Since then, CITY has become an internationally recognized research centre, facilitating critical, interdisciplinary and collaborative urban research, public policy interventions, and community activism, both locally and globally.
“I hope it can be said that we are never satisfied to rest on our laurels”, says Director, Dr. Linda Peake in her opening speech of marking the special moment. “We successfully rechartered a few years ago and we have just submitted an application for a large SSHRC Partnership grant. Our goals for the coming year involve developing a fundraising plan to enable us to financially support more visitors to CITY and to further our research. Yes, we spend time searching for money – but we also spend time building up a community of future researchers, without whom, the money would be pointless!”
CITY has been a presence across various scales where urban issues are subject to progressive political action and path breaking critical research. Locally, the institute was involved in relevant municipal debates in Toronto and its suburban neighbours; regionally and provincially, CITY researchers have been called upon to speak to issues related to greenbelt and growth planning as well as transit equity; federally, the institute has been part of building a progressive national urban agenda for cities across the country; and internationally, the City Institute has developed a profile, among other things, through its research on global suburbanisms and its recent focus on a critical reevaluation of planetary urbanization. A two-day workshop on the latter topic preceded the anniversary celebration and brought distinguished international speakers to York University.
To mark a vibrant decade of research and community-building and to further promote critical dialogue on Canada’s urban agenda, CITY hosted a panel discussion of renowned urban thinkers and practitioners on the evening of the anniversary: “Toronto in Crisis: Challenges, Possibilities, and Actions”.
David Miller, the former Mayor of Toronto (now President of the World Wildlife Fund and Adjunct Professor in the Faculty of Environmental Studies) eloquently framed the discussion and set the stage for Jane Farrow, journalist and founder of Jane’s Walk, to introduce each panelist with humour and elegance. For David Miller, the primary urban challenge is to rectify growing social inequalities – intensified by political exclusion of newcomers from municipal voting, and by a public transit system that has not kept pace with the GTA’s dramatic growth.
Socio-spatial disparities and the politics of redistribution and recognition were addressed by all presenters. Drawing on her expertise as an urban political geographer, Dr. Ranu Basu, a CITY faculty member, used counter-maps to reveal how the city and its social fabric have been hollowed out through public school closures, damaging the ethno-cultural community-building-capacities of marginalized residents. To showcase the possibilities she sees in Toronto, Dr. Basu narrated with photographs the artful adaptive re-use of inner-suburban industrial and commercial spaces by newcomers into sites of multifarious suburban/subaltern cosmopolitan activism.
Focusing on the value of grassroots activism, Angela Robertson, Executive Director of the Queen West Central Toronto Community Health Centre, did not mince words. Ms. Robertson directly attributed Toronto’s crisis to systemic racism that manifests in intense poverty, dramatically foreshortened urban Indigenous lives, discriminatory police carding practices, and the violence disproportionately enacted on Black male bodies. With critical intensity she reinforced the value of Brown and Black lives and the powerful strategies of resistance by the Idle No More and Black Lives Matter solidarity movements.
Further insight into the complex interactions between space, power relations, and civil society, was provided by award-winning Globe & Mail writer Doug Saunders who recounted how his initial foray into journalism as a York University student sowed the seeds for his acclaimed book, Arrival Cities: The Final Migration and Our Next World (2010). Where inner-suburban politicians once enacted discriminatory by-laws to prevent immigrant settlement in shared accommodation, Toronto’s urban landscape has now been radically shaped by waves of migration.
As political attention turns ever-outwards to the suburban periphery, City of Toronto Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam (Ward 27, Toronto Centre – Rosedale) closed the discussion by reminding the audience of the marked socio-spatial divides in downtown Toronto. The entrenched rationalization of neoliberal discourse at City Hall and the political power of Toronto’s suburbs frustrate her, because they often inhibit a unified social justice agenda to combat exclusion, dispossession, and displacement within the city. She congratulated CITY on its accomplishments and enjoined its members to continue their cutting-edge, critical urban research, noting that it has the power to enrich urban policy and to facilitate constructive political debate.
