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Laneway summit post-mortem

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Last night was The Laneway Project’s inaugural summit here in Toronto. And I think it was a huge success. This is what the crowd looked like (don’t forget to check the upstairs balcony area):

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Over 350 people showed up to fill The Great Hall at Queen West and Dovercourt. It was absolutely incredible. To be honest, I initially thought that it would end up as a small group of city geeks. I mean, it was a summit to effectively talk about back alleys.

But it turns out that there are a ton of people in this city who are passionate about rethinking our urban fabric and finding new uses for these underutilized public spaces. And that’s both really encouraging and exciting. Many thanks to everyone who came out!

The Laneway Project team did an incredible job spreading awareness and, given the success of this initial summit, I can only imagine where this initiative will end up in the future. So a big congratulations to Mackenzie Keast, Ariana Cancelli, and Michelle Senayah for making this happen.

I’m not sure if the event was filmed or not, but hopefully it was and it’ll be made available online. But in the event that it wasn’t, I did want to share one question that the panel got during the Q&A session after our presentations.

The comment made was basically that Toronto will never be Sydney, Melbourne, or Seattle when it comes to our laneways. They have a temperate climate and we don’t. So while it’s nice to show great pictures of their laneways, it’s just not going to happen here.

And that really pissed me off.

So I responded by saying that I disagree. Saying that we’ll never be Sydney or Seattle is capitulating. There are many months of the year where it’s beautiful outside in Toronto, so just because we have a winter doesn’t mean we should throw our hands up in the air and give up.

I then went on to argue that the fact that we have a “shorter season” should be all the more reason that we need fantastic outdoor and public spaces. For the months of the year where it’s beautiful outside, we should be maximizing our enjoyment!

I hope many of you agree as well. Happy Friday all 🙂

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