The Street Summit (Day One)

On May 27th & 28th, 2022, The Bentway’s season kicks-off with The Street Summit, a two-day event hosted at The Bentway’s Strachan Gate that challenges traditional understandings of city streets and asks how we can create a more inclusive, equitable, and joyful public realm.

Equal parts conference, workshop, artistic intervention, and celebration, this free public event assembles local and international citizens, urbanists, designers, researchers, city-builders, and artists alike to collectively explore these familiar arteries and their potential for broader social, cultural, and political transformations. 

Panels, presentations, and performances will feature guests including: “Hip Hop Architect” Michael Ford; the Commissioner of Chicago Department of Transportation, Gia Biagi; a creative partnership with New York-based WXY Studio; Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam; Dane Gardener-Williams; Hayden King; Susan Blight; Adam Nicklin of PUBLIC WORK; a panel discussion on the renewal of our city’s streets presented in partnership with Doors Open Toronto; and a social event on Friday night featuring a hip hop/breaking draft with MC Switch B.

Interactive and drop-in workshops for participants of all ages include a pop-up exhibition of Myseum of Toronto’s 36 Questions That Lead to Loving Toronto; an exploration of the various flavours of street food across the city led by Tasha Shea and Howard Tam; a participatory roundtable focused on community care and mutual aid, led by Chemi Lhamo and Miru Yogarajah; a facilitated conversation on the subtle language of queer sexuality in urban ecologies guided by The Bentway Public Space Fellow Jess Misak and artist Maximilian Suillerot Wilke; and a workshop that unravels the processes and tools that define street and place-names, led by Bespoke Collective and The Bentway Public Space Fellow, Faizaan Khan.

ASL interpretation provided by Toronto Sign Language Interpreter Service.  

Registration is encouraged!

Schedule of Events

Welcome to the Street Summit! To kick off the day, join us for remarks from The Bentway’s Co-Executive Director’s Ilana Altman and Dave Carey, and a Land Acknowledgement from Philip Cote. 

Ilana Altman

Ilana Altman is a cultural planner and designer who has a background in art and architecture. In her role as Co-Executive Director of The Bentway she works with the community to implement innovative and engaging programming, revealing new possibilities for public space and cultivating the best visitor experience possible.

Prior to joining The Bentway team, Ilana worked for a number of notable design firms including Studio Daniel Libeskind and Diller Scofidio + Renfro in New York and KPMB Architects in Toronto. She has led the curation and design of exhibitions and installations at the SFMOMA, the Museum of Arts and Design in New York, and the Art Gallery of Ontario. Additionally, she has worked closely with artists to realize public art installations for Toronto’s Nuit Blanche. In 2014 Ilana founded the Artful City, a Toronto collective that aims to advance public art research, policies, and imaginations. Additionally, Ilana founded and served as the Executive Director of the Pavilion Project from 2015-2017.

Dave Carey

Dave Carey is a city animator with a background in public affairs, storytelling, and fundraising. As Co-Executive Director, he builds curiosity, trust, and support of The Bentway through a growing family of audiences, champions, and partners, while ensuring that the organisation remains on budget and on brand.

He joined The Bentway team in 2017 as Director of Development. Dave worked for most of his career at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), most recently as Director of Government Relations & Philanthropy. During a formative period of growth for TIFF, his fondest achievements include the Festival’s pedestrianization of King Street, the acquisition of key 35mm film collections, the opening of TIFF Bell Lightbox, and the launch of several filmmaker development initiatives.

In 2018, Dave joined the Toronto Arts Council’s Cultural Leaders Lab, a leadership development program for arts professionals who have demonstrated the potential to drive change in the sector. He is a yogi, a poet, a cyclist, and an ally. Dave sits on the Board of East End Arts and lives on the East Danforth.

