Neighbourhood north of Downsview Park rebranded as Duke Heights

TORONTO – What was considered a large industrial part of the city has now been given a new identity.

Duke Heights will be the new name for the area between Downsview Park and York University, according to the local business improvement area (BIA).

A new campaign was launched to brand the section of North York as an area having “great potential” with access to highways and transit expansion planned in the near future.

“We want to be a hub. A hub of commercial and financial activity,” the executive director for the new Duke Heights BIA, Matias de Dovitiis said. “We want to create employment. We want to bring investment into the neighbourhood. We want to bring jobs. We want to bring growth.”

As of right now, it’s estimated there are more than 2,500 businesses and 30,000 employees with new businesses planned for the area in the near future.

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“Not only do we need the places to live but we need the places to work and to play in,” city councillor Anthony Peruzza said. “What you really want to do is diminish the distances between those activities.”

The Nino D’Aversa Bakery has built up a loyal customer base for more than 40 years but the business owners also know they’re going to have to adapt.

“(The name change is) better for the business people around the area because we’ve been in the area for a long time,” co-owner Frank D’Aversa said. “Things have changed and things are getting better now.”

The subway extension from Downsview north through the area is now expected to be in operation by the end of 2017 and the Finch LRT is planned for 2022.

“Right now we don’t have a community,” de Dovitiis said. “We have a series of businesses that don’t know anything about each other and don’t communicate, don’t have a place, don’t have a medium to find out about each other.”

The name Duke Heights comes from the first two letters of Dufferin Avenue and Keele Street and its location at “the northernmost part of the city of Toronto.”