Recently ERA welcomed to our office special guest Alan Dudeck, an urban planner, project manager, realtor, and member of the Toronto Preservation Board. He came to speak to us about his experience of an exciting period in the early 1970s when urban planning became community planning.
Working under contract with the City of Toronto planning department, Alan took on the role of a vocal and active neighbourhood advocate. Along with local residents and like-minded civic leaders, Alan was part of an effort to radically rethink urban renewal projects that were clearing large parts of Toronto’s downtown.
Alan spoke fondly of working locally out of a neighbourhood branch office, organizing health centers, confronting demolition crews, and promoting housing strategies that would revitalize, rather then replace, older buildings. This work was reinforced by the writings of columnists, academics, and advocates such as Jane Jacobs and John Sewell, people who advocated for new, creative and community-based city building.
Following this presentation, we all discussed how today’s context compares to the reform period of the 1970s. Alan suggested there is still a need to challenge norms, make noise and keep asking tough questions about how the city is planned and renewed.