In a decade, under the inaugural directorship of Dr. Roger Keil – and now Dr. Linda Peake – CITY has blossomed from an idea into a research centre with a global reputation. Their leadership has been a source of inspiration for urban scholars, for York University, and for urban knowledge production worldwide. CITY has become a place where ideas are generated, knowledge disseminated, funding secured, and a welcoming community created – from graduate students to world-renowned scholars.
Congratulations CITY on ten successful years! May the coming decade be even more inspiring.
Dr. Alison Bain, Acting Director, The City Institute at York University
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Click here for a link to the video
Why a survey of 15,000 Toronto students presents a terrifying look at the city’s transit system – and a way to fix it. (National Post)
“As a result of the collaboration between all four major universities, all using student-recorded travel diaries, the study provides a comprehensive snapshot of the city’s 184,000 university students. It’s a group the researchers say has been missed or underrepresented when conducting traditional landline surveys such as the TTC’s Transportation for Tomorrow survey.”
“But the study does not just give more information on students, it also gives policy-makers and researchers a better understanding of the transit system.”
“What our survey does is provide a microcosm of the problems that are faced right across this region,” Siemiatycki said.
Click here for full article
GTA student commute times are too long: joint transportation survey by Ryerson University, University of Toronto, York University, and OCAD. (Inside Toronto)
“Roger Keil, environmental studies professor at York and one of the researchers for the survey, said the high number of responses clearly indicates the topic’s importance. Keil, who himself spends 90 minutes each way commuting by transit, said he was surprised to find only 12 per cent of students said they drove to the Keele campus. “Judging from the amount of cars in the parking lots, I thought it would be higher,” he said. The survey’s preliminary results found York students have among the higher commute times, with 41 per cent spending two hours or more per day travelling to and from campus. Now that the survey is complete, next steps involve making data available to other researchers, which might lead to better policy and infrastructure decisions, he said.”
Four Toronto universities release findings of student transportation needs. (York Media Relations)
“StudentMoveTO, a collaboration between Toronto’s four universities to address student transportation needs, found that students in the GTA are spending too much time commuting to and from classes each day.”
“The findings are the result of a joint survey conducted by the four universities. It is the largest survey of its kind in the region, completed by 15,226 students from OCAD University, Ryerson University, York University and the University of Toronto. The initiative is the first travel survey in the GTA to effectively capture student travel patterns, offering a window into the transportation challenges university students face.”
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Marathon commutes affecting quality of GTA university students’ education, report says. (Toronto Star)
“Among the report’s findings; about one third of students are spending more than two hours per day traveling to and from campus, and the further a student lives from campus the more likely they’re to pick courses based on their commute, and be discouraged from participating in on campus activities because of travel time.”
Click here for full article
“A booming economy in Istanbul has resulted in rise of consumers borrowing large sums that have in turn fueled development in suburban regions. The situation of borrowing has resulted in the creation of new debts in accordance with lifestyle expectations of the suburban economy.”
In January 2015, the CITY Institute was invited by members of the Jane-Finch community to join a Jane/Finch community-led response to the Toronto Strong Neighbourhoods Strategy (TSNS). The TSNS is a municipal social development plan which sets a 2020 target date for “strengthening the social, economic, and physical conditions” in all of Toronto’s 31 designated Neighbourhood Improvement Areas (NIA). Each of the 140 neighbourhoods in the TSNS study was given a score ranging from 0 to 100. The lowest scoring NIA, with a score of 21.38, was the Black Creek neighbourhood, while the second lowest score of 24.39 was of the Glenfield – Jane Heights area, both of which are located within Jane/Finch.
We were asked to participate in the research team embedded within the larger Jane–Finch TSNS 2020 Task Force. This was a community-led examination intending to define what the “improvement” of Jane/Finch should look like, according to the community who live there. The project, with funding from a York University TD Community Engagement Centre Catalyst Grant and from the Jane/Finch Community and Family Centre, brought together York University Urban Studies undergraduate researchers Loren March and Shelby Kennedy (under the supervision of the City Institute Director Linda Peake) with a team of researchers from the Jane/Finch Community and Family Centre, the Community and Legal Aid Services Program (CLASP) at York University, other students from York University and Ryerson University, the Elspeth Heyworth Centre for Women (EHCW) and local residents.
