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Samantha Biglieri

Samantha Biglieri

Assistant Professor
DepartmentSchool of Urban and Regional Planning
EducationBA (Hons), MPl, PhD, MCIP, RPP
OfficeSBB 408-A, South Bond Building (105 Bond Street)
Phone416-979-5000, ext. 544770
Areas of ExpertiseHealthy cities; Dementia-inclusive planning; Suburbanisms; Aging; Accessibility and disability; Wayfinding; Care; Qualitative and mobile research methods

Samantha Biglieri, MCIP, RPP is an assistant professor in the School of Urban and Regional Planning at Toronto Metropolitan University, and the director of the Health, Access + Planning (HAP) Lab (external link, opens in new window) . As a planner, her research uses critical approaches at the intersection of planning and health/wellbeing, making connections with practice to build inclusive and accessible communities. Biglieri’s work has included and continues through four overlapping areas:

  1. Understanding experiences of people living with dementia in their neighbourhoods (e.g. accessibility of built environments and public engagement tools, and wayfinding in suburban areas).
  2. Aging in the built environment, housing and policy (e.g. examining age-friendly policies, tracing financialization and long-term care, seeking alternative housing/service models).
  3. Understanding experiences and governance in sub/urban areas (e.g. examining the governance of COVID-19 in the peripheries of Milan and Toronto).
  4. Accessibility and disability in planning (e.g. understanding how professional planners conceptualize and operationalize accessibility and disability in their daily work).

Biglieri uses innovative text, oral, photo and mobile-based methods, having designed and conducted research using traditional and go-along interviews, GPS tracking, travel diaries, experiential sampling methods, photovoice, content analysis, jurisdictional scans, focus groups, as well as scoping reviews. She is also interested in the intersections of disability studies and care geographies with urban planning and how insights from this kind of research can work toward more just cities.

Biglieri’s work has been featured in academic journals like the Journal of the American Planning Association, Planning Practice & Research, Health & Place, Journal of Planning Education and Research, Journal of Urban Affairs, Cities & Health and Wellbeing, Space & Society, at international events such as the Association of Collegiate School of Planning, Urban Affairs and #A11yIRL Accessibility in Real Life conferences, in edited books, and in industry publications like Plan Canada, the Ontario Planning Journal (now Y Magazine) and Planning (the American Planning Association Magazine). Her research on age-friendly policies and population dependency ratios with Maxwell Hartt has been added to the Canadian Library of Parliament and was shortlisted for an early career research award from the Royal Town Planning Institute in the UK. Biglieri’s work has been showcased on local and national radio and podcasts, like her research on the accessibility of the built environment for people living with dementia on CBC’s Spark (external link, opens in new window)  and aging in suburbia on the Upstream Foundation’s podcast (external link, opens in new window) . She recently published a co-edited book with Maxwell Hartt, Mark Rosenberg and Sarah Nelson called Aging People, Aging Places from Policy Press. It is a combination of original academic research, practitioner and community member vignettes from urban, suburban, rural, and Indigenous perspectives, capturing experiences from across Canada. She co-edited a special issue of Plan Canada (the Canadian Institute of Planners Magazine) on aging and serves as the chair for the community health track at the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning conference.

Biglieri holds a PhD in Planning from the University of Waterloo, a Master of Planning from Toronto Metropolitan University and a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Global Development Studies and Italian from Queen’s University. Most recently, she was a SSHRC Post Doctoral Fellow at York University. Biglieri has a professional background in planning practice as a land-use planning consultant (site and neighbourhood scales; public engagement; policy work) and previously served the community for six years on the Board of the Toronto Council on Aging, a non-profit focusing on education and civic engagement. Biglieri is a Registered Professional Planner, and is a Full Member of the Ontario Professional Planners Institute and the Canadian Institute of Planners.

The Health, Access + Planning (HAP) Lab hires qualified students for ongoing projects on a part-time basis. Current or prospective students interested in research with Biglieri should reach out directly via email.

  • PLG 520: Land Use Planning Studio II
  • PLG 600: Planning Research Design
  • PL 8110: Advanced Planning Studio
  • PL 835: Health, Aging and Accessibility in Planning

Research interests:

  • Health and wellbeing
  • Suburbanisms
  • Care
  • Older adults
  • People living with dementia
  • Disability 
  • Accessibility + planning practice
  • Wayfinding
  • Housing 
  • Governance
  • Community engagement
  • Mobile methods

Selected grants:

  • Principal Investigator, SSHRC Insight Development Grant. Project Title: Care and Sub/urbanisms: Understanding everyday life of people living with dementia in Toronto’s inner suburbs (external link) . Collaborators: M. Hartt (Queen’s U), R. Keil (York U), K. Lopez (UWaterloo), D. Keay.
  • Co-Principal Investigator, New Frontiers in Research Fund – 2020 Exploration Competition. Project Title: Creating Dementia-Capable Neighbourhoods from Person to Policy: A Participatory Action Research Study. Co-PI: L. Middleton (U Waterloo).
  • Principal Investigator, TMU Faculty of Community Services Seed Grant. Project Title: Accessibility, Disability and the Planning Profession: An Examination of everyday practices of planners in Ontario, Canada. Co-Applicant: T. Ross (Holland Bloorview + University of Toronto)
  • Co-Applicant, SSHRC Partnership Grant. Project Title: Quality in Canada's Built Environment: Seeking Equity, Social Value and Sustainability. Principal Applicant: J. Chupin, Université de Montréal.
  • Principal Investigator, TMU Faculty of Community Services Knowledge Mobilization Grant. Project Title: Connecting Aging People and Aging Places (external link) . Co-Applicant: M. Hartt (Queen’s U)
  • Principal Investigator, Ministry of Seniors Community Grant. Title: Improving access, independence, recreation and practical mobility in suburban neighbourhoods for older adults: A free e-trike and e-rickshaw “By Us, For Us!” program for community and congregate-dwelling seniors in northwestern Toronto. Applicant Team: Toronto Council on Aging and Our Greenway Conservancy.
  • Principal Investigator, TMU Faculty of Community Services Seed Grant. Project Title: Planning dementia-inclusive neighbourhoods in Oshawa, Ontario during COVID-19.



