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Bold Ideas, Bold Action: Next Steps for the GTHA

Bold Ideas, Bold Action: Next Steps for the GTHA
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    - Good afternoon everyone.
    On behalf of the board and staff at IMFG,
    I'm delighted to welcome you here today
    to our session on Bold Ideas, Bold Action,
    Next Steps for the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area.
    My name is Enid Slack,
    and I'm the Director of the Institute
    on Municipal Finance and Governance,
    here at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy.
    Before we begin I wish to acknowledge this land
    on which the University of Toronto operates,
    for thousands of years it has been the traditional land
    of the Huron-Wendat, the Seneca, and most recently,
    the Mississaugas of the Credit River.
    Today, this meeting place is still the home
    to many Indigenous people from across Turtle Island
    and we are grateful to have the opportunity
    to work on this land.
    I would like to thank the sponsors of the Institute,
    AVANA Capital, MATRE,
    the Province of Ontario and the City of Toronto.
    I would also like to thank our team here at IMFG
    for everything they did to make
    this event happen this afternoon.
    Thomas Hachard who's here,
    and Manini Sheker who's outside,
    and also the event staff
    and the technical staff here at the Munk School.
    If you are tweeting about this event Selena,
    our hashtag is IMFGTalks,
    and our Twitter handle is @IMFGToronto.
    For those of you who don't know Selina,
    she worked with us and always made me say that
    when she was here that you should be tweeting,
    and so I'm hoping she will do that.
    And all of you do that.
    In the lead up to the municipal elections last fall,
    our Institute published 15 essays
    from some of the GTHA's most respected leaders.
    Our instructions to the authors were simple,
    give us your big idea for the city or the region.
    What would you change if you were given the chance.
    Encourage them to be bold,
    yet to ground their ideas in the current institutional
    and fiscal context of Ontario's municipalities.
    What issues should we be focusing on at election time?
    What would make our region more livable,
    healthy and economically vibrant?
    How might we pay for and implement these big ideas?
    In this task the authors all delivered magnificently.
    These essays are all available on our website,
    and cover a wide range of themes,
    from transportation to housing,
    homelessness, youth,
    neighborhoods, indigenous peoples,
    mental health, decent work,
    policing, universities,
    arts and culture and regional and local governance.
    And as I mentioned there is a bold ideas section
    on our website where all of these essays can be found.
    Unfortunately though,
    the debates before the municipal election
    didn't really focus on some of
    the most critical issues that we raised.
    It seemed instead we spent a lot of time talking
    about the size of Toronto City's Council,
    and whether we could invoke the notwithstanding clause.
    But these ideas are still really important.
    Elections are the time for ideas,
    but now is the time for action.
    So we thought it would be a good time to revisit these ideas
    To see how we might move forward on them now
    that we have a newly elected council,
    newly elected councils in the region,
    and a relatively new provincial government.
    So to do this we have asked four of the authors
    to present their bold ideas to you this afternoon.
    Our moderator who will introduce our panel
    is Alexandra Flynn.
    Alex is an assistant professor
    at the Peter A. Allard School of Law
    at the University of British Columbia,
    where she specializes in municipal law and governance,
    but those of you who know Alex
    know that prior to going out west to Vancouver,
    she was an assistant professor in the city study program
    at the University of Toronto, Scarborough,
    and of course most important to us,
    she is an IMFG fellow.
    So please welcome our moderator for today, Alexandra Flynn.
    (audience applauds)
    - So everyone, it is wonderful to see so many familiar faces
    and some new ones as well.
    And of course we are delighted that you braved our,
    is it our third or fourth storm this year
    to come over to the IMFG to hear this fantastic panel.
    So I'm a parent,
    and one of the challenges when there is winter storms
    is that your children tend to play a lot of video games
    and watch a lot of television.
    And my son Jonah, whose 14, is no exception to this.
    So Jonah it turns out is passionate about a game
    called Civilization.
    Which I know some people in the room are familiar with.
    And in this game you pick a society
    and guide it from about 4000BC
    into present day and into the future.
    And what players do in this game is they invest
    in science and technology
    in order to advance their civilizations.
    And of course you're trying to destroy
    other ones along the way.
    But what I was really interested
    in when Jonah was explaining this game to me,
    is how central the city region is in advancing your society.
    It's basically the building block of civilization.
    It's the hub of housing,
    it creates and advances technology,
    and the city region gradually expands its territory,
    and produces everything that the civilization has.
    So you can't actually win at this game,
    unless you win at building cities.
    So this game like so many of the urban crises
    that we are reflecting on today
    in our region generally speaking,
    is about what it means for cities and regions
    to come into their own and to thrive.
    And each of our wonderful speakers is going
    to reflect on the challenges and the potentials
    facing the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area
    over the next few years.
    Before I turn the table over to them,
    I want to talk briefly about the amorphous legal place
    of our cities and regions right now.
    So as many of you know,
    our constitution explicitly recognizes federal
    and provincial governments,
    and it gives the latter provinces responsibility
    for municipal institutions.
    So if you've heard the term creatures of the province,
    that's where it comes from.
    But a stream of judicial decisions over the last many years
    has told a much more nuanced story,
    about the role of municipalities in our federal structure.
    So beginning in the 1990s,
    the Supreme Court of Canada
    started issuing a number of decisions
    which had a much more generous interpretation
    of municipal powers, calling for deference
    and calling for respect for the decisions
    of locally elected officials.
    As Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin
    stated in one of her decisions,
    the elected members of Council
    are discharging a statutory duty,
    the right to exercise that duty freely
    and in accordance with the wishes
    of the people they represent,
    and this is vital to democracy.
    So under the constitution that we now have,
    local governments, whether they are lower tier,
    or upper tier or single tier,
    cannot go beyond the powers
    that are granted to them by provinces.
    But at the same time, once they make decisions,
    those decisions need to be respected.
    So these two different challenges that we are facing,
    one in the old tattered pages of our constitution,
    which was written at the time when we had very few cities,
    and this principle of deference
    are playing out right now in front of us.
    They are playing out in real time,
    every single time we pick up the newspaper.
    So we saw it in the decision
    to reduce Toronto City Council by half.
    We are seeing it in the uploading
    of the Toronto Transit Commission,
    and all of these moves are signaling a move towards
    the long-held powers that municipalities have had.
    But this isn't just a Toronto thing,
    it isn't just a municipality thing,
    it's also being seen at the regional level,
    with Ontario's review of the eight regional municipalities.
    Where so many governance issues
    are going to be on the table.
    From decision-making and service delivery.
    So these fidgets in local power and regional design
    make us ask what do we expect our cities to be
    and our regions to do?
    How do we balance the agenda of local service provision
    alongside local representation?
    Are there special things about municipal governments,
    whether they are municipal or regional?
    Is there something about them
    that makes their autonomy worth defending?
    So the complex work of local governments
    is everywhere in our day-to-day lives.
    Of course we know that they are the first stop
    in keeping streets and parks clean,
    and delivering much needed services to youth and others,
    as we'll hear more about today.
    And cities can look really messy from the outside,
    their decision-making can look really chaotic.
    But I would argue that we should not mistake
    this messy decision-making for ineffectiveness.
    For sure there's a lot of problems in the GTHA,
    affordable housing, climate change, transit and more.
    And local governments can also lead to inequality
    and it can restrict transparency.
    But for those of us who have been around for a while,
    probably in this room debating these very issues,
    we've also seen examples of local governments
    leading progressive change
    on issues like green infrastructure,
    investing in housing and coming up
    with novel programs for homelessness.
    So like my son Jonah's game,
    in our own home-grown civilization,
    we cannot win without strong cities and regions.
    Our urban crisis is to ask how we can
    and should strengthen our regions,
    cities, neighborhoods and communities
    for the betterment of all,
    not just some.
