The speeches are free of charge but please note that the Empire Club of Canada retains copyright. Neither the speeches themselves nor any part of their content may be used for any purpose other than personal interest or research without the explicit permission of the Empire Club of Canada.
City Building in Canada in the Twenty First Century
Cities are being built in a significantly different manner than they were even just a generation ago as both planners and developers spend more time thinking about macro issues such as climate change, traffic flow, sustainability and energy conservation, not to mention a host of quality of life issues that are increasingly at the forefront of consumer demands. Each of these issues requires enormous amounts of study and thought if the final product is to be progressive and economically-feasible, and often demands more cooperation between cities and developers.
This unique luncheon event will bring together an award-winning North American developer with one of this continent’s most respected and well known planners. Their conversation on what it takes to build a great city in 2017 will be of interest to anyone in the real estate and asset management community, but also to investors, architects, lawyers and anyone who has ever wondered how what we are building today differs from what was done in the past, and how this is literally changing the way that urban Canadians live their lives at work, at home, and at play.
Christopher J. Wein President, Great Gulf Residential, Great Gulf Group Limited
As President, Christopher Wein leads the senior executive management team for all residential community, housing and high rise development initiatives at Great Gulf, including construction and property management. With more than 20 years of senior leadership in the design and development industries, including projects throughout Canada and the United States, his work focuses on utilizing new technologies, sustainable eco friendly building solutions and engineering ingenuity in the industry. He sits on various boards including The Design Exchange, Prostate Cancer Canada, North York Hospital and has spoken at industry conferences in Shanghai, Dubai, New York, Dallas, Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver and Edmonton as well as colleges and universities. He plays a key advisory role in formulating housing policy at municipal and provincial levels of government and participates as an expert guest on numerous housing and environmental panels. Mr. Wein has been recognized for his accomplishments and received many awards including Calgary Inc’s Top 40 Under 40. Under his leadership, Great Gulf has been recognized as 2016 Home Builder of the Year as well as receiving many top community and high rise development awards.
Jennifer Keesmaat, Chief Planner and Executive Director, City of Toronto
As Chief Planner for the City of Toronto, Jennifer is committed to creating places where people flourish. Over the past decade Jennifer has been repeatedly recognized by the Canadian Institute of Planners and OPPI for her innovative work in Canadian municipalities. Most recently, Jennifer was named as one of the most influential people in Toronto by Toronto Life magazine and one of the most powerful people in Canada by MacLeans Magazine. Jennifer is the 2016 recipient of the President’s Award of Excellence, Canadian Institute of Planners.
Her planning practice is characterized by an emphasis on collaborations across sectors, and broad engagement with municipal staff, councils, developers, business leaders, NGO’s and residents associations. Her priorities include implementing a divisional strategic plan, leading an Official Plan review process, refining public consultation to provide more access to city building conversations, a renewed focus on evidence based transit planning, midrise development on the City of Toronto’s many avenues, and overseeing development review for over 4000 applications annually.
Jennifer is the founder of Project Walk, which premiered its first short film in 2011, as an official selection at the TIFF. In 2012 Jennifer debuted her first TED talk, Walk to School and in 2013 she delivered her second, Own Your City. Jennifer is a graduate of the University of Western Ontario, combined honours English and Philosophy, and has a Master in Environmental Studies, Politics and Planning, from York University.