How can we leverage the power of design and engagement to make better main streets?

Joining CUI host Mary W. Rowe for our ongoing series of candid conversations – How can we leverage the power of design and engagement to make better main streets? – are Anjuli Solanki, Program Director of The STEPS Initiative; Jason Robbins, Principal Architect at JC Robbins Architecture and 1st Vice President of the RAIC Board; Devin Segal, Director of Landscape Architecture at Fathom Studio; Mitchell Reardon, Experiments, Urban Planning & Design Lead at The Happy City; and Mark Lakeman, Founder of City Repair.

5 Key

A roundup of the most compelling ideas, themes and quotes from this candid conversation

1. Public art is critical to the recovery

According to Anjuli Solanki, public art is essential to the vibrancy of our public spaces, and throughout the pandemic, artists have been developing interventions in the public realm, from creative safety markers and ways to mark safe pickup zones, to animating empty storefronts and sites for future development.

2. Thinking beyond “the container of design fetishism”

Mitchell Reardon described the importance of thinking beyond the “container of design fetishism” where the product is more important than the process that went into its development. This has led to the development of projects that do not create a sense of meaning and belonging to communities. Mitchell believed that this is a fundamental challenge which can be improved through prolonged community engagement. 

3. Shovel-ready implementation

According to Jason Robbins, there is always a tension between pushing for shovel-ready projects and good design, and working within the constraints of project budgets, while advocating for community benefit. Architects must meet the expectations of their clients, design shovel-ready projects, while also providing immediate value for communities and stakeholder groups.

4. Design decisions have never been neutral

According to Mark Lakeman, architects, planners and designers should work actively to ensure that their projects do not “reinforce the structural inequities embedded in the colonial grid.” Great creativity has been unleashed during the pandemic—blocking off streets, expanding patios onto sidewalks, and more. There is great opportunity to make these interventions permanent, and to continue to push to treating streets like the cultural spaces they have always been.

5. The opportunities and limitations of online engagement

COVID-19 has given us the opportunity to facilitate consultations with a wider range of stakeholders through online conversations. However, we must be mindful of the limitations of online interactions.

Full Audience
Chatroom Transcript

Note to reader: Chat comments have been edited for ease of readability. The text has not been edited for spelling or grammar. For questions or concerns, please contact with “Chat Comments” in the subject lin

From Canadian Urban Institute: You can find transcripts and recordings of today’s and all our webinars at

July 9 City Talk


Mary Rowe [00:00:27] Hi, everyone, it’s Mary Rowe from the Canadian Urban Institute. Really glad to join have for having you join us today. We’re a little late this morning. We were having a bit of a joke about. There’s nothing like a national broadcast. Can I say or in this case, an international broadcast for you’re dealing time zones and making sure that everyone understands which time zone we’re working in. So it’s a little bit of a glitch. But, that’s OK. We hope Mark Lakeman  is going to join us from Portland once he finds the right link to switch on. If not, we’re going to go with these brave Ford who have agreed to come and talk to us about the role of a design engagement. This is Bring Back Main Street Week for CUI. And we are concerned about what’s happening to our local economies and what’s happening to our local neighborhoods. And as we adjust to the new normal and what a pendent the effect that a pandemic is having on the way we interact with one another, the way we shop, the way we change, the way we worship, the way we have fun, all the various ways that is affecting us. And Main Street for us is where we can really see the tangible impact of that. And design and engagement has such pivotal roles in terms of how we actually experience the city. I think that those of us that are immersed in this forget that a lot of people take for granted how cities are designed or how streets you put together or how frontages work or work curbs are, where parks are and all these things. And I also think that we forget that streets are actually public, that they’re actually owned by the public. And in many cases in cities, they aren’t there. The majority of the public space may, in fact, be a street. So we’re just a full on on this and So have a look. You’ll see the work we’re doing there. And these broadcasts, as I suggest, are as best we can make them covering as much of the cross-section of Canada as we can. And we have visitors coming often from United States to help inform our discussions. And so today we’ve got Toronto and Winnipeg and Vancouver and Halifax and hopefully, yes, Portland has arrived. Portland is in the house. And there’s Mark Lakeman.  I’m just in my preamble, ma’am. So your timing is perfect. I’m Mary Rowe. Hi. Nice to see you again. So I’m going to introduce the group in a sec. But just before I do, just say that these broadcasts originate in Toronto, which is the traditional territory of but Mississaugas of the Credit, the Annishnabec, the Chippewa and the Haudenosaunee, as well as the Wendat peoples. It’s now home to many diverse First Nations Inuit and Metis. People from across Turtle Island Toronto is covered by trees or team which are signed with the Mississaugas of the Credit and the Williams treaties that were signed with multiple Annishnabec, nations. And we have tried to be as cognizant as we possibly can about the extent to which urbanism and contemporary urbanism and historical urbanism has excluded people on the basis of their race or their ethnicity or their, as I just suggested, their territorial heritage. So and the legacy of that is a deep one. And we are feeling it more and more, I would say, as this pandemic wears on and all the different ways in which communities that have been disadvantaged and marginalized are expressing and saying this isn’t good enough and that we’ve got to come to terms with a more equitable way of building cities. So these five that are joining me this morning or this morning or this afternoon, depending on where you are, are each engaged in a different aspect of how we look at the role of design and engagement and how it’s being practiced now and how it needs to practice practice differently in the future. And we have a chat function, as many of you know. We encourage you to post up in the chat. Tell us where you’re coming from. I monitor the chat quality, monitor the chat. If you’ve got specific questions you want to raise, please put them there. Just keep in mind that what goes in the chat stays in the job, because after these sessions, we post the video, we post some highlights and we post the chat. So just keep that in mind when you’re writing a love letters. There are other people will read them. But we’re happy to have your discussion on this. We also encourage you to go on to social media, if you’re inclined, which is hashtag city talk. And also, we always want to acknowledge that we are cognizant that while these conversations are taking place and we’re trying to make sense of our experience and the challenges of the pandemic are posing urbanists. We’re also aware that there are many, many, many, many, many people across the world and still in North America who are on the front lines keeping people safe and trying to keep people healthy. So we’re we never want to minimize that. And we’re still in a pandemic emergency in many, many parts of the world and in many, many parts of the country still. So thanks, gang, for joining us. I’m going to ask each person just to give us a bit of a picture of what you do. Tell us where you are and what you do. And then tell us what you’ve been observing through the pandemic as being the real challenges that are in front of you. Just get that out on the table and then we’ll have a more a broader conversation. So, Devin, I’m going to start with you. Just fill us in on your perspective and what you’ve been watching over the last. Is it 16 weeks? I don’t know. Where is it? 15 weeks. Whatever it is called, the time. It’s been a while. Tell us what you’re watching and what you’re learning.


