Alternate reality Jane and Finch

Research on the real Jane and Finch


Jane and Finch is one of the most densely urban and culturally diverse neighbourhoods in Canada. Since its inception the community has struggled. Many contribute its hardships to be the result of racial discrimination; a conviction that’s inconceivable considering Canada has an official policy of multiculturalism. Looking at the history of the Canada and Jane and Finch its possible to get an understanding of why it faces the issues its faced and is facing today.

The story of Canada and Toronto is one thats littered with examples of exploitation and hostility toward non-white immigrants, indigenous people and people of African decent. Combining those factors: xenophobia, and racism its possible to understand the current predicament of the Jane and Finch neighbourhood. 

For some it's hard to see xenophobia and racism as being apart of the fabric of Canadian and Torontonian society. Toronto is one of the most multicultural cities in the world and Canada takes in some of the highest numbers of immigrants in the world. A closer look however reveals some of the hardships of the non-white immigrants experience which includes limited economic opportunities, over-policing/surveillance, housing discrimination, and racism. Investigating the 'why' behind Canada's immigration systems explains the paradoxical reality of Canada's identity as being an inclusive society while still having systems that perpetuate racism and xenophobia that destroy communities like Jane and Finch and countless others. 


What drives Canadian immigration


"One factor is that Canada has one of the world's largest supplies of natural resources such as oil, metals, and lumber. It also has a sparse population spread over a vast landscape. Canada has thus faced acute labour shortages and has responded by actively searching for immigrants."


Past and present examples of this


  •     Canadian Domestic Scheme 
  •     Nurse Shortage 
  •     Canadian Pacific Railway
  •     Foreign Migrant Workers


Canadian immigration is primarily driven on filling secondary sector occupations that the native population is not interested in filling or aren't able to because of its low population. These jobs tend to have high instability, hazardous work environments, and are low paying. This reveals that the phenomenon of low economic opportunities for immigrants and their dependants in Canada aren't by chance but rather by design. 

"Government and corporate policies deliberately shift immigrants to secondary sector occupations. These are jobs characterized by high instability, hazardous work environments, and low pay. Inherently those involved in these sectors will have lower wages and more periods of unemployment [...] significant recruitment programs for sectors such as agriculture and oil and gas recruit many workers to perilous jobs."

And those trends have continued to this day. In a United Way Toronto report looking at income levels between white people verse racialized people data showed that the effects the 2008 recession were disproportionately worse for racialized people verses white people. Not only were racialized people worse off to begin with they were also effected more and never recovered. 


Canadian Anti-Blackness


Canada has a long history of anti-blackness as all countries and places in the world that were involved in transatlantic slave trade do. Anti-blackness manifests itself its in all of Canada's institutions which is proven in data. People of African decent have disproportionately higher rates of unemployment, poverty, incarceration, police interaction, and children taken by child welfare agencies. Canadian policy and social life is strongly influenced by a deep distrust of blackness and the cultures of people identified by the society as black. 

Examples of this can be found throughout history from the Sir George William affair, an altercation between school administration and students that arose from racial tensions, which took place at present day Concordia University. To the Yonge st. Riots which took place in 1992 after the fatal police shooting of a young, black male. In an 1980's film Montreal filmmaker Jennifer Hodge produced the documentary film "Home Feeling: Struggle for a Community" which looked at the issues of Jane and Finch community relating to stigma, and over-policing which residents identified as a consequence of racial discrimination. 

Currently Jane and Finch still struggles with these issues. It's characterized as having the "highest rates of malnutrition and hunger in Canada (higher than that of First Nations communities)" The community is still heavily over-policed and now suffers from generational poverty, stigma, and lack of economic opportunities.

My alternate underground scenario Jane and Finch neighbourhood draws from the past a present  reality of Jane and Finch


Important details


  1. Government brings in large number of immigrants to work on Jane and Finch farms
  2. The neighbourhood experienced high social dysfunction because of the same issues present-day Jane and Finch suffered from (ie. racial discrimination, bad urban planning, lack of social spaces) except issues of hyper surveillance and over-policing was avoided because the majority of society moved underground.
  3. This gave the community room to amend the issues of Jane and Finch which is the process the community is currently going through currently however with out the resistance from the rest of society this process would have been expedited.


Alternate reality Timeline 



  • York University proposed and built 1959


  • York University makes official policies to only expand underground
  • Canada increases immigration to fill labour shortage to meet Toronto's food security needs to rapidly Toronto 
  • Jane and Finch residential farms proposed and built
  • Population increased from 1000 - 33 000


  • High social dysfunction in Jane and Finch begins to set in


  • Research into the issues of Jane and Finch blame bad urban planning, and             racial discrimination.
  • Cold war anxiety is coming down
  • New social infrastructure is made that are partly above ground: The government is testing how safe it is to start building above ground again
  • YMCA and Driftwood community centre are proposed and built


Aboveground Buildings


These images were taking from apple maps. The blue outline shows the infrastructure that would remain in out alternate reality, the surrounds would be naturalized.