News / Toronto

'Planning and Pizza Parties' tackle Toronto NIMBYism by the slice

Urban planner Sean Galbraith is holding events to speak to everyday Torontonians about city planning.

With growth, development and added density a major part of Toronto’s future, urban planner Sean Galbraith thinks it’s time residents learned more about the city planning process.

Torstar News Service

With growth, development and added density a major part of Toronto’s future, urban planner Sean Galbraith thinks it’s time residents learned more about the city planning process.

When Sean Galbraith set out on a mission to talk to everyday Torontonians about city planning, he wasn’t sure if anyone would want to listen.

Turns out his upcoming “planning and pizza parties” may be one of the hottest tickets in town.

“People want to be engaged and they want to have a positive impact in their neighbourhoods and knowing how the planning process works is part of that,” Galbraith said, noting more than one hundred people have expressed interest in attending.

With jargon like “height limits and gross floor areas,” Galbraith says planning has become unnecessarily “opaque,” preventing the public from engaging with it.

He wants to change that.

“Some of these planning documents have a massive influence on our lives, but no one understands them outside of the planning profession,” he said. “So I thought I’d experiment and see if people want to learn more about the ins and outs of planning.”

Galbraith plans to start with the basics, like how to read development signs in your neighbourhood or explaining the difference between the city’s official plan and its zoning bylaws.

Ultimately, he hopes a little education can help combat the “NIMBY” opposition to development. With so many people moving to the city – the downtown is expected to nearly double in population by 2040 –growth needs to be managed, not stopped, he said.

“Having a public that understands planning on the whole is a good thing,” he said. “Hopefully, it can lead to understanding of why saying ‘maybe’ instead of ‘no’ is a better response.”

The exact dates for Galbraith’s get-togethers are still being finalized. Space is limited, but anyone interested can follow him on Twitter at @PlannerSean.

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