Devin Segal [00:05:16]  You know, for sure. So, you know, a little bit of me. I’m more of a landscape architect of I’m located here in Halifax, Nova Scotia. And here. Our experience with the pandemic is very similar to other jurisdictions in Canada and the US. But at the same time, we’ve you know, we’ve fared pretty well in terms of our response with the public health. And, you know, we’re we are very much in the process of reopening or in a lot of places, we have reopened. Most stuff we’ll say we’ll say business. What I’ve noticed lately is we’ll say we’ll take Halifax as an example. And I can also talk about some of the smaller communities in in Nova Scotia and and the region. We’ve we’ve did, you know, some of the basic things in terms of cria creating space in our right of ways in the streets to expand the pedestrian realm. And really what we did was, was put a construction, construction, fencing. It will initially be construction, fencing pylons to to create that additional additional space within the right of way, taking away both typically be space where where you park your vehicle, the street. But still a lot of and a lot of streets have remained open to do vehicle traffic and we’ve implemented some we’ll call them slow streets on local on local streets, more more residential neighborhood streets. So local traffic only market marked at the intersections. But generally, we know we haven’t. Created any, we’ll say districts or, you know, complete, you know, we’ll say patio or outdoor eating districts per say. We have Argyle Street here in Halifax, which my firm and myself I was involved in in leading that project a few years ago, which was a shared street transformation project. So that would be the only about the only true street closure that is it happens, as far as I know, in in Halifax, which is great. It is significant patio Street and and it’s it it is typically closed now in the summers, on the weekends and evenings. So that’s kind of the made permanent at least at least for the next little while. But aside from that, the response hasn’t been, you know, incredibly robust. We were just involved actually yesterday we were down in the in the town of Woelfel, where their main street typically is, it’s it’s difficult if you’re not unfamiliar with local, it’s the home of.


Mary Rowe [00:08:29] Devin. Can I just interrupt you? You’re a little a little quiet. It’s that lovely Maritime’s soft-Spoken is that you’re bringing to this conversation like me. I’m sure everyone can hear that. But is there some way for you to just speak up as a lot more elaborate? Slightly.


Devin Segal [00:08:47] Yeah, absolutely. That’s funny because I’m originally from Manitoba, so.


Mary Rowe [00:08:51] Well, there you go. So much for my theory that you’ve adopted a narrative about maritime the maritime niceness just broadcast a bit more vociferously, if you can.


Devin Segal [00:09:03] Sure. Yeah. So woelfel it’s a smaller town. Typically a population it’s only about four thousand square. Correct me if I’m wrong. Population doubles when Google is on. Now it’s quite, quite empty. And they’re looking to to encourage people to to patronize the businesses, which would typically someday be supplemented by by a lot of tourist traffic, which we haven’t. We’ve opened up the Atlantic bubble. So people are starting to trickle in here. But but it is devoid of other other travelers from across the country, in Europe and the United States. So really, the focus is on bringing people from the Atlantic region and other places in Nova Scotia and the locals to to Main Street and how we can people can safely, physically distance at the same time as sit on a on a patio and enjoy a meal. And what’s happened there is is a pilot pilot projects projects called. It’s good to remember that what we’re what we’re calling the project, I can I can post that later on. But what what ended up happening was taking a street section that had quite a narrow sidewalk on both sides of the street, parking on both sides of the street and to travel lanes and reducing that down to a single travel lane in one direction in this in this instance with the sidewalk patios, adequate space for to move around on street biking. And so that were one day in on that project and one to watch, I think, especially for our smaller or smaller communities here and in the Maritimes.


Mary Rowe [00:11:10] Thanks, Devin. And we’re going to between now that I go to the others, I’m just going to have to remind you when you come back, you’ve just got to speak full voice. People are having trouble? You know, it may be that you take your hat, your headset off. I don’t know. But I’ll let you experiment while we go. Let’s go to the other end of the country, Mitchell. So let’s hear from you in terms of Vancouver and happy cities. Amanda, just a reminder, we want to chat that we don’t actually do long introductions on this with each of these folks. They tell you a bit about themselves, but if you go to the chat function, you will be able to see more detail on who these people are. Mitchell, let’s hear from you.


Mitchel Reardon [00:11:45] Mary, thank you for having me. Nice to be here with this excellent panel. I’m a senior planner at Happy City. We work all over the place, but our work has necessarily become a little bit more constrained. We’re doing a lot around Metro Vancouver right now. Early on, we certainly saw similar to Nova Scotia, where there was a reallocation of street space to enable more mobility, freedom using an array of modes. What struck me was Vancouver was it seemed to be primarily around recreation rather than commuting. So it was serving some purposes. But, you know, you have to still get to your essential work. It was perhaps not the optimal approach. In more recent times, that was kind of decided to Slow Streets program. And now across the region, as I think we’re seeing elsewhere, like slow streets, open streets, streets for people. All of these things have overlapping, but sometimes different. As we started to see reopening. So when phase two occurred in British Columbia, where people were starting to be able to go out and happy city team went out to do some public space assessment, what we saw were public spaces that were starting to boost sociability very quickly. We saw a high share of seniors and people using wheelchairs and mobility scooters. Some populations that tend to be a high risk of isolation out in spaces quite quickly. We’re also starting to see as as patios are popping up and cities are doing new public spaces as well, that there is success in the spaces where groups are taking stewardship or ownership of the space. And this society’s success and the systematic challenges that come with it are two sides of the same coin. So hopefully you can come back to that. I think fundamentally on Main Streets, we’re seeing that businesses that are connected with their communities are doing better than ones that don’t have the strong connections and they seem to be making better patios as well. So those are, I think, a few key things. In the last few weeks, there’s been what we consider maybe a rush to implement. Staff are getting direction that everything should have happened three weeks ago. That necessarily has caused some confusion and it’s something to be worked out. But I mean, across the board in terms of where public potlucks are coming or where patios are and what they look like, I’m also seeing limited accessibility. So we start to see the ramps where people can go on curbs in wheelchairs with scooters. A lot of the time they don’t come with the turning radius necessary to achieve them. Also, limited engagement and monitoring. I think that’s something that’s going to become really important in the near future. And out here in a Vanouver on the unseeded territory, of the  Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh to people. We’re still seeing pretty minimal Indigenous input into what these activities look like.


Mary Rowe [00:14:28] Thanks, Mitchell, you’re raising a bunch of things, I see my old colleague story, Susan, you’re not Old World, but my my former colleague, Susan Jindra, New York is on again today. Thanks, Susan. Always great to see you. And she’s put it into the chat. Twenty six percent of New York City has its streets. If other people know what percentage of the public space in your city is your streets, let us know on the chat would be great. Thank you for putting an end to that. Let’s keep going for now across the West swing back a bit further back into the east Anjuli Let’s let’s hear from you in terms of the steps initiative and what you’ve been doing. And then I’ll go to Jason and Mark. You relate on. So I’m give you a little breather here. So you’ll be the last to actually actually talk to us about your particular perspective on this, could you?


