CCRA Transportation chair Amaan Jabbar is an urban planning student at U of T Scarborough.

By Kathy McGrath

As an urban planning student, Amaan Jabbar has learned that city developers must consider many points of view. When he recently became the CCRA’s transportation chair, he began experiencing the diversity of opinions first-hand.

It’s Amaan’s role to keep an eye on issues like the flow of local traffic and how it affects drivers, commuters, cyclists and pedestrians alike. Recently he wrote an article for Centennial News about the widening of Port Union Road, noting the project will accommodate cyclists and walkers long-term but will cause temporary delays for drivers.

He is also watching the proposed Durham-Scarborough Bus Rapid Transit project,  which has garnered strong opposition from Highland Creek residents who say the Ellesmere route will be too disruptive to local homeowners. 

Amaan says that while he learns the different aspects of city building in school – topics like public policy, municipal governance, and infrastructure planning – it wasn’t until he started attending CCRA meetings that he saw, first-hand, the many perspectives that influence a development proposal.

“I learned through the CCRA that a lot of factors go into play when there is a proposed project – community consultations, meetings with city officials, feedback surveys,” he said. “I like that process of talking to communities to figure out how we can incorporate their wants into the project.

“From the 1960s to the ’80s, planning was about what the government and developers wanted,” said Amaan, who is in his third year at U of T Scarborough. “In the early 2000s, when intensification happened in the city, community engagement became important. Now it’s about consultation, feedback and editing – so there are lots of stages before projects can begin.”

He said joining the CCRA was a “welcoming and warm experience.” Initially, he attended meetings to listen and observe, but soon started contributing information and it wasn’t long before he became the transportation chair. 

Like most local residents, Amaan loves the plethora of green spaces and parks in our community. He’s also a fan of Centennial’s urban art, specifically the painted tunnel at the waterfront, the decorated utility boxes and the mural on the Centennial Plaza, which he calls a landmark in our community.

As a proponent of complete communities, where residents have everything they need within a 15-minute radius, Amaan makes a point of supporting local businesses. He goes to The Shop for a haircut and Mr. Beans for coffee and bagels.

Despite the strengths of our neighbourhood, he feels we could benefit from more community engagement. “CCRA is a great organization. It’s very active and we’re always up to new things,” he said. “People should be joining and attending meetings to find out what’s going on.”

After graduation, Amaan may work for a year and then study urban planning at the graduate level. After that he’d like a career working for the City of Toronto as a planner or community development officer. Ideally, he’d like a hybrid position that takes him out of the office and allows him to be “on the ground talking with people.”

Amaan, who attended Mowat Collegiate, is a people person. No doubt that quality was helpful during the pandemic when he lived closely with his parents and three siblings. Despite the typical family squabbles, he said he tries to appreciate the time he now has with his brother and sisters because they’ll soon be going in different directions.

With his academic ambitions and enthusiasm for grassroots involvement, Amaan’s life appears to be going in one direction – up!