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September 21 and 22
2 days, 2 disciplines, 2 ways to participate – defining our professional roles and uniting to build more equitable, accessible and inspired communities.
Community improvement plans are one of the most effective and underutilized planning tools available in Ontario for directly supporting local economic development. Enabled by Section 28 of the Planning Act, a municipality can designate a community improvement project area for any “environmental, social or community economic development reason.”
This session introduces attendees to community improvement plans and the steps required to implement one. Lessons learned from Toronto’s Imagination, Manufacturing, Innovation and Technology (IMIT) Program help illustrate the potential benefits and challenges of community improvement plans.
To date, the IMIT Program has 62 approved projects totalling $5 billion in new commercial and industrial construction investment. Combined, these projects resulted in over 18 million square feet of employment space and supported the retention or creation of 81,000 jobs in targetted employment sectors.
In 2019, Toronto initiated a pilot project to further enhance employment-related outcomes for equity-seeking groups. This pilot created a new points-based system in which IMIT recipients and property users develop local employment plans in partnership with City-endorsed employment service providers. The points-based system provides a guideline for expected levels of activity from companies based on the value of the incentive provided.
In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic recovery, the session considers what the next generation of community improvement plans could achieve through a focus on diversity, inclusivity, and equity.