Anjuli Solanke [00:15:06] Sure, yeah. I’m the program director with Steps and we’re a charitable public art organization that develops one of a kind, art initiatives and engagement strategies that transform public space. So we’re really at the intersection of arts, culture, community engagement in city building. This has been a tremendous time of shift and upheaval. Upheaval from the pandemic as well as the Black Lives movement has really been compelling people to make a shift in how they think about things and do things. And we’re really seeing the importance of public spaces, including streets have been has really emerged more powerfully than ever, and especially because these are the spaces that people can also engage with arts and culture, because many of these more private spaces have shut down. And so recognizing one that small businesses have been very, very impacted, especially on neighborhood main streets as well as artists. It’s been something that is central to what we do. And we’ve hosted a number of initiatives that support artists to to showcase their work within their private public space. So within frontages or windows. And we’ve just we’re in the process of rolling out a main street or business improvement area initiative called I Heart, Main Street and Art Challenge. So just a caveat. I was a former executive director for a business improvement area here in Toronto. And so I’m well aware of the challenges many of the the independent is and businesses face. And with that in mind, we’ve where we’re looking at ways in which we can use art and culture to help support the safe recovery of of Main Streets across Toronto. And then we’re hoping to expand this on a on a more national level. Implementing things from safe, more creative safety markers to safe pickup zones to animating frontages of businesses that may have not effectively survived the pandemic. And there are empty storefronts. So where we’re really looking at ways in which to to integrate arts and culture into the recovery process, because it is public art has been the main form of of arts and culture that people have been able to access during this time. And and it’s also a way in which people can more safely engage with one another. We’re really seeing the importance of public spaces as one of the few ways in which people can protest, access, art and culture and and also engage with one another safely. And so really looking at how how we can invest in in integrating and improving our public spaces and investing in expanding as as Devin and Mitchell mentioned, the the the sidewalks and walkability of our streets has been something that we’ve been seeing in Toronto as a pilot and with the hopes that in Toronto we do a lot of things on a pilot basis with the hope that there will be more temporary or more permanent changes as a result of the uptake. So that that’s some of the things that that we’re seeing happening right now, also with working with developers, doing public art along construction sites and providing other avenues for income for for artists. We’ve been really active in continuingly transforming our streetscapes into public galleries for people during this time as well.


Mary Rowe [00:19:22] Thanks. And I think this theme, you know, we’ve done, I think forty seven of these City talks and one of the themes we’re getting consistently is the things that are being temporarily introduced. Should some of them stick? Should something or some of them the right idea? So I love this idea of building sites as public galleries and we’ll come back to that. Thanks Anjuli. Let’s keep going west. We’ll go back west to get a sense department eventually. Jason, you’re in Winnipeg. Where the mosquitos are big? I’m assuming it’s a very warm day there. And as it is, you’re in central Canada. I’m interested in and of course, you’re a designer and an architect. So we’re interested to hear your perspective on this.


Jason Robbins [00:19:59] Yeah, I’m a licensed architect. Practice in Manitoba vice president of the RIAA. See as well that a founding board member, Stortford, Manitoba. So coming to the conversation, more of an advocate role, advocating for design and advocating for architecture and actually shifting my practice to be advocate, architect of things, being able to work closer with the owners of projects. One of the things I’ve noticed is a kind of a separation or a disconnect between what we talk about as designers and built  professionals and our schematic design concept design, engagement process and what they actually want. And they’re not looking for design. They’re looking for engagement, looking for a business that is successful or an art gallery that’s successful. So I think we can we can do better talking about the return on investment for our design process. As an engineer, I can calculate the amount of steel that goes into that project. I can divide it by the cost per kilogram and that I can tell you what that value is. But it’s much harder for us as a design professionals to talkable value. And so it would be better know invoke the name of Zeder Club, right from Fogo Island to talk about the economy of value. And so it’s up something I’d like to see. And then we build a bit on what Julie said about the public spaces for protest and gathering. And Winnipeg’s got a bit of a legacy of of systemic oppression in that realm. So we’re still living within the legacy of the 1919 strike and what that’s meat meant for the built environment. So Portage and Main is still shut down. We can’t cross our most famous intersection that was built in the 70s. This the blockades or the barricades will call it. But that’s still impossible for us to get through. It’s people in the neighborhood want it gone, but people outside don’t. Places like Victoria Park, where they would gather to meet for the strike. They put a car put on that park. I know it’s a dark clouds gone, but no other condos in that place. So we’re talking about what it means to be community minded. There is a legacy that we need to remember and build around. And then just lastly, the observations of the of the pandemic in Winnipeg as we were coming out of the winter into spring, very slowly this year, people took over the streets. People stop driving to work. They’re working from home or they were not working from home, whichever. And then they’re still trying to social distance. So they’re walking down the road. Right. So it wasn’t a designed space at all. It was something that they took over and separated from each other and walked in all directions in the streets. It was reminiscent of a zombie apocalypse, but it was still it is interesting the way that they took over the space.


Mary Rowe [00:22:52] You know, there’s this term in an urban planning. I think it’s an urban planning or maybe it’s in design, but I want to take it and make it an urban, which is this idea of desire passe. I just love this idea of desire pass. And and even though you’ve described it as the zombie apocalypse, I think that there is something about through this period of time, we’re going to see with people’s desire passe, start with what they want their cities to be, including having access to those streets. Thank you for whoever is just trying to say Vancouver is 30 percent streets. So they’re meeting New York, which is twenty six percent. Anybody else got a start on what percentage of your square footage of your your actual landscape is streets? We’d be interested to know. Thanks, Jason. And also, thanks for the mention of Zita Cobb from the short, faster organization in the fogo island. We had Zeda on an early city talk. I think the second week talking about local economies. And so probably one of the producers can put up the link to that chat. And if you want to learn more about the design and rural community and art and as you say that the value what’s what are we really valuing? OK, Mark, we are very happy to have Portland here. You’re gonna need done yourself and tell us all about your perspective on the city repair project. But all the different things that you’ve been doing and and where you see this relationship between design and engagement and public life. So over to you to tell us a bit about your.