Philip Cote

Philip Cote is Shawnee, Lakota, Mississauga, Potawatomi, Ojibway, Algonquin and Mohawk. Philip is a Sundancer, Pipe Carrier and Sweat Ceremony Leader Medicine keeper. Philip’s spirit name is (Noodjmowin) “The Healer” Misko-gayaashk “Red-Seagull” and he is a member of the Falseface society and Eagle Society.Philip is an Indigenous historian mixing the oral and western histories of Toronto covering the last 13,500 years and as far back as 130,000 years and beyond as far back as two Ice Ages. He is an Indigenous Artist, Activist, Traditional Wisdom Keeper & Historian Since 2005 he has also been a tour guide with “First Story”, providing an Indigenous history of Toronto covering the last 13,500 years.

Launching The Street Summit and the summer-long season of public art to follow, this discussion will focus on the key role artists play in shaping our understanding of the street. Featuring a selection of the STREET season’s creative partners, this conversation will bring together a constellation of unique artistic practices that have a long-time engagement with these arteries, and touch on themes of street equity, Anishinaabe self-determination, intergenerational collaboration and empowerment, and more while deepening our connections to the programming that will activate The Bentway from May-August.

Anna Gallagher-Ross

Anna Gallagher-Ross (she/her) is a curator and writer working across performance, dance, and visual arts, with an emphasis on site-specific and socially-engaged practices. Currently, she is the Senior Manager of Programming at The Bentway. From 2017-2021, Anna was Co-Artistic Director & Curator of Fusebox Festival, the acclaimed international performance festival, which features interdisciplinary artists from Austin, the U.S., and around the world. At Fusebox, Anna also curated year-round performances, artist residencies, public art projects, and civic initiatives. In 2020, Anna was a guest curator at Performance Space Sydney’s Live Works Festival. Prior to Fusebox, Anna’s work in the arts sector spanned community arts organisations and large-scale museums and theatres in Canada and the U.S.

Virginia Antonipillai

Virginia Antonipillai is the Creative Producer & Operations Coordinator at Mammalian Diving Reflex and holds a BA in Communication Studies from McMaster University. Virginia began collaborating with Mammalian when she was 14-years-old as a co-creator and performer in all of Young Mammals activities. Virginia has toured with Mammalian to various cities to produce, direct and write projects and facilitate workshops about youth engagement. She led Mammalian’s recent audio project, It’s Been A While, commissioned by the City of Toronto’s Museum and Heritage Department, overseeing both the logistical production end of things as well as running the interviews with the children, editing the audio, and supervising the scoring.

Emmet Outlaw

Emmet Outlaw is a multidisciplinary community artist with a focus on digital/augmented reality. They are an inaugural member of SKETCH and have worked in the homeless sector for over 20 years as an outreach worker and most recently as a member of a multidisciplinary outreach team. Their community practice focuses on legacy works, storytelling, education, and transformative collaboration. They are committed to exploring and elevating the vibrancy, resilience, and complexities of street culture.

Susan Blight

Susan Blight (Anishinaabe, Couchiching First Nation) is an interdisciplinary artist working with public art, site-specific intervention, photography, film, and social practice. Her solo and collaborative work engages questions of personal and cultural identity and its relationship to space. Blight is co-founder of Ogimaa Mikana and a member of the Indigenous Routes artist collective. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Social Justice Education at UofT, the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (UofT), Delaney Chair in Indigenous Visual Culture at OCAD University, and an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Arts & Science.

Hayden King

Hayden King (Anishinaabe, Beausoleil First Nation on Gchi’mnissing) is the executive director at Yellowhead Institute at X University in Toronto, Ontario. King has taught at McMaster and Carleton Universities as well as the First Nations Technical Institute, held senior fellowships at Massey College and the Conference Board of Canada, and served in senior advisory roles to provincial and First Nation governments and Inuit organisations. He is the co-founder of the language-arts collective Ogimaa Mikana Project and co-host of the Red Road Podcast. His writing, analysis, and commentary on Indigenous politics and policy is published widely.