    And we are so fortunate to have four distinguished guests
    who are going to help us make sense
    of this place that we are now in our region.
    So I'm just gonna briefly introduce our panel,
    and then invite them up to come
    and share their wisdom with you.
    So first of all Daniele Zanotti is president and CEO
    of the United Way Greater Toronto.
    He led the historic merger
    between United Way in Toronto and New York region,
    and more recently the United Way Peel region,
    achieving a scaled regional approach
    to drive more local impact.
    He is going to discuss how strong neighborhoods
    are essential to the GTHA's future.
    Tim Jones is the CEO of Artscape,
    he's a city builder, a social entrepreneur,
    and a change agent who works at the intersection
    of arts and culture, urban development,
    community activism, philanthropy and public policy.
    Under his direction since 1998,
    Artscape has grown from a Toronto based
    artists studio provider
    to a globally recognized leader in creative place making.
    Tim is going to highlight why the suburbs are key
    to the GTHA's cultural vitality.
    Kofi Hope is a change maker.
    Kofi is a Rhodes scholar
    and has a doctorate in politics from Oxford University.
    He is currently a senior policy adviser
    at the Wellesley Institute,
    a strategic consultant to the vice president HR equity
    at the University of Toronto,
    and a Bousfield visiting scholar at U of T School
    of Geography and Urban Planning.
    In 1997 Kofi was the winner of the Jane Jacobs Prize,
    and in 2018 he was named as a rising star
    by Toronto Life in their Power List.
    Kofi will highlight for us the importance
    of youth equity for the future of the GTHA.
    Finally Marcy Burchfield is a Vice President
    of the Economic Blueprint Institute
    at the Toronto Region Board of Trade.
    Marcy has spoken and written extensively
    on Ontario's regional planning framework,
    and developed innovative methods to measure,
    monitor and understand how cities change over time.
    Marcy will speak about how regional cooperation
    holds the key to regional prosperity.
    So it's my delight to first turn over the podium
    to Daniele Zanotti.
    (audience applauds)
    - Thank you.
    Tammy didn't need our 2004 poverty by postal code report
    to tell her what she already knew.
    Poverty was deepening, sticky and stubborn in the suburbs.
    She lived in eight
    of the priority neighborhoods before she was 16,
    Mom struggling with mental health and meth,
    Tammy begging to belong and hang on,
    pregnant in high school, nowhere close to turn,
    no programs,
    TO was a world away from a strip mall in Scarborough.
    A decade ago, 65% of United Way funding
    was in the Downtown core.
    And 35% sprinkled sparingly in the suburbs.
    United Way brought BMO first
    to an empty Vic Tanny's Health Club
    in a deserted Scarborough mall,
    and then a few other corporate partners
    and donors came along.
    We talked about connecting space, services and people
    in the postal codes of poverty.
    We talked about building strong community.
    Because research on the soul of community
    validates that connected neighborhoods
    have the strongest GDP growth year over year,
    communities where people know each other, volunteer,
    also have lower crime rates, higher educational achievement,
    and higher employment.
    And study after study shows that it takes decades
    of sustained and scaling investments
    to build social connection.
    A decade ago,
    a new neighborhood philanthropy emerged in our region.
    Corporations, individuals,
    generous gifts to priority neighborhoods.
    Shovels slowly went into the suburbs and ground,
    agencies applied to expand programs, because place matters.
    We are who we are with and where we are with them.
    And when Tammy heard 22 staccato gunshots
    puncture the sticky summer sky,
    she dove under her kitchen table
    with her three kids in tow to hide and cry.
    Then she got up, called five of her neighbors,
    and started a community response team,
    training youth on crisis management.
    She started a neighborhood watch
    to monitor who came and went.
    She joined the United Way Residence Council.
    Today seven hubs in priority neighborhoods
    with over 2 million visits.
    Over 100,000 residents like Tammy solving local issues.
    And all at a time
    when our recent opportunity equation in the GTA report,
    in partnership with U of T's neighborhood change research,
    shows that the GTA is no longer a city of neighborhoods,
    but a collection of islands segregated by income.
    Peel, the income inequality capital of Canada,
    with neighborhood polarization spreading into the 905,
    York and Peel, where a majority
    of neighborhoods are now low income.
    In this region we love,
    geography is destiny.
    And background and circumstances
    increasingly determine whether or not you will succeed.
    In our experience a decade ago,
    today tells us GTA neighborhoods
    will define our region's future.
    And solutions must come in and with neighborhoods.
    That's why today 65% of United Way funding
    is now intentionally focused in suburban neighborhoods,
    where poverty is deep.
    And a third in the Downtown core.
    For the first time in our history,
    we have changed how and who we fund,
    working with poverty and place lands,
    and welcoming new local programs
    for the first time in decades.
    Because we know every dollar we invest
    in preventative community support close to home
    saves up to $9 down the line.
    Today Tammy is a full-time community manager
    in her neighborhood.
    And now that we have built space
    and services in neighborhoods,
    and brought people together to solve local issues,
    Tammy is at Town Hall, City Hall and boardroom tables,
    helping shape our new neighborhood abundance story.
    And she says it far better than I.
    Quote, "Everything we need
    "is right here in neighborhoods with community."
    It is time for the next level
    of neighborhood work in the GTA.
    How we create a virtuous cycle of public
    and private investment
    in low income inner suburbs and neighborhoods,
    local, inclusive economies.
    And it is ceding already across this region,
    people in places sitting and solving.
    A pioneering partnership with Labor, Metrolinx,
    the City of Toronto, Province and the Feds.
    Shaping a community benefits agreement framework,
    an apprenticeship declaration,
    to ensure that the billions spent on transit infrastructure
    will deliver employment opportunities
    for residents and groups.
    Local businesses and neighborhood improvements.
    Today as we sit here, about 200 people,
    youth, indigenous, racialized, LGBTQ,
    are leaving their full-time job as apprentices
    or IT specialists at the Eglington Crosstown.
    Groups are working in Peel on a community benefits agreement
    on the Hear Ontario LRT.
    Wreck still rising, residents, agencies and businesses
    came together to ensure that the new Woodbine Casino
    would embed community benefits as well.
    Groups like Anchor Teal, 18 Partners,
    the City of Toronto, UFT Centennial College,
    Ryerson, Metrolinx are embedding social benefit
    for low income residents and neighborhoods
    into their hiring and purchasing practices.
    Through the Crosstown Project alone,
    over half $1 million
    have been procured through social enterprises.
    Partnerships like Avis Phoenix and Building Up.
    And in September 2018,
    a decade after they stood with United Way
    at a Vic Tany's in Scarborough,
    to announce our first hub,
    BMO announced a $10 million gift over the next five years
    to drive local inclusive economies.
    Because our neighborhoods will define our region's future.
    At the start BMO and United Way
    have convened a first of its kind,
    a corporate leaders table with 20 CEOs
    from our countries' top IT, real estate, media,
    legal and financial institutions.
    All committed to work with community
    in a very different way,
    starting with the levers
    that are in their corporate possession.
    Incubating small businesses,
    driving 21st century jobs.
    Creating opportunities for local hiring and procurement.
    From this old neighborhood charity model,
    to a new neighborhood abundance story.
    From transactional drive through investments
    to slow, sustained, roll up your sleeves
    and stay awhile relationships with new partners.
    Where we intentionally integrate local planning,
    economic development and social infrastructure.
    Porter dubbed it shared value,
    Hyman and Tims name it the new power.
    Dr. Ezo Pensit, the purpose revolution,
    call it what the hell you want.
    For me, I prefer Tammy's simplicity,
    everything we need is right here in neighborhoods,
    working with community.
    (audience applauds)
    - I always love listening to Daniele speak, great job.
