The City of Toronto has launched an outreach initiative called Share Your Downtown Story. The intention is to ensure that the comprehensive plan being developed for downtown – TOcore – is informed by how Torontonians experience downtown today as well as by what they want to see in the core of their city in the future.
“The City works hard to ensure public spaces, public services and public policies meet a wide range of needs,” said Jennifer Keesmaat, Chief Planner and Executive Director, City Planning. “When we think about how best to guide the future of downtown, it’s important that we consider the diversity of the people who live, work, learn, play and invest there, and that’s why we want people to tell us about their lived experience.”
The City has created a set of profiles called the “TOcore Avatars” that reflect a mix of people who live in Toronto, both downtown and across the city, as a way to foster creative thinking throughout the study. The avatars also reflect those who visit or work downtown, as well as people who don’t spend a lot of time in the core.
The TOcore Avatars are based on an analysis of demographic data from the census and other sources, with stories created around a series of demographic segments to help explain how Toronto’s diverse population relates to downtown.
The avatars were created for two reasons: first, to serve as a reminder about the diversity that exists in Toronto and the need to plan in a way that accommodates the many types of relationships people have with the downtown; and second, to help Torontonians reflect on their own lived experience in the downtown area.
By introducing the public to these avatars, City planners are hoping to encourage Torontonians to tell their own downtown story and share it as part of the TOcore study. City planners want to know: Is your experience similar to any of the avatars? Is it different? In what ways?
Throughout the next year, the City will hold various community consultation opportunities for the public to engage with the study. The TOcore Avatars will be a key tool in these consultations and throughout the project to help Torontonians think beyond their own individual experiences, and reflect on the city from the perspective of others. Together, it is hoped that better collective decisions for the future of downtown will be made.
TOcore is a response to the rapid growth and intensification of Toronto’s Downtown that is placing pressure on physical and social infrastructure. The study seeks to ensure that growth positively contributes to Downtown Toronto as a great place to live, work, learn play and invest into the future.
Toronto is Canada’s largest city, the fourth largest in North America, and home to a diverse population of about 2.8 million people. It is a global centre for business, finance, arts and culture and is consistently ranked one of the world’s most livable cities. – CINEWS