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Lawrence Heights
—  Neighbourhood  —
Country  Canada
Province  Ontario
City Toronto Flag.svg Toronto

Lawrence Heights is a neighbourhood in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It is located north-west of central Toronto, in the former city of North York. The neighbourhood is bounded by Lawrence Avenue to the south, Highway 401 to the north, and the Allen Road to the east and Dufferin Street to the the west. It is part of the greater Yorkdale-Glen Park official Toronto neighbourhood.



Nearly all the housing in Lawrence Heights is short-term public housing. Because of 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.

The neighbourhood's nickname "The Jungle" was given by cab drivers and police who found the area's streets hard to navigate, and often found themselves lost. This was not a reference to the film The Asphalt Jungle, nor to the area of Kingston, Jamaica with the same moniker. Recently, the media has used the name to reference the high levels of crime within the maze of affordable housing projects. Demographically, the area consists largely of immigrants from the Caribbean and East Africa, but there are also small pockets of Europeans.


Lawrence Heights was the first large public housing project built by Metropolitan Toronto outside of the then-City of Toronto. 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.[1]

Construction was completed by 1962. It comprised 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.[2]

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.[3][4][5]

Notable locations


The neighbourhood is accessible by bus lines on Dufferin and Lawrence. The nearest subway connection are the Lawrence West and Yorkdale subway stations.


  • Rose, Albert (1972). Governing Metropolitan Toronto: A Social and Political Analysis 1953-1971. Berkeley and Los Angeles, California: University of California Press. ISBN 0520020413. 

External links

Coordinates: 43°43′08″N 79°27′00″W / 43.719°N 79.450°W / 43.719; -79.450



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