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The Shape of Toronto's Suburbs

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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.

Agenda (pdf) l Brief(pdf)

The Shape of Toronto's Suburbs Members

ExpandPamela Blais, PH.D., R.P.P, M.C.I.P

Pamela BlaisPamela Blais is an urban planner and Principal of Metropole Consultants Ltd. Her focus is on creating better cities by integrating planning, economic and environmental thinking in the analysis of urban issues and the development of innovative policy.

In her twenty-plus year career as an urban planning consultant, her work has included reurbanisation strategies; long term regional growth planning; municipal economic development strategies; innovative land use policies for industrial areas; urban regeneration strategies; sustainable urban form, community design and infrastructure; and research on the impact of technology on urban form.

She is the author of Perverse Cities: Hidden Subsidies, Wonky Policy and Urban Sprawl, which was shortlisted for the 2011 Donner Book Prize - awarded for the best Canadian public policy book of the year.

Pamela has a Masters in Planning from the University of Toronto and a PhD in urban economic geography from the London School of Economics.

ExpandJohn van Nostrand, FRAIC, FCIP

John van Nostrand, FRAIC, FCIPJohn is the Founding Principal of planningAlliance (see and its affiliated firms - regionalArchitects ( and rePlan Inc. (see Over the last three decades, he has been the driving force behind the firm’s domestic and international planning and urban design practice. John has extensive experience leading large, multi-disciplinary consulting teams on sophisticated urban development projects across Canada and around the world. These include regional and local development plans for areas experiencing rapid urban growth - including major resource-related housing projects in Africa, Latin America and Canada. In Toronto’s suburbs, pA led the City’s work on the recent Lawrence Allen Revitalisation Plan and the Downsview Secondary Plan, and is currently collaborating with Brook McIlroy on the planning and urban design of Eglinton Crosstown LRT. In turn, since 1984, regionalArchitects has designed and overseen the construction of over 15,000 affordable and market housing units in various forms and locations, including the inner and outer suburbs. rA has also worked closely with ERA Architects on the introduction and consolidation of Tower Renewal as part of the City’s Official Plan and Zoning regime. John’s work has been recognized with a number of national and international awards including a World Leadership Award for Town Planning and a World Habitat Award from UN Habitat. In 2004, he was awarded the Jane Jacobs Award for “Ideas That Matter”. He has written and lectured extensively on planning topics in Canada and overseas and is a Fellow of both the Canadian Institute of Planning and the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada.

ExpandLeo deSorcy, Program Manager

Leo deSorcyLeo deSorcy is the Program Manager of Urban Design in North York District. He has worked for the City of Toronto since 1988 and has been in the North York office since December 1998. Before his work at the City of Toronto, he worked in the private sector for leading Architecture, Landscape Architecture and Urban Design offices in Calgary and Toronto.

Leo and his staff are currently involved in over 200 active applications and more than 30 area studies in the North York District. These include implementing first phases of the Lawrence Allen Redevelopment Secondary Plan, York University Secondary Plan and Campus Master Plan and Park Downsview Park Secondary Plan. He is excited about the Midtown – in Focus, the Yonge Eglinton Streetscape, Parks and Open Space Master Plan which began this summer.

His current urban design interest includes revisiting the Garden City tradition and its local modern evolution and studying the Toronto traditions of building dense but livable neighbourhoods. He is a graduate of the University of Manitoba, BES and University of Toronto, B Arch and has taught at the University of Toronto Daniel's School of Architecture, Landscape and Design since 1984.

ExpandLaurie Payne MCIP RPP Development Director, Toronto Community Housing

Laurie is Development Director with Toronto Community Housing. She leads a team of development professionals in the revitalization of outdated social housing communities in need of reinvestment. The result will be nearly 2,000 units of new and refurbished social housing, and over a billion dollars in local economic activity. This work bridges Laurie’s passions: working with communities and transformative city-building initiatives.

In her 10+ year career, Laurie was a Senior Associate with Urban Strategies Inc. Laurie managed master plans for Waterfront Toronto’s 55-acre East Bayfront Precinct; a new urban community in Mississauga City Centre; and, the revitalization of a 200-year old Victorian asylum in London UK. Laurie began her career as a facilitator with Lura Consulting.

 Laurie Payne MCIP RPP Development Director, Toronto Community HousingLaurie served as communications co-chair for ULI Toronto and is on the management committee of ULI Toronto’s Women's Leadership Initiative. Laurie is a member of the Downsview Park Design Review Panel and Chair of the Toronto Community Housing Design Review Panel.

Laurie has a Bachelor's degree in Resource Conservation from the University of British Columbia, and a Master's degree in Urban Planning from the University of Toronto.

ExpandLeona Savoie Vice President, Development, HULLMARK Developments

Leona SavoieLeona Savoie has over 15 years of development experience working for very progressive companies such as Tridel, Daniels and Rockport. While the bulk of experience rests in large urban mixed use projects in the downtown core or along transit corridors with established Secondary Plans governing the planning regime, Leona also has select experience in municipalities outside of Toronto such as Mississauga, Newmarket, Aurora and Pickering.

Currently Leona works at Hullmark Developments, a company with a long pedigree of development in Toronto, Mississauga and Markham. Hullmark has recently undergone a significant transition in investment strategy shifting its focus from predominantly residential condominium developments to commercial properties in the downtown periphery. She is primarily responsible for residential investments, municipal approvals and design development and shares responsibility for acquisitions and implementation.

Leona has always taken a keen interest and involvement through the Building Industry Land Development Association with emerging policies coming out of City Hall. She has performed the role as Toronto Chapter Co-Chair for nearly 4 years and sits on the Board of Directors.

Leona graduated in 1998 from Ryerson University’s School of Urban and Regional Planning.

ExpandGraeme Stewart, ERA Architects | Centre for Urban Growth and Renewal

Graeme StewartGraeme Stewart is an Associate with ERA Architects in Toronto where he leads urban research and design projects. His international research and thesis work was instrumental in founding the Tower Renewal Project; an initiative in modern heritage and regional sustainability examining the future of Toronto’s remarkable stock of modern tower neighbourhoods with the City of Toronto, Province of Ontario, United Way, University of Toronto, and other partners.

Graeme is also the co-editor of Concrete Toronto: A Guidebook to Concrete Architecture from the Fifties to the Seventies. He is a regular lecturer in the Toronto Area’s Universities and Colleges and has been a sessional instructor at the Daniels Faculty of Architecture at the University of Toronto.

Graeme is a founding director of the Centre for Urban Growth and Renewal (CUG+R), an urban research organization formed by ERA and planningAlliance in 2009. Graeme’s ongoing research and design work related to Tower Renewal has been recognized by the Toronto Urban Design Awards, RAIC National Urban Design Awards, CAHP and the CIP.

The Shape of Toronto's Suburbs Roundtable Presentations

City Time Line – 1900-2002

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