Senior Urban Designer, City of Toronto
Magic Moment: When a project is more than a building but marks a moment when society begins to change, this recently happened while working on the Anishnawbe Health Centre file in West Don Lands. There wasn’t one indigenous member of the design team, review team, or design review panel when we started. In the beginning, we advocated for the applicant to hire an Indigenous Architect to oversee the entire block redesign. We introduced principles of indigenous place-making into our design process. Its success prompted Waterfront Toronto to add an Indigenous Panel member to their Design Review Panel, which promoted other City Design Review panels and commissions to follow suit. What started as a loss for knowledge and a desire to make something meaningful has resulted in discovering how we talk about and design spaces with indigenous place-making in mind.
Key Influence: Lorna Day, Director of Urban Design (retired) CofT and Shalin Yeboah, Director Transit Expansion Program CofT.
Key Lesson: Lorna always encouraged me to use my rational brain, even when my passionate brain didn’t want to listen.
Shalin can always see the big picture, despite all the political noise. It’s a real skill.
Next Big Challenge As An Industry: We really need to be focusing on complete communities with good quality of life and small environmental footprints. Your neighbourhood should meet eighty percent of your needs, and you should be able to access them without needing to own a car. We spent too much time just moving around. Post-Covid, I think we have to focus on completing the neighbourhoods that don’t work.
On Championing Others… I really like working with new members of the City Planning team and beyond, being a soundboard or guide as they figure out this crazy collective project we call city-building. I really enjoy being surprised by new ideas or techniques and am quick to recognize people’s efforts.
One word that captures you: Curious, and I like to improve things.
Secret Talent: I learned to cut hair, mostly my husband, son and fathers as part of Covid. I also like renovating houses with my husband, but I don’t think that is much of a secret.