Planning for Diversity in the Global City: The Toronto Case
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This paper examines the contemporary treatment of difference as "diversity" and explores its articulation through planning. The utility of this approach to difference is set in the urban context to illuminate the role of diversity as a strategic asset in the local consolidation of global economic processes. The qualitative research reported here is a study of the City of Toronto's recently developed diversity initiative as expressed in the recommendations of the Task Force on Community Access and Equity. An evaluation of the efficacy of the City's Action Plan is provided with special focus on the main feature of the Plan, the city wide Community Advisory Committees. Their general role in facilitating inclusion and their specific impact on the planning function is considered. Assessment of the Plan finds it consistent with the dominant treatment of difference as "diversity" reflective of the competitive, corporatized city in which it has been developed, offering minimal opportunity to open political space for marginalized groups. The advisory committee approach to community participation can not only be seen as having limited impact, but also as containing and/or fracturing resistance. However, the contribution of such state-sponsored planning for inclusion is clear when it is set against the broader constellation of action in the social justice movement. The Plan's potential lies in the possibility of iterative developments pressed by forces inside as well as outside of the bureaucracy. The conclusions suggest that such initiatives are one aspect of multifaceted, cross-sectoral progress towards radical democracy.