Planners in Public Spaces

Planners in Public Spaces: Bringing planners to the people

ExpandWhat is PiPS

About Planners in Public Spaces (PiPS)

Planners in Public Spaces is a public engagement initiative started by City Planning in 2013 in order to advance actionable items of its Strategic Plan, under the Strategic Direction for Clear, Consistent and Compelling Communication.

The basic purpose of Planners in Public Spaces is to bring planners to the people and provide opportunities for the public to engage with City Planners, one-on-one, on issues that affect the City and specific concerns they may have about development and policy in the city.

Planners in Public Spaces format is simple. We bring a tent, a table, some planning material and a bunch of planners and set up in parks, recreation centres and some special events like farmers' markets or festivals. Then we are ready to chat with anyone with a question or comment.

PiPS Mission

To engage with the people of Toronto by going to where people are in order to increase residents' access to planners, reach people who don't attend our traditional public consultations, and advance the public's understanding of planning with the intention of increasing future citizen participation in the planning process.

PiPS Goals

  • Learn – To actively listen and learn from what we hear.
  • Teach – To promote understanding of planning.
  • Partner - To promote dialogue and collaboration.
  • Contribute - To give our energy, time and skills to address various needs in the communities we serve.
  • Innovate - To engage the public in a variety of ways; to reach segments of the public City Planning doesn't usually engage; and to attract people to events using new methods and tools.

PiPS Office Hours

"The planner is in!"

What is Office Hours?

In previous years, Planners in Public Spaces was only a summer event series, however starting in 2015 it has been expanded to a full year program. One component of the full year program is the implementation of a new engagement series called "Office Hours".

Office Hours is a public engagement idea that came out of City Planning's Youth Engagement Strategy Research Group. Our group of youth researchers found that young people would like to engage planners in convenient locations, like libraries.

Office Hour events are non-statutory, casual pop-up events located indoors during colder months of the year. All citizens are welcome to stop by our tables to speak to city planning staff.

These events will provide organic opportunities to interact with community planners and will happen in those special neighbourhood places that act as living arenas for civic interaction like libraries, recreation centres, coffee shops and other meeting spots. Most will feature a specific local planning study and will have the area community planner and other planning staff on hand to speak with interested members of the public.

Who Makes Up Planners in Public Spaces?

Planners in Public Spaces is organized and run by City Planning staff volunteers from each of the four districts across the city. More than 65 planners from Community Planning, Parks, Transportation Planning, Strategic Initiatives Policy and Analysis, Heritage, Urban Design and Graphics, and Committee of Adjustment make up this year's volunteer base.

ExpandPast Events

TOcore Planning Study - Nathan Phillips Square - May 11, 2016, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. 

Come talk to a city planner about #TOcore at the 'Street Food Series' on the square.
Look for the blue tent.

TOcore Planning Study - Multiple Dates and locations, April 2016

To help kick off the second phase of TOcore a series of Planners in Public Spaces (PiPS) events are being held where the public can talk with City Planning staff and help shape the Downtown Parks and Public Realm Plan.

  1. David Pecaut Square, 55 John Street (near the south east corner of King and John Streets), Thursday, April 7, 3 – 5 p.m.
  2. Wellesley Community Centre, 495 Sherbourne Street (at Wellesley Street), Saturday, April 9, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
  3. Scadding Court Community Centre, 707 Dundas Street West (south east corner of Dundas and Bathurst), Saturday April 9, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
  4. Village of Yorkville Park, 115 Cumberland Street, Saturday, April 9, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. 

Further details can be found on the project website

February 10, 2016 4 p.m.- 6 p.m., Wilson Subway Station

The Dufferin/Wilson Regeneration Area Study will establish 'tailor-made' strategies for the study area, and a planning framework for development, implemented through site and area specific policies.  The Regeneration Areas designation provides for a broad mix of uses, which can include residential, institutional, commercial, light industrial, parks and open spaces. Regeneration Areas are key to the Official Plan's growth strategy to reintegrate areas of the City that are no longer productive due to shifts in the local or global economies. 

January 17, 2016 2-4 p.m., Roding Community Centre – Skate Party (Indoors), 600 Roding St 

The Planners in Public Spaces City Planning study team attended a Skating Party on Sunday January 17th from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Roding Community Centre. The event was hosted by the local area Councillor.  Approximately 50 people participated in the engagement activity where the City Planning team presented panels on the study process, area history, guiding principles, and draft preferred option. Overall, the response from the community was supportive of the draft options and plans, including the need for a larger local park, making pedestrian crossings visible and safer, encouraging more mixed use, and more family oriented local programs and services.