Michael Lee Poy

Michael Lee Poy is an Assistant Professor at OCAD University and an Afro-Caribbean artist/designer/activist/architect from Trinidad and Tobago and Canada. His practice and interests are centred on post-colonial Caribbean design and fabrication in the festival arts – especially Carnival. A graduate of Pratt Institute of Technology in architecture (B. Arch.) and the Yale Graduate School of Architecture, Environmental Design (MED), Michael aims to use interdisciplinarity to augment the innovative, creative, and collaborative process of design. For the past 5 years, Michael has been incubating the Moko Jumbie Mas Camp workshops for children aged 7-17. The masquerade (mas) camps are designed and implemented as socially conscious design/build and fabrication/studio/lab workshops.

Bringing together voices from some of Toronto’s most visionary public realm projects, Dream Streets questions how we design our streets for a contemporary city, how we balance mobility and social needs, and how the streets of our city can connect us in more ways than one. As Toronto grows, these projects demonstrate the possibilities for reimagining existing infrastructure and the impact these new arteries will have on surrounding communities. This discussion will navigate the cultural, functional, and accessible futures for our city’s streets and beyond.

Sam Carter-Shamai

Sam Carter-Shamai is an urban planner with a love for the unexpected and overlooked opportunities that cities have to offer. As a planner Sam applies an inquisitive and critical approach, seeking to work with communities through direct engagement and participatory interventions to demonstrate viable solutions for complex urban challenges. Sam draws on a broad skill set informed by a multidisciplinary background in planning, cultural geography, photography, and collaborative design facilitation. Sam is currently the Under-Gardiner Public Realm Plan Lead for The Bentway and serves on the Board of the Neighbourhood Land Trust.

Dane Gardener-Williams

Dane developed a strong sense of devotion for the nonprofit sector when living in Edmonton; he joined the executive committee of the Kinsmen Club of Edmonton. There he fell in love with community development and creating initiatives to meet the greatest needs of the community. He is currently the Vice Chair, Black Urbanism TO and Co-Founder of Black Urbanism TO.

He engages with Black communities in re-envisioning their neighbourhoods to support social, economic, and cultural advancement. He works with the Black Urbanism TO team to develop programs and frameworks to implement the community informed vision; and advocate for the needs of the community, by providing recommendations to relevant decision-makers and ensuring that impactful dialogue ensues between Black communities and those who desire to shape the neighbourhoods that we call home.

Adam Nicklin

Adam Nicklin is a principal and co-founder of PUBLIC WORK, a Toronto-based design studio whose work focuses on the intelligent evolution of contemporary cities by reconsidering the relationship of civic infrastructure, landscape, architecture, context, and experience.

Adam’s career has been inspired by the opportunity to remake streets as viable contributions to broader civic open space systems. Projects have included the transformation of Eglinton Avenue for the Crosstown; the visioning of the future street network and open space systems of the Toronto Port Lands; the implementation of a new network of streets along the Port Credit waterfront, and the transformation of University Avenue.

Adam and the team at PUBLIC WORK are currently engaged on the next phase of Queens Quay and Cherry Street in the vicinity of the Don River valley, reimagining these iconic Toronto waterfront transit streets with an immersive and dynamic ecology twist.

Brian Porter

Brian hails from Six Nations of the Grand River. He has been a business leader for
many years, designing and overseeing the construction of projects for First
Nation communities across Canada and the United States. He has demonstrated
success in designing culturally appropriate projects for these communities and
has worked to maximize the participation of First Nation skills and trades. Two
Row Architect promotes meshing traditional symbols into current building
technology while actively promoting the creative and environmentally conscious
use of building materials.

Alison Stewart

Alison is currently the Senior Advocacy Manager for Cycle Toronto. Her passion for sharing the joy of biking paired with her desire to make Toronto a vibrant cycling city led her to Cycle Toronto as a volunteer since 2013. Her background includes senior leadership roles in the post-secondary sector which saw her develop strategic plans that focused on bilingual programs to support the diverse needs of international and domestic students on the one hand, while also securing funding and developing government and community partnerships on the other. Her work for an Officer of Ontario’s Legislative Assembly saw her advocating for Ontario’s diverse minority Francophone population. She is bilingual (En/Fr) and holds a Master’s in Public Policy, Administration.