Mark Lakeman [00:24:10] Well, I feel like I’m ready to explode. I just have so many thoughts and feelings and at the same time I’m kind of immobilized by all that I feel and want to say. It’s just a pleasure to be here on this screen with all of you. And I wish that we had even more time to talk with each other and commiserate. Well, frankly, there’s just activity all around kind of his old guy who’s been pushing for lots of different kind of basic causes. And we’ve been doing such intentional work that’s relevant to the state of our time in so many different fronts, kind of in under the auspices of action research in a way like. We test a really educated and informed hypothesis through gathering people together and undertaking initiatives, and sometimes, frankly, we’ve had to just break the law and, you know, to make a point. But when people see our partnerships standing there to make a point, they knew the whole time that that card was in our back pocket. And now we’re employing it yet again, pretty much always taken seriously. Whether it’s for twenty five years we’ve been working on tiny home villages, for instance, and we’ve just been raising this call around the structural inequity that comes embedded in the colonial grit, in the processes of colonial invasion imperialism. And, you know, one of the kind of leverage points that is really available everywhere to people is to understand that streets used to have a cultural utility before the imposition of such intense and violent patriarchal structures as the grid. And so, I mean, I mentioned that I’m this old guys because we’re just we’re just we’re just flooded with work and. We’re doing all of these projects. More of them are coming in all the time because there’s clearly a sense of urgency and there’s still enough people that are well organized and rethought resource to keep asking for help. So I’m breathless. And then I’m looking around me and all these people we’ve been working with for generations, interns, students that we’ve helped become designers and activists are just running, running past us, running toward the edge, running toward the crisis in the cause. So that’s very exciting because I feel like I just can’t lift any more than I’m already lifting and so many people are going to this edge. Here’s a here’s a really interesting story. A couple of weeks ago, we got a call from. Someone in the Department of Planning who’s kind of like a mole for for the city repair project inside of the city government. And he’s like, we have forty five minutes we need four emergency houseless village site plans for city council to approve. In just over an hour. And so suddenly we’re all scrambling to to to just get the basic site constraints and configurations and then populate them with village infrastructure and then scan and send these things in for approval on an emergency basis. And I just sat there thinking to myself as we’re drawing feverishly, oh, so all it takes is a pandemic, I guess, right. For us. So see, what I’m seeing is that, like, there’s a sense of crisis and everyone wants to do something. And until this point, we were having to articulate we are having to advocate. We are having to do these guerrilla actions at demonstration projects and have nonprofits involved in fundraising and all this kind of, you know, kind of conventional forms of constructive activism. And then suddenly when we’re into this like, you know, society wide crisis hours, you know, when I say ours, I mean everyone in the this call and the cultures we work with, the ideas that we’ve been championing all this time are the ones that they reach for immediately and suddenly are, you know, are valid and logical and, you know, verified by all the goals and objectives and benchmarks that we’ve been connecting them to the whole time. So they reach for them and then they want to implement them instantly. So it seems great. This is great. Just great creativity being unleashed by the human beings within the bureaucracy and in the political leadership. You know, things like Patio’s obviously. And all over the city, there are barricades that are blocking off streets and limiting things to local access. So, you know, obviously, you know, just trying to open up more space and treat streets like the cultural spaces that they used to be for thousands of years before the imposition of the grid. And later on by zoning and the restrictions that come with that and and cars. So widening pathways. Just trying to make it less, less fearful circumstance for people to be able to get out and just frequent the areas that they’re so used to enjoying. But I’m just so upset. I’m just so sad and heartbroken to see. Portlanders say we used to walk around and everyone’s saying hello to each other. Now people are looking down and they’re scared. Store fronts are closed. Businesses are failing. Festivals are not happening. All of these waves of cultural convergence are dissipating and that the actions to try to support houseless people, to have safe places to live and transportation bureaus to turn streets into cultural spaces. This is everywhere they possibly can. It’s all really beautiful, but I’m just really hoping it’s not too late. God damn it. These are the things that should have happened so long ago and the political impact that they would have had to galvanize people and connect them and turn them into a force. We needed decades and decades ago. So we have this gigantic project called the Green Loop, which is trying to create a swath of connection all around the inner city, miles of of it, about about ten thousand meters of of kind of retrofit urban space. And just beautifully, like whole avenues are about to be painted with the giant graphics to start to kind of get the green loop happening. We’re going to actually put dinosaur prints all over six miles, ten, 10000 meters. Dinosaur prints first and then the next, you know, kind of airpark of creatures like we’ll do this old timeline of of the creatures that have lived in that in this in this bio region over time. Starting with dinosaurs and then leading to mammals. And we’ll just keep putting these prints around the green loop to kind of get people out walking and talking. So it’s you know, we’re definitely making space. We’re definitely retrofitting streets. But then we’re also trying to create this gigantic continuity that will compel families with children to want to come out and follow the prince of animals as they go around the ring. Lots of creativity, but I guess I just want to conclude by saying, like, I love this fearlessness and it’s giving me hope. And at the same time, I’m just so sad for the state of our people and I feel so utterly betrayed by our nefarious, malevolent political figures.


Mary Rowe [00:31:23] Yeah, I hear that, we hear that, and and we have we have varying degrees of that, obviously in different places, the level of the extent to which people are experiencing that kind of, as you suggest, feeling of betrayal and disappointment. But I think certainly in Canada, around the advocacy around as yours, you’re calling houseless or would you refer as homeless. And that we’ve known for years what we needed to be doing. And for whatever reason, it’s taking a pandemic for us to finally buy those motels and actually create socially just and safe places. I want to go back, if we can, to these sort of interaction between design and engagement. And I want to start, if I can, Jason, with you, because you’re surrounded here by practitioners who I think, I suspect have had storied histories and experiences with designers or people with professional training as designers. And there are some people that would say that architects and designers and planners kind of got us in this mess. And I’m I’m curious what you would say to that, Jason, in terms of more and more contemporary approach to this around how communities are engaged at that kind of thing?


Jason Robbins [00:32:28] I think it’s an important point, Mary, that we are living in the environment we created. So Mark’s disappointment with the world we’re in is because of us, right? What are the. The issues that we have in thinking back to my childhood and arguments against apologies for colonialism and things like that is it wasn’t me. It was somebody else’s grandparents who did that. But every every move we make, every decision we make is not neutral. If it doesn’t change, it makes it worse. One of the pieces that I’m struggling with as a as an architect is designing outside of program. How do I make the change? So, for instance, I’ve got a project that has a two million dollar budget and it needs to fit in within a certain square footage. And yeah, I gave it a landscape architect that I’ll work on the outside and I’ll get up to the sidewalk. How do I make that better for the community, though, right? How do I convince them? How do I convince the client to spend an extra hundred thousand dollars to make this a better space when they’re struggling to get the right finishes in sight? So that’s kind of this this legacy of wisdom, of this system systemic. Oppression of architecture on spaces is breaking that down, and I don’t know how I can engage that. So we’re always fighting with value engineering, which is the value or engineering. Right. The budget doesn’t go up through. It just gets cut and cut. Cut. And so we we’re we’re faced with fewer opportunities to create good design outside of our box.


