Marching Orders Suggested for Toronto's New Chief Planner

As Toronto's new chief planner Jennifer Keesmaat made the media rounds last week, her deft comments left local urbanists drunk on the possible. As the city's boosters sober up, John Lorinc recommends two chief priorities that must be tackled.

In advance of Keesmaat being "dropped through a ring of fire when she starts the job in September," Lorinc identifies two major challenges for her to take on, "that are every bit as important as the mobility issues she foregrounded in the media last week."

Challenge number one is jobs. According to Lorinc, "The City has a lot of the land zoned for industrial or commercial uses, much of which is either sitting fallow or at risk of being gobbled up by voracious condo developers. In my view, job one for the City, broadly, and Keesmaat, as chief planner, is developing a novel and imaginative strategy to bring employment back to the 416, and not just the office/institutional districts downtown."

Challenge number two is figuring out how to diversify residential development to add mid-rise buildings to the heap of "shabbily constructed glass towers." Lorinc argues that, "Mid-rise buildings will age well, allow homeowners to retire in their own communities, and hold out the possibility of family-sized units - all goals that support the official plan. Yet the planning department has been unable to figure out how to restrain the high-rise sector and encourage the mid-rise sector. Keesmaat's predecessors have died on this hill, and there's good reason to think she will, too."  


Full Story: LORINC: What should be on the new chief planner’s to-do list


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