With a keen eye, one can find the presence of queer subtext in any street. Bentway Public Space Fellow Jess Misak and Artist Maximilian Suillerot Wilke will guide participants through a treasure hunt to find the language of queer sexuality in urban ecologies. Using the grey nature of The Under Gardiner, the workshop will softly reveal some of the joys of creating queer encounters.

Jess Misak

Jess Misak (They/Them) lives, learns, and makes in Toronto/Tkaronto Canada. Jess is one of the 2022 Public Space Fellows at The Bentway and received a Masters degree in Architecture and an Honors Bachelors of Arts in Architecture and Sociology from the University of Toronto. As a considerate architectural designer and local organizer, Jess’ work visits themes of queer urban public space, housing justice, and communal pleasure.

Maximilian Suillerot Wilke

Maximilian Suillerot Wilke (they/them) is a French-Mexican queer mixed-media artist and cultural worker currently living and working in Toronto. Born and raised in Mexico City, Maximilian began their artistic training in Paris (France) at Les ARCADES. They continued their studies at the University of Toronto where they obtained a B.A (Hons) specialising in Visual Art Studies. Their work touches upon the duality of presence and absence in queer settings. Grief and fiction meld with aspects of personal narrative to reveal a comical discomfort, and rituals are created as coping mechanisms to deal with life.

Food is the heart and soul of a culture. It occupies many spaces of prominence in human lives – nourishment, relaxation, discussion, creativity, and politics, and as a result, it is a major fixture in our public spaces. In this session, Tasha Shea and Howard Tam will facilitate an interactive discussion dedicated to exploring the connection between public spaces, food, culture, diversity, and the street. What role does food play in how we experience public spaces? How has street food evolved in Toronto and how will it inform the city’s future? How does this change the accessibility or inaccessibility of food? How do we honour the cultures they are connected to?

Tasha Shea

Tasha Shea is a Project Manager, with Masters’ in Development Studies with a focus on food economics from York University. She’s worked in the public, non-profit, and private sectors on projects that use the power of food for economic development and community building. She co-founded MixTO Music Festival, project managed The City of Brampton’s first-ever Food Guide, and serves on the Board of Not 9 to 5, a non-profit that advocates for mental health in the hospitality industry. In her free time, Tasha enjoys cooking, food photography, and travelling to the beach to surf.

Howard Tam

Howard is the founder and Foodie-in-Chief of tours that offer food tours in and around Scarborough’s amazingly diverse food scene. His interactive tours combine his passion for city building with food by combining eating and cultural stories related to the histories of the dishes. A strategic designer & city builder by day, Howard loves to explore Scarborough & its restaurants in his spare time. Most weekends, you will find him either running another food tour or playing Scarborough Strip Plaza Roulette – randomly picking spots in strip plazas to see what good food comes up! 

With a little imagination, the street can become a canvas for creative intervention. In response to a public artwork by Raquel Da Silva, Farida Abu-Bakare and David Vega-Barachowitz of WXY Studio will lead a participatory conversation around transforming our streets through tactical urbanism, and discuss how public art can be used as a tool for activating the complex, intermingled systems that make-up and share our streets.

Farida Abu-Bakare

Farida Abu-Bakare recently joined WXY as Director of Global Practice in 2022. With over ten years of professional experience, Farida Abu-Bakare was previously a Project Director of Adjaye Associates in Accra, Ghana and an Associate at HOK Architects in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Prior to joining WXY with focus on urban design, she led the design development of three redevelopment master planning projects in Accra, Ghana. This expertise in urban design led Farida to lead the design development of cultural projects such as the Edo Museum of West African Art (EMOWAA) in Benin City, Nigeria. With her breadth of expertise in healthcare stemming from her eight years at HOK,  Farida led, from concept to construction, 111 hospitals for sites across Ghana as part of the federal government’s Agenda 111 program.

