Keesmaat in 2010
|Chief City Planner of Toronto|
September 2012 – September 29, 2017
|Preceded by||Gary Wright|
|Succeeded by||Gregg Lintern|
1970 (age 47–48)|
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
|Residence||Toronto, Ontario, Canada|
On August 28, 2017, she announced that she would leave her position as Chief Planner, effective September 29 of the same year, to pursue other interests. Subsequently, she accepted a teaching position at the University of Toronto.
In March 2018, Keesmaat took a position as the CEO of Creative Housing Society, an independent non-profit group striving to create affordable housing projects.
On July 27, 2018, Keesmaat announced her candidacy for mayor of Toronto. This was in the wake of a move by the provincial government to decrease Toronto City Council to 25 members from 47.
Keesmaat was the third of the four daughters of Irene, an artist, and Leonard, a builder and craftsman. Both her parents came to Canada from the Netherlands as young children. She was born and raised in Hamilton, Ontario, where she attended Calvin Christian School and then Sir Allan MacNab Secondary School. 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 left-leaning Councillor Joe Mihevc and former Councillor Jane Pitfield, at the Toronto City Hall, during Mel Lastman's tenure as mayor.
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. 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. She writes articles on planning-related topics, including recent editorials in the Toronto Star on the importance of complete streets and Complete Communities, 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. She has guest lectured at Ryerson University, York University, and the University of Toronto. She has also delivered the TEDx talks Own your City and Walk to School.
Chief City Planner of Toronto (2012–2017)
She became the chief planner of Toronto in September 2012. She is an advocate of density and walkability and has described mid-rise development, transportation, and waterfront 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. Keesmaat took a strong stance on the Gardiner Expressway debate, and "her outspokenness got her into hot water with the mayor's office.[clarification needed] It was also reported[by whom?] that Keesmaat "put her hand over a CP24 camera and walked away from an interview when asked about tensions".
To discuss her plans, she hosted public roundtables, which are live-tweeted and broadcast on Rogers TV. 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.
In 2012, Keesmaat proposed 14 new taxes which might raise revenue to finance new government spending. 
In March 2017, she was quoted in a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation article discussing threats to the Greenbelt by developers claiming to need additional land to build housing. Research conducted by the CBC confirmed that a great deal of serviced land was already available in the area and that builders were not proceeding in spite of the availability. Oakville Mayor Rob Burton made the following comment "we've given them serviced land they're sitting on" and Keesmaat was quoted as saying that "builders control supply in this region. We live in a cartel economy."
Resignation and CEO of Creative Housing Society
In late August 2017, Keesmaat announced that she was leaving her role with the City after public disagreements with Mayor John Tory on several policies, including the debate about removing the Gardiner Expressway. The planner, however, said that the mayor had been wonderful. "He has been willing to tolerate a chief planner who didn't fit in a box." City Councillor Joe Mihevc praised Keesmaat's value to the City. "In the case of the Gardiner, she was speaking truth to power", Mr. Mihevc said. "We needed a provocateur. ... She pushed us to think at a higher level."
Keesmaat subsequently began working with Creative Housing Society, an independent non-profit group started by a Vancouver real estate developer. Her LinkedIn profile indicated that she has been Chief Executive Officer of the Society since March 2018. The group is "dedicated to building affordable, purpose-built rental housing [particularly in Toronto and Vancouver] at a scale that’s really never been done before in the Canadian context", she told TVOntario in early April 2018.
2018 Toronto mayoral election
On July 27, 2018, Keesmaat announced her intention to run for Mayor of Toronto in the 2018 municipal elections. In reaction to Premier Doug Ford's plan to cut Toronto City Council by half, Keesmaat tweeted a proposal for Toronto to secede from Ontario and become Canada's eleventh province, before abandoning that proposal a week later. Former NDP federal leadership contender, Brian Topp is serving as Keesmaat's campaign advisor. Olivia Chow, a former city councillor and NDP MP, endorsed Keesmaat.
Keesmaat has committed to reduce the speed limit on all residential roads in Toronto to 30 km/h (currently the speed limit is 50 km/h, or 40 km/h for school zones). Keesmaat has promised to tear down the eastern section of the Gardiner Expressway and replace it with a ground level road. Keesmaat has promised to make the King Street pilot project (which reduces driving lanes on King Street) permanent.
