Alternative Planning Group
For the African Social Development Council, Chinese Canadian National Council Toronto Chapter and Hispanic Development Council, Alternative Planning Group, the early 2000s brought about change for our Councils. Members reoriented their vision towards a concept of growth where avenues are established for diverse communities towards community growth in order to facilitate a path towards a prosperous future. The Alternative Planning Group (APG) champions a paradigm shift in the City of Toronto known as Alternative Social Planning (ASP), where the traditional Western planning framework is reoriented in order to better recognize the voices of ethnic minorities. This phenomenon leaves the diverse communities to ponder on the meaning of this paradigm shift, and their place within the City of Toronto. In other words, what is the future of the diverse communities in the city and the region? Issues of inequality, inequity, poverty, violence, aging population, mental health, and so forth, continue to plague the community. Despite the work within the community, racialized communities remain some of Canada’s lowest income groups.
Hence, APG members have agreed to collaborate by building an innovation program “Hidden Experiences: The Alternative Planning Group & Rethinking Community Planning”. The current moment presents the diverse community with a great opportunity to push their voices to the forefront despite the struggles that are, and will be continuously experienced. As issues of global inequality continue to grow, the APG community must ensure that bridges are created, and innovation impacts policies. This is precisely the future because the residents of the City of Toronto all deserve a piece of the ‘common good’.
The actual work consists in the engagement of the African Canadian, Chinese, South Asian and Latin American communities connected through the APG Collaboration to initiate an innovation program articulating the basic tenets of alternative social planning. Thus, following the fundamentals established by our APG collaboration which recognizes the communities themselves as the main stakeholders of alternative social planning that starts bottom up will be empowered to develop new policies and strategies contributing to sustain City and community goals. This “piece of the puzzle” absent from current public and traditional planning functions is quite significant in that it includes a very large part of the diversity and increasing population shift of today, and projected within the ten to twenty years in the Toronto region.
The unique policy perspectives created by the APG constituency and its diverse membership has as one of its key objectives the building of a knowledge platform supported by an innovation tool box dedicated to the development of social capital, and enhancing human knowledge among communities of need to confront economic poverty and social marginalization. This work necessitates the understanding that such important resources at the end of the day can have multiplying effects that will impact the social economy, grassroots technological awareness and practices, and ultimately innovation and problem solving starting in the margin.
Indeed, today we can see an increasing number of young, diverse community members serving in Board of Directors or offering assistance to community initiatives. We could even say that, part of this program proposes to accelerate the harvesting of social capital to transform life in the new city by fostering the future of the contributions of this new creative class of our own and its potential impact. So, if we can think of this process as a disruptor impacting social transformation by beginning to build the social response to root causes of poverty and inequality from the ground up, certainly there is a greater possibility for our target subject to succeed. In addition, APG through the years has also developed and nurtured a group of community members that includes academics, practitioners, politicians, volunteers and staff. Since knowledge building and research have always been an important component of the work underfunded, this program will also look into the establishment of its research and development component as another key piece in the building of our new program. Evaluation and critical analysis of this work is another important product. Indicators, statistics, conceptual base both quantitative and qualitative, innovation indexes shall be further developed to assist achieving the goals of an APG innovation program in 2019.