OPPI20 keynote speaker lineup aims to create virtual space and place

oppi 2020

Ontario Construction News staff writer

The Ontario Professional Planners Institute (OPPI) has outlined its keynote speakers for its virtual 2020 conference (OPPI20) scheduled over four days – Sept. 23 (tomorrow) and 30, and Oct. 7 and 14.

In addition to the four keynote presentations, the organization plans more than 50 interactive training sessions and workshops relating to the conference themes of demographics and housing, OPPI says in a statement.

Speakers include:

  • Day 1 (Sept. 23) – Author John Bousfield Disti, an award-winning placemaker whose practice mitigates growing divides in cities across North America, speaks on the conference’s first day. Disti “spearheads institutional city-building projects specializing in public space design and policy, forgotten densities, mobility equity, gender-responsive design, inclusive public engagement and healing fraught sites,” the conference biography says. Herkeynote “Facing the Future” will historically spatialize this moment of reckoning while calling urban planners to embrace both aspiration and accountability for creating equitable cities.”
  • Day 2 (Sept. 30) – COVID-19 completely changed the world in the matter of weeks. In her keynote session, Nova Nicole, Workplace Mental Health Advisor and Leadership Development Facilitator at Shopify, will share tools and techniques planners can use to better manage stress and anxiety, help to navigate grief and isolation, and deal with challenges associated with context switching.
  • Day 3 (Oct. 7) – Ontario is currently experiencing a housing crisis. Existing affordable housing stock is limited and to make matters worse, the 2016 Census projects that the population of Ontario will grow by 38 per cent by the year 2046, and the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) is poised to be one of the fastest-growing parts of the province. How can planning, and planners, address current and future housing needs? Moderated by Jeanhy Shim, president and founder of Housing Lab Toronto, this keynote panel will discuss these questions through the exploration of affordable housing initiatives from municipalities in the GTA.
  • Day 4 (Oct. 14) – In his talk at OPPI20, David Wachsmuth, Canada Research Chair in Urban Governance at McGill University, will explore what professional planners need to know about short-term rentals. This includes their rise in Ontario and the world, their impacts on existing housing stocks, why some communities are fighting back, and how planners can contribute to regulating this industry in the public interest. Organizers say his talk will also include a first look at a forensic analysis of thousands of short-term rental hosts who have put their properties back on the long-term rental market during the COVID-19 pandemic.

RPPs from across Ontario will gather virtually for the four-day conference to participate in forums to work through critical issues and case studies, gain feedback from peers and present their work, best practices and research, OPPI says, describing OPPI20 as “the biggest annual educational and networking event for professional planners in Ontario.”


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