The team engaged in a participatory action research process with Jane/Finch community members until late spring 2015, the results of which can be seen in the newly released 55 page report, The Jane-Finch TSNS Task Force Community Response to the Toronto Strong Neighbourhoods Strategy: What Neighbourhood Improvement Looks Like From the Perspective of Residents in Jane-Finch. The findings concluded that community residents in Jane/Finch have specific concerns and very clear goals with regard to neighbourhood improvement, but that there is a critical disjuncture between the TSNS priority indicators, the specific needs identified by the community, and the ability of the City to address those needs. These findings were presented at a July community meeting, attended by City Councillors Anthony Perruzza, Maria Augimeri, Georgio Mammoliti, and other city officials. The Task Force has since established an Action Planning Committee to discuss how to disseminate the report’s findings, and to assist Jane-Finch resident groups in lobbying and working with their local representatives, in order to follow up on the recommendations with meaningful action.
Loren March, Shelby Kennedy and Linda Peake.
For the full PDF file please see the attached file: TSNS-Research-Report-August-12-2015]]>
Please look to attend the City Seminar “Open Creative Labs: Critical Reflections on Creativity and Work in Berlin” on March 4th, 2016, Room 626 in the Kaneff Tower York University between the hours of 12:30 – 2:00pm.
Abstract: In recent years we have been observing the establishment of new places such as maker spaces, fab labs, coworking spaces, hacker spaces or living labs. In Germany, most of these places cluster in large metropolitan agglomerations. In a recent research project we subsume these places under the term “Open Creative Labs”. First tentative interpretations seem to link these spatial phenomena at the nexus between urban and economic geography as many labs curate urban centrality for serendipity and creative encounters at a spatial micro scale. Cases from Berlin, Munich, Hamburg and other German metropolitan regions will illustrate the variety of lab formats and function as a mirror to discuss some consequences of the lab development for urban policies.
Suntje Schmidt is a research fellow at the IRS. She studied geography, American Studies, and business studies in Berlin and New York. Her doctoral thesis focused on the channels and effects of knowledge spillovers in the knowledge economy. Her research interests lie on the time-spatial aspects of generating and sharing knowledge and innovation, resilience practices of actors in knowledge and creativity intensive labor markets and on the conditions for the inter-regional transfer of practices and experiences. She is interested in the role of places as nodes in transnational networks and communities. Her resent research focuses on participatory innovation processes in Open Creative Labs (e.g. Coworking Spaces, Fab Labs, Maker / Hacker Spaces etc.)
1) Spaces of hope in the struggle against authoritarian neoliberalism (9:00 – 10:15)
2) Not / Profiting from poverty and preacarity (10:30 – 11:45)
Alternative Routes Keynote Panel (12:45 – 1:45)
3) Low wages work, social reproduction and the promises / perils of participatory budgeting (2:00 – 3:15)
4) Whose right to the city? (3:30 – 5:00)
This even is sponsored by Alternative Routes: A journal of critical social research, Athabasca University Press, The City Institute at York University, Liberal Arts and Professional Studies at York University, York Research Chair in Global Sub/Urban Studies, The Department of Geography, The Department of Social Science and the Urban Studies Program.]]>
The City Institute at York University (CITY) is pleased to announced that Professor Marco Facchinetti from the Department of Architecture and Urban Studies from the Politecnico di Milano, Italy will be joining us to speak on “Suburbstalk, Urbanizing the regions, Master planned transformation and the change of urban shapes.” This presentation will discuss recent transformations within growing and changing urban-regions, focusing on typologies of transformation that are driven by transportation or commercial development interests. This presentation will take place on Wednesday February 10, 2016 between 12:30pm and 1:30pm in Room 764, Kaneff Tower, York University.
