BMO has a plan to build economically-strong neighbourhoods

By Steve Randall

A new plan backed by one of Canada’s big six banks is aiming to provide resilience to local neighbourhoods.

BMO Financial Group has partnered with United Way Greater Toronto and the City of Toronto to pilot a new approach to build inclusive local economic opportunity and stronger neighbourhoods. 

The launch of the pilot in the Greater Golden Mile area in Scarborough follows a year of planning since the scheme was announced by the Inclusive Local Economic Opportunity (ILEO) Leadership Table last year.

It includes a $10 million commitment from BMO last year to support this new model for corporate-community partnerships.

"Together business and community leaders have the ability to effect real, lasting change," said Darryl White, Chief Executive Officer, BMO Financial Group and Co-Chair, ILEO Leadership Table. "The GTA has become a sea of islands segregated by income with too many people not realizing the benefits of the economic growth across the region. Greater shared prosperity requires deeply coordinated efforts between the public and private sectors. Our pilot projects in the Greater Golden Mile represent our first on-the-ground steps to boldly grow the good in business and life by addressing pressing concerns of economic inclusion."

Pilot selection
The reason that the Greater Golden Mile was selected reflects community engagement with the idea and the infrastructure projects that are already underway in the area.

"This is about leveraging opportunity for greater public good," said Daniele Zanotti, United Way Greater Toronto President & CEO and Co-Chair, ILEO Leadership Table. "It's about making sure that Greater Golden Mile residents share in the benefits of new economic opportunities, and can be a part of the change resulting from the area's rising prosperity. It's up to all of us around the table to show that we can find local solutions that bridge the gap – and create a model for future inclusive economic development."

Two further initiatives are also about to launch in the area: a a small business catalyzer led by RioCan and developed in partnership with PwC Canada that will accelerate emerging local businesses through the provision of time-limited low-rent or rent-free spaces; and second, a community-owned infrastructure joint venture led by Aecon to meet supply chain needs for construction/maintenance contracts in part resulting from the Eglinton cross-town LRT expansion.

BMO’s Darryl White says this joined-up approach is the key to making it all work.

"No one sector or single person can address these challenges alone," he said. "It will take multisector collaboration, working directly with the community to create systemic change and bring vitality to neighbourhoods.”

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