Revitalization failing local residents


Cross-sector collaboration

Time and again, we’ve seen large-scale redevelopment projects that ultimately do little to improve the lives of those living nearby. The Inclusive Local Economic Opportunity (ILEO) initiative in the Greater Golden Mile is a long-term commitment to building better into growth. In a neighbourhood on the vanguard of transit-linked revitalization, it brings corporate, community, labour and government efforts together to ensure that development benefits local residents.

A group of people smiling at ILEO Community Storefront

In fact, at a transition roundtable co-convened by the newly elected Toronto mayor and United Way, Olivia Chow cited ILEO as a successful model that she wants to see replicated across the city.

What makes ILEO so special? It starts with bringing 32 partners to the table to work together under a paradigm-shifting corporate charter. ILEO includes an employment program that links residents to well-paid and stable jobs; provides supports for local entrepreneurs and businesses; and offers a majority community-owned construction joint venture — bringing profits right back to community. In short, it is a recipe for shared prosperity that is delivering: Three years after the five complementary pilots launched, ILEO has generated an estimated $9.2 million in financial returns to the Greater Golden Mile community through increased payroll, local business revenue and other gains — including the hiring of 150 residents. And that’s all before shovels have hit the ground.

A group of people sitting around a table discussing ILEO

Work behind the scenes has driven that progress:

  • 20,000 copies of the Golden Mile Register were delivered to households across the Greater Golden Mile early this spring, bringing good news of training and job opportunities to local residents. A win-win collaboration with Centennial College, the special edition proved to be an inspiring outreach tool and gave journalism students a real-life challenge to sink their teeth into.
  • A subsequent hiring fair featured 20 top employers — AECON Group Inc., BMO, Choice Properties, The Daniels Corporation, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, RioCan, Sun Life, Michael Garron Hospital, Scotiabank and more — and hosted 1,000 job seekers, with 100 interviews taking place on the spot.
  • Storefront Starter Golden Mile entrepreneurs entered the big leagues as vendors at the semi-annual craft and makers show One of a Kind — thanks to sponsorship by ILEO partner the Daniels Corporation — selling more than $20,000 in products.

And we are looking to seed other successful community innovations elsewhere, too:

Social Medicine Initative

The Social Medicine Initiative in Parkdale, a partnership between the City of Toronto, University Health Network (UHN) and United Way, has resulted in 50 deeply affordable modular housing units with 24/7 wrap-around services for people facing homelessness and health issues. With the site set to welcome residents in summer 2024, United Way is investing in a full-time client navigator and community kitchen — a shared space for healthy meals and food-handling-certification training.


Furthering Our Community by Uniting Services (FOCUS) Toronto — the community safety and well-being initiative led by United Way, the City of Toronto and Toronto Police Service — works with more than 250 agencies and departments to coordinate essential and community services and to identify and prevent community crises. Now operating at six situation tables, this successful approach has served as a model in York Region, Peel and Calgary — with guidance from United Way Greater Toronto.