Lawrence Heights is a neighbourhood in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It is located north-west of central Toronto, in the district of North York. The neighbourhood is bounded by Lawrence Avenue to the south, Highway 401 to the north, Allen Road to the east and Dufferin Street to the west. It is part of the greater Yorkdale-Glen Park official Toronto neighbourhood.
Lawrence Heights is often referred to as the "Jungle" by residents and police alike for 30 years, which was initially in reference to the fact that cab drivers and visitors got lost in the unfamiliar maze of courts which was and is unusual for Toronto, but then thanks in part to media sensationalism, the greater community began to associate the moniker to the levels of crime within the maze of affordable housing projects.
The area is divided into two distinct subsections. The area bounded by Yorkdale Shopping Centre to the north, Lawrence Avenue to the south, Dufferin Street to the west and Highland Hill to the east. The neighbourhood is a post World War II development of bungalows and storey-and-a-half dwellings. As the frontage of the these homes average 45 feet, the area has had significant changes as older houses are torn down and replaced by "Monster Homes" as the area's proximity to major city arteries and the downtown core make it lucrative to builders.
The other housing area, which is east of Flemington Road, is short-term public housing. Because of the area's proximity to Downsview Airport, high-rise buildings were not originally permitted to be constructed in this area, and the majority of the housing is in low to mid-rise buildings.
Public housing development
Lawrence Heights was the first large public housing project built by Metropolitan Toronto outside of the then-City of Toronto and is now managed under Toronto Community Housing. By 1955, 100 acres (40 ha) had been assembled by Metro. The project would have approximately 6,000 residents in 1,081 family units at a density of 12 families per acre, the largest public housing project to that date in Canada. When the project was announced, it sparked a strong opposition from the then North York Township. Citizens and elected officials threatened legal action to block the development. A compromise was worked out between Metro and North York whereby some of the units would be rented at market rates so that the project would not be exclusively very poor families.
Construction was completed by 1962. It consisted mainly of row houses and maisonettes with some small apartment buildings of less than 30 units each. A buffer of single-family dwellings was built between the project and the private sub-division to the east. An elementary school was part of the project. The elementary school filled up immediately and senior elementary students were sent to a neighbouring junior high. A controversy erupted over the use of the swimming pool at a neighbouring secondary school, whereby project students could only use the pool on one or two evenings per week. A community center was built in the mid-1960s, its $100,000 cost shared by North York and Metro without any support from the Ontario or the federal housing agency Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.
In 2007, city councillor Howard Moscoe unveiled a plan to revitalize Lawrence Heights. The plan proposes a demolition of all 1,208 units in the neighbourhood, as well as Lawrence Square, and they would be replaced by modern affordable units, market housing and retail/commercial streets, including a northward extension of Marlee Avenue.
- Lawrence Heights Community Centre
- Lawrence Heights Community Health Centre
- John Polanyi Collegiate Institute - Formerly known as Bathurst Heights Secondary School which was once home to one of Toronto's elite basketball teams. Bathurst Heights was closed by the Toronto District School Board. The site was temporarily the home of Brebeuf College as Brebeuf underwent a school restoration. The school reopened in 2011 as JPCI when Sir Sanford Fleming was transferred to the French school board
- Sir Sandford Fleming
- Lawrence Square Shopping Centre
- Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce Head Office Operations — 750 Lawrence Avenue West
- Yorkdale Shopping Centre — located just north of the community
- Rose, pp. 69-72
- Rose, pp. 72-73
- Vincent, Donovan (May 11, 2007). "Massive Lawrence Heights overhaul planned". Toronto Star. Retrieved May 7, 2010.
- 'Massive' plan to revamp troubled Lawrence Heights
- Plan to re-create Lawrence Heights unveiled
- Rose, Albert (1972). Governing Metropolitan Toronto: A Social and Political Analysis 1953-1971. Berkeley and Los Angeles, California: University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-02041-3.
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