Mary Rowe [00:34:17] So, I mean, as you suggest, value engineering is kind of code for cutting. Striking kicker, right? I mean, Devin, in terms of the work that you’re doing. How do you how do you reconcile the relationship that Jason just suggested in? The dilemma is that a lot of the work that designers do is client driven, which which I think Marcus suggesting actually is just reinforcement learning construct. So how do you navigate that? You as designers and you as engager is probably have an instinct about what they’re a much better approach would be. But you’ve got these constraints. How do you live in Devin? Speak really up Devin?


Devin Segal [00:34:56] I’m actually hoving to shout is that any better. Nobody gets hurt. OK, I’m sorry. I feel bad for everyone else in the office right now. No, that’s an interesting point, because we we work in both both worlds where we do a lot of capital projects for for governments, for municipalities or public parks, streetscapes, you name it, waterfront design. And we work for private developers who have set budgets looking to they are real estate developers looking to you know, it’s not a charity. They’re looking to to make themselves at the end of the day with their project. So often we’re finding we’re having to kind of bridge bridge the gap between the developer or private developer and and come to some some sort of agreement, whether it’s the built in to a development agreement for projects that are working to get a variance or do something other than what’s what’s allowed hours of rights to create public benefit through the private development. And often we do we are successful in getting in convincing private developers to offer more to some degree or help you to to to be proactive and do that on their own or to come to the table for. We can we can be. Well, if you want to put an extra story of on this building, we will do this to know the street. We will we will sponsor. We will ensure those who are public art in the street will provide like rocks will we’ll put trees and soil sell so that we actually have trees that that grow and mature.


Mary Rowe [00:36:47] What what leadership do you think that the that the bureaucrats should be showing in that regard? Because it sounds to me there is if you’re just kind of extracting little, you know, extra little additions from a developer, I’ll throw a bike rack in like there’s lots of cynicism about that. I’m just interested in terms of Anjuli.  you’re dealing with artists. Artists have extraordinary capacity to be able to contribute in different kinds of ways. And Mitchell, are you engaging with civil servants within the planning department? Can they set a standard that Devin’s clients have to start to comply with? Let me hear from Anjuli and then Mitchell.


Anjuli Solanke [00:37:21] Yeah, I’m just to kind of respond a little bit to to Jason’s point. As an arts organization, we’re often found to do then later on be employed to to clean up some of the messages of of poor design. And unfortunately, it’s an afterthought. You know, we we have been responsible for putting up world renowned murals that are like 23 to 30, 30 stories to cover up brutalist architecture that has no connection to the street. And although it’s incredibly impactful and amazing and the work that we do really is influenced by the surrounding community and insights from the surrounding community. But we need to look at artists being more integrally engaged and communities being more integrally engaged in this process from the onset rather than as an after thought, as a Band-Aid to fix something which is still a powerful impact. I’m not I’m not going to say that it doesn’t have an impact, but it has to be integrated earlier on. And using arts and culture as a way in which to galvanize and bring communities together to provide insight. So you’re not just having a public art piece that’s top down kind of klop art, but actually something that’s meaningful. To a broader scope of society and and looking at more creative ways in which to engage a diverse public rather than the usual suspects. No offense taken, but tend to be white retirees. And and so how do you get people with families and kids and from different ethnic backgrounds to to participate? Well, we’ve been often, again, employed as a bit of an afterthought to help bring those communities together. And fortunately, we are seeing in the city of Toronto that we are being brought in earlier in in these conversations. And we hope that as a result of some of the shifts, shifts and the realizations of the of the pandemic, as well as other awareness of other social injustices that are coming to the fore right now, that it’s really important to have more community and citizen Buy-In and participation in this process.


Mary Rowe [00:39:57] Though I want to hear from Mitchell and then Mark, because both of you are kind of engaged in this notion of how do you make how do you engage communities in the actual design process. So, Mark Mitchell, first. Mitchell, in terms of happy cities engagement. Are you do you find that that municipal planning officials are more supportive or are they bringing you in earlier? As both Devin and Anjuli you’re suggesting? Have you had some success with that or are you always on the outside trying to push to get some action?


Mitchel Reardon [00:40:26] We’ve seen a shift over the last, say, five years in how municipalities approach this. But I think we’re still inside this container of sort of like design fetishism where you have the object that comes out of it’s still so much more important than the process. We’re talking about the value. And like getting a picture on Instagram that, you know, goes viral seems to still be more important than the process that went into it. And that can be great for promotion. But it isn’t creating that sense of meaning and belonging that comes with engaging the people who live near our live, work and play in those spaces already. And that is like a fundamental challenge that isn’t really being researched. Talk about process. Be sort of a long way to go on that front. We’re seeing more of this. But I think it’s still a piece where where you have sort of tension within organizations and not just cities. It’s also with developers and other public organizations where you have people who have bought into this. But it is very challenging to get widespread support to ensure this that this goes on. And, you know, we talk about budgets. And so, you know, I have a city where a fairly diverse team, but we still don’t have all the perspectives that we think are important for what’s going to make for a good street life. And so often we will end up using some of our own budget to pay people for their views on what’s going on. We’ve been doing that through the pandemic as well, which can be really hard when you’re getting small budgets.


Mary Rowe [00:42:00] Actually, we’re being asked that by someone in the chat again is how are you doing engagement? How do you do engagement in the pandemic? I just saw someone walk by Mark in his office with a mask on. So, Mark, how are you? How is the work that you guys are doing it being influenced by the constraints, but also how do you find the disposition, although you told that this the city’s give you forty five minutes to come up with some. But generally, how have you managed that interface between communities, designers and the bureaucrats making the decisions?Your muted mark.


