Jennifer Keesmaat

Former Chief Planner, City of Toronto | Renowned Urbanist

Creating places where people flourish is what Jennifer Keesmaat is passionate about. Named one of the “most powerful people in Canada” by Maclean’s, and one of the “most influential” by Toronto Life, she spent five years as Toronto’s Chief City Planner, where she was celebrated for her innovative and collaborative approach to city-building and recently ran for Mayor of Toronto. Now a Distinguished Visitor in Residence at the University of Toronto, Keesmaat shares her vision for cities of the future and her belief in inspired leadership.

Over the past 15 years, Keesmaat has worked in municipalities across Canada on urban design guidelines, official plan reviews, culture strategies, and university campus master plans. Her planning practice has been characterized by an emphasis on collaborations across sectors and broad engagement with municipal staff, councils, developers, business leaders, NGOs, and resident’s associations.

Keesmaat is a graduate of the University of Western Ontario and holds a Master in Environmental Studies from York University. She is a Registered Professional Planner, and her innovative work has been repeatedly recognized by the professional associations, including the Canadian Institute of Planners, OPPI, the Design Exchange, and + EDRA.

Jennifer Keesmaat's presentation: "Housing for all: A new delivery model"

Jennifer Keesmaat

Ryan Berlin

Economist | Director of Urban Futures

Economist Ryan Berlin provides thought-provoking insight into economic, demographic, and real estate trends. Is housing affordable? How are demographics—including aging and immigration—impacting the labour force? Is the economy stable?

For the past 15 years, Ryan Berlin has worked closely with many of British Columbia’s most successful organizations in real estate, retail, and ļ¬nance, as well as many of Canada’s more forward-thinking municipalities, regional governments, and crown corporations. As Director of Urban Futures, Ryan has provided research, insights, and advice on a wide range of topics related to industry succession planning, investment and market positioning, and service provision and allocation. Now the Senior Economist in Rennie’s Market Intelligence Division, Ryan provides insightful market research and analysis to Rennie’s corporate leadership, its advisors, and its clients.

Berlin holds a BA (Honours) in Economics from Queen’s University and an MA in Economics from the University of British Columbia. While studying at UBC, he instructed undergraduate students on the principles of micro- and macro-economics. He currently sits on the board of the Association of Professional Economists of BC, an organization that he has been a member of since 2011.

Ryan Berlin's presentation: "Demographics, Economics, and Housing in Southwestern Ontario" 

Ryan Berlin

Graham Cubitt

Director of Projects & Development, Indwell

Working to create affordable housing communities that support people seeking health, wellness, and belonging is what Graham Cubitt does daily in his role at Indwell, a Hamilton-based Christian charity. Graham has overseen development of housing for more than 500 households, with another 440 apartments in planning and construction phases.

Indwell’s approach to affordable housing focuses on creating vibrant, livable communities, often through adaptive-reuse of derelict buildings or by new construction. Indwell has adopted Passive House design strategies for its current three projects under construction, becoming a Canadian leader in demonstrating the economic and environmental benefits of energy-efficient and accessible buildings. These projects have highlighted the challenges faced in creating very low energy or net-zero projects. Demonstrating how to overcome these challenges is now part of Indwell’s approach to proving that high-value, cost effective affordable housing with supports is possible when a community works together for long-term benefits.

When not working on affordable housing, Graham and his wife, Emma, help lead The Mustard Seed Co-op, Hamilton’s community-owned grocery store. The couple was honoured as Hamilton’s Environmentalists of the Year in 2017. Their dream is to help realize a world where everyone can flourish.

Graham Cubitt's presentation: "Practical solutions to meeting community housing needs: Three recent projects by Indwell"

Graham Cubitt

Lana Sim

Manager of Human Resources and Administration, Toyota Boshoku Canada Inc.

Having faced many challenges in her career in human resources, Lana Sim prides herself on being able to adapt and find ways to be successful in ever changing market situations while ensuring the well-being of the team members that she works for.

Lana Sim has worked for Toyota Boshoku Canada Inc. for the past six years but has spent most of her 30-year career in a human resources capacity working for Japanese automotive companies supplying Toyota Motor Manufacturing.

She has been responsible for new start-ups, land acquisitions to support expansion projects, increasing head count, adopting legislative changes, as well as dealing with economic downturns and job uncertainty.

She is happy to be involved in the community and so far has found the support from all levels of government to be outstanding.

Lana Sim

SHS Consulting

Ed Starr, Partner & Adrienne Pacini, Senior Design Researcher

SHS Consulting is a team of urbanists and strategists creating solutions to foster community inclusion and housing opportunities for all. SHS Consulting helps its clients answer complex questions about housing needs in communities, build social purpose real estate, and envision alternative futures.

Ed Starr, one of the founding partners of SHS Consulting, possesses 45 years of professional experience in the housing and planning sectors. His experience includes five years as a Municipal Housing Policy Planner at the City of Toronto and Region of Peel, followed by 40 years in the consulting sector. Ed has directed the preparation of a wide range of municipal housing strategies in every corner of Canada, as well as policy studies on a host of important housing policy issues. His work has also included operational reviews of municipal housing corporations, feasibility studies for affordable housing projects, program evaluations, and development of supportive housing programs for vulnerable populations. He has also successfully secured funding for more than 60 affordable housing projects developed by municipal, non-profit, cooperative and private sector housing providers and acted as project manager for these developments.

Ed currently serves as coordinator of the Intentional Communities Consortium, a group of agencies devoted to increasing the supply of housing and developing leading edge concepts to provide housing and supports for persons with developmental disabilities. He is a Registered Professional Planner and Member of the Canadian Institute of Planners and the Ontario Professional Planners Institute and holds a Masters of Environmental Studies and a Masters of Business Administration from York University.

As SHS's Senior Design Researcher, Adrienne Pacini leads human-centred design research to understand lived experiences of individuals living in Canada’s affordable and supportive housing dwellings. She facilitates multi-stakeholder groups to develop strategies for business model innovation in the housing sector and is involved in market and socio-economic research, strategic planning, community engagement, and service design, mainly for non-profit housing and health care providers. Adrienne is leading SHS’s work on designing new housing solutions through the CMHC Solutions Labs for housing issues and the Canada Housing Benefit.

Adrienne holds a Master of Design, Strategic Foresight and Innovation from OCAD University and a Bachelor of Arts, Urban Systems, Economics, French Language from McGill University.

Ed Starr

Adrienne Pacini