David Vega-Barachowitz

David Vega-Barachowitz joined WXY in 2019. He is a recognized leader in transportation and land use planning and has extensive experience working with cities and public sector clients. At WXY, David leads planning and urban design efforts including the Downtown Davenport Master Plan in Iowa and the Hudson Square Streetscape Plan for the Hudson Square Business Improvement District. David is the former Director of the Designing Cities Initiative at NACTO, where he spearheaded the production of NACTO’s Urban Street Design Guide and Urban Bikeway Design Guide. He also served as Senior Urban Designer at the New York City Department of Planning where he launched the agency’s computational design practice and has worked with NYCHA to create guidelines for infill development and neighbourhood planning. David received a Master of City Planning degree from MIT and Bachelor of Arts degree in Urban Studies with Architecture from Columbia University.

Raquel Da Silva

Raquel Da Silva is a visual artist and designer based in Toronto, Canada. She graduated from OCAD University with a BFA in 2020. Raquel’s work is focused on creating abstract environments and exploring how cultural stories and mythologies are embedded into contemporary culture. Selected exhibitions include Ja Senti, Vai Nascer by PADA Gallery and Residency in Lisbon, Portugal, and An Index presented by Museum of Contemporary Art, Toronto. 

Appointed Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Transportation in 2019, Gia Biagi is charged with implementing a vision for a transportation system that prioritises lowering the economic and environmental burden of mobility on residents and communities, especially for people in poverty, people with disabilities, and people of colour. Gia will bring her expert perspective to The Bentway, invoking an urban dialogue between the streets of Chicago and of Toronto. 

At this Keynote, Biagi will speak to a series of questions and ideas that are pertinent to her work and her vision for the future of city streets. How do we leverage our public infrastructure to do more for the communities residing in the city? How do we make community decisions about what happens to our public realm? How can cities connect their day-to-day tactical work with transformative change? And finally, what are examples of cities that are rethinking and re-imagining their transportation and other infrastructure for new purposes?

Gia Biagi

Gia Biagi is an urban planner and designer with experience in the private and public sectors who was appointed Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) by Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot in December 2019. At CDOT, Biagi and her team are implementing a vision for a transportation system that prioritises equity and mobility and works to lower the economic and environmental burden of transportation on residents and communities, especially for people in poverty, people with disabilities, and people of colour.

As Commissioner of CDOT, she oversees a department responsible for Chicago’s roadways and bridges, sidewalks and bike lanes, the citywide bike share system, traffic signals and signage, streetlights and alleys, the permitting of activities in the public right-of-way, and policies focused on human-centred urban design, climate adaptation, infrastructure equity, and mobility.

Before answering Mayor Lightfoot’s call to return to public service, Biagi was a Principal at Studio Gang Architects, one the world’s leading architecture and urban design firms led by renowned architect Jeanne Gang. At Studio Gang, Biagi developed and led the Urbanism + Civic Impact practice that specialised in urban design, planning, and strategy. The work centred on how to move toward equity, mutuality, and positive change in cities by working with a range of partners including community-based organisations, cultural institutions, developers, government, and other public and private groups and individuals.

Prior to joining Studio Gang, Biagi spent more than a decade in public service, with roles that included Chief of Staff and Director of Planning for the Chicago Park District. Much of her work focused on neighbourhood revitalization through planning, engagement, programs, policies, and capital investments.

Biagi currently serves on the Board of Directors for the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) and as Vice President of the Board of NeighborSpace, a non-profit land trust that provides community-based management and long-term protection to over 100 urban gardens across Chicago.

Biagi attended the University of Michigan for her Bachelor of Arts degree and has a Master of Urban Planning and Policy from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

The Bentway comes alive to celebrate a dance tradition born from the street during an evening social and community breaking jam. Local Bboy and MC Switch B from The FAM will host Breaking Draft, bringing together the Hip Hop community under the Gardiner. Music and dance will set the mood, while refreshments and other activities invite the public to meet at street level.