    Now I've set off an alarm somehow.
    A musical interlude to begin my.
    Sorry about this guys.
    There's a lot that divides us as a city.
    The rich and the poor.
    The empowered and the disenfranchised.
    Downtown versus the suburbs.
    And unfortunately as we've just heard from Daniele,
    that the fault lines of these divides
    often are reinforced by our city's geography.
    As noted by the often cited David Hulchanski work
    on poverty by postal code.
    Today I want to talk about a particular strategy
    to bring our city a bit closer together.
    An idea that taps into the power of culture
    to reshape patterns of urban and community development.
    The focus of my comments really is on the cultural awakening
    of our city suburbs,
    perhaps a deliberately provocative idea.
    And by using the term awakening,
    I'm not meaning to suggest that our suburbs are asleep.
    In fact, culturally there's a lot going on there,
    there's a local arts service organization,
    there's festivals, there's art in the park,
    there's all kinds of stuff going on.
    Nor am I suggesting that the city
    is made up of cultural deserts and oases,
    the oases being in the Downtown.
    Because in all parts of the city,
    there's this unbelievable cultural richness,
    and we find it in our people,
    it's the defining feature I think in many ways of Toronto,
    is the diversity and richness
    of the cultural heritage of our people.
    But what I am saying is that there is an opportunity
    for them to be so much more than they currently are,
    to unleash the cultural power of our suburbs,
    to be culturally vibrant,
    not just part of the time, but all of the time.
    Toronto, as many of you know,
    has a really interesting history of cultural transformation.
    It's only a few decades ago
    that our city had a well earned nickname of Hogtown.
    when I think about the transformation
    of our city over the last three or four decades,
    it's really the culture of our city
    that has transformed us into a global city.
    And it's also happened in neighborhoods over time,
    from Gerard Village in the 1950s,
    which was the hotbed of creativity,
    and later in the 60s and 70s in Yorkville.
    And then there was the Queen West phenomena,
    happening around the Horseshoe,
    and all of those great hotspots in Queen West,
    and that energy moved westward to West Queen West,
    and eventually to Parkdale Junction,
    and many other places in the Downtown.
    These have been cataclysmic cultural transformation
    that have really reshaped the Downtown.
    And they've happened downtown
    for a whole bunch of different reasons.
    It's partly about investment and cultural development
    that has happened over three or four decades
    by the Canada Council, Ontario Arts Council
    and Toronto Arts Council
    that have focused largely in the downtown.
    There's a phenomenon of artists clustering together,
    and they do that out of necessity,
    it's an economic thing,
    that means that's where the market is,
    and that means that's where the venues are,
    and that means that's where the audience tends to be.
    And we've been at Artscape studying this phenomenon
    of cultural transformation for more than 30 years.
    And for a long time, and for many people still,
    they see this a bit of a mystery
    of how this transformation happened.
    And certainly that was the case for us at Artscape.
    And then we got involved in the revitalization
    of Toronto's Distillery Historic District.
    And that was a case where there was an intention
    to leverage the power of culture actually
    to drive the revitalization of that place
    after a decade of failed attempts
    and millions of dollars of investments that went nowhere.
    And to make a long story short,
    what was initially imagined as an eight year long trajectory
    of revitalization happened at about 15 months.
    From our first conversation with the owner of that site,
    Cityscape to the time that we opened the doors,
    15 months went by,
    and in that time we razoned the whole site in a floodplain,
    we raised the money, we renovated the building,
    we found 63 sub-tenants for our space.
    And a few months later we opened the doors,
    we had a party with all of other friends
    and partners in the distillery,
    and 70,000 people showed up.
    And that's when the penny dropped for us at Artscape,
    that rather than thinking of artists as they often are
    as the hapless victims of urban development,
    that there is actually a lot of power there,
    and if we actually can figure out how to unleash that,
    to harness it,
    that we can actually be the drivers,
    the change-makers in our city
    and there's a lot of power there.
    And we have studied these processes,
    and through iteration we've evolved
    a practice called creative place making,
    which is not about just doing place making
    in a creative way,
    but it's specifically about leveraging the power of culture
    to drive an agenda for change,
    growth and transformation of place.
    We have replicated this in Witchwood Barns,
    in Parkdale, and Regent Park through Daniel Spectrum,
    and found ways that culture can actually
    do all kinds of things,
    like help ease and slowly erase the stigma
    that has grown up in some
    of these places over decades and decades and decades.
    So the suburbs have lots of challenges I think.
    The culture makers actually can really help with.
    The sense of placelessness you get
    in many of our suburbs and communities.
    The lack of investment,
    the lack of places that bring people together,
    the lack of programs and services for youth,
    and in some cases all the vestiges of poverty,
    crime, gangs, the stigma and hopelessness
    that sometimes comes along with some of these challenges.
    And at the same time culture makers have
    a lot of challenges that the suburbs can really help with.
    We work with a group called
    the World Cities Culture Reform,
    it's a network of 40 different global cities,
    and last year they declared that the biggest threat
    to culture in today's world, in global cities,
    is the urban affordability crisis.
    In many senses, artists are the canaries
    in the coal mine of this issue,
    it's the issue that led to the creation
    of our state 32 years ago.
    So today artists are moving from Toronto to Hamilton,
    to Prince Edward County, and places all around.
    The suburbs have what those places have too,
    which is cheaper real estate,
    places that need enlivening,
    audiences and markets for their work.
    So my bold idea is actually not that complicated,
    it's really one that brings the artists
    and the suburbs closer together and working together.
    And this is not meant to suggest
    that we are proposing a conquest
    of the suburbs by marauding hipsters from the Downtown,
    but that we actually work purposefully
    to build the cultural vision for communities
    from the ground up in these communities,
    respecting who is there,
    and leveraging the amazing vibrancy
    and cultural richness that exists in the community.
    And so we are in the process of testing this hypothesis
    through the creation of something called
    Artscape Western Common.
    It's a new community cultural hub
    that we're building in the neighborhood
    of the old city of Weston,
    at Weston Road and Lawrence,
    it's on the site of of former green pea parking lot,
    a collaboration with a private developer
    called the Rockport Group,
    and tons and tons,
    hundreds really of community stakeholders,
    and I see Laura at the back is one of
    the people who has led the charge on this development.
    It includes 26 live work spaces for artists led families,
    8000 square feet of community space, theaters, galleries,
    homes for urban arts, the local Arts Service Organization
    and a great group called Shakespeare in Action.
    It's really giving this community
    a platform for cultural exchange and expression
    that's gonna breathe new life into this community,
    and it's a model that's also self-sustaining.
    That once the front end capital investment has been put in,
    and in this case we are able to secure most
    of the resources for the capital
    through the development itself
    and through a small investment
    in the affordable housing component of the project.
    I'm not suggesting that one or five or 10
    of these community cultural hubs on their own
    are gonna unleash the amazing power,
    but the way that this process works
    is that it's like a pinprick of urban acupuncture
    That stimulates something
    and attracts other interest and investment,
    helps to unlock opportunities and other investment,
    more development in the neighborhood.
    So I really believe it's time to really unleash
    this incredible cultural potential of Toronto suburbs.
    Just imagine if Melbourne, Thorncliffe Park,
    Jane and Finch, and South Etobicoke,
    imagine if these places became hotbeds of creativity,
    driving new trends in art, fashion, food and music.
    Imagine these communities showing
    the world how to live together,
    how to build social cohesion
    and celebrate culture in a way
    that forms new forms of expression.
    I think our suburbs have the potential to do that,
    and I'm looking forward to working with anyone out there
    who is interested in exploring this with us.
    Thank you very much.
    (audience applauds)
    - Good afternoon everyone.
    It wasn't a trick question, good afternoon.
