Toronto’s 50 Most Influential: #8, Jennifer Keesmaat
Our annual ranking of the people whose smarts, connections and clout are changing the city as we know it
8 Toronto’s chief planner is a loudmouth. She uses Twitter (10,400 posts and counting) to deliver odes to mid-rise development, walkability, cycling culture and affordable housing, and to take her critics to task. She’s thoroughly defiant in the face of opposition—even when it pits her against the mayor (as with the Gardiner debate). And over the summer she geared up to fight the $3.56-billion Scarborough subway, hiring the city’s first director of transit and sustainable transportation to fill her arsenal. The mayor and premier unwaveringly support the subway. Keesmaat, not surprisingly, likes the light-rail alternative, which would be $2 billion cheaper.
Keesmaat is working with U of T to develop a sophisticated ridership projection model to help with rapid transit planning. It’s due early next year. Expect more fireworks.