Tag: Toronto

2020 Year In Review. It was one of transition.

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.

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.

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.

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A City is Decked Out in Red, White, and Black. Purple, Gold and Brown Too.

June 13th Approximately 11:30 pm

I am sitting in my room watching the last 0.9 seconds on the clock which seemed like an eternity for the inevitable to happen. Draymond Green in pure Michigander style dumbfoundedly attempts to call a time out when the team didn’t have one. A technical foul was called. Kawhi Leonard sinks the 2 baskets with the Raptors up by 4. Stephen Curry heaves the ball 3/4 up the court. Kyle Lowry grabs it. Game over. The Raptors are NBA Champions. #Rapsin6ix.

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Transportation Equity Solutions in a Future Shared Mobility World

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Plenty of shared mobility options exist and have yet to arrive in Canadian cities.

As I sit here deep in thought while in suburbia during the Easter long weekend, I contemplate the opportunities and challenges brought about by the future of shared mobility.

New mobility in the form of transportation network companies (Uber, Lyft and autosharing) and micromobility (Dropbike, Lime) are disrupting the transportation world to address the first and last mile problem.

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Legacies and Letters

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Image Courtesy of Transit Toronto

The transit file has reared its ugly head yet again.

During Tuesday’s podcast of On the Ledge podcast with Dave Trafford, John Wright and Keith Leslie, they discussed how the Provincial Tories have an opportunity to stake their claim and become a “Legacy Government” on the transportation – namely transit, infrastructure, health care, and education files.  Two things stood out for me during the podcast.

First, was the panel’s assumption that the Conservatives, namely Premier Doug Ford, is seemingly amenable to above ground transit technology, aka light rail transit.

Second, with respect to the subway upload, the assertion is that the upload is for the design and build of future subway lines and not existing ones.  Dave Trafford confirmed with the Transportation Minister Jeff Yurek this morning on the Moore in the AM radio talk show that the Province, ie Metrolinx, would also include maintenance.  Maintenance does take up a considerable chunk out of a transit system’s budget.  Therefore, the proposed upload could entail the TTC maintaining and operating the existing network, while only operating the newer systems.

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Talk about funding transit with one voice

While I partially agree with this tweet by “urbanist” Adam Chaleff (a term I absolutely detest by the way), it set me off. The article Chaleff referred to was about finding innovative ways to fund the Waterfront East LRT according to Mark Romoff.  Romoff included a land value capture model that is being used to revitalize Mimico GO Station and leveraging the use of the Canada Infrastructure Bank.  The latter is an idea that I fully supported, and so did Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam.  Critics have stated infrastructure banks similar to ones in Chicago and Los Angeles, have gotten off to slow starts.  One of the reasons is that we tend to work in silos.

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Missed Connections

Several days ago, I was asked for my thoughts on transit amalgamation from a couple of seasoned veterans in the urban space.  This was in light of Thursday’s Institute of Municipal Finance and Governance talk on transit regional governance with Joe Berridge, Trisha Wood and Michael Schabas and The Agenda’s panel discussion the night before. While I agree that transit governance and funding are discussions well worth having now, the significance of the end user, aka the passenger has been missing.  I’m not just talking about affordability, mobility or accessibility.  It is about the passenger experience.

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