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Inaugural grant supports how urban planning can centre Black voices

May 09, 2022
A colourful mural showing people playing music is on the side of a building in a Vancouver neighbourhood.

A mural in Vancouver titled “Remember Hogan’s Alley” by artist Ejiwa “Edge” Ebenebe in a photo taken during a research trip. Professor Magdalena Ugarte is collaborating with the Black Planning Project to explore how planning can create more equitable outcomes in Black communities. Photo credit: Magdalena Ugarte.

A Toronto Metropolitan University researcher will collaborate with a community partner to explore how planning can create more equitable outcomes in Black communities with support from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). 

School of Urban and Regional Planning professor Magdalena Ugarte, together with the Black Planning Project, has received a grant through SSHRC’s first Race, Gender and Diversity Initiative funding competition for the partnership project, Black Experiences with Planning in Canada: Building a Framework for Community-Based, Black-Centred, Black-Informed Planning Practices.  

“The Black Planning Project is leading powerful work to amplify Black voices and perspectives in the field of planning, and it is a privilege to collaborate to grow a partnership that can take that work in new directions. Universities can play an important role in supporting community-initiated research, which in turn can transform how planning is taught and practiced. This grant will allow us to do precisely that: centring the knowledge and experiences of Black communities and planners in order to rethink mainstream planning tools and approaches through a racial justice lens,” said professor Ugarte. She has collaborated with the organization before, redesigning two courses offered by the School of Urban and Regional Planning together.

Professor Magdalena Ugarte (left) and project co-director Abigail Moriah (right).

 Professor Magdalena Ugarte (left) and project co-director Abigail Moriah (right).

Co-director Abigail Moriah from the Black Planning Project notes that this research will help build an understanding of Black planning that can shape practice. “Our goal is to explore how planning can play a role in creating more equitable outcomes in Black communities, specifically through highlighting asset-based approaches and tools that are grounded in Black city and community building knowledge and traditions,” she said, adding that those tools can be used to inform both planning education and training as well as amplify community-led planning practices. Other collaborators include Black-led community organizations from Halifax and Toronto, Black planners from across Canada, and additional researchers and experts in areas such as planning, community building and Black studies.  

“I’m thrilled to celebrate professor Ugarte’s success in helping shape this collaboration with the Black Planning Project,” said Steven N. Liss, Toronto Metropolitan University’s vice-president, research and innovation. “This critical research will advance our understanding of how urban planning can create a more equitable and inclusive society, as well as creating a framework that can be applied in the real-world.”

 More about SSHRC’s Race, Gender and Diversity Initiative. (external link, opens in new window) 

Learn more about the Black Planning Project (external link, opens in new window) 

Read about how professor Ugarte collaborated with The Black Planning Project to redesign two courses offered by the School of Urban and Regional Planning.