Previous Roundtables

Planning Cities for Families

The most recent roundtable: Planning Cities for Families

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.

Brief (PDF)   |   Agenda (PDF)

Panel Member Bios and Presentations

ExpandLynda MacDonald

Lynda is a Manager in City Planning for the West Downtown. In her long career at City Hall she has been involved in many projects, including the development of the Central Waterfront Plan, and the master planning of the Railway Lands West and Fort York Communities. Her team reviews projects ranging from new homes in stable neighbourhoods to high-intensity neighbourhoods, such as the burgeoning King Spadina Area.

With a foundation in Landscape Architecture, Lynda has a keen interest in the quality of urban life, not only in terms of good planning and urban design but also in the creation of complete urban communities.

Presentation (pdf)

ExpandStephen Diamond

This is a photo of Steve Diamond.Stephen Diamond is President and CEO of Diamond Corp, a Toronto-based real estate development company and manager of the Whitecastle New Urban Fund 1 and 2. Mr. Diamond has established a reputation for creating value for investors, while delivering well designed, innovative residential and mixed use developments.

Prior to the creation of Diamond Corp, Mr. Diamond served as partner at the law firm McCarthy Tétrault where he was head of the Municipal Law and Planning Group and served on the firm’s Board of Directors.

Mr. Diamond is also a Director of Whitecastle Investments Ltd. and is actively involved in a number of community organizations. He currently sits on the Board of Directors of Sunnybrook Hospital, the Partnership to Advance Youth Employment (PAYE) and more recently has been named the co-Chair of the 2014 United Jewish Appeal [UJA] Campaign.

Presentation (pdf)

ExpandSybil Wa

Sybil Wa is an associate at award-winning Diamond Schmitt Architects. Her interest in exploring the role of design in communities has developed through her contributions to a wide range of civic projects including schools, libraries, community centres and theatres. For over a decade, her advocacy for families living downtown has been a professional and personal focus and her efforts have been noted by The Toronto Star, The National Post and Canada AM among others.  In addition, she has written a series of op-ed pieces published by the Toronto Star including "Shaping Your Growing City", "All Solutions Should Be Beautiful", “No Space for Families in Downtown Condos” and “Toronto Needs More Downtown Playgrounds”. As a member of the Toronto Community Housing Design Review Panel working to meet the needs of families in urban developments continues to be a priority.  Sybil is raising her three children, together with her husband, in a condo in downtown Toronto.

Presentation (pdf)

ExpandPatricia Walcott

Patricia [Pat] Walcott joined the City of Toronto in August 2013 as the General Manager of Toronto Employment and Social Services (TESS).  Prior to joining the City of Toronto, Pat had a long and successful career with the Federal Government.  As a Senior Executive Director she managed 2,700 staff for the Ontario Region with responsibility for oversight and service delivery of Pensions, Employment Insurance and Call Centres.  She has held a series of progressive positions in both Service Canada and Human Resource Development including Director General Benefits Processing for Employment Insurance Care Homes and Services and Director General Service Delivery for Toronto/York.  In this latter position she had responsibility for Employment Assistance Programs, Skills Development, Youth Programs and Homelessness.  

Pat has significant experience in leading organizations through change, particularly leading strategic initiatives that result in customer service improvement and enhance organizational performance.  With the goal of developing accessible, responsive and innovative programs for Torontonians, under Pat's leadership, TESS will continue to focus on modernizing the delivery of social assistance in Toronto, as well as advance the City's Workforce Development Strategy.

ExpandJane Pyper

Jane Pyper is the City Librarian of the Toronto Public Library, one of the world’s biggest and busiest public libraries. She has spent most of her career in public libraries and believes in their power to change lives through literacy, learning, and fostering connection. She has worked for the Toronto, North York, New York and Fort McMurray public libraries. Jane is active in her profession, participating in a number of professional organizations, both local and international. She is a member of the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council, a Board member for a community agency serving seniors, serves on the Dean’s Advisory Council for the Faculty of Information at the University of Toronto, and is a Board member of the National Reading Campaign and, an organization devoted to digitizing Canada’s documentary heritage.

Presentation (pdf)

ExpandDonna Quan

Donna Quan is Director of Education and Secretary-Treasurer of the Toronto District School Board. Her leadership guides the district for 259,000 Kindergarten to Grade 12 students and approximately 36,500 full and part-time staff members. Ms. Quan, brings 28 years of educational experience to her current role.

Donna began her career at the Toronto District School Board, where she established one of the first non-profit, school-based Early Years Childcare Centres. She has held a number of senior positions within the Toronto District School Board, including Deputy Director - Academic with responsibilities for Equity & Inclusive Schools, Teaching & Learning, Special Education, Professional Support Services, Organizational Development & Research, Caring and Safe Schools, Alternative Programs, School Improvement and Inner City Programming. In addition, she has worked at the Ministry of Education and has contributed as a presenter and speaker at International forums.

Though Donna has many exceptional moments in her professional life, she is also a proud mother of three, an avid gardener and enjoys time to travel with family.

Presentation (pdf)

ExpandElaine Baxter-Trahair

Elaine Baxter-Trahair has served as the General Manager of Toronto Children's Services since December 2009. Prior to that, she was Waterfront Project Director with the City of Toronto. Elaine has also served as Executive Director of a Toronto-based arts marketing organization and held progressively responsible positions in the municipalities of North York and Metropolitan Toronto.

In all of these capacities, Elaine has demonstrated her leadership skills. She is a senior-level professional skilled in strategic planning; business planning; financial, project and general management; government, community and corporate relations, policy, partnership and economic development. She is especially adept at working with elected officials and senior staff at all orders of government and in the private, institutional and non-profit sectors.

As General Manager of Children's Services, Elaine is responsible for Toronto's $402 million Children's Services operating budget, service contracts with over 650 service providers and almost 25,000 child care fee subsidies which are cost shared with the Province. She directs the activities of Toronto's Children's Services division, providing strategic, financial and policy direction to Canada's second largest child care system and to the City's 51 directly operated child care centres and home child care agency. As Service System Manager for children's services in Toronto's, Elaine oversees a diversity of programs and services for children (0-12 years) and their families. Current priorities include developing a new child care funding formula and the next Children's Services five-year service plan, and advancing implementation of an integrated system of early learning and care services for Toronto's children and their families. 

Presentation (pdf)