    Great to be here.
    So I want to start today with a little thought experiment.
    I want you to think about a transition point in your life,
    one where you didn't know what was gonna happen next,
    maybe it was when you left the job
    And you didn't have another job lined up immediately.
    Maybe it was when you graduated university.
    Maybe it was after a breakup or divorce.
    Maybe it was at retirement.
    Think for a moment about that time in your life.
    Think about what were the emotions,
    the feelings that you experienced.
    I'm guessing there would have been some fear,
    maybe some worry, some apprehension,
    perhaps excitement too,
    but overall I would assume
    there was a good deal of uncertainty and stress,
    since change is hard for everyone, right?
    Now imagine the kind of change and what that experience
    is like to go through as a vulnerable youth,
    if you don't have supportive adults
    or parents or other people in your life.
    Maybe you were criminalized due to past mistakes,
    if you had an existing mental
    health condition or disability,
    if you were queer or from a racialized group,
    if you are in insecure housing,
    all of those compounding barriers
    a young person could face in the city,
    and then on top of them,
    you're faced with a major change,
    and you're not sure what comes next.
    Let me give you an example of this phenomenon.
    It's a story from 10 or 12 years ago,
    I was still a student here at U of T undergrad,
    and it was the first time I went to a youth jail.
    It was one Downtown, the old York Detention Center.
    And we were doing a workshop there for young men,
    basically kids who committed federal offenses.
    So serious crimes.
    And I was nervous about doing it,
    it wasn't that I was really worried
    about the young people there,
    and at the time I was doing lots of anti-violence work,
    and working in the Jane and Finch community,
    I was a little worried about the exercise though,
    because we were working with one
    of the members of our coalition
    which was talking about gun violence
    and what real solutions were in the city,
    and he had set up a workshop
    where we were gonna go and start with personal storytelling,
    and I thought I don't know
    if these guys would want to hear my story.
    I had a pretty privileged life, a middle-class life,
    lots of opportunities, what's the story there?
    I needed to check me and say no Kofi,
    every story has power.
    If you're honest and you're open
    there's something to learn from it, and something to share.
    So we went in and we did the workshop, and I was shocked.
    For one thing, it was the most engaged group
    of youth I've ever worked with.
    And really, they were in jail,
    they were just grateful that folks had come
    And were engaged with them
    and being generous with their time.
    And at the same time I could compare it with work
    I was doing with youth on the outside
    who were gang involved,
    but the difference was, these guys had nothing to prove.
    They were in jail, people knew they were real,
    there was no need for posturing,
    they were just interested to learn.
    And so it was an amazing workshop,
    and it was a really great experience.
    And afterwards I was chatting with one of the staff,
    he was a gentleman in his 30s,
    a black man who had come from the UK to Toronto,
    had been there for about 10 years,
    we started talking about where he was from,
    and I noticed as it was going on
    that he had a rapport with these young men
    that wasn't your traditional corrections officer or guard,
    they seemed to really have a connection.
    And I asked him about that, and I probed him,
    and he told me, he said, Kofi,
    these people are living in chaos at home.
    There is no consistent food in the fridge,
    there's abuse, there's neglect,
    they are not going to school consistently,
    drugs are used in the home or sold in the home.
    That's what pushes a 12-year-old to commit attempted murder.
    And here, they get fed,
    they actually have adults who are mentors,
    there's a consistent school,
    there's access to games and Xbox and you see progress.
    Yeah, it's jail, it sucks,
    but you know what, when we release them,
    and they go right back to the same environments
    they came from without the proper follow-ups or supports,
    all of the progress we see made
    while they are inside disappears
    and then we just see them back again,
    and we see them back again, and we see them back again,
    and they've graduated
    to adult jail and everything changes.
    To me, this illustrates one of the major issues
    in our system for supporting vulnerable youth.
    And this comes from research and my own experience
    that some of the dangerous,
    the most difficult places
    for young people are transition points.
    When youth ages out of care in the children's aid system,
    when they leave youth detention system,
    when they leave high school, these are danger points.
    It's not to say that those systems
    I described are perfect systems,
    not by any means,
    but many cases where young people
    when they have engagement in those systems,
    they have a degree of stability, of support,
    of routine,
    and sometimes ability to connect to caring adults
    that's really, really vital
    if you want to see change
    in the lives of these young people.
    But our system as it exists today has so many gaps,
    so many gaps.
    So maybe you've got a great program
    in your neighborhood for 12 to 18-year-olds,
    things are going well and you're getting lots of support,
    and you turned 19 and there's nothing for you.
    Or maybe you get connected to a great program
    like the one we ran at my former nonprofit,
    the CEE Center for Young Black Professionals,
    you're there for eight months,
    you're getting counseling, you're getting career support,
    you're getting food supports, you've got a job placement.
    Then eventually you finish the program,
    and sure, we are still there a phone call away,
    but really that caring community you had every day is gone,
    and what happens, you're back at home,
    and that allure of those same negative spaces
    you were in before starts calling,
    and you lose a lot of the progress that you made.
    Now, there are some specific recommendations
    for how we can do programs that target transition points.
    And if you're interested,
    a little bit of that is referred to in my article,
    and you can go check it on the website.
    But I want to touch on the bigger issue here,
    because the issues I have described are emblematic
    of a system that exists today for vulnerable youth
    which is full of overlaps, duplication,
    gaps, and never ending carousel of pilot projects
    which start-up, do great work, and then disappear.
    And right now we really have a youth sector
    and a social service sector in this city that's in crisis.
    We can do amazing work on the one on one level,
    we know how to help coach someone,
    we know how to mentor them,
    we know how to reintegrate them,
    there's so many programs
    doing great work that's highly effective,
    but overall the system is highly defective.
    Staff are doing great work
    while resources continue to get squeezed,
    where governments and foundations
    ask you to do more with less,
    when it's impossible for small groups to actually grow,
    because when you go to compete with private funds,
    you're up against the fundraising machines
    of the universities, the hospitals,
    and the really big nonprofits.
    And when you have youth workers
    who many times can barely cover the bills,
    who are going from one year contract to six month contract,
    to a one-year contract,
    because none of the organizations have the core funding
    to offer the security of a long-term contract.
    But still, despite this,
    good work happens every day at the individual level,
    but at the systems level, at the level of scale,
    we struggle to make an impact in Toronto.
    In many parts, the cost in the social service sector,
    we are asked to do things
    that frankly government should be doing.
    I don't know how many times my staff were out there
    helping people to find decent housing or decent childcare,
    something in my mind government
    should actually be providing for our most vulnerable.
    But more so, the issue is
    we do not have a system that is coordinated.
    We don't have a system that focuses
    on gaps and filling them.
    And because resources are so scarce,
    and competition is so fierce,
    you get this weird situation where running a non-profit,
    you're being asked all the time by your funders,
    collaborate, collaborate, collaborate,
    but then you're always in these Hunger
    Games style competitions for resources,
    and it's the same people you're fighting
    with for life and death
    that you're supposed to collaborate with.
    So what happens nine times out of 10,
    new grant comes out, it says we need to see
    a partner from an agency
    with an academic with another agency,
    and you call people up, and you're like,
    let's put them together,
    and you get these shotgun marriages,
    people who have never even worked together before,
    maybe have never even met on a grant,
    you get the money,
    and then you're meeting them
    as soon as the money starts flowing.
    And then maybe a couple of weeks or months later,
    you realize, we don't even work well together.
    But too late, you've got three years of funding
    and you are gonna run with it.
    There is a different way to do this,
    because our system for vulnerable youth
    is in desperate need of reform.
    And one of the ideas that is well known,
    is a concept called collective impact.
    Now it's not new,
    it's not my original brainchild by any means.