Creative Spaces Partnership Exchange - November 2, 2015

Community Environment Day - October 3, 2015 - CANCELLED

Cedarbrae Mall (west side of parking lot), 3495 Lawrence Avenue East
Partnered with Councillor De Baeremaeker

Etobicoke Lakeshore Culture Days - September 25 & 26, 2015

Humber College, Lakeshore, 3199 Lake Shore Boulevard West
Partnered with Humber College

Children's Discovery Centre - September 19, 2015

City Hall 50th Anniversary - Nathan Phillip's Square September 13, 2015 - 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Planners in Public Spaces will be outside on the square hosting two activities:

  1. Build the City of Your Dreams - Planners in Public Spaces invites Lego-lovers of all ages to come and see master builders build a replica of City Hall and help build a city around it.   In partnership with LEGOLAND Discovery Centre
  2. City VR: A Portable Virtual Reality Kiosk to Imagine the Future – In its first demonstration with City Planning, Imagine My City will be at the Planners in Public Spaces tent to showcase its virtual reality (VR) technology. The team will assist the public in using their smart phones to experience virtual immersive views of Nathan Phillip Square.

In partnership with Imagine My City

Etobicoke Civic Centre Farmers' Market - September 12, 2015

St. James Town Community Festival - September 12, 2015 - 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. 

Villa Charities - Columbus Centre - September 10, 2015

Uptown Farmers Market - September 3, 2015 - 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. 

Toronto Community Housing Corporation - Conservation Fair - August 25, 2015

University of Toronto Farmer's Market – August 19, & September 16, 2015

Taste of Regent Park Farmers Market – August 19, 2015 – 5:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m.

Marlee Ville Festival – August 12, 2015

Davisville Farmers' Market, Cause Day – August 4, 2015 – 3 p.m.-7 p.m.

Mimico GO station – July 28, 2015 – 3 p.m. 6 p.m.

Kensington Market Pedestrian Sundays – July 26, 2015 – 12 p.m.- 7 p.m.

Kew Gardens Park – July 24, 2015 – 11 a.m.- 5 p.m.

Pasta E. Fagioli Festival – July 23, 2015 – 5 p.m. – 8 p.m. – Columbus Centre Picnic Grounds

Planners in Public Spaces attended MPP Mike Colle's 20th Annual Community BBQ and Pasta e Fagioli Festival, the world's largest Pasta e Fagioli Fest!

Weston Farmers' Market – July 18, 2015 – Etobicoke

On an absolutely perfect summer day, Planners in Public Spaces (PiPS) partnered with the City's Complete Streets Study Team (Transportation Services) and Transit Implementation Unit (Transportation Planning) to attend the Weston Farmers' Market.  As the PiPS team arrived at 8:00 a.m. to set-up, the market was already humming with many vendors and shoppers filling the parking lot on John Street in Weston.

During our 6 hours at the market, hundreds of shoppers came and went with approximately 100 people stopping by the City Planning tent to speak on a variety of topics.  Many people were interested in the site plans for the Artscape Weston Village community cultural hub development, future transit expansion across Toronto and Metrolinx's continuing work on the new Weston GO Station.  Residents were impressed with the ideas and concepts behind the Complete Streets movement and were optimistic that they could be applied to some area streets around Weston.

Local area City Councillor Frances Nunziata also stopped by to say hello as she handed out City of Toronto pins to the residents.

Me Day Multicultural Festival – July 18, 2015 – Scarborough Village Park

Planners in Public Spaces, Scarborough team, attended the ME Multi-Cultural Community Festival that was held on July 18th in Scarborough Village – which is the Recipe of Community site for 2014-2015.  The Recipe for Community is a Toronto Foundation and City of Toronto initiative to build areas of the City from the ground up by using four main ingredients as follows:

  1. Community Engagement and Capacity Building;
  2. Food;
  3. Community Gathering; and
  4. Neighbourhood Beautification.

There was certainly an abundance of ALL ingredients at the ME Multi-Cultural Community Festival. 