Mark Lakeman [00:42:35] Well, fortunately, we’ve been tooled up for a while in terms of being able to use remote media and virtual media. So we’ve been able to just not lose our stride when it came to transitioning and helping to acquaint communities and clients with that transition. So at the same time, it’s just really disappointing because so much synthesis comes out of community building, relationships come out of immediate proximity and not really so much when everyone’s just sitting there on a screen. So I think it’s irreplaceable and somehow we have to get back to this as rapidly as we can. I want to kind of verify what Jason said earlier about owning the fact that we’ve been involved in the process. And as you were speaking, Jason, it was reminding me that one of our most kind of effective and also beloved and notorious female activists in the region said several years ago in front of a group or I was at an event. You know, she’s like, no wonder we’re not sustainable. I mean, most of the decisions historically, they’ve been made in the context of the whole freakin Western Hemisphere have been made by white men between 35 and 70 or 80, and talking about people who can’t even tell their wives they love them or even hug each other. So what fun would the world that they would imagine even be? We’re living we’re literally living within a narrow emotional spectrum, like the way that we feel and see then plays out within this, that that spectrum is manifest systems and forums, you know, and some of it’s just stupid and bumbling and idiotic and unconscious and helpless. And then a lot of it’s malevolent and intentional. I mean, the truth is, it’s really hard to participate in the society. You constantly have to talk about community building. We always have to be organizing people. We have to be fundamentally USA and Canada have the fewest number of community gathering places of all First World Nations, because we live in coercive environments, which just takes us to this really fundamental issue we should be talking about. I think all the time, especially as it relates to diversity and equity and all the issues that are being raised, all the dust is being raised right now. The dust of history is being raised right now like this, the colonial city state that we’re all sitting in right now, wherever we are. The fundamental definition of it starts with the specialization and compartmentalization of people within roles and the way that that relates to us and how we contribute to design structures of omission and oppression is that we literally hold like design is integral to democracy, if that’s what you want to call it. So we’ve compartmentalize. We specialize, we professionalize, we professionalized a role that everyone used to play to some extent within what we would call the vernacular of indigenous cultures. And now we sit there holding those skills because we have this kind of artistic proclivity. And now we know, as you guys were just saying, we we play a role within development teams. Now, it’s not entirely true that we are. It’s our fault. I think it’s important to say to own it as much as we can so that we empower ourselves to do something about it. But as you guys were saying, like we’re working within budgets and we’re directed by developers, that that needle narrow white male slice for the most part of of humanity that’s deciding, you know, yet again, I need more, you know. And that’s the impetus for the project. Yet again. I need more. Already have enough. Corpulent in terms of my spiritual self. But I yet I need more. When we’re serving that impetus so much of the time and a lot of our work is really good too, of course. But we’re we’re serving something. We’re drawing the lines and the pictures for an impetus that we didn’t get to initiate. Okay. So I don’t go on too long, but I just want to say in our work, we initiate all the time and we almost don’t do any work anymore that contradicts our values. Like for one, the biggest thing we do every year is we put out a call as a partnership culture of NGOs and architecture and planning firms. And I work in both of those in this building. We put out a call across the city who wants to change the world? We get about 70 requests for support from across the city every year, and then we enact 40 to 50 projects all at once. That happened in this huge wave. But every one of them is initiated by a local community. They’ll have to do with repurposing streets and urban agriculture. They’re all completely community driven and they’re the inspiration of that place based culture. Our role is to is to pull together the support systems to support their spark that then build and manifest in their community in the neighborhood by neighborhood. We’re we’re kind of eliciting or reinstalling the kind of fabric that always should have been there. And the more we build that, the greater the capacity kind of becomes not just in that neighborhood, but we’ve networked at all. Across the city was like 800 of these self organized kind of public place installations across the fabric of the city now that are building and building and building the network in the capacity, the overall whole city. So just to see how that comes back to our architecture firm. We don’t even do marketing anymore. We just make friends. We make friends by participating in this giant placemaking festival. And it connects us to so many people that we just have too much work to do now that it really is intentional. And I don’t have to fight with my clients. You know, that whole thing about the architect trying to trick the developer into throwing a little curve into the lobby or painting a wall picture. Like, that’s your great success. We don’t we don’t we don’t have that challenge. Every one of our clients brings in stuff that’s unique and wonderful and blows my mind. But it’s because we put it out there. We initiate. We do it for no money. And it more than pays us back in terms of all forms of capital. So just stop right there because I could just go on and on.


Mary Rowe [00:48:45] OK. I we’re sort of in the homestretch of this program. And as we know and I can tell many of us, we can go on here for a while, but we can’t. So I’m going to ask each of you to to help us sort of imagine what you think the opportunity is, because Mark’s just laid out what’s been possible in Portland. I wonder is in the post pandemic or in the continuous pandemic environment. And that’s why we’ve initiated bring back Main Street. We wonder if there isn’t an opportunity to relocalize and really harness local resources, designers and planners and architects and citizens and residents and business folks. And does it help to actually, as you just suggested, out of a community when you have a focus, what can you do? So, Jason, I think you wanted to respond and then I’m going to go round everybody for kind of two minutes from each of you. Go ahead, Jason.


Jason Robbins [00:49:32] So it was a build on some of the ideas that Mark put forward and everyone spoke about. And it’s this question of instant. So as we move out of this sort of endemic, oppressive climate crisis world that we’re finding ourselves in the kick starting the economy like we hear about shovel ready projects and get good design is thoughtful and careful. And there’s a process at how we’re going to get into that and how we’re going to strategize as professionals are there in the panel and over attendees is to think carefully of how. How do you create an instant project? How do you communicate what that is? So it’s shovel ready so you can be successful as a practice, but also provide value for your your client group, your stakeholders that are coming through in a thoughtful, meaningful way instantly.


Devin Segal [00:50:25] Yeah. Devin.


Devin Segal [00:50:28] Yes. Yes. Sure, sure. I tried taking these off and then computers not working any better, so let’s just let’s just yell. No, I would agree with Jason on that. And it’s interesting because as you know, even before this pandemic, we were we were working on two fairly major streetscape redevelopment projects in Nova Scotia. And they they’ve they’ve kind of continued along. And fortunately, at least for one of them, we were still at the. And we’ll call the engagement state, I don’t think where you’re ever out of the. And get the public engagement stage. But, you know, the official prescribed engagement stage and we we had to we did have to shift from what we would do traditionally, which is both a mix of public public meetings and workshops, drop in sessions and walkabouts to fully to to online engagement. And it was really an interesting learning experience for us. And I think we’re still learning and we’re still going to have to fine tune how how we how we do this and how we engage everybody, especially those who don’t have access to future computers. And we have an issue in Nova Scotia I was just reading about today and ongoing issue. It’s actually gone to the courts. Now, the lawsuits about small communities not having access to high speed Internet. So it is easy back in 1997. I see the I see there’s a huge opportunity in the way in on in the way we engage. If we can get everyone online and hooked up. I’m seeing this as as this is something good that people were getting more people contributing to to the design and then having your voice and speaking up than they would in a traditional public information meeting design workshop where, you know, the usual suspects showing up and. Yeah. So I’m kind of optimistic and I’d love to talk to everyone on this panel after about, you know, how how you guys are going to move forward with that, because I don’t think we’re going to be out of this anytime soon. And I think things are going to shift. How we engage people going forward.


Mary Rowe [00:53:07] Mitchell. I mean it over to you.