    Everyone's heard of it in the sector,
    every funder talks about it,
    there are a bunch of people today trying to do it,
    but we do not do it well in Ontario.
    What does collective impact mean?
    In this context it means having a neighborhood
    or a community create a strategy for vulnerable youth.
    You have a facilitated process
    where all of the youth serving agencies,
    related government departments,
    local institutions and neighborhood members
    sit down and say,
    for our community what is
    the state of affairs for vulnerable youth.
    And now what are some collective goals that we can set
    that makes sense in our neighborhood context.
    Maybe that means we want
    to all focus on increasing graduation rates,
    maybe it's around reducing teen pregnancies,
    or reducing youth who re-offend.
    Whatever it is, you come with collective goals,
    and then collective metrics are set and agreed to.
    And then service providers create strategies
    to make sure there are integrated
    and ongoing supports around those goals.
    This first happened in the US
    in the Harlem Children's Zone,
    where there is a commitment to increase
    post-secondary attainment,
    and work to coordinate agencies in a part of Harlem
    to have what they call cradle
    to graduation pipeline for youth.
    An integrated and seamless network of agencies,
    providing clear programs from early years
    all the way to high school graduation.
    And with the model that really concentrated
    on focusing resources in a strategic way.
    Trying to make sure in early years all kids
    in the community and access to free early year program,
    so everyone had a common head start,
    and then as youth got older the programs
    got more focused on those who are higher risk youth.
    So by teenage years the focus
    was on those youth showing behavioral issues,
    those who dropped out of school,
    those who were in conflict with the law.
    This kind of model makes so much sense,
    but there's really a consensus across
    the field that it's a way to move forward.
    And at my current workplace, the Wellesley Institute,
    we've run a program called Supports for Success,
    and we have been able to do the groundwork
    in for communities across Ontario to set a research base
    and some initial collaborations
    to be the catalyst for collective impact processes.
    But the issue is, the task of doing
    this well is beyond any Canadian foundation.
    To really make it work we need leadership and resources
    that can only come from government.
    Harlem Children's Zone didn't have that at first,
    but it's an outlier,
    because due to their connection to Manhattan
    And the really charismatic leader they had,
    they were able to raise tens of millions
    of dollars a year from Wall Street and private donors.
    That isn't our reality in Toronto.
    And so I have argued what we need to see
    is a real focused approach to collective impact,
    rolling out in Ontario led by municipalities.
    Now why municipalities you might ask?
    Well no offense to the great folks
    doing work at the province,
    but I really believe they don't have the capacity
    or the right level of work to do this well.
    They have great staff,
    and they'll talk to you all day about collective impact,
    but their level of analysis is too high,
    and they don't have the capacity to really engage
    on the ground to make this work
    at the neighborhood level across Ontario.
    To me collective impact means
    a new relationship with government,
    not seeing community agencies
    in this new public management frame
    as just being subcontractors to government,
    but instead agencies as true partners
    with municipal governments.
    With their staff from government providing
    consistent central node in a new network
    that can build together around neighbors
    with the different partners at the table.
    With government able to provide necessary research,
    able to rally together neighborhood partners,
    and help create the data that is needed
    for these strategies to move forward.
    And I fear that what we see all the time is thinking okay,
    well we'll just do this in the usual model,
    we want collective impact,
    we'll find an anchor agency, we'll give them money,
    they'll go ahead, they'll be the central node,
    they'll make it happen.
    I think this is actually a logical place for government.
    Municipalities have the consistent presence,
    they have a neutral status
    to be the convener of these networks,
    and also they have a little bit of distance
    that can allow them to oversee
    the evaluation of these strategies.
    And critically, they have the clout to do
    the advocacy and partnership work to get foundations
    and other funders from different levels
    of government on board and at the table.
    To say to folks, hey,
    now we have a strategy developed by community
    for youth in Melbourne,
    and we need all the funding from all partners
    that goes into this community
    to be in line with the strategy and be coordinated,
    to make sure we aren't just funding
    what your own priorities are,
    or the flavor of the month program you'd like to see,
    but what's been set by the community for the next decade.
    So maybe your foundation wanted
    to fund K to 12 programs,
    we get it, that's great,
    but actually we need funding
    for a very specific high school young women's group,
    because that one is where the gap is in the system.
    To do this right, municipal civil service
    will have to serve as enablers, consensus builders,
    partners and advocates.
    And right now we have some positions we can build off of,
    community development officers in the city of Toronto
    provide a bit of a template for that,
    and what it could look like.
    But it would need new resources and additional staff
    to get it arranged to do this right.
    But I believe, no other body has the local knowledge
    or connections to do this as well
    as municipalities and municipal governments can.
    But it will take will and commitment,
    but if we can start bringing this level
    of integration and focus on our most vulnerable youth,
    if we can seek out gaps in the system,
    focus on those transition points
    we know are so dangerous for our young people,
    I believe municipalities can be a catalyst
    for transforming our youth sector,
    and creating systems that don't
    just work at the individual level,
    but work at the systems level to support vulnerable youth
    across all of our neighborhoods in the GTA.
    Thank you.
    (audience applauds)
    - Hi.
    So first let me thank you Enid for inviting me to this,
    I appreciate this.
    My participation in this started at the Neptis Foundation,
    where I argued for the need
    for a coordination collaboration.
    Because we took a regional lens
    to pretty much everything that we did,
    and we really applied it to land use planning,
    transportation, and environmental planning issues.
    With my recent move to the Toronto Regional Board of Trade,
    it really continues that work with a specific focus
    on the employment side of things
    and the work that I did with (mumbles)
    at the Neptis Foundation,
    where we looked at how the changing
    economy plays out on our regional landscape.
    So at the board I'm starting up
    a new unit called the Economic Blueprint Institute,
    the EBI will work in collaboration with external partners,
    hopefully here at U of T, and elsewhere,
    to develop an evidence base that will inform
    a five year forum plan for the innovation corridor.
    We can talk a little bit
    about what that geography looks like later.
    The blueprint was ready to examine and identify population,
    industry and occupational dynamics in the region,
    and the infrastructure
    and the institutional investments required
    to support the enormous amount
    of growth that we are getting here.
    Ultimately the blueprint will inform
    the boards longer term advocacy work
    around the need for a regional economic
    development strategy and plan.
    And so the regional lens of my work continues,
    just in a slightly different application.
    So if you ask me what's next for the GTA,
    my initial response would be with cautious optimism.
    Lots of opportunity.
    But first we need to deal
    with some really big challenges that we need to address.
    The biggest one is not just how we think as a region,
    but how we act and how we function as a region.
    As many of my appellants have illustrated
    how the planning process,
    whether it's social planning,
    or land use planning or transportation planning,
    how that plays out on
    the ground locally does matter absolutely.
    But I would argue that getting things right
    at the city region scale is essential
    for the prosperity of the region in the 21st century.
    Because as our geography grows
    we really begin to live more regional lives,
    and so Metro Toronto Planning Board,
    those days were considered some
    of the golden days of planning,
    but as the region grew at its edges,
    the influence of that body really waned.
    And while many call for a regional government,
    there seems to be very little appetite
    to create an effective regional governance model.
    That's why today my comments will focus mainly around
    the need to develop a model for regional coordination
    and collaboration that really
    has the buy in from municipal leaders,
    and recognized by both the provincial
    government and the federal governments.
    Our ability or inability to grow
    as an integrated coordinated city region
    has profound implications from social perspectives,
    to economic perspectives,
    and the well-being as a whole of the region.
    The first point I want to make,
    is really on the surface at least the GTHA
    is really beginning to think and act like a region.
    There's this nascent regionalism in place,
    we have a land-use plan and a transportation plan
    regime that has a regional focus,
    with a growth plan and the greenbelt plan,
    and a regional transportation plan.
