Planning & Unplanning – Future of Toronto?

For a little while now, we have been attending fabulous educational events at the Centre for City Ecology on Wednesday nights at 401 Richmond Street. On June 1, the session was “John Van Nostrand Planning — and Unplanning — for the Future of Toronto”. John spoke about the history of planning in Toronto and then his future plan for Toronto.

According to history and John, Toronto has gone through cycles of being planned and unplanned. We are in the unplanned stage now. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for planning. I think what it means is that it is time for the traditional forms of planning to let go a bit. And this means we can take planning to the people!

This lecture stuck with me and it made me really start thinking about what is going on and how are we asking people to participate in planning. I live in a condo building where there is a new condo being built around the corner. In our elevator was the vaguest poster that said you could attend the “development application process meeting”…this made me wonder, how many people in the building are going to:

  1. pay attention to this poster at all
  2. know what the meeting is for or why to attend
  3. have something to ask for at the meeting or know their rights at the meeting

In any case, I did not attend the meeting, I had no reason to, I know nothing about the building that is being proposed to be built, I don’t know how it will impact my property value, I don’t know what the land is currently zoned for and really, I don’t know that it would matter. We are under the impression that we don’t really have the power to ask for anything and even if we do ask, we don’t think we will get what we ask for. So who is planning the unplanned? Or what do we need to do to make sure the unplanners are planning? As an unplanner, I would like to know.