The room at Toronto City Hall was filled to capacity on November 19. Those gathered had an air of expectation as Toronto’s chief planner, Jennifer Keesmaat, presented her “Planning a City for All” lecture.
Keesmaat’s presentation was the last of a series of four lectures called “Inner City Front: Conflict, Hope, and the Common Good,” sponsored by Urban Remixed and designed to encourage and sustain urban ministry.
Urban Remixed is a partnership between the Christian Reformed campus chaplaincy at the University of Toronto (CRC@UofT), the Salvation Army Gateway for people who are homeless, Church of the Redeemer, and Trinity College.
Keesmaat’s presentation highlighted initiatives Toronto is taking to remedy the social problems caused by poverty and crime. Affordable housing, safe neighborhoods, green areas, and accessible work and marketplaces were some of the subjects she touched on. Keesmaat spoke of her vision for complete communities, seeking to dissolve “areas of high concentration of poverty, isolation and crime.”
Keesmaat was recently named by Maclean’s magazine as one of the 50 most important people in Canada.
Other lectures in the series included “A Theology of the City” by CRC campus minister Brian Walsh, “Sustainability and the City” by University of Toronto professor Ingrid Stefanovic, and “Imagination, the Arts, and Homelessness,” by Phyliss Novak.
CRC Campus Ministry’s Wine Before Breakfast, a weekly morning service at the Wycliffe College chapel, has brought together many men and women who are interested in questions of urban life. Walsh explained, “We need visions of human possibilities—urban possibilities—that tell us who we want, or perhaps more pertinently, who we do not want to become. We need to be clear about what we don’t want to become before we can entertain possibilities of an alternative city.”