Categories
Anti-Black Racism Governance Housing Leadership Social Planning and Equity Urban Planning

2020 Year In Review. It was one of transition.

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Every year, I would write a post reviewing what transpired over the year and plans to move forward. Last year it did not happen because of a major upheaval. This year, I decided to return to the long standing tradition.

This year it is a year of transition, while remaining consistent with others. The biggest accomplishment this year was the recommencement of graduate school in September to complete the Masters of Public Administration (MPA) program in Local Government at Western University. The last time I was in school was March 2016. Tragedy stuck where I lost my mother and took a lot of out of me emotionally. Now I return with greater confidence and purpose.

My research interests have slightly changed. I initially went into the program concentrating on regional transit governance. Those who have followed my blog, or those on social media, noticed my constant defense on the subject. I have been out of the transit profession for a while and the planning profession for three years and have been more focused on strategic and equitable leadership in local government. While governance remains a subject of interest from an organizational perspective, the majority of recent blog posts concentrated on racial and social equity.

This year's international and national events surrounding addressing and eradicating racism after the deaths of innocent Black people with of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Regis Korchinski-Paquet was one factor. My post Enough is Enough from May highlighted my frustrations with systemic racism and my lived experiences navigating through White spaces in the professional world, and my own personal lived experiences from childhood to today.

Another factor was highlighted by the COVID pandemic that exacerbated the existing anti-Black racism and income gaps surrounding transit, public health and housing. Earlier this year, I contributed to an article to The Local Health Magazine where I spoke about my experience on the Jane 35, a Toronto transit bus route that traverses low-income neighbourhoods and where the hardest hit communities with COVID.

The plethora of Zoom webinars and meetings came with some positive results. One of them was meeting Carlton Eley, who provided me with some input on successfully maneuvering through the professional world focused on racial equity. I am forever grateful in him suggesting a book from Susan T Gooden titled Race and Social Equity: A Nervous Area of Government. I summarized the book in a post from the summer related to disrupting the status quo in the public sector. I will be incorporating some of her thoughts into my major research paper.

During this pandemic, I took up running as a form of physical activity in lieu of gyms being closed. As novice runner, it was more for exercise as well as visiting new neighbourhoods such as Oak Ridge and Birch Cliff in Scarborough and trails like the Finch West Hydro Corridor and the Beltline Trail.

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But my social justice conscience went into high gear where I witnessed such disparities between the aforementioned Jane Street corridor and the Swansea neighbourhood as well as my experience seeing a makeshift encampment in Alexandra Park in Downtown Toronto. It was my last post on addressing the housing inequities in the City.

Finally, I started Urban Equity Consulting as a stop gap to find a way to work on contract developing solutions in strategic and technical urban planning and policy. But work has been scarce. It will be a placeholder to add racial and social equity to my practice once I complete graduate school and gain more experience in that area.

I predict the first half of 2021 will be more of the same, even with the discovery and distribution of vaccines among the general public. I will be graduating with a MPA degree in hand with a paper that hopes to carry me forward in my career, running a consistent 6:30 minute per kilometre pace, either continuing my practice with greater fervor or landing a full-time job - which the latter is preferred, and volunteering for causes with a strong racial equity focus.

I am looking forward to completing this transition in 2021 with greater purpose and success. Who's ready to come for the ride? Drop me a note in the comments or follow me on my various social media channels.

Categories
Housing Politics Transportation

Breaking Free…and Bad

Categories
Housing

Eliminate single family zoning to accommodate affordable housing

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Cities need more of these triplex housing complexes

During my brief time as a Policy Planner with the City of Brampton, one of my responsibilities was to update the housing section of the Official Plan. As I was doing so, I came across a few things. One was the "estate housing" category, and the other was separation distances for group homes. I will only discuss the former. As I learned, Brampton intended to attract and, for a lack of a better term, segregate executives in the northeastern part of Brampton. These would be similar to a Bridle Path or Kingsway in Toronto's tony neighbourhoods. As someone who took issue to this, I sought to eliminate this category from the housing section. Since housing planning and policy was new to me, outside of building typologies, I was indirectly in favour of eliminating single family zoning.

Categories
Housing Social Planning and Equity Strategic Planning

Community Strategic Planning for Lawrence Heights

I will be applying for re-entry into the Masters of Public Administration program at Western University for the 2020 academic year. While I would be entitled to change my interest, I wanted to come up with a new topic that reflects my passion of strategic planning with the purpose of relationship and community building.

So why would I want to be discussing this now? Whether I would be accepted or not, it is a topic worth discussing.

Categories
Housing Politics Social Planning and Equity

Rent Control Died in California and Ontario. Now What?

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Image Courtesy of The Globe and Mail

I woke up to a blog post from Toronto Housing Matters where they supported the Province of Ontario's decision to partially eliminate rent control on newer rental buildings.

The post continued into an academically, yet basic, economics argument on supply and demand, then moves to a discussion of why rent control is intrinsically horrible, especially for low-income renters.  I wasn't convinced, so I did some digging.