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Ontario Professional Planners Institute and Urban Minds Join Forces to Address Planner Shortage and Empower Young Planners in Ontario 

With Ontario grappling with a housing crisis and a steady influx of new residents, an exciting three-year collaboration between the Ontario Professional Planners Institute (OPPI) and Urban Minds is set to bolster the number of planners in the province. The strategic partnership aims to expedite housing development by providing opportunities for aspiring planners to transform their interests into impactful careers. OPPI, the recognized voice of the planning profession in Ontario, and Urban Minds, a Canadian nonprofit dedicated to fostering youth engagement in community building, are teaming up to cultivate a generation of planners who will shape the future of neighbourhoods.  

Municipalities not only across Ontario but across Canada, have long struggled with capacity limitations in their planning departments hindering the timely review of development applications. By encouraging more youth to pursue planning careers, the initiative seeks to bridge the gap in skills that are exacerbating the housing crisis, while introducing new and elevating diverse perspectives into the city and community building process. 

“There’s a shortage of planners in Ontario and one of our areas of focus as an organization is looking at how we can encourage more young people to pursue careers in planning,” said Susan Wiggins, Executive Director, OPPI. “This has a direct and positive impact on the housing crisis since it will increase capacity to develop and review applications and related policies while ensuring we’re building communities people enjoy. We’re thrilled to be partnering with Urban Minds on an initiative that works towards our shared mission to introduce younger generations to fulfilling careers in planning.”   

Over the next three years, Urban Minds and OPPI will collaborate on annual events, networking opportunities, and educational materials designed to support youth exploring their interest in community building and pursue careers in the industry. Urban Minds’ approach to meaningful youth engagement in the development process combined with OPPI’s extensive membership of Registered Professional Planners (RPPs) will connect youth to professionals across various planning fields. The partnership will provide youth across Ontario with opportunities to learn from experienced planners, receive valuable career advice, and gain knowledge to kickstart their careers and actively participate in the community building process.  

Ryan Lo, Co-Executive Director of Urban Minds highlighted the significance of involving youth in planning, “Youth bring valuable and diverse perspectives to planning issues and challenges, like housing, climate change and inequality” said Ryan Lo, Co-Executive Director, Urban Minds. “Youth are capable and active co-creators that can present more imaginative solutions to planning issues. Engaging youth helps advance projects and connects them directly to decision makers to shape more equitable and sustainable communities.” 

About OPPI 

The Ontario Professional Planners Institute (OPPI) is the recognized voice of Ontario’s planning profession with over 4,700 members who work in government, private practice, universities, and not-for-profit agencies in the fields of urban and rural development, community design, environmental planning, transportation, health, social services, heritage conservation, housing, and economic development. 

About Urban Minds  

Urban Minds is a Canadian non-profit organization with a mission to create meaningful ways for youth to shape equitable and sustainable cities. Urban Minds is a leading provider of youth engagement services to public and non-profit organizations, helping municipalities and civic organizations to better connect with youth and design youth-friendly spaces, programs, and services. As experts in developing effective youth engagement strategies and recruitment incentives, we act as relationship builders to bridge the gap between our clients and the youth we work with. Creating safe spaces where both parties can build trust through meaningful interaction, helping clients see youth as active and capable co-creators rather than passive participants. 

Founded in 2016, our 16-member team has worked with hundreds of students from over 70 schools in Ontario. Through the 1UP Youth City Builders Program, we inspire and equip high school students as community changemakers by hosting annual conferences, leading workshops, and mentoring youth-led community design-build projects. Our first youth-friendly public art installation, #WouldYouRatherTO, is a winner of the Everyone is King: Design-Build Competition for the King Street Pilot Project in Toronto.

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