Next Stop: Equity – Routes to Fairer Transit Access in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, a York University study released today, argues we need to reframe the discussion to consider transit equity, or how to use infrastructure investment and operation to help the greatest number of current and future transit users across the region.
Instead of focusing on equality, where everyone is treated the same, transit equity recognizes that people have different needs, situations and challenges that require different responses.
Research for Next Stop: Equity was funded by Metrolinx and conducted by Roger Keil at the Faculty of Environmental Studies, City Institute researcher Sean Hertel and planning Master’s student Michael Collens. It relied on extensive stakeholder consultations, case study research and an analysis of fares across the 10 GTHA transit agencies.
The study makes 18 recommendations for achieving a more equitable regional approach including:
• developing a GTHA-specific definition of equity that recognizes the diverse needs of the region’s residents, to guide future planning;
• creating a consistent regional framework for transit fares, including discounted passes for low-income residents and more broadly defined groups of students;
• implementing land use planning policies to acknowledge and begin to counteract the displacement of residents created by rising property values along new or improved transit lines;
• ensuring new development near transit stations does not result in a net loss of affordable apartments or displace vulnerable residents;
• augmenting service to employment destinations, especially those trips made in off-peak hours, through a further analysis of evolving commuting patterns, especially outside the downtown core;
• enhancing public consultation techniques, especially in lower income and suburban communities; and,
• improving customer service, including vehicle and station comfort and cleanliness.
Widening gaps between affordable housing and employment opportunities have converged to make transit service disparities especially severe in suburban areas. Overall, the historic lack of transit investment means many living in the “inner ring” or “905” suburbs of Toronto must either have access to a car or find a home somewhere else.
Transit, as target for substantial investment by multiple levels of government, has huge potential to balance out social inequalities. It can connect underserved neighbourhoods to employment centres, enhance mobility and utilize subsidies and other fare innovations to encourage ridership. Transit is quite literally a vehicle for providing access to the community, economy and services that make living a fulfilling life possible.
But the discussion needs to depart from the current situation, where politicians fight over limited funding, change plans mid-stream and build new lines that continue to primarily assist commuters traveling to and from downtown at rush hour.
Next Stop: Equity builds upon last year’s report, Switching Tracks. The extensive research, also funded by Metrolinx, included a series of broad-based roundtables, a review of insights and examples from around the world, summary of the region’s patchwork fare system and case studies of neighbourhoods lacking the transit residents need.
The report, with a focus on how the GTHA’s complex fare structures and boundaries contribute to social inequity, and on case studies that paint a picture of how inequity is experienced, is especially timely. Metrolinx is undertaking a review of its $50-billion regional transit plan, The Big Move, and as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is promising $10 billion in infrastructure investment. Also, the City of Toronto is revising its rail transit lines for Scarborough and introducing new rapid bus lines to create faster connections in the inner suburbs.
While The Big Move already recognizes the benefits of ensuring 80 per cent of residents live near rapid transit, the opportunity is ripe for making transit equity the next stop on the line towards a mobility future where those who don’t have cars or otherwise face obstacles can participate in the full life of the city.
Next Stop: Equity can be downloaded here
AUTHORS & CONTACT INFORMATION:
SEAN HERTEL leads an urban planning consulting practice and is a researcher at
the City Institute at York University, specializing in transit-oriented development,
housing and suburbs. firstname.lastname@example.org / @Sean_Hertel
ROGER KEIL is York Research Chair in Global Sub/Urban Studies at the Faculty of
Environmental Studies at York University and Principal Investigator of the Major
Collaborative Research Initiative, Global Suburbanisms: Governance, Land and
Infrastructure in the 21st Century. email@example.com / @rkeil
MICHAEL COLLENS is a student in the Masters in Environmental Studies program
at York University, concentrating on planning for sustainability and equitability in
public transportation. firstname.lastname@example.org / @michaelcollens
Nicholas Blomley (Professor, Simon Fraser University)
Nicholas Blomley is Professor of Geography at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada. He is a geographer, with a general interest in law, and a particular interest in property in land. His work includes the tracing of property in many conflicts and social relations, including gentrification, urban gardening, the municipal regulation of panhandling and, most recently, indigenous-state treaties. His current work focuses on the use of ‘area restrictions’ included in bail and sentencing conditions imposed in the context of criminal proceedings involving marginalized groups of people. He is also part of a large collaborative project exploring the liquidation of Japanese-Canadian property after WWII.
