The Chief Planner Roundtable is a public forum for Torontonians to discuss key city-building challenges, and to identify innovative “drivers for change.” The Roundtables are founded on a platform of collaborative engagement, where industry professionals, community leaders, and City staff discuss ideas about pressing issues in an open creative environment.

A variety of options for roundtable participation are available including attendance in person, watching the live-stream, and contributing to the conversation via twitter, comment cards, or email. The flexible and informal forum enables the City Planning Division to form new partnerships with community and city-building advocates, other city Divisions, the private sector, academics and beyond.

The Chief Planner Roundtable reinforces City Council’s Strategic Plan Principle of community participation, and the Official Plan Policy of promoting community awareness of planning issues.

Roundtable Public Forums

Biodiversity refers to the variety of life and the critical role it plays within varied ecosystems, including our growing urban environments.

In the past, concern for biodiversity has primarily been focused on “pristine” or non-urban areas, but this is changing as we are at a critical juncture in our planet’s history. For the first time, more people live in urban regions than in rural, and the pressure these regions place on natural systems is vastly increasing. Cities take up approximately 3% of the earth’s surface, yet hold more than 50% of the earth’s human population and consume almost 75% of its natural resources. Our own urban-region recently surpassed 6 million people and in this rapidly urbanizing world, questions are being asked as to how we can design our urban regions to be more sustainable and resilient for all species that inhabit them.

We must integrate biodiversity initiatives into the planning and management of our urban areas. When biodiversity considerations are integrated into all aspects of city-building (for example land use planning, urban design, transportation, parks, etc) we will begin to design truly sustainable cities.

By ensuring a network of functioning green spaces, we increase our cities’ resilience to unpredictable weather events, improve air quality, mental and physical health of residents, and much more by harnessing the ecosystem services that a healthy urban ecosystem can provide. The BiodiverseTO panel brought together a variety of perspectives on the topic to talk about shared issues and to discuss potential long-term solutions.

Panel Members

  • Dave Ireland, Managing Director, Biodiversity, Royal Ontario Museum
  • Scott MacIvor, Assistant Professor, University of Toronto
  • Karen McDonald, Manager, Restoration & Infrastructure Division, Toronto and Region Conservation
  • Megan Meaney, Director, ICLEI Canada
  • Faisal Moola, Director General, David Suzuki Foundation
  • Amy Mui, Lecturer, Teaching Stream, University of Toronto
  • Richard Ubbens, Director, City of Toronto, Parks, Forestry and Recreation Division

Summary Document

2015 Volume 4 Summary of Chief Planner Roundtable

Video Archive

This most recent roundtable took place May 12, 2017. The event was livestreamed, and the video of the event is available for you to watch.

At this critical time in Toronto’s city-building history with unprecedented growth, it is of key importance to improve the quality of our public realm and buildings. This was a strong message conveyed to City Planning in a recent summit of all Design Review Panel members, distinguished design professionals on the Toronto, Waterfront, TCHC and Metrolinx Panels, who advise staff on architecture, landscape and urban design for public and private projects.

To implement well-designed city streets and create legacy-building architecture within budget constraints is a challenging task for all municipalities. The roundtable was an inspiring exchange of ideas featuring experts from Toronto, Vancouver and Edmonton. The Roundtable focused on how we can practically and specifically execute design excellence. While Toronto has had multitude of successes, we know that we can learn from other cities and how they deliver excellent projects within similar issues of budgets, process, interdivisional collaboration, maintenance, and details.

Roundtable Panel Members

  • Alka Lukatela, Manager Civic Design, City Planning Division, City of Toronto
  • Carol Belanger, City Architect, City of Edmonton
  • Lon LaClaire, Director of Transportation, City of Vancouver
  • Brent Raymond, landscape architect, planner, urban designer and partner at DTAH – a multi-disciplinary design firm specializing in streetscape and public realm planning and design

Ravines provide many important ecological services and recreation opportunities. They are also a fragile resource. With population growth, new development and climate change putting increased pressure on ravines, a plan to guide their future management, use, enhancement and protection is critical.

Toronto’s ravine system, with its rivers, dramatic geography and forests, defines the city’s landscape. Making up 17 per cent of Toronto’s total area, ravines wind through residential, commercial and industrial neighbourhoods, and include watercourses, parks and trails, roads, railways, golf courses, cemeteries, hydro corridors, institutions (hospitals and schools), former landfills and more. Ravine land ownership in Toronto is 60 per cent public and 40 per cent private, with 30,000 private addresses within ravines.

