Two weeks ago today, the police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis changed the world.
Actions and measures to address historic racial inequities and violence, most well intended, have proven deeply inadequate. Systemic racism permeates all parts of our society and economy – and the foundations of our cultural and legislative systems.
We acknowledge the pain and suffering our members, our communities, and our cities have been experiencing for generations. But messages of shock, sympathy and support and promises of change, including the Urban Land Institute’s communique last week, won’t go far enough. George Floyd’s murder isn’t merely a flashpoint in history to be acknowledged and eulogized – it is a turning point.
Change, no matter how uncomfortable, must and will come. And it must be tangible.
Having consulted with several prominent industry thought leaders last week, ULI Toronto is holding back on hosting any online activity relating to racial inequity and related conversations for a little while longer. This isn’t our moment. But in the coming weeks many actions will be taking place, some visible and others not immediately so, including:
Hosting our mid-career Curtner Urban Leadership Program Town Hall, focussed on launching a civic dialog about the potential to re-think the future of Toronto’s low-density residential “yellow belt” on June 23.
Co-convening a multi-development and real estate industry association online dialog to reflect on race and social equity in the pursuit of city building.
Hosting our annual management committee strategy retreat on June 18, where equity and Inclusion will be our main focus.
Now more than ever it is time to have the difficult and uncomfortable conversations about what our community and industry—which has been and remains predominantly white—can do to drive change and create equal access for all Torontonians to the thriving, resilient, and equitable communities that are our mission. We know much hard work lies ahead of us, we are committed to continuing and expanding our diversity and inclusion initiative, and to implementing any other initiatives to drive this necessary change within our industry. We welcome your thoughts on the steps we can take collectively. If you would like to be part of conversations on how we best do so, please reach out and let us know.
ULI Toronto has a unique ability to convene industry leaders around sharing best practices and developing strategies to guide us through times of uncertainty and change. We look forward to coming together, whether in-person or virtually, to have these conversations, learn from each other, and be part of the solutions that deliver meaningful change.
This week ULI Toronto staff will be attending the Canadian Urban Institute (CUI)’s webinar from their Cities in the Time of COVID Series: How do we respond to anti-Black racism in urbanist practices and conversations? and we would encourage you to attend as well. The session will be held on June 10 from 12:00 – 1:00pm and is moderated by Jay Pitter; the panelists include Orlando Bailey, Director of Engagement, BridgeDetroit & Detroit Host, Urban Consulate; Tamika Butler, Director of Planning for California & Director of Equity and Inclusion, Toole Design; Anthonia Ogundele, Founder, EthósLab; and Will Prosper, Montréal-Nord Républik & Hoodstock.