Gerda Wekerle (Professor Emeritus, York University)
Gerda Wekerle is Emeritus Professor a the Faculty of Environmental Studies at York University. Her award-winning work focuses on growth, urbanization, sprawl and nature, public policy, local government and local politics, social movements, urban agriculture, and gender and the neoliberal city. Her research and work with women’s organizations in the 1990s successfully led to improvements in Toronto Transit Commission services for women, including requesting stops after 9 pm, designated waiting areas, better camera systems, and a women’s security committee to advise on the design of the Sheppard subway. Dr. Wekerle retired from York University in 2015.
Challenging Traditional Notions of Property in Land Use Planning” – Interdisciplinary Workshop
Property in the common law tradition is conceived as a right to something, whether physical or not, that is disconnected from the object or idea itself. Property interests are almost always hierarchical and exclusionary. An emerging body of property law scholarship is challenging the basic tenets of the discipline, arguing that property law is a form of spatial, temporal order that can function as a tool of governance. This critical legal scholarship posits that the right to exclude should not be considered the core of private ownership, arguing instead that property is rooted in more a complex set of social contract relationships. Interdisciplinary legal geography projects similarly challenge the hierarchical and exclusionary notions of property law and instead embrace a plurality of legal orders and a messy collection of interests.
One key application of this scholarship, both empirically and theoretically, concerns land use planning. Land use planning conflicts over privately owned land use can be used to reveal the complexity of contemporary property relations. A critical challenge is to confront complex property rights that exist in built environments, triggering multiple actors such as local and provincial governments, First Nations, developers, neighbourhood associations and the public. At the same time, legal systems acknowledge that persons are entitled to equal treatment within the applicable administrative and political bodies that shape and resolve planning disputes. To effectively resolve conflicts related to spatial development, a deeper understanding of the complex interactions between land use planning, governance models and resulting property rights is required.
This two-day interdisciplinary workshop will take place June 9 and 10, 2016 with the support of Osgoode Hall Law School and The City Institute. It is aimed at early career scholars – senior doctoral students, postdoctoral students, and new faculty – querying how the planning process can be reimagined in light of emerging property, environmental and administrative legal scholarship, together with important work taking place in geography, urban studies and other social science disciplines. The event itself will be free of charge for approximately 30 invited participants.
The event will showcase Nicholas Blomley (Professor, Simon Fraser University) and Gerda Wekerle (Professor Emeritus, York University) as keynote speakers. The conference will include 6 workshops, each with 3-4 participants, grouped by theme. All participants will be asked to submit papers (maximum 5,000 words), which will serve as the basis of discussion. Each workshop will include a faculty discussant who will provide feedback on the papers. We anticipate publication of workshop submissions in a specific journal issue and/or an edited book. The event is supported by Osgoode Hall Law School and the York University City Institute.
If you are interested in attending, please send a 250 word abstract, together with a one-page cv, to Alexandra Flynn (email@example.com) by February 26, 2016. Accepted participants will be notified by March 4, 2016. Papers will be due by May 13, 2016.
The CITY Institute is pleased to announce its February City Seminar hosting Patricia Wood, a Professor within the Department of Geography at York University. Her research has primarily focused on how human beings attach themselves to place and make a claim to it from the emotional, through to the politics. Her presentation “Why Don’t Chomsky and Zizek Come to a Slut Walk and Announce the Revolution?: The City and the Politics of Protest” will be held on Friday February 5th, 2016 in Room 305 (York Lanes, York University) between the hours of 12:30pm and 2:00pm. This even tit open to all and we hope to see you there.]]>