aedanAedan developed an interest in planning as a result of research he was conducting around Occupy Toronto for his Honours thesis in Sociology at York. “It became apparent,” Aedan says, “that studying ways that the Global North intervenes through international development was not enough to understand what actually guides development in the Global North. The built environment, guided by urban planning, creates limitations and opportunities for the social environment here in Toronto which have serious implications for what we can and cannot do in our day to day lives.” As a result, Aedan is interested in examining whether planning has proliferated dependencies on inequitable international trade, capitalist modes of urban exchange, and the legacies of settler colonialism that have led to uneven development and uneven social support systems. As an activist researcher, Aedan believes that “our cities are filled with bright, engaged, and skilled communities, and I look to social movements as a source of knowledge production that urban planning could incorporate to better understand urban struggles.”

        During his time in FES, Aedan has had the opportunity to intern with Northwood Neighborhood Services, a local non-profit agency that offers support to new immigrants in the Toronto area. While providing consultation services for Northwood, Aedan’s team “witnessed the limitations imposed by external funding, and the struggles that urban agencies have when engaging in social planning and community development.” Aedan’s planning passion is around advocacy for collaborative development and skill exchange in the urban environment, and he has focused his coursework on examining limits to participatory decision making in planning and development that shape social transformation within the urban environment. His work in FES has been diverse; he has studied radical and critical planning theory, done field research on public consultation processes, updated priority neighborhood profiles, engaged in brownfield mapping with Jane and Finch community groups, and examined planning controversies such as the Union Pearson Express. “Drawing on the MES programs interdisciplinarity,” Aedan says, “I have successfully linked my research in urban planning to critical urban theories of class/race/gender/sexuality, and international development.”

        Asked about his Major Research Project, Aedan responds; “Because the development of the built form in Toronto takes place on international territories, and since planners are responsible to make the best planning decisions they possibly can for Canadian settlements, I am drawn to critically examining our responsibilities to the Indigenous nations that call this land home. My MRP research is currently working to engage Indigenous activists and Indigenous histories of the (settler) development of Toronto to understand how to support urban Aboriginal self-determination when taking part in urban planning and development.”

 By Anthony Taylor