Housing and public safety
Keesmaat has proposed a property tax increase on the sale of luxury homes to help pay for building 100,000 units of affordable housing. She also supports a municipal handgun ban. Keesmaat has planed a freeze in spending on Toronto Police Services.
She is married to Tom Freeman, who runs FH Hospitality, a home-based sales firm that sells high-end fixtures and furniture to hotels. Together, Keesmaat and Freeman have two children, Alexandra and Luis.
- Corey Mintz (2013-03-14). "Quizzing Toronto's top planner Jennifer Keesmaat over dinner". The Star. Retrieved 2013-04-11.
- 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.
- Jackie DeSouza (August 28, 2017). "Chief Planner Jennifer Keesmaat to leave City of Toronto" (Press release). City of Toronto.
- "Jennifer Keesmaat on 5 years as chief planner, being told to 'stick to the knitting,' and what comes next - CBC News".
- Kerr, Jaren (4 October 2017). "Jennifer Keesmaat to teach at University of Toronto". Toronto Star. Retrieved 4 October 2017.
- "Why Toronto's former chief planner wants Canadians to rediscover renting". 6 April 2018.
- Westoll, Nick; Shum, David (27 July 2018). "Jennifer Keesmaat, former Toronto chief planner, running for mayor". Global News.
- DVSA. "Irene Keesmaat - Dundas Valley School of Art".
- Landau, Emily (August 5, 2015). "Troublemaker: why chief planner Jennifer Keesmaat may be exactly what Toronto needs right now". Toronto Life. Retrieved August 30, 2017.
- Daniel Dale (2012-07-31). "Jennifer Keesmaat, advocate of density and walkability, appointed Toronto's new chief planner". Retrieved 2013-04-11.
- Elizabeth Church (2012-07-31). "Toronto goes outside city hall in picking chief planner". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2013-04-11.
- Jennifer Keesmaat (2014-04-27). "By densifying Eglinton, we can fight congestion". The Toronto Star. Retrieved 2014-05-21.
- Jennifer Keesmaat (2014-08-16). "In complete communities, pedestrians take precedence". The Toronto Star. Retrieved 2014-08-25.
- 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.
- "Toronto hires new chief planner". CBC. 2012-07-31. Retrieved 2013-04-11.
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- Wendy Gillis (2013-01-16). "Growing Up: Toronto planner Jennifer Keesmaat pushes for lots of mid-rise". The Toronto Star. Retrieved 2013-08-06.
- "Transit, waterfront priorities for Toronto's new chief planner Jennifer Keesmaat". National Post. 2012-07-31. Retrieved 2013-04-11.
- Jennifer Keesmaat (2014-05-23). "OpEd: City-building as a Canadian export". Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved 2014-06-01.
- "Toronto chief planner Jennifer Keesmaat is a new breed of bureaucrat - The Star".
- "Chief planner's rift with Mayor John Tory derails interview - The Star".
- Brian Anders (2013-03-05). "Chief Planner's roundtable: reimagining how the City builds public spaces". spacing.ca. Retrieved 2013-04-11.
- "Feeling Congested". toronto.ca.
- "Toronto's 50 Most Influential: the people who changed the city in 2014". Toronto Life. Retrieved 14 November 2015.
- "The 50 most important people in Canada". Macleans Magazine. Retrieved 5 January 2014.
- Grant, Amanda (31 March 2017). "Oakville Mayor says developing greenbelt won't cool housing market". CBC News. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 17 April 2017.
- "The unstoppable Jennifer Keesmaat: How the Gardiner debate exposed the rift between John Tory and the chief planner" – via The Globe and Mail.
- "Jennifer Keesmaat, Toronto's outspoken chief city planner, resigns" – via The Globe and Mail.
- "Developer pitches plan for 50,000 units of affordable housing in Toronto, Vancouver" – via The Globe and Mail.
- Ling, Justin (August 20, 2018). "Don't Underestimate Faith Goldy's Bid to Become Mayor of Toronto". The Walrus. Retrieved August 21, 2018.