Fairview Mall, Toronto.
The chosen site for the FIH is Fairview Mall, Toronto. It should be noted that FIH’s are model solutions, and can therefore be replicated in other locations. Of course FIH’s cannot be placed in just any mall, as location, space and vitality are all important factors to consider.
Fairview Mall was built in the 1970. It was the first multi level, and fourth fully enclosed shopping center in Metropolitan Toronto (Fairview Mall, 2008). It is currently co-owned by The Cadillac Fairview Corporation and Ivanhoe Cambridge (Fairview Mall, 2008). Over the years Fairview mall as undergone many renovations. The latest – which was completed in 2008 – was a $90 million multi phase full renovation and redevelopment project (Fairview Mall, 2008). This involved the expansion of certain stores (i.e. Shoppers Drug Mart, Liquor Control Board of Ontario), a change of location for the food court, technological updates (i.e. hands free technologies), transformation of greater open space, a face lift to the front façade and increased patio space (Fairview Mall, 2008). In August 2010 Fairview Mall will be celebrating its 40th Anniversary. This recent renovation and the longevity of the mall suggests that Fairview Mall is not a dead, or a near dying mall. This was an important reason for choosing Fairview mall.
Continual investment in the mall indicates that its owners are committed to its success and are willing to make changes to ensure this. Given the decline of malls, new and innovative ways will be needed to reimagine malls (including Fairview Mall) so that they remain vibrant and productive spaces (this is discussed above). Those businesses that are currently thriving in the mall will attract people, who will hopefully engage in some of the FIH programs. Businesses that are not doing well might benefit from the increased traffic from the FIH programs. This mutually beneficial relationship strengthens the potential overall success of the FIH and Fairview Mall.
Another reason for choosing Fairview Mall for the FIH is its location with the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). Fairview Mall is located in the North York area of Toronto. Specifically, it is situated at the northeast corner of Don Mills Road and Sheppard Avenue. While it is not centrally located within the GTA, it is easily accessible by automobile and transit. Residing in close proximity to Highway 404 and Highway 401 makes Fairview Mall easily accessible to the surrounding communities. Of particular importance is the ease at which local farmers could potentially access the Mall. This could foster a strong urban-rural connection. Also, Fairview Mall is accessible by public transit. The Mall is connected to the Don Mills subway station and bus terminal and York regions’ Viva Green bus rapid transit line. This ensures that shoppers and employees can easily access Mall.
A third reason is that the area surrounding Fairview Mall can be considered a food desert (City of Toronto, 2009). Very few grocery stores or supermarkets exist within the neighborhood or surrounding communities. Residents are likely forced to drive or take transit to do their shopping. This can be particularly damaging to low-income residents (Metcalf Foundation, 2008). Placing a FIH in the Fairview mall would strengthen the areas’ access to healthy and fresh food.
A fourth reason is high percentage of first generation immigrants within the area (City of Toronto, 2006). Roughly, 77% of the residents in this area (Ward 33) are considered to be first generation immigrants. Having the FIH in this area provides opportunity to the FIH itself, as well as to these residents. The FIH will benefit as these residents enhance the cultural diversity of the programs and businesses. The first generation residents will benefit from the FIH by taking advantage of the provided resources (i.e. incubator kitchens, training programs, community groups).
The final reason is that malls provide a new unique demographic that can be reached. Those going to a mall are unlikely to do so because they are concerned with the current food system. However, once they are in the Mall they will be exposed to numerous businesses and programs that can generate greater awareness of the issues.