While aspects of the ravine system are addressed in a number of different plans, strategies, regulations and bylaws, the City does not have a comprehensive strategy that brings all of these components together to focus specifically on ravines. The Ravine Strategy will put forward a vision for the ravine system and establish a set of principles to guide planning and policy. It will also identify stewardship opportunities and priorities for investment.

Panel Members

  • Janie Romoff, General Manager, Parks, Forestry & Recreation, City of Toronto
  • Dr. Faisal Moola, Director General Ontario & Northern, David Suzuki Foundation
  • Geoff Cape, CEO, Evergreen
  • Sabina Ali, Thorncliffe Park Community Advocate
  • Amy Lavender Harris, Author and Professor, York University
  • Carolyn Woodland, Senior Director, Planning, Greenspace and Communications, Toronto and Region Conservation Authority
  • Andy Chisholm Advisory Director, Goldman Sachs

This Roundtable was themed on Toronto’s ravine network. Learn more about the ongoing Toronto Ravine Strategy.

Video Archive of the Roundtable.

Subsequent to the Chief Planner Roundtable on Mid-Rise Buildings, the City Planning Division reported on the Mid-Rise Building Performance Standards Monitoring at Planning and Growth Management Committee on October 8, 2015. This report represents the results of over five years of monitoring of the Performance Standards through data analysis of mid-rise building applications and consultation with city staff, City Council and external stakeholders (e.g. local residents and ratepayer groups, architects, urban designers, planners and developers), including experiences at the Ontario Municipal Board and advice from the Design Review Panel.

Panel Members

  • Harold Madi, Director, Urban Design, the City of Toronto
  • Manager, Eglinton Connects Planning Study, City of Toronto
  • Joe Lobko, Partner, DTAH
  • Roland Rom Colthoff, Founder, RAW
  • Ann Borooah, Chief Building Official, City of Toronto
  • Jasmine Cracknell-Young, Partner, N. Barry Lyon Consultants Limited
  • Jack Winberg, President and CEO, The Rockport Group of Companies

Toronto historic main streets network, one of the most extensive in North America, forms a critical backbone within the city. Main streets are Toronto’s social gathering places, the heart of retail commerce, and the movement arteries that connect the city together. The health and vibrancy of our main streets is directly connected with the quality, design, and function of its retail land uses. With increasing development and shifting demographics along Toronto’s Avenues, how can we ensure that our main streets continue to play their critical role in sustaining complete communities? This Main Street Retail panel brings together a variety of perspectives on the topic to talk about shared issues and to discuss potential long-term solutions.

Panel Members

  • Lorna Day, Manager, Urban Design, City of Toronto
  • Sandy Houston, President & CEO, Metcalf Foundation
  • Phil Goldsmith, Principal Philip Goldsmith Architect
  • Eve Lewis, President & CEO, Woodcliffe Landmark Properties
  • Tonya Surman, CEO, Centre of Social Innovation
  • Monique Drepaul, Executive Director, The Eglinton Way Business Improvement Area
  • Ethan Kent, Senior Vice President at Project for Public Places

Cities that provide services for all age-groups, including families, benefit from a stronger and more robust economy than those that target specific demographic groups such as single young professionals and younger professional couples. Planning for family-friendly communities also addresses a broader need to promote aging in place, as many of the community services and facilities needed by families are similar to those needed by echo-boomers and seniors: affordable family-focused housing, affordable quality child care, safe walkable streets, parks, transportation systems that promote independent mobility, nearby services, and opportunities for social and civic engagement. It is this intersection of services, planning and design that forms the nexus of a family-friendly city. This roundtable examined why families and children matter for the future of cities, and how Toronto measures up in terms of satisfying the needs of urban families.

Panel Members

  • Lynda Macdonald, Manager, City Planning, City of Toronto
  • Stephen Diamond, President and CEO of Diamond Corp
  • Sybil Wa, Associate, Diamond Schmitt Architects
  • Patricia [Pat] Walcott, General Manager, Toronto Employment and Social Services, City of Toronto
  • Jane Pyper, City Librarian, Toronto Public Library
  • Donna Quan, Director of Education and Secretary-Treasurer, Toronto District School Board
  • Elaine Baxter-Trahair, General Manager, City of Toronto Children’s Services