    Neither of these plans
    or their implementation may be perfect,
    but they serve as the basic building blocks
    for a framework for our metropolitan region.
    That these plans were really input
    in place as a top-down exercise,
    as the provincial initiatives as a top-down kind of process.
    And it is because of the absence of a regional government
    that the province becomes
    a de facto regional planner in this region.
    Really when it expresses interest in doing so.
    However there are many exciting initiatives underway,
    both locally and federally,
    which provide a bottom-up example of regional collaboration.
    One is the creation of Toronto Global.
    Their ability to enable economic development arms
    across all municipalities in the GTA
    to attract foreign direct investment
    to this region is really commendable.
    During the Amazon HQ bid,
    they were able to accomplish the difficult task
    of satisfying local municipal interests,
    while presenting the assets of the region as a whole.
    And as we know, they did that on the basis
    of our talent and our assets,
    not subsidies like other city regions.
    However, Toronto Global continues to do their work
    almost with one arm tied behind their back.
    While we sell ourselves as a region, the Toronto region,
    the lack of a regional economic
    development strategy and plan
    hampers our ability to play
    to our strengths and our specialties.
    To even understand what our strengths
    and your specialties are where and across the region.
    What the complimentary roles of municipalities are,
    and how different municipalities,
    different communities play different roles in the region.
    The second point I want to make is really
    that there is an urgent need for a formal mechanism
    for convening municipal leaders regularly
    to address these big regional issues,
    and to address multi-jurisdictional issues.
    Multi-municipal jurisdictional issues.
    Municipal leaders need a forum for discussion.
    That's a very different from being brought together
    to get time with the Premier,
    as has been done with the GTHA's Mayor and Chair Summit.
    While the provincial buy in of regional issues is important,
    there are multi-jurisdictional issues
    that require municipalities
    to come together and talk about them.
    This is not dissimilar to the big city Mayors Caucus
    of the FCM to address big-city issues
    with the federal government at the federal level.
    But in the era of very limited infrastructure dollars
    from both the federal and the provincial governments,
    and the financial challenges facing municipalities,
    there is a need for municipal leaders in this region
    to come together to discuss priorities
    and solutions with each other,
    and not necessarily compete against each other.
    There are no shortage of big issues to deal with,
    with the controversial extension of the young subway,
    whether that's first, or the Downtown relief line is first,
    or they are both built together.
    One of the biggest issues there is
    what are the transitional solutions
    to dealing with the capacity problems on that line,
    while these things are being built.
    Planning around the airport is another big regional issue
    that has multi-jurisdictional dimensions.
    It requires input from Vaughn, from Brampton,
    from Mississauga, and from the GTAA.
    Also planning for the innovation corridor,
    the regions fastest growing,
    Canada's fastest growing tech corridor
    requires connectivity
    between many different hubs across that area.
    This leads me to my final point.
    In the absence of any appetite for a regional government,
    what might a model of collaboration
    and regional coordination look like?
    There are many examples
    from formal regional institutional bodies
    that provide opportunities for convening
    local municipal elected leaders, like Metro Vancouver,
    or the CMM in Montreal,
    it seems to me that the first step that we need to do
    is just get our municipal leaders around the table
    on a regular basis.
    A recently released book titled
    Discovering American Regionalism,
    An Introduction to Regional Intergovernmental Organization,
    or REGOS as the authors call it, might provide some clues.
    It was actually co-authored by a former IMFG fellow,
    and current professor at Hunter College, Jen Neils,
    and while the book describes
    many different examples of regional bodies,
    and many different examples of regional coordination,
    the authors emphasize the power
    of simply convening municipal leaders regularly
    in their effectiveness of solving some big regional issues.
    So I would argue that's where we need to start.
    And I'll leave it there for discussion.
    (audience applauds)
    - I'd like to thank all of our panelists,
    we do have some time for questions.
    So maybe I'll kickstart a question,
    and then as our panelists are answering,
    you can think of your own questions,
    and we'll have somebody who will be bringing
    the mic around the room
    to be able to ask it to the folks up here.
    So it occurred to me,
    which should have occurred to me before,
    that all of you are from outside government.
    So you have this really interesting set of perspectives
    Of the government as sometimes an enabler,
    as sometimes an impediment
    to the changes that you are working so hard to see.
    And of course all of you are speaking
    about on some level structural change,
    some changes to neighborhoods and communities,
    there some change to regional governance.
    And so my first question is,
    given the governance changes that you're hoping to see,
    and at the same time the political realities
    of four-year terms where governments come
    and go and have their own priorities,
    where's the bright light,
    where is the promise that the hard work that you're doing
    can be actualized through government?
    - I could start. (laughs)
    So part of my point
    is just that the continuation,
    and so I think that's to your point,
    four-year cycles, new elected officials.
    But even if you have new elected officials,
    the ability to convene people on a regular basis.
    Zach Taylor and I did a study with the Neptis Foundation,
    we are actually gonna call it the three cities
    before David Hulchanski's work came out,
    so we called it Growing Cities instead,
    just a little inside baseball there.
    But basically we found that as you get these institutions
    that have mandates for particular policy,
    and you look at how policies play out.
    It's the continuation, continued effort
    towards some kind of goal,
    and the power of convening people to keep their eye
    on that goal I think is a big deal between elections.
    And whether you have municipal leaders change,
    you have different political stripes change,
    the power of convening I think really plays
    a key role in keeping the momentum going
    for issues that are not gonna drop off
    the table just because a different government is elected.
    - Kofi, did you have something optimistic to add?
    - Yeah, I mean,
    my mind just kept going to the Toronto Youth Equity strategy
    and some of the great strategies we've had,
    which get 10% of the funding from council
    that they ask to have.
    That being said,
    when I think about youth collective impact strategies,
    of course there still needs to be political will to fund it,
    but a lot of it can lie within civil servants themselves,
    who at least give a greater degree of consistency
    than councils,
    although we have a council that has a lot of longevity
    for some of our councilors as well,
    but still at the level of civil servants
    you can have some of that consistency
    there even as the political winds change.
    And because it's fundamentally,
    it would be great if it lead to new resources,
    but a lot of it is about simply
    about coordination of existing resources,
    and creating goals that can be committed to.
    And maybe that's part of the key I think.
    One of the beliefs I have is that we aren't an agent,
    we need democratic renewal,
    but I think when there are plans or ideas
    that are truly generated by community
    and have community input,
    that actually has a lot of power,
    and that becomes a lot harder for governments
    to come in and get rid of.
    It's a lot easier if a previous government came up
    with a highly technical plan
    that no one understands on the ground,
    just get rid of it and move on,
    I think plans are actually locally generated
    it becomes much more difficult.
    And so if you do a collective impact process right,
    and a lot of the money is upfront
    to do the research and set that plan,
    my hope would be it's a lot harder
    to then say to a community,
    no, we're getting rid of this.
    The three years you spent putting
    this together doesn't make sense,
    we are doing something different.
    And so I think there can be some longevity
    in policies which are locally developed
    to last through changes in leadership.
    - I just want to say that I've stopped looking
    to government for leadership and innovation.
    I am a much happier person since
    I've reduced my expectations.
    I say that jokingly, but actually I'm serious.
    During the Rob Ford Mayoralty,
    that was a really bleak moment in our city's life,
    from a municipal government point of view.
    But if you look at what was happening
    in the community during that period,
    there was a lot of innovation,
    there was a lot of cool stuff happening.
    People were getting stuff done,
    there was a vacuum of leadership and people stepped into it.
    And I'm not advocating,
    because I think there's
    a really important role the government plays,
    and we have to encourage leadership everywhere.
    But I'm just saying that we shouldn't always just
    think that it's gonna come from government,
    notwithstanding your ideas about the government
    and the collective impact being led by the municipalities.
