ULI Toronto presents Electric Cities, a podcast about land development and planning across the Toronto region. Hosted by Jeremy Warson, the podcast features conversations with leaders and experts from a wide range of disciplines. With Seasons 1, 2 and 3 now complete, there are plenty of interesting topics to choose from, such as trends in the condo, retail and office markets; and discussions on housing affordability, municipal governance and transit oriented development to name just a few.
Jeremy has a background in urban planning and has worked in real estate development, market research and planning for 20 years, in both the public and private sectors. He’s currently Director of Development Planning at Infrastructure Ontario. Jeremy has always been interested in the complex issues that shape our urban environment. He’s genuinely curious about other people’s professions and opinions, and takes after his late father, Albert, a journalist and PR consultant who often wrote about architecture, planning and real estate development.
Episode 7: Municipal Governance in Toronto – Complexities and Opportunities
After the recently elected Ontario PC party slashed the number of City of Toronto councilors from 47 to 25 in the 2018 municipal election, a lot of questions were raised about the current state of municipal governance in Ontario and the municipality’s ability for self-determination. In this episode Jeremy sits down with Prof. Zachary Taylor to explore the complexities and challenges of municipal governance in Ontario, how it compares with that of the United States, and some alternative ideas being raised to give cities, particularly the City of Toronto, the opportunity for greater autonomy.
Professor Zachary Taylor is an assistant professor of political science and director of the Centre for Urban Policy and Local Governance at the University of Western Ontario. He is also author of a new book entitled: “Shaping the Metropolis – Institutions and Urbanization in the United States and Canada”.
Episode 6: Hon. David Onley on Accessibility
In 2005, the Province of Ontario passed the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, (AODA), with the primary goal of making the Province fully accessible by 2025. With that end date only 6 years away, disability advocates are raising concern the Province has done relatively little to meet that deadline. Ontario’s 28th Lieutenant Governor, Hon. David Onley, is a wheelchair user and very much attuned to the challenges persons with disabilities encounter. In January 2019, he tabled a report with sharp criticism of the Province’s commitment to meet the goals of the AODA. Hon. Onley talks about his experiences as a person with disabilities and why he believes the AODA is a ‘toothless act’.
Episode 5: Planning our Cities for an Aging Population
Canada’s aging population hit a major milestone in 2017, where for the first time in Canada’s history, the number of seniors exceeded the number of school-aged children. And it is projected that by 2041, seniors will comprise roughly one quarter of the country’s population. Jeremy sits down with Gil Penalosa, founder and Chair of 8 80 Cities, and President of Gil Penalosa & Associates, to talk about this significant demographic shift and the challenges of designing our cities and communities for an aging population.
Episode 4: Heritage Preservation and Adaptive Re-Use
Heritage building preservation has evolved to become an important component in Toronto’s real estate development industry, and many architects are re-imagining how treasured old buildings can be incorporated with the new. Jeremy sits down with Dermot Sweeny, President of Sweeny &Co Architects, and one of the leading architects on many of Toronto’s adaptive-reuse projects.
Episode 3: Transit-Oriented Development
Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) is increasingly embraced by city and transit planners as a concept for integrating a mix of land uses, increased densities and public space, all within easy walking distance to public transit nodes. Jeremy sits down with Leslie Woo, Chief Planning and Development Officer at Metrolinx, to talk about the merits of TOD, its challenges, and the steps Metrolinx is taking to bring TOD opportunities to life.
Episode 2: Hamilton: A City on the Rise
As one of the key nodes in the Greater Golden Horseshoe area, Hamilton is enjoying a renaissance of sorts. Old run-down buildings are being re-animated and new ones are filling the sky thanks to a slew of new investments in the downtown core. The city’s population is on the rise, local and regional transit connections are improving, and there’s real swagger in the city’s emerging arts and culture scene. All told, Hamilton is no longer Toronto’s neglected neighbour to the west. Instead, it’s fast becoming the place to be. Jeremy sits down with Jason Thorne, General Manager of Hamilton’s Planning and Economic Development Department to learn more about Hamilton’s rising appeal, and how the City is managing its growth and long term plans for its future.
Episode 1: The Condo Market Revisited
For this first episode of Season 3, Jeremy sits down again with Mimi Ng, Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Menkes Developments, to talk about the Toronto condo market and the latest trends and market changes that have occurred since their last podcast discussion in early 2018.
Episode 8: Subway and LRT Construction Projects
In the last episode of Season 2 Jeremy ‘digs deep’ to learn about some incredible challenges involved in building a major transit project like the Spadina subway extension to Vaughan, and the Eglinton Crosstown LRT. His guest is Joanna Kervin, 3rd Party Technical Director with Crosslinx Solutions and former Director for the Spadina subway extension.
Episode 7: Toronto’s Waterfront Secretariat
Since 2002, Waterfront Toronto has lead the ongoing revitalization of Toronto’s waterfront. But what do we know of Toronto’s lesser-known Waterfront Secretariat, which was set up to lead and direct the City’s participation in the revitalization? In October 2018, Jeremy sat down with David Stonehouse, Director of the Waterfront Secretariat, to find out more and to get the latest on some of the important development activities in the area.
Episode 6: Toronto’s Housing Affordability Crisis
The housing affordability crisis is one of the biggest challenges facing Toronto. And as it continues to magnify, there’s a greater and more urgent need for action and relief. Cherise Burda, Executive Director at Ryerson’s City Building Institute, summarizes the issues and why it’s become a crisis, and shares her thoughts on how the problem can be solved. Recorded on September 26, 2018.
