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STEP UP Conversations 

Access to Housing

Join us on October 14th 

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Designing Ways Outside of the Box
How urban planners, architects, and designers can make a difference to the lives of many through the thoughtful pursuit of answers to the messy questions.

In this CanU- STEP UP Conversation, we will look at how “architects, planners, and designers can make a difference to the lives of many through the thoughtful pursuit of answers to the messy questions. Questions like ….. why, in a wealthy, stable country such as Canada do we have almost 100,000 homeless people? Why, for many, is home a cardboard box? Why are the waiting lists for social housing in Canadian cities like Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal and Halifax still in the 10’s of thousands after 50 years of working on the issue? 


And, ultimately, how can we, as professionals known for improving the human condition through design... actually improve the human condition. 


This conversation between three internationally known planners and urban designers will examine the root causes of these issues, the current “state of the nation”, and the directions we might pursue to better engage in these issues and be seen, as professionals, as part of the solution and not the problem. 

Patrick Condon: 
Notable Canadian Urban Designer, Planner, Professor, and the Author of Several Planning Books 
Elina Eskelä,
PhD:  Suunnittelija | Planner Helsinki City Executive Office planning and coordinating housing policy
Ken Greenberg: 
Urban Designer, City Building Advocate, and Author
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Moderator:  Mark Guslits:
 Architect, Urban Designer, Community Development Advisor, Professor U of T Daniels Faculty of Architecture
Serena Purdy
Co-chair of Friends of Kensington Market, a not-for-profit, donation driven, volunteer organization.


Ken Greenberg 

Is an urban designer, teacher, writer, former Director of Urban Design and Architecture for the City of Toronto and Principal of Greenberg Consultants.

For over four decades he has played a pivotal role on public and private assignments in urban settings throughout North America and Europe, focusing on the rejuvenation of downtowns, waterfronts, neighborhoods and on campus master planning, regional growth management, and new community planning. His work sits at the intersection of urban design, architecture, landscape, mobility, social and economic development. Cities as diverse as Toronto, Hartford, Amsterdam, New York, Boston, Montréal, Ottawa, Edmonton, Calgary, St. Louis, Washington DC, Paris, Detroit, Saint Paul and San Juan Puerto Rico have benefited from his advocacy and passion for restoring the vitality, relevance and sustainability of the public realm in urban life. In each city, with each project, his strategic, consensus-building approach has led to coordinated planning and a renewed focus on urban design. He is the recipient of the 2010 American Institute of Architects Thomas Jefferson Award for Public Design Excellence and the 2014 Sustainable Buildings Canada Lifetime Achievement Award. He was selected as a Member of the Order of Canada in 2020.


Patrick Condon  

Has over 25 years of experience in sustainable urban design: first as a professional city planner and then as a teacher and researcher. Patrick started his academic career in 1985 at the University of Minnesota before moving to the University of British Columbia in 1992. After acting as the director of the landscape architecture program, he became the James Taylor Chair in Landscape and Liveable Environments. In that capacity he has worked to advance sustainable urban design in scores of jurisdictions in the US, Canada, and Australia. Patrick has also led the Sustainability by Design project by the Design Centre for Sustainability. For over 20 years, the Design Centre and James Taylor Chair worked on a variety of projects and books to contribute to healthier and more sustainable urban landscapes.

Recognizing the need for collaboration as a fundamental part of designing sustainable communities, Patrick has pioneered public engagement methods. He has successfully focused attention on how to make systemic change in the way cities are built and operated, notably in his East Clayton project in Surrey, BC. More recently, he and his research partners collaborated with the City of North Vancouver to produce a 100-year plan to make the city carbon-neutral by 2107. Patrick and his partners received the Canadian Institute of Planners Award for Planning Excellence and the BC Union of Municipalities Award of Excellence for this work.

Elina Eskelä 

As a planner at the Helsinki City Executive Office, Elina coordinates and develops housing policy in Helsinki, Finland, ensuring mixed tenure development in the neighbourhoods. As Helsinki strives to hold its position as a textbook example in Europe of how to prevent segregation, Elina is also planning suburban renewal projects, enabling equality and wellbeing in all districts. She also works with projects aiming at innovative housing solutions and diversifying housing in apartment buildings.

Elina holds a PhD in Urban Geography from University of Helsinki. Her research has focused on housing preferences of skilled migrants and social aspects of housing. Elina was Chair of the Finnish Society of Urban Planning (2017-19).

Mark Guslits: Principal, Mark Guslits & Associates Inc. – Toronto, ON, Canada     


After practicing as an architect and affordable housing consultant in Canada and the UK, Mark now works primarily as an urban revitalization/mixed income/mixed tenure residential developer and  development consultant and educator - teaching urban design/global development at the Institute Without Boundaries at George Brown College in Toronto and at the Munk School of Global Affairs at the U of T. Recently Mark has joined the Faculty within the Daniels Architecture School at U of T to teach a course in Affordable Housing. 

Serena Purdy

Serena Purdy is co-chair of Friends of Kensington Market, a not-for-profit, donation driven, volunteer organization. Through FoKM she is notable for her work to regulate short-term rentals (with the aim of curbing the displacement of long-term renters), the initiation of the first Emancipation Day “Black Women Paint” mural on Baldwin st. (a mega-mural by black women artists celebrating a vision of the future without oppression), and the my Friend’s Tab program (a pay-it-forward program aimed at helping neighbours maintain the dignity of shopping as they normally would through financial difficulty).


She is also a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto's Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation. Her research focus is in health policy, specifically comparative health systems analysis. Her published work to date focuses on conflicts of interest in biomedicine, as well as the ethical regulation of biosimilar pharmaceuticals.

Serena is deeply committed to community service and evidence informed policy.

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