar circumstances.

ShoppersWorld.jpgShoppers World, 2018. Despite many store vacancies, it’s still a community hub.

Categories
Parks Toronto

Major improvements are coming to Scarborough’s waterfront

IMG_8897-001The Scarborough Bluffs will soon become more accessible

Over the last few years, the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) has been working on an environmental assessment for improvements to much of the Lake Ontario shoreline in Scarborough. Today, the TRCA announced that assessment is now complete, and it calls for major improvements between Bluffer’s Park and East Point Park.

A new multi-use trail is planned for the bottom of the Scarborough Bluffs, with access points at Bluffer’s Park, the Doris McCarthy Trail, Guild Park, and East Point Park, connecting with the existing path across Highland Creek and the Rouge River to Pickering. In addition, pedestrian and cyclist access down to Bluffer’s Park on Brimley Road will be greatly improved.

When my partner and I tried to walk along the Scarborough Waterfront in 2016, we found the Waterfront Trail lacking, and the section along Brimley Road quite dangerous. These changes, along with the new seasonal TTC bus service to Bluffer’s Park, will help to make Scarborough’s wonderful waterfront safer and easier to access. 

The plan also calls for improved erosion control measures, along with interventions to improve land and aquatic habitats, helping to protect one of Toronto’s most spectacular natural features while protecting the natural environment.

If you were looking for some good news in Toronto, especially with the many recent stories of violence on our streets, this is it.