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.

The Most Recent Roundtable: BiodiverseTO - May 2017

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.

Briefing Document

The briefing document for the event presented the topics that were to be discussed.

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

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. 

Previous Roundtables

ExpandDesign Excellence: Implementation in Public Project - November 21, 2016

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

ExpandToronto's Ravines: Intersection of Nature and City - December 16, 2015

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

ExpandMid-Rise Buildings - April 24, 2015

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

ExpandMain Street Retail - November 6, 2014

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

ExpandPlanning Cities for Families - April 24, 2014

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 

ExpandMobility in the Suburbs - November 25, 2013

This roundtable dealt with one of the most defining issues facing Toronto today -- transportation congestion on our roads, our transit system, and on our sidewalks. Congestion costs the city and surrounding regional economies billions of dollars in lost productivity and public health impacts every year. Perhaps no other part of Toronto faces these issues as much as its inner suburbs. Providing alternative transportation options to these areas – transit, walking and cycling - is an important step in relieving congestion, but the city is struggling to graft these onto a landscape that was designed for the automobile. This final roundtable of the fall series examined issues of connectivity, access and active transportation in the suburban context, and examine what changes – policy, planning, administrative etc. - are needed to enhance mobility in the suburbs.  

Panel Members

Tim Laspa, Director, Transportation Planning, City of Toronto
Jane Farrow, Associate, Swerhun Inc., Walkability Researcher
Jacquelyn Hayward Gulati, Manager, Cycling Office, City of Mississauga
Leslie Woo, Vice President, Policy Planning and Innovation, Metrolinx
Kathleen Llewellyn-Thomas, Chief Operating Officer, Toronto Community Housing
Cyndi Rottenberg-Walker, Partner – Urban Strategies Inc. 

ExpandArrival City: The Suburbs as Global City Landing Spot - October 28, 2013

At this roundtable, industry experts spoke about the important role that Toronto suburbs play in assisting newcomers in the process of "arrival," opening vast opportunities for the creation of economic development and social capital.

This roundtable broadened our understanding of how well Toronto is functioning for newcomers through an examination of the changing notions of community, available social services, and opportunities for economic development.

Panel Members

Doug Saunders, Journalist - The Globe and Mail; Author - Arrival City Chris Brillinger, Executive Director, Social Development, Finance & Admin Ronji Borooah, City Architect, City of Markham Anna Kim, Civics Project Coordinator, Agincourt Community Services Association JoAnne Doyle, Sr. Vice President, Community Impact, United Way Toronto Jehad Aliweiwi, Executive Director - Thorncliffe Neighbourhood Office Abu Becker, Business Leader; President, Airbond Travel 

Watch the Arrival City Roundtable online

ExpandThe Shape of Toronto's Suburbs - September 30, 2013

Shifts in the patterns of settlement and vast economic expansion following World War Two resulted in the rapid growth of Toronto's suburbs. The population of the area now known as Toronto doubled between 1945 and 1980, and the resulting housing boom forever changed its suburban landscape. Curved disconnected street systems were preferred over the grids of the older streetcar neighbourhoods. Land uses were separated. Private automobiles replaced public transit as the preferred way of moving about, and trucks replaced trains for moving goods and materials. Department stores and movie theatres spread from the downtown and main streets, and into regional malls.

Panel Members

John van Nostrand, Principal, planningAlliance
Graeme Stewart, Associate, ERA Architects
Pamela Blais, Principal, Metropole Consultants
Leona Savoie, Vice President – Development, Hullmark Developments
Laurie Payne, Development Director, Toronto Community Housing
Leo Desorcy, Urban Design Program Manager, City of Toronto 

ExpandThe Next Generation Suburbs - April 2, 2013

On April 2, 2013, be part of the roundtable discussion on "The Next Generation Suburbs" to generate fresh ideas on Toronto's suburbs and their transformation.

From 1945 until 1980, the area now known as Toronto doubled in population to become Canada's largest city and most powerful economic engine. In that period significant economic, political and cultural shifts changed the way this new Toronto functioned and looked. The private automobile and trucks replaced buses and trains for moving people and goods. The shopping centre replaced downtown department stores as the preferred place to shop, and the curved streets of suburbia replaced the street car grid neighbourhoods. Hurricane Hazel shaped this new city with a huge system of ravines and natural areas preserved to help prevent flooding.

