Jennifer Keesmaat

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Jennifer Keesmaat
Jennifer Keesmaat.jpg
Citizenship Canadian
Alma mater University of Western Ontario
York University
Title City Planner of Toronto
Term September 2012 - present
Predecessor Gary Wright

Jennifer Keesmaat is a Canadian urban planner, currently the chief planner for the city of Toronto, Ontario.[1][2]


Keesmaat graduated from the University of Western Ontario in English and philosophy in 1993. She enrolled in York University in 1997 and then obtained a master's degree in environmental studies (politics and planning) by 1999. For a brief time, she worked as an executive assistant to Councillor Joe Mihevc and former Councillor Jane Pitfield, at the Toronto City Hall, during Mel Lastman's tenure as mayor.[3]

Before becoming the chief planner of Toronto, she had worked on master plans in Toronto, Vancouver, Mississauga, Vaughan, Regina, Saskatoon, Lethbridge, Moncton, London and Halifax.[4] Outside of Canada, she has worked in the United States, Ireland and Greece. Along with Harold Madi and Antonio Gomez-Palacio, Keesmaat is a founder of the planning and design firm Office for Urbanism. She is also a founding partner at DIALOG.[4] She writes articles on planning-related topics, including recent editorials in the Toronto Star on the importance of complete streets and Complete Communities,[5][6] and in The Globe and Mail on the need to change approaches to land use planning to ensure the liveability and sustainability of Canada's future communities.[7] She has guest lectured at Ryerson University, York University, and the University of Toronto.[8] She has also delivered the TEDx talks Own your City[9] and Walk to School.[10]

She became the chief planner of Toronto in September 2012.[11] She is an advocate of density and walkability[3] and has described mid-rise development,[12] transportation, and waterfront[13] as areas of focus. She has also been a strong proponent of a national urban agenda by calling for an expanded role of the federal government in supporting Canadian cities.[14] Keesmaat took a strong stance on the Gardiner Expressway debate, and "her outspokenness got her into hot water with the mayor’s office."[15]

To discuss her plans, she hosts public roundtables, which are live-tweeted and broadcast on Rogers TV.[16] The Feeling Congested Consultation, one of the first major projects launched by her as chief planner, uses a range of non-traditional online and offline consultation tools to reach the public.

She was named the ninth most influential person in Toronto by Toronto Life in 2014,[17] and the 41st most important person in Canada by Maclean's in 2013.[18]

Personal life[edit]

She is married to Tom Freeman, who runs FH Hospitality, a company that sells high-end fixtures and furniture to hotels. Together, Keesmaat and Freeman have two children, Alexandra and Luis.[19]


  1. ^ Corey Mintz (2013-03-14). "Quizzing Toronto’s top planner Jennifer Keesmaat over dinner". The Star. Retrieved 2013-04-11. 
  2. ^ Marcus Gee (2013-03-01). "Toronto's new chief planner is a breath of fresh air in a stuffy bureaucracy". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2013-04-11. 
  3. ^ a b Daniel Dale (2012-07-31). "Jennifer Keesmaat, advocate of density and walkability, appointed Toronto’s new chief planner". Retrieved 2013-04-11. 
  4. ^ a b Elizabeth Church (2012-07-31). "Toronto goes outside city hall in picking chief planner". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2013-04-11. 
  5. ^ Jennifer Keesmaat (2014-04-27). "By densifying Eglinton, we can fight congestion". The Toronto Star. Retrieved 2014-05-21. 
  6. ^ Jennifer Keesmaat (2014-08-16). "In complete communities, pedestrians take precedence". The Toronto Star. Retrieved 2014-08-25. 
  7. ^ Jennifer Keesmaat (2014-05-12). "Here's how to change Canada from a suburban to an urban nation". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2013-05-21. 
  8. ^ "Toronto hires new chief planner". CBC. 2012-07-31. Retrieved 2013-04-11. 
  9. ^ Own Your City: Jennifer Keesmaat at TEDxYorkU
  10. ^ TEDxRegina -- Jennifer Keesmaat -- Walk to School
  11. ^ Elizabeth Church (2012-07-31). "New chief planner excited for the challenge". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2013-04-11. 
  12. ^ Wendy Gillis (2013-01-16). "Growing Up: Toronto planner Jennifer Keesmaat pushes for lots of mid-rise". The Toronto Star. Retrieved 2013-08-06. 
  13. ^ "Transit, waterfront priorities for Toronto's new chief planner Jennifer Keesmaat". National Post. 2012-07-31. Retrieved 2013-04-11. 
  14. ^ Jennifer Keesmaat (2014-05-23). "OpEd: City-building as a Canadian export". Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved 2014-06-01. 
  15. ^
  16. ^ Brian Anders (2013-03-05). "Chief Planner's roundtable: reimagining how the City builds public spaces". Retrieved 2013-04-11. 
  17. ^ "Toronto’s 50 Most Influential: the people who changed the city in 2014". Toronto Life. Retrieved 14 November 2015. 
  18. ^ "The 50 most important people in Canada". Macleans Magazine. Retrieved 5 January 2014. 
  19. ^ "Troublemaker: why chief planner Jennifer Keesmaat may be exactly what Toronto needs right now". 2015-08-05. Retrieved 2016-08-05. 

External links[edit]