    I think that sometimes we'll continue to be disappointed
    if we always expect it's gonna come from there.
    I think there's a lot that we can do
    to encourage the innovation
    and the great things are happening in the community,
    and it's not always government that's gonna lead there.
    And I think the private sector has a huge role to play too,
    so obviously it's a question of balancing it.
    But that's why I'm not completely totally devastated
    by the situation that we're currently in,
    because I think there are always going
    to be opportunities for innovation,
    and people in the community
    who are driven are gonna find those opportunities.
    - I would agree, I think that we've seen
    at all levels of government through various stripes,
    the power of enabling and convening,
    I think the term you used is the right enabling magic.
    And we've got examples, even in this room,
    of previous governments that have enabled innovation
    through hubs and community work at the provincial level,
    we've got examples where they empower neighborhoods
    and communities to come up
    with solutions that are sustainable.
    And that really is the key,
    regardless of the level of government.
    When it gets too prescriptive
    I think then we are in fights for dollars and policy,
    and it needs to be grass root versus top-down.
    - Maybe if I can just pick up on that point
    before we take a question.
    I don't want to dampen things by mentioning the G word,
    but when we talk about community
    and neighborhood involvement in building plans
    and creating the strategies to go forward,
    there's always the fear of gentrification.
    So I'm wondering how,
    especially those of you
    who are really directly involved in this work,
    and no doubt have thought
    about this and introduced safeguards.
    What do you think about I guess the risks,
    but also the measures that need to be in place
    in order to safeguard against gentrification
    in vulnerable communities?
    - I'm happy to lead off with this.
    One of the things that I learned from Jane Jacobs I think,
    is that the cities and neighborhoods
    are constantly growing and evolving and changing.
    Many of the downtown neighborhoods have been
    through five or six different cycles of identity,
    and boom and bust and all that kind of thing.
    So there's always the impetus to engage,
    or to initiate change when things are in the down cycle,
    and that's I think an important thing to do.
    But you can't just intervene and start something
    and then walk away and think that the work is done,
    it's like tending to a garden,
    you have to constantly be looking at it.
    So if you're introducing a stimulus,
    you actually then have to look at how you counteract
    the negative consequences of that should they come.
    So I think the best tools really are inclusionary zoning,
    and we've struggled to make that happen effectively,
    I think it's the most important
    policy change that we can do.
    There needs to be a whole lot more innovation.
    Our organization is involved in affordable housing
    for artist led families,
    and I'm sad to say that in that sector,
    the affordable housing sector,
    I don't think there's nearly enough innovation.
    We are focusing on deep core,
    rather than a spectrum of opportunities
    from affordable ownership to our GI.
    So I think there are lots of different things,
    ways of addressing it,
    but you have to look long term
    and tending the garden constantly,
    not just thinking that you're gonna fix it
    once and walk away,
    because neighborhoods are gonna always
    continue to grow and evolve.
    - You know I think obviously part of gentrification,
    and I had a talk at a design firm
    this afternoon talking about the same stuff,
    so I can remember some of the points
    that we were discussing.
    But I think when you're thinking of the gentrification,
    part of it is about you need to have a diversity
    in the housing stock that comes on market.
    Including what we haven't been building,
    especially over the last decade
    is housing specifically for people
    in the lowest income brackets,
    the lowest quarter of the market.
    For the lowest 60% of the market,
    we are not building housing for folks right now,
    and there's a variety of ways we can think about that.
    There was a time in this country where one
    in eight of the new units that were built were built
    by either cooperatives or non-profit
    or government housing agencies,
    like outside the public sector.
    And that doesn't mean that the majority
    will ever need to be built by government or those forces,
    but now the mix is down to two or 3%
    of the housing that is built.
    So I think one of the clearest ways to me
    is we need to increase the amount
    of mix that can be built by cooperatives,
    by nonprofits,
    and we need to think about how that can be done to scale.
    And it's done in other countries,
    in France, in the UK,
    in the Netherlands they have significantly
    more housing that's come on market from alternative sources.
    And I hope to say we haven't missed the opportunity,
    but we've had such a tremendous period of growth,
    literally hundreds of towers
    that have been built over this last decade,
    and really developers have had carte blanche
    to build whatever they wanted,
    and a lot of that has been units
    that were sold mainly to investors.
    Now a lot of that has turned into rental property,
    because we haven't been building rental units,
    but the fact is that wasn't units
    that were made to be rented to families.
    We're talking about a lot of one-bedroom,
    or a one-bedroom plus a den,
    and a den is an indent in the wall or something like that.
    These aren't actually units that families can live in.
    But we could have,
    at the municipal level and provincial level,
    put some requirements in place
    about what percentage of new housing stock needed
    to have three bedroom unit and those kinds of things.
    We kind of stepped away from it,
    and it's great to think
    that this building boom will go on forever,
    I doubt that that's the case, it's a cyclical industry,
    but I think we still have time to say hey,
    we want you to come and build in Toronto,
    we want to see an intensification,
    but we also want to see units that are built for families,
    that aren't just built for speculators.
    And those pieces can help
    I think protect against the forces of gentrification.
    - I almost want to say we're past gentrification.
    Like our entire region seems to be in a housing crisis,
    if one of the outcomes of gentrification
    is basically that it pushes people out,
    it pushes people who have lived in a community,
    and are unable to afford to buy
    in the community that they live in.
    And so,
    I'm just gonna challenge you a little bit by saying
    That we actually have planned for a lot of this,
    it's just that we haven't planned
    in some of the creative ways that
    I think Tim was referring to,
    is that we just let the market go in the direction,
    even though we have lots of plans as Alex knows,
    we have lots of plans at the municipal level,
    at the provincial level,
    and we plan the amount of land that we need
    for the amount of people that are coming here,
    the amount of jobs.
    It's just been a very market-driven kind of planning.
    And so to inject some of that creativity
    around different available models,
    options for home is an excellent example
    of an innovative model that allows people
    in the median housing income brackets
    get into the housing market.
    We need more of those all over.
    - Was one factor I saw before too.
    - Hi, Michelle Sullivan,
    I'm with the city of Brampton Emergency Management Office,
    and I'm in charge of the Light Hills Program,
    which is a capacity building
    and resilience initiative out of Brampton.
    I started the project as an intern,
    With Rhodes University,
    so ironically I'm an Ontario placed person,
    but schooled out west in British Columbia.
    So it gave me a sense of what's happening out west,
    but also bringing that into
    Eastern government type of environment,
    and I'm from a municipality,
    and I'm from the GTHA.
    My project started out with Brampton
    from the government top-down,
    it is now bottom-up,
    sideways and latterly moving everywhere.
    And I think it's because we have several models,
    the top down from the middle and from the bottom up.
    So you do have it here in Toronto,
    but it's only bottom-up level at the moment,
    they are struggling to get recognized at government level.
    We have it in Hamilton, we have it in Burlington,
    and we have it in Oakville,
    We'll soon be out in Calgary and Ottawa.
    So I just wanted to talk about that,
    because basically I work with faith based groups.
    - Do you have a question for the panel?
    - So the question is,
    for the gentleman who talked about systems theory.
    Sorry, so it has to do with my looking into this system,
    it wasn't linear.
    So I started the project,
    of course there's this great big frustration
    when you're part of a government organization,
    you have your Gantt charts and your business model,
    and everything lining up in a row.
    I actually had to get this project moving
    by looking into the law.
    So I had to get a legal person to look at it.
    So the question is for the people who are on the panel,
    were there any ways that you changed policy
    like you approached a lawyer, or risk management people,
    to actually get your project moving.
    Did you have to invent an agreement to help people
    at community level and neighborhood level?
    So that's the question.
    - I think, thank you for that.
