Following her five-year tenure with the City of Toronto, former Toronto Chief Planner and Executive Director Jennifer Keesmaat will teach a graduate course with U of T’s Department of Geography & Planning for the rest of the 2017–2018 academic year.
Keesmaat has accepted one of the university’s John Bousfield Distinguished Visitorship in Planning residences, which seeks to “offer the visitors an opportunity for research, writing and reflection, while also enhancing the learning experience of students in the Program in Planning.”
Keesmaat has had an extensive career in urban design and planning, having been involved with projects across Canada and abroad. Her time as chief planner was marked with projects like the extension of the Crosstown LRT, which runs across Eglinton Avenue, as well as a revamp of the avenue itself.
Throughout her career, Keesmaat has established herself as a strong proponent of public transportation, bike lanes, and walkability. In 2012, she gained recognition for her outspokenness in the Gardiner Expressway debate, publicly opposing Mayor John Tory on social media and advocating for the Gardiner’s conversion into a “grand boulevard.”
Keesmaat has proven herself to be a jack of all trades. She has given TEDx talks; guest-lectured at Ryerson University, York University, and U of T; written for the Toronto Star and The Globe and Mail; and served as principal at Canadian design firm DIALOG, among other endeavours. Most recently, she began hosting a podcast called Invisible City, which analyzes city space and provides commentary on the urban design.
The geography department will also welcome Stanley Makuch, a planning lawyer and U of T adjunct professor, and Dr. John Curry, a retired professor from the University of Northern British Columbia.
Keesmaat will be a keynote speaker at a U of T event honouring John Bousfield on October 19.