Signs of Change, But Will Rebranding Jane-Finch Make a Difference?

A Rose by Any Other Name24 HOURS – Thursday May 15, 2008- Thien HuynhSIGNS OF CHANGE – But Will Rebuilding Jane-Finch Make a Difference p.6Jane-Finch wants to wow everyone with a new name and makeover.After close to a year working to transform itself into the more posh-sounding University Heights, the beleaguered neighbourhood is ready to reveal new street signs and artwork this August.Don’t worry; the rebranding won’t cost any additional taxpayer money outside of existing city programs.“We have also received considerable interest from local businesses and landowners who want to contribute towards a positive name-change. As well, York University is a major player in the rebranding, and will be placing University Heights banners throughout the area, tying into their 50th anniversary celebration next year,” says city Councillor Anthony Perruzza.But is a rose by any other name just as notorious? Jane-Finch hardly had a tough sounding moniker to begin with. It’s named after a girl and a pretty bird. Many in the community are still proudly attached to the Jane-Finch name.“At university, I was proud to rep Jane-Finch. People respected me for it. I feel like that Tupac song: “The Rose that Grew From Concrete,” says local business owner Dan Furnote.“Change Jane-Finch to Upper Rosedale or North Yorkville all you want. But names aren’t going to change a damn thing.”Peruzza admits that a name change isn’t going to solve all the community’s problems, but contends that there is substance behind the campaign. He points to the 2.6-billion subway expansion and proposed light rail transit line along Finch that can foster employment growth and business opportunities.“This initiative is more than just a name change- it’s about celebrating the many positive developments coming our way,” says Perruzza. “My support of a Toronto-wide landlord licensing strategy will improve the lives of the many tenants living in the University Heights community, by ensuring better, safer, and cleaner housing. As well, we need to reconstruct our local community housing to better integrate our communities.”Phanath Im, and Osgoode law student who has lived in the area for over 20 years, isn’t so sure.“Bringing investment and jobs to the community is great. But considering that many people living in the community housing may be displaced, it seems like the poor, a large population here, will be left behind,” he says.“It’s a really controversial issue here. At one community meeting, a resident said that kids will just tear down these signs, and the parents won’t stop them.”But even critics of University Heights’ utopian concept can’t deny that at least there’s an effort being made to change the city’s view of the area.Perhaps Socrates summed it up best: “The way to gain a good reputation is to endeavour to be what you desire to appear.”- Thien runs Thursdays in 24 hours. E-mail him at [email protected]

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