Screencap of the Jennifer Keesmaat’s new site
Two weeks into the job, the City of Toronto’s new Chief Planner, Jennifer Keesmaat, has launched a blog called Own Your City. On the site’s first posting, Keesmaat states her reasons for starting the blog: “Welcome to my new blog, Own Your City. Own Your City is an invitation, to you. It’s a request for your presence, for your participation, in taking ownership over the city that you call home.” She goes on to say, “[Own Your City] will provide a different layer of insight and perspective, and at times respond to media, current issues, and your postings.”
On her second post, “Toronto is not a stop over,” readers can get a taste of some of the issues Keesmaat hopes to address with the blog: ”Many of our walkable neighbourhoods with avenues, main streets or other retail areas make it possible to shop, go to the doctor, attend an event – all on foot. Having worked over the past decade in municipalities across Canada and beyond, I can assure you, this is the exception, and not the norm” – the city’s walkability is an issue that was examined at length in a recent study by St Michael’s Hospital.
The blog also includes an “Ideas Forum,” where visitors to the site can submit their own ideas for how to improve life in the city. For instance, one visitor, Sam, suggested that the city could make public transit free by imposing a toll on drivers using the Gardiner and 404. Of course, whether Keesmaat gives serious thought to any of the ideas presented in this forum remains to be seen, but at the very least, the Chief Planner seems to have already stripped a layer bureaucracy from the city’s complicated planning apparatus and started to engage residents directly. [Torontoist via the Toronto Sun]
Igor Bonifacic is a simple intern working for the Toronto Standard. You can follow him on twitter at @igorbonifacic.