UNDER THE TENT Envisioning Neighbourhoods – Neighbourhood Planning Offices: Toronto - Ontario
“... it was a lot more convenient, a lot more direct, you could call it being closer to the people and closer to the geography you were working in...”Gregg Lintern - Director of Toronto and East York District Community Planning
During the 1970s in Toronto, local neighbourhood planning offices were placed throughout the City by then-Mayor David Crombie and his team of city planners, to increase community engagement and to provide information about plans and developments.
Neighbourhood residents could easily access the planners who were making decisions within their community in site offices and public storefronts, and speak face-to-face about local planning issues.
Since the planning department reported directly to city council, the community connections were not filtered through multiple layers of bureaucracy within municipal government, allowing for more effective, direct engagement. Twelve offices were located throughout Metro Toronto. Planners were situated within the community they were helping plan, therefore better able to understand the needs of its residents.
Unfortunately local neighbourhood planning offices no longer exist in the City of Toronto, due to an economic recession in the 1990s that forced the planning department to consolidate within City Hall. But this model is viewed as an effective tool for increasing active citizen participation, similar to Community Planning Boards.