Greater Toronto Suburban Working Group

Mobilizing global suburban governance research in the Toronto region


Next Stop: Equity – Routes to Fairer Transit Access in the Grater Toronto and Hamilton Area is a landmark report released by CITY in February 2016, urging a call to action for transit equity, as the Province of Ontario continues to roll out a $50-billion investment in 1,200 km rapid transit across the GTHA. The report is a response to widening gaps between affordable housing and employment opportunities that have converged, in combination structural decades-long social inequities that have persisted and worsened in the urban periphery, to make transit service disparities especially severe in suburban areas. Overall, the historic lack of transit investment means many living in the “inner ring” or “905” suburbs of Toronto must either have access to a car or find a home somewhere else.

Click here to read Next Stop: Equity (pdf)

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GTSWG coordinators Sean Hertel and Roger Keil, in collaboration with MES student Michael Collens, have just released a report on transit equity and justice in Toronto (March 2015). This report, based on research funded by Ontario’'s regional transportation agency Metrolinx, that can be downloaded in its entirety below, provides a survey of existing research and practice on transit equity and justice. Using insights and examples from around the world, the report notes the importance of making equity concerns a priority in transit planning. It is meant to inspire debate on transit equity in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area more generally, and will be the basis of an expert workshop on the topic hosted by the GTSWG on Tuesday March 31, 2015, in Toronto. For more information, please contact Sean Hertel ( or Roger Keil (

Click here to read a copy of Switching Tracks - Towards Transit Equity in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area.

“Making them talk, then act, together!

The Greater Toronto Suburban Working Group (GTSWG) was established in 2010 with the aim of furthering collaboration within and across government and non-government actors within the planning and development arena of the Greater Golden Horseshoe region of Toronto.

The GTSWG, co-ordinated by Sean Hertel and Roger Keil, has served as a forum for the exchange of information and ideas regarding present-day and future prospects for development and governance policies and processes shaping the growth of suburbs across the Greater Golden Horseshoe. More specifically, this forum discussed shared issues, working towards inspiring new modes of governance within the region. While one aim of the group was simply to bring people together to talk, the larger objective is to apply wider perspectives and new knowledges to the processes through which the suburbs are shaped, lived and worked in, and perceived.

The Roundtable Report

As part of the Suburban Revolution Conference, the GTSWG released an interim roundtable report in September as a "manifesto-style statement that is geared towards stimulating wider public interest and contributing to future debates in, and about, the region." You can read the complete report here.

Our Partners Include:report cover

Building and Land Development Association (BILD), GTA Chapter  | Canadian Urban Institute  | DIALOG

Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation  | R.G. Richards & Associates  | The Neptis Foundation

City of Markham  | United Way of York Region  | Urban Strategies Inc. | Seana Kerr | Fora Strategic Planning


Michael Collens & Sean Hertel, Sean. (2016). "Public Transit and the Public Good." Ontario Planning Journal. Vol. 31, No. 4

Sean Hertel, Roger Keil and Michael Collens. Next Stop: Equity – Routes to Fairer Transit Access in the Grater Toronto and Hamilton Area. (February 2016).

Sean Hertel, Roger Keil and Michael Collens. Switching Tracks - Towards Transit Equity in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area. (March 2015).

Sean Hertel and Roger Keil. Beyond Stereotypes. The Ontario Planning Journal. (September 2014)

Sean Hertel and Roger Keil. “Making Them Talk, Then Act, Together! The Greater Toronto Suburban Working Group”. In Roger Keil (ed.) (2013). Suburban Constellations: Governance, Land and Infrastructure in the 21st century. Jovis: Berlin.

Sean Hertel and Roger Keil. (ed). (2013). The Greater Toronto Suburban Working Group Roundtable Report.


Ontario Professional Planners Institute: Western Lake Ontario District breakfast event. (March, 20, 2014). Royal Botanical Gardens. Burlington, ON.

Canadian Urban Institute. Placemakers event. (February 11, 2014). “Good Density: The elusive search for good density. A cure for what divides us?”. Innis College, University of Toronto.

Launch of the Roundtable Report during the “A Suburban Revolution? An international conference on brining the fringe to the centre of global urban research and practice”. September 27, 2013. York University. Launch was emceed by Matthew Kellway (MP, Beaches-East York). The conference was attended by over 200 people.


Lorinc, John. (2016, Feb. 02). How improving transit can price out those who need it most. Ontario Educational Communications Authority ( Retrieved from:

Gordon, Geordie. (2016, Feb. 03). Regional Transportation Plan Review: Transit Equity In The GTHA. Novae Res Urbis, Greater Toronto Edition 19 (5). Pp. 1, 5.

CBC News Toronto. (2016, Feb. 10). How to make Toronto's transit more equitable. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved from:

Hertel, Sean. (2016, Feb. 10). Interview by Matt Galloway. Transit Equity. Metro Morning. Season 2016, Episode 300238909. Toronto, ON: Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. [Radio Interview]. Retrieved from:

Litman, Todd. (2016, Feb. 18). Towards a More Equitable Transit Future. Planetizen. Retrieved from:

Spurr, Ben. (2015, Apr. 25). Caught in the Transit Gap. Toronto Star. Pp. GT1-2

Keil, Roger. (2015). Suburbs and the New Urban Century. Ontario Planning Journal, 30 (4). P. 23.

Gupta, Rahul. (2015, Oct. 15). Helping more people access transit doesn’t need expensive solutions, advocates say. Toronto, ON: Etobicoke Guardian.

Roger Keil and Sean Hertel (September 25, 2013). “Look for Toronto’s urban future in the booming suburbs”. The Toronto Star.

Sean Pearce (October 2, 2013). “Toronto needs York Region more than York needs T.O.”

Sean Hertel (January 8, 2014). CBC Radio, Metro Morning. Sean spoke with CBC’s Matt Galloway about how to bridge the city-suburb divide and “seize our citizenship as Torontonians.

Sarah Ratchford. (February 12, 2014). “Defining good density: Debunking Assumptions”. Novae Res Urbis. This article covers the panel presented with the Canadian Urban Institute event on February 11, in which members of the Greater Toronto Suburban Working Group — including Roger Keil, Sean Hertel, Ian Chodikoff, Antonio Gomez-Palacio, Sonny Rai, Glenn Miller and Jane Wedlock — discussed the need to rethink density and our suburbs.