Big ideas for Toronto’s public spaces

Centennial College students take part in 1000 Dinners TO

dinners 1000
Centennial students gather in the Cafeteria at Centennial College Story Arts Centre (dinners 1000)

Students and members of the public attended a dinner hosted at Centennial College’s Story Arts Centre campus on Tuesday.

Participants at the dinner, one of many held across the city as part of the 1000 Dinners TO event, discussed their ideas for improving Toronto. This civic engagement event aims to bring people together to discuss the future of Toronto. The event was founded by Jaime Watt who adopted the concept from a similar idea organized in Chicago by the Chicago Community Trust.

The host of Centennial’s dinner, Donna Lindell, a Centennial Corporate Communications and Public Relations professor, said about 60 people took part in the event. Attendees sat together in groups, with each person sharing their ideas on how to make Toronto a better city.  She expressed her delight over the ideas that came out of Tuesday’s gathering.

“l didn’t expect any solid ideas to be generated, but I was really surprised,” Lindell said. “They were all good, the ‘reflexology foot path,’ at Dufferin Grove, the ‘plants at bus stops,’ I loved all the ideas.”

Most ideas centered around utilizing existing public spaces and creating new urban spaces that would foster a strong sense of community.

Michael Chapeskie, a public relations student at Centennial, says investing in a website with an interactive map showing detailed information about parks and their locations will make for a worthwhile investment.

“The website would give Torontonians and visitors easy access to the city’s public spaces and it will make planning your day easy,” said Chapeskie.  “In addition to creating the interactive map we would install environmentally friendly wi-fi towers with limited range throughout the parks and usb ports so that when you are out, you are not totally unplugged from your other day to day life.”

According to Lindell, students have an opportunity to submit their ideas to lead organizers of 1000 dinners TO. Organizers will review the ideas and use them to create questions for an upcoming mayoral debate hosted by the CBC on Oct. 16.

The organizers will also take the ideas from this dinner and all the other dinners across the city for analysis.  Jamie Ellerton, the project lead for 1000 Dinners TO, tells The Observer that Toronto residents will get the chance to see the ideas put forth at these meetings.

“It may take a couple of weeks or it may take a couple of months to compile the data,” Ellerton said. “We plan to look at all the ideas and release this to the public on our website.”