Toronto’s twelve Neighbourhood Planning Offices (NPO’s) closed the gap between people and planners in our city. Situated where intensification and renewal was taking place, local residents could walk into these storefronts, meet planners and learn about coming developments. People learned how planning worked, and would offer input, while having their concerns addressed. The NPO’s were central in the successful revitalization of neighbourhoods like St Lawrence and Trefann Court. The Neighbourhood Planning Offices were phased out over 20 years ago.
Despite the demise of the NPO’s, people have continued to push City Hall and developers for community involvement in local development. In 2013, a motion was passed at the Planning and Growth Committee which proposed the establishment of a pilot Community Planning Board in Scarborough’s Kingston-Galloway/Orton Park neighbourhood. The intent is to broaden the impact of participatory planning practices, already at work in some neighbourhoods, out across the city.
It’s very early days for this new iteration of participatory planning bodies. The Centre for City Ecology seeks to enrich this emergent dialogue with the exhibit Under the TENT in order to showcase the extraordinary efforts people have made to influence the planning and evolution of their neighbourhoods. Featured organizations include established participatory planning bodies in Manhattan and Glasgow, and effective advocacy groups in Toronto like Active 18, the Lakeshore Planning Council , Alexandra Park Visioning Committee the Regent Park Revitalization Committee and the emerging Community Action Planning Group in the Jane and Finch neighbourhood.
Centre for City Ecology & Annabel Vaughan