Challenges of Arrival Cities

Thorncliffe Park and St. James Town are just two examples of public housing projects that have become arrival cities for new immigrants. This was not their original intention though, which is why they are currently experiencing many difficult challenges. Although these two locations may seem similar they are different in one important way. In St. James Town many of the 17,832 residents though do not get the opportunity to move. The exact opposite is happening in Thorncliffe Park where historically many new immigrants successfully move on and integrate into Canadian society. The reason for this comes down to the people who already live there and the support that is given to them by members of the community. St. James Town and Thorncliffe Park have become arrival cities as Doug Saunders says in the Globe and Mail[1]. The term Arrival city was developed by Saunders. His theory of arrival cities is simply that successful arrival cities are able to create a successful middle class from its immigrants. The failed arrival cities create poverty and social problems.[2]

Immigrants no matter where they come from will always face challenges in their new location. St. James Town and Thorncliffe Park are no exception. In a 2010 report by the city of Toronto, the challenges faced by recent immigrants are growing. These challenges lead to immigrants staying longer in the area, which is its self a problem according to the report. The same report explains the reason for this is that the challenges have become more difficult and numerous in the past decades. Challenges of Language, discrimination, employment, poverty, housing, access to information services, health, and mental health were all highlighted by the East Downtown Toronto Local Immigration Partnership Council as the factors influencing length of stay.[3] Within the last three decades recent immigrants on average have seen their length of stay increase from an average five years to fifteen years before they move elsewhere.

A common challenge that Thorncliffe Park and St. James town face is the high densities have led to overcrowding and higher unemployment rates. In Thorncliffe Park overcrowding is found by looking at 19,225 residents that occupy an area that is only 2.2 square km[4]. This gives it a density of 6,182 people per square kilometer.[5] It is also evident from 2001 to 2009 there were 1,268 new residents in Thorncliffe Park, but only 20 new housing units were constructed[6]. The same can be seen in St. James Town where overcrowding has led it to have a persons per square kilometer of over 42,457. The unemployment rate for Thorncliffe Park in 2011 was 16%. In St. James Town the unemployment rate was lower at 11% but is still above the city average of 9%[7]

St. James town is a poor example of an arrival city as the challenges of unemployment and overcrowding combined with lack of community support (in comparison with Thorncliffe Park) is just one reason why many immigrants on average have extended lengths of stay. Thorncliffe Park on the other hand is a better example of an arrival city but it is not perfect either as Saunders states. Saunders also states that some of Thorncliffe Park’s success is due to its management practices[8]. Although it faces many of the same challenges especially in overcrowding, and an even higher unemployment rate than St. James Town, immigrants are able move out of the area more frequently and in less than the average rate of 15 years because of community assistance programs.

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[1] Doug Saunders, “How Slums can save the World.” The Globe and Mail (September 24, 2010).
 Doug Saunders, “Arrival City about.” Arrival city website
 Canadian Center for Victims of Torture. “East Downtown Toronto Local Immigration Partnership Council.” Citizenship and immigration Canada (September 2010).
“Thorncliffe Park a neighbourhood profile.” (2011).
[5]  “Thorncliffe Park Neighbourhood Census NHS Profile.” Statistics Canada (2011),,%20Finance%20&%20Administration/Neighbourhood%20Profiles/pdf/2011/pdf4/cpa55.pdf
[6] Nicholas Keung, “Thorncliffe Park Community Crowded, Stressed.” The Toronto Star (January 9, 2010).
[7]  “North St. James Town Neighbourhood Census NHS Profile.” Statistics Canada (2011).,%20Finance%20&%20Administration/Neighbourhood%20Profiles/pdf/2011/pdf4/cpa74.pdf
 Dylan C. Robertson, “Examining Toronto’s Arrival Cities.” The Varsity University of Toronto (Novermber 15, 2010).


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