Top 25 Women of Influence 2017: Jennifer Keesmaat
Former City of Toronto Chief Planner
While Jennifer Keesmaat has chosen to step down from her position as City of Toronto Chief Planner effective September 2017, she spent her time in the role proving herself to be anything but a typical bureaucrat. Lured from a successful entrepreneurial planning venture (her role as Chief Planner came with a 40% pay cut), she has a blog and a sizeable Twitter following that she diligently updates with news and personal opinions. She was less concerned with politics than with sticking to her planning ideals: advocating for liveable density, high walkability, improved transit options, affordable housing, and plenty of green space. In 2017, dozens of large-scale projects were underway that followed her vision, including Bloor’s bike lanes, a transit- and pedestrian-friendly redesign of King St., and plans for the massive Rail Deck Park. Jennifer did not just picture a brighter future for North America’s fourth largest city — she helped get it done.