Peer reviewed journal articles:

Book chapters:

  • De Vidovich, L., Biglieri, S., Iacobelli, J. & R. Keil. (2022). COVID-19 in the Lombardy Region: Socio-spatial peripheries and forgotten densities of long-term care. Cities Learning from a Pandemic: Towards Preparedness. Edited By: Simonetta Armondi, Alessandro Balducci, Martina Bovo and Beatrice Galimberti. London, UK: Routledge. DOI: 10.4324/9781003240983-11
  • Biglieri, S. (2021). Examining everyday outdoor practices in suburban public space: the case for an expanded definition of care as an analytical framework (external link) , in Cities, Action, Research and Education: New Perspectives in Urban Studies and Planning Theory. Edited By: N. Cohen, A. Gabauer, T. Haas, S. Knierbein, H. Lebuhn, K. Trogal, and T. Viderman. London, UK: Routledge.
  • De Vidovich, L., Iacobelli, J., Biglieri, S., & R. Keil. (2021). The view from the socio-spatial peripheries: Milan, Italy and Toronto, Canada in Global Reflections on COVID-19 Urban Inequalities: Policy and Planning. Edited by: P. Filion, R. van Melik and B. Doucet. 
  • Biglieri, S. & Dean, J. (2017). Aging in the Suburbs, in Still detached and subdivided? Suburban ways of living in 21st century North America. Edited By: M. Moos and R. Walter-Joseph. Berlin, Germany: JOVIS Publishers.

Industry publications and reports:

  • Biglieri, S. (2021). Dementia-Friendly Public Participation - Tools for the Trade – JAPA Takeaway (external link) . Planning. (American Planning Association Magazine). 
  • Eyob, S., Kolcak, M. & Biglieri, S. (Winter 2022). Accessibility and the Planning Profession. Plan Canada. Vol. 65, Issue 1.
  • Iacobelli, J., Biglieri, S., De Vidovich, L., & R. Keil. (Summer 2021). COVID-19 and the Forgotten Densities of Long-Term Care. Plan Canada, Special Issue on Aging. Vol. 64, Issue 2.
  • Biglieri, S. (Fall 2017). Dementia + Planning: Expanding accessibility through design and planning practice. Plan Canada, Vol. 53, Issue 3.
  • M. Hartt & Biglieri, S. (Fall 2017). Understanding Municipal-level Demographic Dependency and Age-Friendly Policy: Results from Ontario. Plan Canada, Vol. 53, Issue 3.
  • Biglieri, S. & M. Hartt. (2018). Identifying Built Barriers: Where do our most vulnerable live in Ontario’s Mid-Sized Cities? in Evergreen’s Mid-Sized Cities Research Series. Prepared By: Members of the Evergreen Mid-Sized Cities Research Collaborative.
  • Biglieri, S. & M. Hartt. (2017). Aging and Age-Friendly Policy in Ontario’s Mid-Sized Cities, in Leveraging Ontario’s Urban Potential: Mid-Sized Cities Research Series. Prepared By: Members of the Evergreen Mid-Sized Cities Research Collaborative. 

Selected media:

  • Winner, Dean's Scholarly, Research and Creative Activity Award, Faculty of Community Services, Toronto Metropolitan University, 2023.
  • Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) Post-Doctoral Fellowship, Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University, 2020. 
  • Trainee Award, Journal of Planning Education Research/Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning Writing Workshop for Early Career Planning Scholars at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas, 2020. 
  • Finalist - Award for Research Excellence – Early Career Award, Royal Town Planning Institute, for a co-authored paper with Dr. M. Hartt entitled “Prepared for the Silver Tsunami? An Examination of Municipal Old-Age Dependency and Age-Friendly Policy in Ontario, Canada”, 2018.
  • Trainee Award, Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning PhD Workshop in Amherst, Massachusetts, 2018.
  • Trainee Award, Major Collaborative Research Initiative Global Suburbanisms Spring Institute in Milan and Florence, Italy, in collaboration with academics from York University, University of Waterloo, Università degli studi di Firenze and Politecnico di Milano, 2018. 
  • GradTALKS Speaker – Knowledge Translation Award, event on ‘Aging, Health and Wellbeing’ highlighting innovative and impactful graduate student research as part of the celebration of the 60th Anniversary of the University of Waterloo, 2017.
  • Trainee Award, Canadian Institute of Health Research’s Summer Institute on Aging, sponsored by the Canadian Frailty Network, 2016.
  • Ontario Graduate Scholarship, University of Waterloo, 2015-2019.
  • President’s Graduate Scholarship, University of Waterloo, 2015-2019.
  • Poster + Rapid Fire Presentation Winner – Symposium for Aging Research, University of Waterloo, 2016.
  • Provost Doctoral Entrance Award for Women, University of Waterloo, 2015. 
  • Doctoral Fellowship, University of Waterloo, 2015-2019.