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Planning the Post-COVID City: How Should We Build Back Better?

April 15 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm

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Innis College and the Urban Studies Program present a discussion panel with alumni city builders—experts from a range of sectors and parts of Toronto’s equitable post-pandemic recovery.

While it has been a common refrain during the COVID pandemic that we are all in this together, the pandemic, and the various interventions in response to it, has exposed and exacerbated deep inequalities in our city. Rather than simply desire to return to a pre-pandemic ‘normal’, this panel will focus on how we might use this moment to work individually and collectively towards a more liveable, equitable, and just post-pandemic Toronto.

Thursday, April 15
7 pm EDT
A free, live, virtual (Zoom) panel
Online registration required (see below)

Cherise Burda (BSc ’90 Innis, BEd ’92), executive director of City Building Ryerson
Steve Deveaux (HBA ’99 Innis, Urban Studies), vice president at Tribute Communities
Kofi Hope (HBA ’06 Innis), co-founder and CEO of Monumental
Gregg Lintern (BA ’84 Innis, Urban Studies), chief planner for the City of Toronto
Judy Matthews (BA ’62 Trinity), civic leader and former planner

moderated by Rahul Bhardwaj (BA ’87 Innis), president of the Institute of Corporate Directors

As president and CEO of the Institute of Corporate Directors, Rahul Bhardwaj leads a Canadian not-for-profit association of more than 15,000 members committed to improving national outcomes by growing the board leadership and governance capacities within Canadian businesses, agencies and not-for-profits.

Prior to joining the ICD, Mr. Bhardwaj was a corporate lawyer at a leading Canadian law firm, and later, president and CEO of the Toronto Foundation, where he focused on engaging philanthropy to improve the quality of life in Toronto.

In 2012, Mr. Bhardwaj’s commitment to city building was recognized when he received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal. He has been named one of “The 50 Most Influential” people in the city by Toronto Life magazine and was named to the Quadrangle Society at Massey College and The Ultimate List of Social CEOs on Twitter.

As executive director of City Building Ryerson, Cherise Burda leads collaborations and knowledge mobilization strategies for academic research in city building and urban innovation. Formerly, she led Ryerson’s City Building Institute, where her team produced impactful urban policy researchHer professional background also includes Ontario director of the Pembina Institute, senior researcher with University of Victoria’s Eco-Research Chair of Environmental Law and Policy, and program director with the David Suzuki Foundation in Vancouver.  

Specializing in timely, relevant and proactive policy research and strategic communications to drive impactCherise has authored over 40 policy reports, book chapters and academic publications, as well as dozens of magazine articles and op-eds. Twenty-five years as a thought leader, Cherise’s research and activities have directly influenced policy change in Ontario and British Columbia. Cherise is an Innis alum, where she earned her Bachelor of Science in environmental science. She also holds a masters degree in environmental policy from the University of Victoria, as well as a Bachelor of Education from University of Toronto’s OISE. 

Cherise has spoken on dozens of industry, academic and public policy panels, including multiple appearances on TVO’s The Agenda. She participates regularly on public and private sector working groups, including Toronto’s affordable housing advisory panel, the Premier of Ontario’s transit investment strategy advisory panel, and currently Metrolinx’s Project Evaluation Advisory Panel.  

Steve Deveaux is vice president, Land Development, for Tribute Communities—a major Southern Ontario builder/developer. Steve began his city building career as a planner for the City of Toronto. Prior to this, Steve earned his BA in urban studies from Innis College, University of Toronto, and a Master of Urban and Rural Planning from Dalhousie University.

Steve is a longtime policy advocate and volunteer with the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD), where he served as chair, and the Ontario Homebuilders’ Association (OHBA). In 2017, he was duly recognized with an OHBA Member of the Year award.

(Photo of Steve Deveaux, above, courtesy of

Kofi Hope is a Rhodes Scholar and has a doctorate in politics from Oxford University. He is an emeritus Bousfield Scholar and current adjunct professor at U of T’s School of Geography and Planning, where he teaches around issues of urban equity in policy and leadership. He serves as a senior fellow at the Wellesley Institute and writes a monthly opinion column for the Toronto Star.

Kofi was the founder and former executive director of the CEE Centre for Young Black Professionals. Previously, he ran a private consulting practice focused on equity work and strategic advising, that supported clients such as the University of Toronto, the Toronto Transit Commission, the Toronto Foundation and Black History Ottawa.

He is a board member at the Atkinson Foundation and supports a number of organizations including the Black North Initiative and Progress Toronto. In 2017 he was winner of the Jane Jacobs Prize and in 2018 named a Rising Star in Toronto Life’s Power List. In 2005 he established the Black Youth Coalition Against Violence, which became a leading voice for advocating for real solutions to gun violence in Toronto and led to him being named one of the Top 10 People to Watch in Toronto in 2006 by the Toronto Star. Kofi has been featured widely across the Canadian media and has delivered over 200 public talks to date.

Gregg Lintern is chief planner and executive director, City Planning Division, for the City of Toronto.

Raised in Etobicoke, Gregg is a + 35-year veteran of local planning. He has held various roles and responsibilities in several different community planning districts across Toronto giving him a deep institutional knowledge, understanding of legislation, and history of working across the municipal spectrum.

As chief planner for the City of Toronto, Gregg is committed to strengthening Toronto as one ofthe world’s most liveable and equitable cities.

Consistently looking to the future, Gregg’s led a number of city-wide and local transformative plans and initiatives including Laneway and Second Suites, a plan for Toronto’s downtown known as “TOcore,” the Port Lands Planning Framework, tall building transformations , Mirvish Village, Yonge-Dundas Revitalization, reimagining Humber Bay Shores and Regent Park. Gregg strongly believes in a positive future for Toronto. As chief planner, his priorities include transportation network expansion, housing affordability, and proactive planning.

Judy Matthews pursued an undergraduate degree in fine arts at U of T and a post-graduate degree in urban planning at York.

A committed city-builder, Judy strongly believes in the role not-for-profit organizations play in civic life. She holds a long-standing interest in large and small scale urban renewal projects, and has leveraged her professional planning expertise to help realize an impressive variety of initiatives that have enriched Toronto and the lives of many Torontonians.

Her catalytic leadership has benefitted projects ranging from the anti-Spadina Expressway campaign (1960s), to the award-winning revitalization of St. George Street (mid-1990s), development of the $30 million Open Space Master Plan at U of T (late-1990s), and the creation of a pedestrian piazza and the Music Garden at Harbourfront Centre (1990s and 2000s).

Recently, Judy has been directing her energy toward an assortment of cultural and city-building organizations such as Evergreen, Park People, Artscape, and the Canadian Opera Company.


Register here

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(Background photo, in header, by Neil Howard)


April 15
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Event Categories:
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Alumni Office, Innis College
Urban Studies Program, Innis College