    I think when we look at the community benefits agreement,
    and I referenced the partnership
    with the Province of Ontario, the City of Toronto.
    There were a number of policy changes
    that have to happen within a draft agreement,
    but I couldn't agree more,
    it needed a bottom-up of labor residents
    and agencies to come together,
    and say we believe this type of agreement,
    embedding 10% of apprenticeships across all
    of the private public partnerships would be of assistance.
    And I couldn't agree more,
    it's got to come in at all angles,
    which gives then momentum
    and pressure for that kind of government change.
    - There's a giant gap though at province
    when we looked into it.
    There's MOU over here,
    and service level agreement over here.
    Nothing in the middle between the two.
    Have you come across agreements
    that actually address at new (mumbles)?
    - Sadly no.
    - Yeah. - Yeah.
    So we'll move onto the next question.
    - Thanks.
    I had a two part question,
    I'm really interested in the idea
    of a new role for municipalities,
    a convener role, enabling, mobilizing the city.
    I think that's a really powerful idea,
    but I think we have some ways to go
    to situate ourselves to allow that to happen.
    So I'm interested on that side,
    how do we help prepare municipalities
    to take on roles like that a bit more deeply.
    Obviously we see lots of various types of leadership,
    but I think there's all kinds of obstacles.
    And then from the other side,
    how do we work with our communities to set new expectations
    that our cities will take on these roles,
    and how do we devolve some
    of this decision-making down to the neighborhood level?
    Are there some structures that you would recommend for that?
    So two sides.
    - On the convening part, because as Alex so aptly put it,
    the municipalities are the creatures of the province,
    in our constitution,
    so I think that it does require
    for it to be meaningful in our system,
    but it does require some provincial support.
    So Alex also mentioned
    this regional governance review that's happening right now.
    We know one of the things that the province could
    do as a result of this is to look
    at what is the functional economic region,
    or what's here in this region,
    in Southwestern Ontario and Ottawa,
    and create some kind of support
    for a convening kind of body,
    whether it's involuntary Mayor's Council or something,
    but something that allows the leaders of our region
    to come together on a regular way.
    We have boards of directors run organizations,
    they meet on a regular basis.
    There is a need for a regular convening of these folks
    to talk about issues on an ongoing basis.
    But I do think that the power
    of the province to compel them
    to do that helps a little bit.
    But also at the same time they can provide the support,
    the organizational kind of supports that are necessary
    to create an agenda
    and to do the facilitation of the convening.
    (woman mumbles off-microphone)
    Well I think they address certainly,
    there are forums for that,
    but I think what is missing here is for the Mayor
    of Markham and the Mayor of Toronto,
    and the Mayor of Brampton and Mississauga
    to sit down on a regular basis
    and talk about these cross-border issues.
    They have constituents that may live
    in their municipal boundaries but work outside of them,
    and no one is really addressing those issues.
    - Kofi, do you have something to add?
    - Yeah, I'm thinking about the second part of the question.
    Part of it is how do we change folks relationship,
    and even rebuild their trust in governments
    that we can have those local bodies
    that can come up with ideas.
    And it's not a simple answer,
    and I think it's a place
    where we actually need innovation and experimentation,
    but I think the reality is we need
    to start different processes.
    I remember I was at the city planners AGM
    and we were talking about community consultation,
    and one of the planners there
    was basically lamenting and saying,
    she was responding to someone, she was like,
    I understand that we need to have more community voice,
    but the way our community consultations are still funded are
    have one consultation in a sweaty gym in a local school,
    and it's always the same group of people.
    I think the average age is about 55 in Toronto.
    And it tends to be the same 10, real fact,
    but it's the same 10 people who were always
    there every time who show up.
    And so I think we really need
    to have some openness to outside the box,
    whether it's engaging.
    And social media is not the solution to everything,
    but ways that you can engage people
    that they can do it from home at some point,
    the way that you're actually actively seeking responses.
    So that you don't budget to simply
    have one meeting in one place,
    but maybe stuff that's more door-to-door.
    I think there's been interesting stuff
    around participatory budgeting and other pieces.
    But let's look at the Ford brothers and their success.
    A big part of their success,
    and from to talking to folks in TCH and in community,
    was they were folks that felt
    they had no representation in government,
    no connection to government,
    and here's a guy who gives you his number
    and you can call him and talk to him.
    People are seeking that kind
    of personal connection with government,
    because navigating government is hard at the best of times,
    and it's really biased towards folks
    who have middle-class backgrounds,
    and understandings to work their way through the system.
    And so when they talked
    about we're gonna make better customer service,
    and people thought, what are they talking about,
    this isn't a used car sales dealership.
    Many people said, yeah,
    we do need better customer service,
    because we struggle when we go
    to a government office to get things done.
    And so I think having that openness
    and ways that people can directly connect,
    and part of that is also putting people on the ground.
    And that's why I highlighted community development officers,
    we don't have enough resources in the city,
    but doing community work you would see them at meetings,
    they would come out.
    And that was your connection,
    if you wanted space at the city,
    oh, I'll call Laura,
    because she is the CEO for Jane and Finch,
    and we know she can get us room at the library.
    And this is even for agency professionals,
    knowing at least there's someone
    there we have a relationship with.
    And so I think a more relational approach
    and that creates many different access points,
    that allows people to now trust in government,
    and allows you to more creatively bring citizens together
    to have some role in thinking about neighborhood agendas.
    - Daniele, did you have any thoughts about that question?
    - I think there are examples at the municipal level
    where they are playing a system management role
    through a number of the downloading from the province,
    and it works,
    and a lot of it will depend on
    the municipalities connection
    to the community and the agencies.
    So I don't think it's a brushstroke of all municipalities.
    I do think though, so for United Way Greater Toronto,
    we work across three regions.
    If I take York as an example,
    there are nine municipalities and a regional government.
    The regional government oversees
    all human and social services.
    And yet the municipality is intimately connected
    with what's happening on the ground.
    So I think there are some governance issues
    that needs to be addressed on who is managing that,
    and what's the relationship in that,
    and how do you change some of those rules
    so that it can be connected.
    Second point is,
    if we are gonna look at that
    and the changes at the governance level,
    community also has to be well aware
    of what's within their scope,
    and what's within their decision-making,
    and I think needs to be a two-way.
    - I think Enid is giving me the look,
    so I think we have arrived at the end of the event.
    I never like to cross Enid.
    - Well I never like to say something's gonna end at six,
    without it actually ending at six.
    So I think I promised you some bold ideas
    from some big thinkers at the beginning,
    and I think we certainly heard that today.
    But what struck me sitting here listening
    to this discussion is,
    some of the fantastic things that are already happening
    in this city and in this region.
    We heard about community benefits agreements
    and the great work happening there.
    We've heard about the cultural awakening of the suburbs,
    and I love the thing about community hubs
    as urban acupuncture.
    And Daniele said at the beginning of his talk
    that neighborhoods will define the region's future,
    and I think that's true,
    but then we heard from the regional side
    about how we have to think and act as a region as well,
    and that as 20 odd municipalities
    in the Greater Toronto Hamilton Area,
    we have to come together to think as a region.
    So we've got the local, we've got the collective impact idea
    of communities and neighborhoods coming together,
    in this case Kofi talked
    about programs for vulnerable youth.
    We've got collective benefit agreements,
    we have all these neighborhood things,
    but at the same time we have to think as a region,
    so we are always balancing those two.
    So I would like to thank the panel
    for a really interesting discussion this afternoon,
    and Alex for putting it all together
    and moderating it and making all the parts fit.
    Today's event has been webcast
    and will be available on our website in a couple of weeks.
    Please feel free to share it with your colleagues,
    and thank you very much everyone for coming,
    and have a great evening.
    (audience applauds)
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