Jay Pitter, MES, is an award-nominated author and placemaker whose practice mitigates growing divides in urban centres. She spearheads institutional city-building projects, rooted in neighbourhood knowledge, focused on: cultural heritage interpretive planning, gender-based mapping, inclusive public engagement, safe streets and mobility, social planning, and healing fraught sites. She also shapes urgent city-building conversations through media platforms such as the Agenda and Canadian Architect—as a keynote speaker for organizations like UN Women and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)—and as a knowledge producer in urban planning faculties across North America. Recently, Jay consulted on Edmonton’s new heritage plan; hosted a professional development luncheon for women city-builders in Detroit; initiated a safe and connected streets engagement following the mass shooting in Toronto, and led (RE)IMAGINING CHEAPSIDE, a Confederate monument placemaking process in Lexington. She is currently collaborating with cities across the world, working on the first phase of HER City (a public space initiative that explores how urban design and social attitudes impact women’s safety, leisure, and play), and writing Where We Live, which will be published by McClelland & Stewart at Penguin Random House.


Subdivided: City-building In An Age Of Hyper-diversity

How do we build cities where we aren’t just living within the same urban space, but living together? Subdivided aims to provoke the tough but pressing conversations required to build a truly connected city and is sparking important city-building conversations.

Read an excerpt of Subdivided here.
Purchase your copy at Coach House Books, Indigo and the Spacing Store.


Subdivided: City-building In An Age Of Hyper-diversity

How do we build cities where we aren’t just living within the same urban space, but living together? Subdivided aims to provoke the tough but pressing conversations required to build a truly connected city and is sparking important city-building conversations.

Read an excerpt of Subdivided here.
Purchase your copy at Coach House Books, Indigo and the Spacing Store.


Housing prices in Toronto have continued to skyrocket, with the average the price jumping to nearly $678,00 in August. The Agenda examines the high-price of housing and asks: has living in a big city become a luxury?

Length: 32:23      Air Date: Sep 26,2016

Watch the full episode here.

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  • UN Women, Safe Cities and Safe Public Spaces Global Leaders’ Forum
    Keynote Speaker (2018)
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
    Keynote Speaker and Conference Guide (2018)
  • Canadian Urban Transit Association
    Keynote Speaker (2018)
  • University of Detroit Mercy School of Architecture
    Keynote Speaker (2018)
  • Memphis River Parks Partnership
    Keynote Speaker (2018)
  • Ryerson University
    Instructor, School of Urban & Regional Planning (2017)
  • Walrus Talks
    Saskatoon (2017)
  • University of Toronto and Neighbourhood Change
    Hyper-Diversity: Opportunity or Challenge (2016)
  • Word on The Street Festival
    Interview with Premier Kathleen Wynne (2016)
  • Wordfest, Uncivil Politics: I’m Right and You’re an Idiot
    Panelist (2016)
  • Ontario Professional Planners Institute: What Would Jane Jacobs Say? The Absence of Equity Considerations in Contemporary Planning Policies
    Panelist (2016)
  • York University Urban and Regional Environments
    Guest Lecturer (2016)
  • University of TorontoThe Rotman School of Management: Prosperity and Competitiveness, Guest Lecturer (2016)
  • University of AlbertaCity-Region Studies Centre (CRSC)
    Guest Lecturer (2016)
  • NXT City Symposium
    Speaker (2016)
  • University of Guelph
    Part-time Professor (2015)
  • University of TorontoOISE
    Lecturer and Instructor (2006 + 2013)
  • York University
    Research Co-lead – The Alternative Campus Tour (2010 – 2013)

  • Centre for Interdisciplinary Research on Narrative
    Guest Lecturer and Participatory Research Lead (2010)


“Cities are becoming increasing divided. Public spaces have the power to foster understanding, inspire meaningful community participation and ownership, and instill joy. Every park, market, street, and alleyway is a litmus test for belonging.”
Jay Pitter

BELOW: Guiding a story-based walk with 100+ Torontonians to explore the dimensions of street-based safety following the tragic mass shooting on Danforth Ave.


  • With enthusiasm we recommend Jay Pitter as a placemaker. Over 750 of our citizens participated in the (RE) IMAGINING Cheapside work. This group included grassroots partners, city staff, business leaders, urban designers and our local community foundation. Ms. Pitter trained over 25 local residents to co-lead placemaking initiatives. She was sensitive, understanding and collaborative. The work was received incredibly well in Lexington. The media reported favorably on her work. Throughout the project, Ms. Pitter worked diligently to keep everyone positive and engaged. Her skillful placemaking approaches brought a very wide group of Lexingtonians together to deliver tangible, high profile, and sustainable outcomes.

    Glenn Brown and Jenifer WuorenmaaOffice of the Chief Administrator. Lexington, Kentucky
  • While in Edmonton, Jay worked with staff from the City of Edmonton, City Region Studies Centre (University of Alberta), and the Edmonton Heritage Council. I cannot emphasize enough how valuable our consultation was with her. Jay shared many insightful placemaking principles and practices from her own work that have and will continue to improve engagement processes here. For example, she addressed: how to engage with hard-to-reach stakeholder groups, how to create space for uncomfortable or painful experiences without creating divisions between stakeholder groups, and how to demonstrate accountability to stakeholder groups. In addition to sharing insights, Jay is an active listener and is respectful of multiple perspectives. Her ability to identify urban issues while providing strategies and instilling hope in everyone is admirable.

    Marco MelfiPlanner, CITYlab
  • I assigned Jay Pitter’s brilliant book Subdivided to my second year class of urban and environmental studies students at York. Jay generously agreed to come and speak to the class of one hundred last fall. She lit up the room with her presentation and inspired the students with her engaging and challenging conversation on city building in an age of hyper-diversity. A real treat! I hope she will come to my class again!

    Roger KeilYork Research Chair in Global Sub/Urban Studies
  • When Jay Pitter first took the stage to guide our symposium at MIT called Collective Wisdom, within seconds, the room came to standstill to listen.  Instantly, we all knew this was not going to be business as usual. This was going to be unlike any conference anyone had ever attended. The room woke up. Jay not only came prepared, she knew when to draw on her well-crafted script, and she knew precisely when to go off it. For two days, Jay welcomed, celebrated, challenged, and ultimately united all present. She asked us all to show up. Because of her, we did, and our symposium transcended into a gathering of profound intellectual, emotional, and political significance to our field.

    Katerina Cizek and Prof William UricchioMIT Open Documentary Lab and Co-Creation Studio
  • Jay Pitter spoke at UN Women’s Safe Cities – Safe Public Spaces event in Edmonton in October 2018 and was subsequently invited to present to our staff team in New York City. In both instances, she was rigorous, thoughtful, eloquent and impressive. Drawing on her own personal experiences along with her professional expertise gives her an authority that enriches our policy discussions for better urban planning and design today and in the future.

    Purna SenUnited Nations Women
  • Jay Pitter has developed a unique approach to engaging communities, often using streets themselves as the locus of the conversation, and incorporating new media and digital storytelling. In this way, she has been able to build thoughtful dialogues with groups often overlooked or excluded from traditional stakeholder engagement, weaving together a range of stories and analysis to build new ideas around familiar places.

    Michael McClellandERA Architects


Contact Jay to collaborate on a placemaking project, deliver a talk, develop public space policy, or lead an inclusive city-building professional development process.

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