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URSSU Hosts Let’s Talk Toronto Panel

Let’s Talk Toronto | A Discussion on the Toronto Foundation’s Vital Signs Report 

By Nour Chatti, 4th Year Urban Studies student

The Urban Studies Student Union hosted Let’s Talk Toronto on October 15, 2014, a panel discussion regarding findings from the Toronto Foundation’s most recent Vital Signs report in collaboration with the Centre for Community Partnerships, Association of Political Science Students, and Hart House Debates Committee. The panel was representative of a variety of voices within the GTA which resulted in a lively discussion; many points of views were illustrated by the students, CEOs, community organizers, and professors that were a part of the panel and also audience. The CEO of the Toronto Foundation, Rahul Bhardwaj, provided a keynote speech where he outlined the major points of the Vital Signs report. Afterwards, the discussion opened up to the panel which consisted of Dr. Shauna Brail (Director of the Urban Studies Program), Susan McIsaac (CEO of United Way Toronto), Dulaa Osman (a City Studies Student at UTSC), and Alex Dow (Program Director at the Malvern Community Centre). The discussion was also moderated by Dr. Tone Careless of the Political Science department.

The panel responded to questions regarding future growth opportunities in Toronto and also challenges for the city’s new mayor. The event was a fantastic opportunity to learn about the city’s strengths and weaknesses from Torontonians with diverse perspectives and backgrounds. The event also drew in a large number of people outside the University of Toronto, which resulted in many interesting and thought-provoking questions posed to the panel.

Working in collaboration with other student organizations within U of T, the Centre for Community Partnerships, and also the Toronto Foundation truly elevated the event due to the fantastic panel, high attendance, and lovely venue in which Let’s Talk Toronto was situated. The Urban Studies Student Union hopes to recreate the success of October’s event with another engaging and informative academic seminar next semester.

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