These older suburbs are now surrounded by newer suburbs and are under pressure for change. This roundtable will discuss, "What is the Toronto suburb"? How does it look and function differently from the older city and 905 suburbs? The roundtable will showcase some recent suburban transformations. What kinds of changes are needed? What were the factors that triggered change? What are the road blocks to change?

Panel Members

David McKeown – Medical Officer of Health, City of Toronto
Anna Pace, Head of Strategic Partnerships Engineering, Construction, and Expansion,
 Toronto Transit Commission
Ralph Giannone – Founding Partner Giannone Petricone Associates
Ann-Marie Nasr – Manager, Strategic Initiatives, City Planning
Bryan Tuckey–President and Chief Executive Officer at Building Industry and Land
 Development Association (BILD)
Anne Morash –Vice-President Development, Primaris REIT
Roger Keil – Professor, York University 

ExpandThe Resilient City - March 5, 2013

The dictionary defines 'resilient' as 'capable of withstanding shock and tending to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change.' What makes a city resilient in the face of climate change, shifting demographics, income disparity, energy demands, environmental degradation and economic uncertainty? What are the City of Toronto's particular challenges and how can the City best position itself to withstand them and to recover such that it emerges as a vibrant, strong and resilient city?

Toronto's weather is predicted to change with hotter days and more frequent intense rainfall events. Electricity capacity constraints, especially in the downtown core, will continue to grow as the city intensifies and the summers get warmer. Population health is challenged by projected increases in income disparity, a sedentary lifestyle and lack of access to healthy food. This roundtable will explore resiliency in the face of aging infrastructure, intensification and socio-economic pressures.

Panel Members

Jack Diamond, Founding member of Diamond and Schmitt Architects  
Ted Kesik, Professor, Building Science, University of Toronto
Jamie James, President/Director, Tower Labs @MaRS, lead sustainability advisor to Tridel
Alec Hay, Professor, Centre for Resilience of Critical Infrastructure, U of T
Michael D'Andrea, Director, Water Infrastructure Management, City of Toronto
Jim Baxter, Director, Energy and Strategic Initiatives, City of Toronto
Joe D'Abramo, Acting Director, Zoning and Environmental Planning, City of Toronto
Lawson Oates, Director, Toronto Environment Office, City of Toronto
Ann Joyner, Partner, Dillon Consulting Limited, Toronto office
Lisa Rapoport, Founding Partner at PLANT Architect Inc
Margie Ziedler, Founder and President of Urbanspace Property Group
David Crombie, Former Mayor of Toronto, Member of Parliament and Federal Cabinet
Minister and past President and CEO of the Canadian Urban Institute

Watch the Resilient City Roundtable online

ExpandOur Urban Fabric: Designing and Creating Public Places - February 26, 2013

Given the extent of current intensification, there is a heightened responsibility upon all stakeholders to ensure that the design of new buildings extends beyond site-specific interests, to actively and creatively engage the wider, place-making opportunities that exist around them. These opportunities should feed into a common vision that aims to create more vibrant streets that are supported by attractive, well maintained local parks, squares and public art features that combine to create an engaging and dynamic urban environment.

The framework to achieve these opportunities exists, with innovative partnerships between the City and its Agencies, private developers, and Business Improvement Areas (BIA's) resulting in some highly successful public realm improvements. However, difficult questions remain about the priority and value we place upon our public realm, the way we fund it, how we implement it, and the way we imagine its potential.

Panel Members

Gordon Stratford, Senior Vice President and Director of Design, HOK
Robert Freedman, Director, Urban Design, City of Toronto
Stephen Buckley, General Manager, Transportation Services, City of Toronto
Janet Rosenberg, Founding Principal, Janet Rosenberg & Studio
Harold Madi, Partner, The Planning Partnership
Adam Nicklin, Principal and Co-founder, PUBLIC WORK for Urban design &
landscape architecture.
Mike Major, Manager, BIA Office, City of Toronto
Richard Ubbens, Director, Parks, City of Toronto
Anne Golden, Distinguished Visiting Scholar, Special Advisor, Ryerson University
Jeanhy Shim, President, Housing Lab Toronto
Shirley Blumberg, Founding Partner, KPMB Architects
Hilary Holden, Associate Principal, Transportation Consulting Leader, ARUP