Since the UrbanPlan program was initiated in Toronto last year, members of ULI have been working hard to develop it in order to launch during this fall’s regular school semester. As the program progresses, there continue to be opportunities for like-minded individuals to contribute to the discussion around city growth and development through volunteer training. ULI Toronto has trained over 20 volunteers over the past year that we hope will join the workshops as team facilitators and mentors, which will conclude in final team presentations with volunteers acting as city council members. Five new teachers underwent ULI Toronto training in August in order to participate in this year’s session starting early November.
We ran UrbanPlan in 2017/2018 at the following schools:
- AY Jackson Secondary School, TDSB (Gr.9 Gifted Urban Issues) – Nov 2017
- Western Tech Commercial School, TDSB (Gr. 9 Gifted Geography) – Nov 2017
- Forest Hill Collegiate, TDSB (Gr.11 & 12 Economics) – Dec 2017
- Harbord Collegiate Institute, TDSB (Gr. 11 Human Geography) – Spring 2018
- Central Toronto Academy, TDSB (Gr. 12 Urban Geography) – Spring 2018
- Loretto Abbey Secondary School (All girls – Gr. 9 Geography) – Spring 2018
- Western Tech Commercial School, TDSB (Gr. 9 Gifted Geography) – Spring 2018
- Forest Hill Collegiate, TDSB (Gr.11 & 12 Economics) – Spring 2018
Thank you to the following teachers for helping to champion the UrbanPlan Program and bringing it to their schools:
David Ast, Harbord Collegiate Institute
Howard Cappadocia, Loretto Abbey Secondary School
Edward Ketchum, Forest Hill Collegiate
Cindy Lim, A.Y Jackson
Juli Mori, Central Tech
Rhiannon Weismiller, Central Toronto Academy
Attendees have included a wide range of stakeholders in both private and public sectors, such as planners, developers, members of the Toronto District School Board, architects, and members of the Toronto Transit Commission and Toronto Community Housing Corporation.
The training and mentorship resulted in great conversations regarding how city development and planning in the GTA are relatable to students who can apply concepts and issues to real life scenarios. “Teachers were pleasantly surprised by the response from students who typically do not speak up in class but were engaged and contributed to discussions in a meaningful manner,” says UrbanPlan Co-Chair Christine Chea. The success of project proposals by students relies heavily on teamwork as UrbanPlan challenges students to develop interpersonal skills through team building exercises and collaboration.
By introducing students to relative discourse around land use development and planning, students are encouraged to develop new perspectives and gain core skills through critical thinking, conflict resolution, problem solving and “developing tolerance to ambiguous situations” as UrbanPlan Co-Chair Roger Vinayagalingam says. He explains that the overall goal of the program “is to encourage students to practice balancing both market economy and nonmarket forces in our representative democracy, which are at play when creating the built environments in which students live.”
We are always looking for more volunteers to get involved with UrbanPlan and help advance ULI’s mission. If you are interested, please contact Alexandra.firstname.lastname@example.org who will provide upcoming opportunities for volunteer training.