Over 120 people stopped by our PiPS booth and shared their experiences and thoughts with planners on the development of Toronto and potential improvements for the area. Free food (burgers and hot dogs) were offered for the revellers, vendors and the many event volunteers. Scarborough Village Park was transformed with many colourful and festive displays by vendors and community agencies.  Local entertainers showcased their talents on stage while TIFF closed a successful day with the wonderful film, "Khumba".

PANAMANIA – Nathan Phillips Square – July 15, 2015

Planners in Public Spaces partnered with the students at Maximum City for this event. Planners and Maximum City students were side-by-side on a beautiful sunny day talking to residents, workers and visitors alike about Toronto's Next Big Idea. Student created 3D models of future cityscapes, some 150 years into the future, that depicted a spectrum of ideas spanning from mixed uses that include everything from residential to cultural uses within one intersection, to futuristic pods that transport people high above the ground when streets are removed and used for pedestrians only. It was fitting that visitors from all over the world listens to students' ideas and provided feedback and their own ideas from their home countries. Chief Planner Jennifer Keesmaat stopped by and was very impressed with what the students had created. When students left, city planners remained to chat with people on square. Over 200 people stopped by our booth.

University of Toronto Farmer's Market July 8, August 19, & September 16, 2015 - 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

University of Toronto Farmer's Market
University of Toronto, Scarborough Campus, 1265 Military Trial (Parking Lot 4)
Partnered with University of Toronto

Taste of Lawrence - July 4, 2015

Planners in Pubilc Spaces, Scarborough team, attended the Taste of Lawrence event on July 4th. The sun was out shining on the festivities and the numerous unique vendors, tantalizing food fare and fabulous entertainment. Over 250 people visited our blue tent between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. including Councillor Michael Thompson and former Councillor Doug Ford who both participated in our, "My Toronto is...." activity (which is, "What is the one word that best describes your Toronto?".

Afrofest - July 4 & 5, 2015

Planners in Public Spaces attended Afrofest, presented by Music Africa on July 4th and 5th at Woodbine Park. Over the hot and sunny two days, planners talked one-on-one to well over 500 festival goers and had about 200 people participate in two engagement activities. 

We asked people what they loved about Toronto and people who live, work, visit and study in Toronto had lots of things that they loved about our city. The most common answer was the city's cultural and ethnic diversity. Fun outdoor festivals and concerts was a close second.

2015 Season Launch – June 17, 2015

Planners in Public Spaces partnered with the storytelling group, Raconteurs for its 2015 Season Launch. It was a great event with 144 people attending. Raconteurs have a monthly event series at the Tranzac Club featuring true, personal storytelling live on stage without notes or props. The theme for the launch was Neighbourhoods, and storytellers told their stories abut the places they lived and how they shaped and informed their lives.  Chief Planner and Executive Director Jennifer Keesmaat was among the storytellers. Planners in Public Spaces engaged with audience members before the show to get their personal views on living in their neighbourhoods. The event provided planners with an opportunity to hear about people's favourite things and challenges in their neighbourhood. 

ConsumersNext: Planning for People and Business at Sheppard and Victoria Park – June 8, 9, 11, 12, 16, 22 & 23, 2015

ConsumersNext is a study that will look for ways to enhance the Consumers Road Business Park and areas around the Sheppard and Victoria Park intersection. This area provides a place of work to over 18,000 employees, and is one of Toronto's most concentrated areas of office jobs.  The area is also the location of significant residential growth, with over 3,500 residential units approved, under construction, or occupied in the past ten years. 

To manage the growth while supporting employment uses, ConsumersNext will set out a new planning framework to support continued employment investment and intensification in the Consumers Road Business Park, residential uses, community facilities, a street and block plan, and public realm improvements to serve resident and working populations. 

Because the ConsumersNext area is largely a location for employment uses, public engagement during working hours was crucial to gain feedback from the working population.  To do so, City Planning led seven PiPS events (on June 8th, 9th, 11th, 12th, 16th, 22nd and 23rd).  These 'pop-ups' were held in office buildings, outdoor spaces, and near local coffee shops.  All told, over 1,150 employees participated in ConsumersNext PiPS events.   The feedback received during the June PiPS is an important input to the background and existing conditions analysis that will inform the plans and recommendations developed through ConsumersNext.

For more information on ConsumersNext, visit:


Planners in Public Spaces is always interested in partnership opportunities or requests to attend community events.

For more information contact:
Ms. Sipo Maphangoh, Chair
Planners in Public Spaces

Follow @CityPlanTO on twitter. Use #TOPiPS

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