Episode 5: The Suburbs — Not all bad
Toronto’s suburbs have grown significantly over the years and continue to face big challenges associated with its sprawling growth. But for urban planning consultant and university lecturer Sean Hertel, the suburbs work much better than we think. Jeremy sat down with Sean Hertel in June 2018 to find out why.
Episode 4: Richard Florida on Toronto and the New Urban Crisis
After his keynote presentation at the ULI Toronto Symposium on November 7th, 2018, Professor Richard Florida sits down with Jeremy to share his views on Toronto and how it compares on the global stage. He offers high praise for the city’s livability and its strong appeal for broad economic development, but also raises concerns about the city’s increasing economic divide, its growing unaffordability, and lack of effective leadership.
Episode 3: Technology and Real Estate
Jeremy sits down with George Carras, founder and CEO of R-Labs Canada, to talk about technology and the rising influence its’s having on the growth of our city region. They discuss Toronto’s unique appeal for tech investments, the rapid emergence of ‘PropTech’, and the opportunities and challenges of working with big urban data.
Episode 2: Urban Design
Jeremy sits down with Dialog’s Antonio Gomez-Palacio to talk about urban design, the critical role it plays in city planning, and the impact it has on the wellbeing of our communities and the environment we all share.
Episode 1: Toronto Urbanism
In the first episode of season 2, Jeremy sits down with Urban Strategies’ Cyndi Rottenberg-Walker to discuss the complexities of Toronto urbanism, including the key reasons for its prosperity, and some examples of how the city is on the leading edge of growth and innovation.
Episode 10: The Retail Market
The retail market has undergone significant changes in recent years. Jeremy speaks with Jamie Tate of Tate Economic Research to learn more about those changes, the impact it’s having on land development, and how retailers and developers are re-positioning themselves for success.
Episode 9: Architecture in Toronto – Trends and Challenges
Jeremy speaks with Richard Witt, Executive Principal at Quadrangle, to learn more about the design of buildings that continue to reshape Toronto’s skyline and the challenges architects often face to satisfy the interests of their clients, the city, and the general public.
Episode 8: Urban Planning in Toronto
Jeremy speaks with Emma West, Partner at Bousfields Inc. and Vice-Chair with the Urban Land Institute in Toronto, to learn more about urban planning, the profession, and the vital role planners play in shaping our communities and city region. Emma also discusses important planning legislation that has undergone significant changes in recent years, including the newly enacted Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) as a replacement to the Ontario Municipal Board.
Episode 7: Public Space and Community Engagement
With successful projects like The Bentway, community engagement in public space is gaining momentum, bringing fresh new energy, funding and ideas into the early stages of planning and design, as well as into the later stages of implementation and programming. Dave Harvey, founder and executive director at Park People, talks about this growing trend and the work his charitable organization is doing to bring creative ideas to animate public spaces.
Episode 6: The Office Market
Toronto is experiencing a surge of new office development activity, particularly in the downtown core. From soaring towers to smaller-scaled buildings and mixed use projects, new developments are springing up in various forms in response to a growing need for more office space. To find out what’s driving this demand and to learn more about the latest trends in office developments, Jeremy speaks with Werner Dietl, Executive Vice President of CBRE’s Toronto Downtown Office.
Episode 5: Blue Jays’ Rogers Centre: Time for a Stadium Upgrade
When it opened in 1989, Rogers Centre (formerly the Skydome), was hailed as the ‘8th Wonder of the World’. But now, almost 30 years later, it is the oldest stadium in major league baseball that hasn’t been renovated. Andrew Miller, the Blue Jays’ Executive Vice President of Business Operations, speaks with Jeremy about the latest trends in stadium design, what the Blue Jays would like to see happen with Rogers Centre, and how it could better connect with the surrounding area.
Episode 4: Pearson Airport: Big Plans Ahead
With the recent release of its new 20-year master plan, Pearson International Airport has big plans for its long-term expansion. Jeremy speaks with Eileen Waechter, Pearson Airport’s Director of Corporate Relations and Strategic Partnerships to learn how the airport grew from a small terminal surrounded by farmland, to its where it is today. Eileen talks about the need to respond to future demand, including an exciting vision for a massive new multi-modal transit hub that will better serve the airport and will greatly improve public transit accessibility for passengers, commuters, and the entire urban region.
Episode 3: Landscape Architecture in Toronto: A New Era for Bold Design and Ideas
Jeremy speaks with Alissa North, Associate Professor at the Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design at the University of Toronto to learn more about landscape architecture and how it’s evolved to where it is today. Alissa shares her thoughts on its opportunities for the future, including exciting new projects such as The Bentway and Rail Deck Park, and the impact landscape architecture continues to have on city life and urban design.
Episode 2: Toronto Global
Having recently submitted its bid for Amazon’s second headquarters, Toronto Global is a newly minted agency tasked with attracting international investment to the Toronto region. Jeremy speaks with its CEO, Toby Lennox, to learn more about the agency and the reasons why Toronto and the surrounding region has become such a desirable place to invest in an increasingly competitive global marketplace.
Episode 1: The Condo Market
For this inaugural episode, Jeremy speaks with Mimi Ng, Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Menkes Developments, to find out more about the phenomenal growth of the condo market. We look back on the wild market of 2017, look ahead to 2018, and discuss emerging trends and how developers are responding to changes in buyers’ needs.