Jennifer Keesmaat to teach at University of Toronto
Former chief planner of Toronto will teach a course at the university about how to improve the city.
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Jennifer Keesmaat’s next stop will be in a classroom, not the campaign trail.
The city’s former chief planner will be teaching in the geography and planning department at the University of Toronto for the rest of the academic year, the school announced this week.
Keesmaat was approached by the department to accept the John Bousfield Distinguished Visitorship in Planning, a residence that will run until April. She will give lectures and teach a course to graduate students.
“It’s yet to be determined, but the studio (course) will most likely be something on . . . how we can transform the city to become a safer, more livable, pedestrian place,” Keesmaat said in a phone interview Wednesday.
Keesmaat said the class will also do “a bit of a deep dive into the public documentation that’s available in the budget.”
“I know where all the bodies are buried,” she said with a laugh.
Dr. Richard DiFrancesco, the director of graduate programs in the planning department, said they are “thrilled” that Keesmaat has agreed to join U of T.
“Jennifer’s unique blend of urban planning knowledge, knowledge of Toronto planning in particular, and her high-energy/high-clarity style made her an attractive candidate for us,” DiFrancesco said in an email.
Keesmaat believes the city needs to build more urban infrastructure to accommodate the increasing density, and “build better pedestrian and cycling infrastructure.”
“It’s not rocket science, it’s political.”
Keesmaat said that the residence “will complement the other work that I’m doing very nicely.”
While she did not elaborate on her other projects, she said it “has nothing to do with running for mayor” as some rumours have suggested.
Keesmaat spent five years as chief planner, leading projects like the Eglinton Crosstown LRT and the King St. streetcar pilot project, before officially stepping down last month.
She was also known for being outspoken and challenging Mayor John Tory over issues like the future of the Gardiner Expressway and a proposed subway stop in Scarborough.
Keesmaat is one of three to receive the visitorship. She will be joined by Dr. John Curry, a retired professor who taught at the University of Northern British Columbia, and Stanley Makuch, a planning lawyer and adjunct professor at U of T.