Chief Planner, Toronto

Hi, I’m Jennifer.

I’ve poured my passion for urbanism into cities from Halifax, to Mississauga, to Winnipeg to Saskatoon, with many in between as an urban planning consultant working on major land use planning projects over the past decade. Anyone who knows me knows this to be true: I am committed to creating places where people flourish, and recognize that doing so demands coherent analysis, taking the long view and a comprehensive perspective.

It also demands new kinds of collaborations.

After spending a good portion of my professional life strategizing with residents and stakeholders in cities across Canada to create great places in the communities that they love, the prospect of focusing my energy and passion on the city I love is thrilling indeed.  And I am happy to be kissing my kids, aged 12 and 7, goodnight for a change, too!

I graduated from the University of Western Ontario with a combined honours degree in English and Philosophy, and obtained my Masters Degree in Environmental Studies (Politics and Planning) from York University.  To get to that point, I put in my time as a lifeguard, a tree planter, a residence Don, and a camp counselor.  I am a Registered Professional Planner (RPP) with the Canadian Institute of Planners, and qualified to give evidence at the OMB, with an expertise in Urban Design.

It would be impossible to even conceive of taking this job without a deep love of Toronto. Like many Torontonians, I see my neighbourhood as an extension of my home and I value being able to walk with my family to a variety of great restaurants, enjoying the art and architecture along the way.  Although I was born in Hamilton, my parents are from the Netherlands and I have always been fascinated by walkable, urban places.

It’s hard to understand Toronto if you haven’t spent at least a little bit of time falling in love with it.  The gritty, eclectic places, buildings and spaces, or “raw urbanism” here, as some like to call our particular brand of city building, isn’t the pretty, obvious stuff of Vancouver or even Chicago. It’s what makes Toronto real and interesting to the people who live here. Yet the city is also transforming before our very eyes into a local and global scene for art, food, culture and innovation. As a consequence, I think there’s never been a more exciting time to be a Torontonian, because we have an unprecedented opportunity to share in and help shape that transformation.

But our enormous potential will not be realized unless we talk about and tackle key priorities.  My hope is that this site will be a tool for us, collectively, to figure out how to do that.

As Chief Planner, I now have the privilege of coming to my office in City Hall each day with a simple philosophy: Toronto is your city.  Toronto is my city.  Let’s build it together.