Pavilion Talks: 
Creating a Toronto for Everyone: 10 Doable Actions a conversation with Gil Penalosa

Talk Highlights and Details

Gil Penalosa - Founder of 8 80 Cities 

Gil, having had the privilege to work in over 350 cities across all continents, wants to share experiences of actions to undertake and avoid when creating cities for everyone.

The GTHA is a fascinating place, with one of the fastest growing populations of any urban area in the ‘developed countries.’ Within the next 25 years, it’ll grow by over 50%; huge opportunity, and enormous responsibility, as whatever we do or don’t will create the place where many millions will live over many centuries.

Unfortunately, over the past 25 years, much of the GTHA’s urbanization has not been adequately done. It’s bad for climate change, as well as for mental & physical health, sustainable mobility, happiness, and more. We need to do things radically different. Unfortunately, the province and most municipalities are doing more of the same. Many are doing the right talk, but not following with the right actions.

In response, Gil Penalosa offers "Conversations with Gil" to raise awareness and guide individuals from a sense of hopelessness to hopefulness, inspiring them to become passionate advocates for Equitable & Sustainable Communities.


About our Guest Speaker

 Gil Penalosa

Gil Penalosa is passionate about cities for all people. He advises decision makers and communities worldwide on how to create vibrant cities and healthy communities for all, regardless of age, gender, ability and social, economic, or ethnic background. His focus is on the design and use of parks and streets as great public places, as well as the promotion of sustainable mobility: walking, riding bicycles, using public transit, and new use of cars. 


Because of Gil’s unique blend of experience, pragmatism, and passion, many cities and organizations worldwide seek his leadership and valuable advice. He has worked in over 350 cities in all continents.


In 2022 Gil ran for mayor of Toronto. In 100 days, he got 100,000 votes, and changed much of the conversation, which was his objective. He came in second of 31 candidates. His focus was on how to create an affordable, equitable, and sustainable city, a Toronto for Everyone.


Gil is the Founder and Chair of the successful Canadian non-profit organization 8 80 Cities. In addition, Gil is founder of Cities for Everyone and leads a private consulting firm, Gil Penalosa & Associates, providing services as an inspirational keynote speaker, instructor of Master Classes, and advisor to decision makers and communities.


Currently Gil is an academic chair at the Norman Foster Institute for Sustainable Cities, as well as Expert Advisor to the International Society for Urban Health. For years he was advisor to the Vision Zero Network, America Walks, Gehl Architects, and Project for Public Spaces, amongst many organizations.


Throughout his career, Gil has been a strong advocate for improving city parks, making his first mark in Bogotá, Colombia, where he led the design and construction of over 200 parks - including Simon Bolivar, a 113-hectare park in the heart of the city. His team also radically transformed the Ciclovia / Open Streets – from a program of few kilometers to one that sees over a million people walk, run, skate and bike along 121 kilometers of Bogotá’s city roads every Sunday of the year, and today is internationally recognized and emulated. 


Gil was elected twice as chair of World Urban Parks and was its first ambassador. He holds an MBA from UCLA’s Anderson School of Management, where he was selected as one of the “100 Most Inspirational Alumni” in the school’s history. Gil received a Doctorate Honoris Causa from the Faculty of Urban Planning at the prominent Swedish university, SLU. He received in Australia the World Urban Parks Annual Distinguished Individual Award. In 2023 Gil was selected by Identity Review in the 15 Thought Leaders in Sustainable City Development and voted to Planetizen’s Top 100 Most Influential Contemporary Urbanists, at #13.

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