1. Home
  2. /
  3. News Stories
  4. /
  5. Planning for a better...

Planning for a better tomorrow: Hands-on skill building and experiential education courses in MES

Planning for a better tomorrow: Hands-on skill building and experiential education in MES-Planning

Within our MES-Planning program, we have incorporated many experiential education and skill building methods to ensure our planning students are well prepared for their future pursuits. This year, and every year, our program enhances student learning objectives.

In celebration of World Planning Day, explore the one-of-kind learning opportunities that are only offered in our MES-Planning program, including the course working directly with City of Toronto Planners on Geary Ave, our Planning skill building workshop series and international field studies courses for global understanding of critical urban/suburban.

Geary Works

This year, students in ENVS 5121 are working along planners at the City of Toronto in Geary Works: a comprehensive study of the Geary Avenue corridor in Toronto’s Ward 9 – Davenport. The Geary Ave corridor is a neighbourhood in Toronto’s West End experiencing major development pressures and change in use, from industrial and warehouse activities to an up-and-coming area for artist studios, cultural organizations, and light industrial and small commercial businesses, including diverse restaurants and coffee shops. With increasing land prices and development pressures, the Geary Works project seeks to guarantee the sustained viability of small businesses, affordable housing stocks and local artistic activities in a rapidly gentrifying area.

York’s MES Planning students are participating in Geary Works by conducting a site investigation and mapping of: (1) streets and public realm, (2) heritage landscapes and cultural activities; (3) businesses and economic development; (4) housing, development and built form. This experience enables students to learn from “planning in action”: Through site visits and meetings with municipal planners and stakeholders, as well as by direct observation and data collection activities, students are learning how planners prepare plans, implement policies, respond to development and gentrification pressures, develop consultation plans, and accommodate growth in a changing urban environment.

Planning students in 5121 during a tour of Geary Avenue with Thomas Rees, Senior Planner at the City of Toronto, and FES Professor Luisa Sotomayor.

Planning Skills Lab

The Planning Skills Lab in unique new feature of the MES Planning Program. The Lab is intended to give our students an additional opportunity to enhance their understanding of cutting-edge practices in the planning field while further developing their professional skills. Every Friday afternoon, MES Planning alumni and other professional planners and expert practitioners come to the Planning Skills Lab to deliver a hands-on workshop specifically tailored to the needs of aspiring planners.

From data collection and policy analysis, to site plan development, data visualization software, report writing, and public consultation techniques, the Planning Skills Lab complements well students’ academic growth and interdisciplinary development through the MES program. By connecting students to real planning cases and exposing them to the methods and tools currently used in the public, private, and non-for-profit sectors, our unique Planning Skills Lab helps preparing MES Planning students for their future careers.

If you are a planning student in FES: Register now!

Taking a bite out of the Big Apple: Critical Urban Planning Workshop heads to NYC

In October, students in Professor Ute Lehrer’s Critical Urban Planning Workshop on “Housing, Affordability and the Smart City Paradigm” attended a three-day field trip in New York City where they met with the developers of Hudson Yards – the biggest private real estate development in United States history –, activists who fought against the Amazon headquarters in Queens and who continue the struggle against the massive redevelopment of Sunnyside Railyards, urban and architecture historians of Manhattan’s Lower East Side and Brooklyn, cooperative and public housing experts, residents, and organizations, and a number of groups working actively on establishing a stronger platform for maintaining and increasing Community Land Trusts across New York City. The trip ended with a screening and Q&A with the director and lead of the documentary film PUSH – a film that examines the global housing crisis and that calls for a critical response to the financialization of housing. The trip was supported by the SSHRC MCRI: Global Suburbanisms: Governance, Land and Infrastructure in the 21st Century project (yorku.ca/suburbs).

Each year, Professor Lehrers’s Critical Urban Planning workshop course investigates recent urban change in selected North American and European cities using an approach that is informed by recent critical planning practices and urban theory.

Put yourself in a New York state of “planning” by checking out Ute’s twitter highlights on Day 1, Day 2 and Day 3 of this course.