Mitchel Reardon [00:53:10] Yeah. I think a number of people have said this in different terms. But what’s going on right now really underlines the importance of long term relationships with communities between designers and the communities whose main streets and the neighborhoods around them. And with decision makers on the people they serve, with those that infrastructure in place. You can work a lot more quickly and in positive ways to support a recovery that is equitable justice and works for an array of people. I really would like to see more on the ground stuff happening right now, like we’re seeing a lot of the interventions going in and criminal engagement to go with that. That can come in the form of having staff on have very small activations, community chalk festivals to make it easier for people to get a sense that there’s a response coming from decision makers. The other piece, like, you know, have a little placard on this little piece on any sort of intervention. This is what’s going on. You want to give feedback. Call this number. Use this email this QR code. There’s a whole bunch that can be done. And starting sooner rather than later is going to be really important to ensure that what’s going on actually works for the communities who we are serving.


Mary Rowe [00:54:20] Yeah, I mean, remember, there’s the specter of disaster capitalism or whatever. There’s lots of concern about sort of vulture venture capital coming in and all that kind of stuff. So the question is, can you be ready? And as Jason suggested, this notion of shovel ready, what how are you going to make sure that the principles and values that you folks want to enable with communities are actually front and center as we get into this recovery period? Anjuli, what about you? Anything anything for you to focus on the next hundred days, let’s say? What do you think?


Anjuli Solanke [00:54:51] Well, like I said, we’re where we’re focusing on a number of initiatives to help Main Streets and bring out and integrate arts and culture in into the recovery process. We also have a number of of public art projects that are being undertaken. And I know that there was one one comment in the chat of you. How do you deal with equity issues that not everybody has access to to tech and where in fact, to some of these projects that we’re working on are within social housing buildings where that is an issue. And we’ve been working with in Toronto, Toronto Community Housing to identify ways in which we can provide access to to folks if they don’t have their own personal access, as well as with some of the engagement activities we’ve had, especially with regards to arts engagement, had people register and commit to participating and then actually physically mailed them resources in which to be able to participate in online activities that are more arts based to provide engagement. And so those are ongoing things. We always had employed in tandem with in-person initiatives, online initiatives to engage communities to make it more accessible in terms of time timelines. And so it was fairly easy for us to pivot to being more online focused. But again, it is important to have those those physical interactions. And so as things open up, looking at ways in which we can potentially hold some of these meetings in more public forums, in public spaces, I really see an opportunity for underuse sites in infill sites, vacant lots to be transformed while they’re waiting to to to undergo development so that there we need these spaces to engage with one another. And rather than having them sit idle, there needs to be a movement to say, no, this this space can’t be set idle. It needs to be temporarily animated in some manner.


Mary Rowe [00:57:22] Yep. And there’s an opportunity to do that. And maybe. And as we know, sometimes a temporary use becomes become so popular becomes a permanent use. Last word to you, Mark. Briefly, brief, last word to portland, please. You’re on mute. Mark.


Mark Lakeman [00:57:42] Yeah, I think that we should as as before, we need to be challenging ourselves to ask who’s deciding what is normal? And what will the new normal be? I’m really concerned about accommodating yet another normal. That is a diminished level of. Of intimacy, a diminished level of contact, we’re already struggling with most intense isolation of a national designed environments as it is. And I don’t want to fall back to get another. We’ve been we’ve been we’ve been screaming from the rooftops for a couple of decades, no task people, what is your what is your birthright? What do you consider that that it might be in spite of the systems that you feel that you know, that you live within, that that are so outrageous so much of the time to our soul that insult our soul is what we’ve been used to say, like reject what it insults your soul. And I think we’ve been challenging people to do that. Personally, I get a lot of practice in testing that answers to that question. Like when I when I leave work today, I’m gonna go with my three year old and we’re going to go out with art supplies and chalk and we’re going to continue our program of decorating as many of the stop signs and the street signs in southeast Portland and hanging poetry from tree branches as we possibly can. And I’m trying to set a normal for my daughter of just self self authorization to go out and not wait for permission, not wait for funding, not even wait for collaboration. Just go out and create in ways that are delightful and surprising and heartening to people, you know. And then, of course, we’re collaborating all the time in ways that are appropriate. But just getting out there, like I’d plant a plant, cherry trees at night in my neighborhood because our neighborhoods where the big cherry must first developed. So we plant. We try to recreate that orchard in the marginal spaces of our neighborhood. We do it at night as neighbors and we don’t have to do it at night. But we love getting away with stuff and having it be technically illegal. I think it’s very important to break the law frequently when it when it comes to placemaking especially to be basically d compartmentalizing and decolonizing the systems and structures that would have us be complicit and thoughtlessly so. So I think it’s it’s important to practice our power, whether we’re social distancing or not, continue to do that and try to hold us a central point of the normal that we can return to. That we can work from instead of just being a fallback, and I guess I mean that not just on a personal scale, sometimes it’s personal. But on just continue to dream and initiate on larger scales that where you dream and try to keep your compass headed toward rolling back injustice. Because our moment will come. And let’s keep let’s keep us close to that moment as we can.


Mary Rowe [01:00:43] On that note, I want to thank you. I want everybody to go out outside today at some point, reclaim your own Portage and Main what it wherever it is. Let’s think about that. If it’s cherry trees or poetry from stop signs or whatever it is that folks are doing, our artists are engaging in different kinds of activities that actually make us feel more grounded and more make our communities more reflective of us and of our traditions, our history. So thank you, gang. This is gonna be one of those ones people go back and listen to and read and try to understand some of the very profound thoughts that you’ve been offered with us here. Thanks to listeners, everybody. We hope you’ll tune in tomorrow when we’re going to have the mayor of Windsor. Lots and lots of challenges for the mayor of Windsor, as you can imagine. So we hope you’ll join us midday Eastern. Earlier in the morning in the West to hear from. And then then next week, we come back with a whole new set of Sanae talk. So thank you very much to have date Devin, Jason, Mitchell, Anjuli and Mark. Really great to have you. Thank you for joining us.

Note to reader: Chat comments have been edited for ease of readability. The text has not been edited for spelling or grammar. For questions or concerns, please contact with “Chat Comments” in the subject line.


12:03:46  From Canadian Urban Institute: Folks, please change your chat settings to “all panelists and attendees” so everyone can see your comments.

12:04:20  From Canadian Urban Institute: You can find transcripts and recordings of today’s and all our webinars at

12:05:24  From Canadian Urban Institute: Keep the conversation going #citytalk @canurb

12:06:53 From Toby Greenbaum  to  All panelists: Toby from Ottawa

12:07:08  From Toby Greenbaum: Toby from Ottawa

12:07:20  From Brian Kuczma  to  All panelists: Brian Kuczma Downtown Sudbury, Ontario Canada

12:07:32 From Alan Kan: Tuning in from Markham

12:07:49 From Robin McPherson: St. Catharines, Niagara

12:08:02  From Abby S: From Toroto!

12:08:08  From Abby S: Toronto

12:08:16 From Jaldhi Gohil  to  All panelists: from India

12:08:37  From Rick Merrill  to  All panelists: Why don’t you introduce the panelists first

12:08:38  From Susan Chin: Greetings from NYC, where parks are 14% and streets are 26% of our city.