Adrian Bernard / BBoy Switch B

Adrian Bernard A.K.A Switch B is one of Toronto’s Top B-Boys and Hip-Hop Arts Educators. Having started dance in 2002, Adrian has travelled to many countries and parts of Canada through Educational, as well as competitive ventures. Through Arts Education, Adrian has taught dance at a number of First Nations Reserves alongside Community Centre’s, High school classrooms, Rehabilitation clinics, halfway houses, and at the Roy McMurtry Youth Centre a Youth Prison. Outside of education Switch B has developed a reputation as a Battle B-Boy. In 2007 his dance crew The Floor Assassins Militia represented Canada in the B-Boy Unit World Finals in Seoul Korea. The F.A.M. has won The House of Paint Hip-Hop festival three times, and Switch B took first place at the Skillz-O-Meter 5 Championships in Montreal back in 2015. Since then Adrian has been dedicated to training and educating the next generation of dancers in Toronto.

Presented by Myseum of Toronto.

How do you build closeness with your city and those you share it with? 

36 Questions That Lead to Loving Toronto: Bentway Edition is a pop up experience that invites Torontonians to explore the commitment we have to the city and to each other. Based on a psychological study by Arthur Aron (and others) and popularized by the New York Times article “The 36 Questions That Lead to Love”, Myseum asks a series of questions that explore civic love. 

Join us at The Bentway to share your answers, while deepening connections with loved ones, friends, and neighbours. 36 Questions: Bentway Edition will feature questions about Toronto streets, as part of The Bentway’s Street Summit. Get deep, have fun, be brutally honest about what you love or hate (and everything in between) about our city streets. Ignite the spark to fall in love with Toronto for the first time, or all over again. 

36 Questions: Bentway Edition is a pop-up version of 36 Questions That Lead to Loving TO exhibition at the Myseum Space (401 Richmond St. W. LL01), on until October 9, 2022. To learn more visit 

With a little imagination, the street can become a canvas for creative intervention. In a new public artwork by Raquel Da Silva, and created in partnership with New York-based WXY Studio, we invite you to see our own street anew. Available to view throughout both days of the Summit, this work encourages you to consider the ways in which our streetscape can be transformed through the power of art and creativity.

Raquel Da Silva

Raquel Da Silva is a visual artist and designer based in Toronto, Canada. She graduated from OCAD University with a BFA in 2020. Raquel’s work is focused on creating abstract environments and exploring how cultural stories and mythologies are embedded into contemporary culture. Selected exhibitions include Ja Senti, Vai Nascer by PADA Gallery and Residency in Lisbon, Portugal, and An Index presented by Museum of Contemporary Art, Toronto. 

Presented by National Film Board 

In partnership with the National Film Board of Canada, The Bentway’s Street Summit presents a series of family-friendly short films offering creative, educational, and entertaining views of our streets across space and over time, including how we interact with them and how they shape our cities

This summer at The Bentway Mia & Eric and Action Hero are cutting up Toronto’s entire ‘Municipal Code for the Use of Streets and Sidewalks’ and rearranging the words into a new set of speculative actions, permissions, and proposals for the future of the city. You are invited to rewrite and submit your very own Future Perfect by-law. These new Future Perfect by-laws will appear on billboards around Toronto between May and August.

Learn more at

Live Magazine will be at The Street Summit! Live Magazine is a digital publication by the design studio Frontier, who will attend the event and create multimedia stories about its most stimulating ideas and conversations. Frontier will also become part of the proceedings, building a pop-up space to talk with attendees, gather on-the-spot reactions, and create and sell limited-run objects. Each issue is published online during the event, giving immediate context and insight that becomes a lasting artifact. Come say hi at The Street Summit and add your voice to this issue.

This issue goes live May 27 and will be updated during, and following, the Street Summit. Read it at and learn more about Frontier at