From all my travelling around the world spreading the good Delib word, you always notice country trends. One of the biggest areas of interest in this space I’d noticed on Twitter in Canada is #Urbanplanning, with a huge amount of buzz and chat in this space.
So it was really nice to start my tour of Canada by stopping off for a coffee with @ChrisJamesDrew, who’s a passionate urban planner and Tweeter. Chris flagged up the fact that Toronto has the highest number of cranes of any city around the world – it has 142 at present compared its closest rival Mexico City which has 84 – a number which shows why perhaps there’s some much buzz around urban planning. Other than this natty stat, Chris pointed out a number of interesting things going on in the urban planning and Gov2.0 space in Toronto and wider Ontario Province, including:
- 4th Wall of City Hall: a project by neighbourhood planning activist Dave Meslin to encourage citizen engagement across Toronto City Council.
- Adam Vaughan: the councillor for the Trinity and Spadina areas (where as it happens I’ve been staying), who’s highly active in the neighbourhood planning space, and a big advocate of community engagement.
- Spacing.ca: an awesome magazine (and blog) sharing the latest and greatest innovations in the urban planning space.
Following coffee, I stopped off for lunch with @JohnCarson who also shared some interesting Canadian tidbits in this space, including UrbanToronto.ca, and then hot footed it to Toronto’s City Hall to chat to their citizen engagement team.
Toronto’s City Hall rates as one of the most awesome city hall’s I’ve ever visited from an architectural perspective – up there with Warringah Civic centre in New South Wales (Australia) which was my previous number one!
I always find it fascinating talking to governments around the world, as invariably they all face the same challenges, so I was pleased I could share some tasty insights and thoughts on how they could progress their multi-channel engagement strategy, looking at adopting a *government as a participative platform* type-model.
To finish the day, I had the great pleasure of hanging out with the extremely inspiring team from MASS, who I serendipitously bumped into on Twitter. Over a Canadian (extra strong) beer or two, we chatted at their (very cool) offices about re-imagining citizen engagement, and then headed down to their local Irish restaurant (and my first experience of Irish-themed food) where we were joined by the equally interesting @RyanMerkely who discussed his fascinating work with the Mozilla Foundation.
All in all, I have to say my time in Toronto has been way too short, but very inspiring. From a city perspective, my general observations of Toronto is that’s a pretty laid-back city with some great quirky neighbourhoods, my favourite being Trinity (where I was staying). The only downsides from my short experience have been broadly poor coffee (although I did find an awesome coffee shop called Little Nicky’s which does a mean mini-donuts) and a not-so-great public transport system (including pretty unwelcoming and argumentative bus drivers).
Next time I come back I’m definitely going to have to spend more than 24 hours in the city, get a *good coffee guidebook* and hire a motorised scooter. Next stop Ottawa 😉