12:08:42  From Shimon Segal: From Winnipeg

12:08:59  From Canadian Urban Institute: Welcome! Folks, please change your chat settings to “all panelists and attendees” so everyone can see your comments.

12:09:05  From Leigh Stickle: Hello from Vancouver!

12:09:39  From Jaldhi Gohil: Tuning from India!

12:09:44  From Maureen Luoma: Greetings from Downtown Sudbury, Ontario

12:09:59  From Denny Warner: S

12:10:01 From Adam Fine: howdy from Halifax

12:10:08 From Denny Warner: Sidney, BC

12:10:15 From Glenn Brown  to  All panelists: Can barely hear this speaker

12:10:16 From Melissa Williams: Hello from Toronto!

12:10:20 From Tzatzilha Torres Guadarrama  to  All panelists: Hi from México City

12:10:43 From MARYAM MOMENI  to  All panelists: Hello from Toronto:)

12:10:47 From Mary W Rowe  to  Glenn Brown and all panelists: yup on it

12:11:54 From Jonathan Giggs: from Port Credit in Mississauga

12:12:16 From Glenn Brown  to  All panelists: No improvement

12:12:25 From Mary W Rowe  to  Glenn Brown and all panelists: trying…

12:12:39 From Caroline Poole  to  All panelists: Anjuli Solanki is the program director at STEPS Initiative, which promotes public art installations and engagement in Toronto, ON:


Jason Robbins is a Winnipeg-based principal architect at JC Robbins Architecture, and he is also part of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada:


Devin Segal is the director of landscape architecture from Fathom Studio, Halifax NS:


Mitchell Reardon is the urban planning and design lead at Happy City, a Vancouver-based consultancy which seeks to promote happy and inclusive urban communities:

12:12:44 From Beverley Henry: From Mississauga

12:13:01 From Caroline Poole: Anjuli Solanki is the program director at STEPS Initiative, which promotes public art installations and engagement in Toronto, ON:


Jason Robbins is a Winnipeg-based principal architect at JC Robbins Architecture, and he is also part of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada:


Devin Segal is the director of landscape architecture from Fathom Studio, Halifax NS:


Mitchell Reardon is the urban planning and design lead at Happy City, a Vancouver-based consultancy which seeks to promote happy and inclusive urban communities:

12:13:15 From Glenn Brown  to  All panelists: Even quieter now

12:14:09 From Caroline Poole: Mark Lakeman is a Portland, OR-based leader at City Repair:

12:14:59 From Mary W Rowe  to  Glenn Brown and all panelists: hear him ok?

12:15:30 From Ralph Cipolla: hello from Ralph Cipolla from sunshine city Orillia Ontario home of Gord Lightfoot and Stephen Leacock

12:19:18 From Leigh Stickle: Vancouver I believe has something like 30% of city land covered by streets / lanes

12:23:00  From Caroline Poole: You can find out more about our panellists’ work here:


Devin Segal:


Mitchell Reardon:


Anjuli Solanki:


Jason Robbins:


Mark Lakeman:

12:25:42 From Canadian Urban Institute: Check out CUI’s main street recovery project, Bring back Main Street:

12:26:41 From Jaldhi Gohil: Mumbai, India approx. 20% land area covered as streets

12:28:46  From Canadian Urban Institute: The Main Street Design Challenge is a coordinated engagement effort for all Canadians interested in design to envision the future of Main Streets.

12:32:52 From Susan Chin: Thanks for the shoutout. @AnjuliSolanki what can designers learn and use from arts groups use of public space?

12:33:44 From Abby S: It is so disheartening to hear Mark say that people are less friendly and more frightened of interaction. I personally have found that in Toronto, people are generally continuing to be respectful of social distancing (outdoors) crossing streets etc. Without any animus or irritation. Is this the politicization of health in the US?

12:38:57 From Susan Chin: Advocacy for designng

12:40:12 From Susan Chin: ooops outside the box requires describing the value both health, social, environmental and economic value

12:42:58 From Rick Merrill  to  All panelists: It is interesting that in the Pan Am games village in the east Bayfront community the public realm was instituted befor the development occurred. The streetscapes are encouraging and the newer approaches to sustainable streetscapes have been installed.

12:44:02  From Susan Chin: How are they engaging communities in this social distance era?

12:45:32 From Canadian Urban Institute: You can find transcripts and recordings of today’s and all our webinars at

12:47:16 From Susan Chin: Many of these communities dont have access to tech and media, are there other design tools for engagement?

12:48:58  From salman faruqi: What would you say are some of the barriers preventing government/organizations from better engaging with communities?

12:51:56 From Canadian Urban Institute: Keep the conversation going #citytalk @canurb

12:52:25 From Susan Chin: Fear of failure, political will, other pressures in govt need to be overcome by constituents speaking up.

12:55:08  From heloise Drochon  to  All panelists: -Mark, what is the name of the program you where talking about?

12:56:01 From Canadian Urban Institute: What did you think of today’s conversation? Help us improve our programming with a short post-webinar survey –

12:56:42 From Mark Lakeman  to  All panelists: The City Repair Project at Our largest annual project/event is called the Village Building Convergence, at Our radical architecture and planning office is at

12:57:33 From Toby Greenbaum: The Federal Government is talking about a different type of infrastructure spend which would focus on connectivity rather than bricks and mortar construction projects.

12:58:28  From Caroline Poole  to  heloise Drochon and all panelists: From Mark: “The City Repair Project at Our largest annual project/event is called the Village Building Convergence, at Our radical architecture and planning office is at “

12:59:34 From Jason Robbins: Thanks to all for coming today!

13:00:46  From Ralph Cipolla  to  All panelists: thanks to all the panelists for their expertise

13:02:25 From Susan Chin: Thanks for addressing the creative design challenge and what’s expected of arts and design professionals.

13:03:15 From Michelle Warren: Thank you, everyone, for the thought-provoking and interesting discussion.

13:03:38  From Caroline Poole  to  All panelists: Thank you all for a fantastic session:)

13:03:44  From Leigh Stickle: Thanks for the inspiring talk everyone!

13:04:05  From Amy Calder: thanks to all the panelists and Mary for the thoughtful comments

13:04:05  From heloise Drochon: thank you everyone. this is very inspiring!

13:04:08  From Maureen Luoma: Great chat today – thanks to all – BUT – FAR too short – could use so much more time (even 1/2 hour more)

13:04:09  From Robin McPherson: Thank you.

13:04:19 From Cameron Watts: Thank you!!

13:04:29  From Toby Greenbaum: Great session today. Thanks

13:04:30  From Ryan Walker: Thank you all – great panel.