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Anti-Black Racism in Planning Task Force

One of the core principles of our professional planning practice is to plan for “the public interest.” While planners talk about equity, diversity, and social justice in theory and practice, the reality is that the dominating colonial, Eurocentric planning system is historically structured on the preservation of privileges and entitlements for white people over Black, Indigenous, and other racialized peoples and from which unconscious biases have evolved.

As a profession, planning has failed to address how discriminatory systemic actions and decisions negatively impact the Black community and marginalized groups, and how the consequences of these actions and decisions impact society as a whole.
OPPI is aware that the planning profession is being called to acknowledge the importance of Black perspectives and experiences in planning. This calls us to engage Black voices to help alter dominant planning and decision-making processes and practices. OPPI recognizes its responsibility to ensure it enables and supports its members in these efforts.

OPPI's Anti-Black Racism in Planning Task Force will develop a strategy and recommendations to remove systemic barriers in planning practice that discriminate against Black communities and disproportionately limit employment opportunities and representation for Black planners in the planning profession. 

Task force members

We are pleased to announce the members of our Task Force who will undertake this significant work for the planning profession:

The Task Force is led by two of OPPI's Council members. Acting as Chair for the Task Force is Eldon Theodore, RPP, Partner at MHBC. Eldon led this initiative on OPPI Council and has worked with staff and volunteers to bring this Task Force to life.

Acting as Co-Chair is Andria Leigh, RPP, Director, Development Services at the Township of Oro-Medonte. Andria recognizes the importance of this initiative to the planning profession and is keen to work with Eldon and Task Force members to build on the work started by Viswali Consulting. The remaining members include:
  • Keisha St. Louis-McBurnie (Black Planning & Urbanist Association), MScPl student, University of Toronto
  • Katharine Rankin, Professor, University of Toronto
  • Nabil Malik (CIP/PTIAs), Planner II, Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo
  • Manny Zanders, Planner, The Biglieri Group
  • Krishon Walker, Planner I, City of Ottawa
  • Lindsey Soon, Master's Candidate/Graduate Research Associate, University of Waterloo
  • Loretta Fisher, Community Engagement Animator, West Scarborough Community Legal Services
  • Jamilla Mohamud, Urban Planner, Urban Strategies
  • Aimee Powell, RPP, Manager of Planning and Development, Township of Essa
OPPI will continue to keep members informed about the future progress of this Task Force and its work. We will also share opportunities for others to participate in the strategy implementation through OPPI's communications channels.

  • Invite various voices and perspectives to build on the findings of the Viswali Consulting Report to ensure actions are complete, balanced, and do no harm;
  • Seek to better understand the systemic barriers and unconscious biases that exist in the planning profession and in planning practices;
  • Coordinate and collaborate with OPPI’s Indigenous Planning Perspectives Task Force to ensure collaboration on intersecting actions and to identify shared resources;
  • Highlight opportunities where recommendations of the Task Force can extend to broader areas of human rights and anti-racism for all marginalized communities, while continuing to focus on addressing anti-Black racism and its impact on Black communities;
  • Prioritize and advance short-term actions over the next six (6) months; and
  • Within one (1) year of the Task Force launch, develop a strategy or action plan of medium- and long-term actions for OPPI members and the planning profession, ensuring recommendations align with OPPI’s overall strategic priorities.

  • The Task Force is comprised of 7-10 volunteer members, of which:
    • Two will be Directors on OPPI Council, with Eldon Theodore serving as Chair;
    • One should be a Director of Faculty member from an accredited planning program in Ontario;
    • One should be a member of either the Canadian Institute of Planners (CIP) or a member of a provincial or territorial industry association (PTIA);
    • One should be a representative of the Black Planners and Urbanists Association (BPUA); and,
    • Remaining members should come through an open call to the following groups with an emphasis on BIPOC voices: members at large within OPPI, and people from community groups and organizations. 
  • The Task Force will also seek guidance from an Advisory Group that:
    • Will be made up of a broad range of voices from the planning profession, community groups and organizations, etc.;
    • Will provide input and advice to the Task Force at touchstone moments throughout the mandate, providing knowledge, expertise, and input on potential actions and the recommended strategy and action plan.

All members are encouraged to volunteer as OPPI seeks a diversity of perspectives and experiences to move this work forward.

Source and Background Material