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Gil Penalosa is passionate about cities for all people. He advises decision makers and communities worldwide on how to create vibrant cities and healthy communities for all, regardless of age, gender, ability and social, economic, or ethnic background. His focus is on the design and use of parks and streets as great public places, as well as the promotion of sustainable mobility: walking, riding bicycles, using public transit, and new use of cars.

Gil is the Founder and Chair of the successful Canadian non-profit organization 8 80 Cities, as well as first Ambassador of World Urban Parks, the international representative body for the city parks, open space and recreation sector. In addition, Gil leads a private international consulting firm - Gil Penalosa & Associates, providing services as an inspirational keynote speaker, instructor of Master Classes, and advisor to decision makers.

Throughout his career, Gil has been a strong advocate for improving city parks, making his first mark in Bogotá, Colombia, where he led the design and construction of over 200 parks - including Simon Bolivar, a 113-hectare park in the heart of the city. His team also radically transformed the Ciclovía / Open Streets – from a program of few kilometers to one that sees over a million people walk, run, skate and bike along 121 kilometers of Bogotá’s city roads every Sunday of the year, and today is internationally recognized and emulated.

Gil with Mayor Marianne Borgen, Oslo, Norway, touring the city’s bicycle infrastructure and implementation of car-free downtown.

Because of Gil’s unique blend of experience, pragmatism and passion, many cities and organizations worldwide seek his leadership and valuable advice. He has worked in over 350 different cities in all continents.

Gil holds an MBA from UCLA’s Anderson School of Management, where he was selected as one of the “100 Most Inspirational Alumni” in the school’s history. Gil received a Doctorate Honoris Causa from the Faculty of Urban Planning at the prominent Swedish university, SLU. He is a Certified Professional Speaker by the US-NSA. Two years ago, he was in Planetizen’s Top 50 Most Influential Urbanists, and received in Australia the World Urban Parks Annual Distinguished Individual Award.

Gil advising Councillors and Head of Parks and Planning in Gothenburg, Sweden

Recently, Gil has contributed chapters to books, including:

  • Enabling Cycling Cities: Ingredients for Success – CIVITAS, Europe
  • Facilities for Cyclists – Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Resilient Sustainable Cities, Melbourne, Australia
  • and forewords and comments to many.

Letter from Gil

Dear residents of Toronto,

I have decided to run for Mayor.

I love Toronto and believe it has amazing potential. Since moving to the area 23 years ago, I have dreamed of what is possible for Toronto; I believe we can make it the healthiest, most equitable, and sustainable city in the world, that provides affordable high quality of life to everyone.

However, over the last 8 years, the city has become less equitable, less sustainable, and it has lost its sense of unity. The city is falling apart, and leadership is standing by and watching. I strongly feel that we cannot continue in this direction, and that we are at a critical time for change. The combination of climate change and the pandemic have shown that we must live differently, that we must build a Toronto that is affordable, equitable, and sustainable.

Many of the needed changes are not technical or financial, they are political. They require a leader with a bold vision for the future, someone who has the courage to fight for the city and all its residents. Having worked in over 350 cities across all continents, I am uniquely qualified to serve Toronto and have the passion and motivation to lead the change.

In my time advising cities on sustainable growth with my non-profit 8 80 Cities, I have learned from other leaders who are fighting for a better future. I am constantly inspired by the cities and people I meet around the globe who are bringing the changes we need to address the housing crisis, the climate emergency, and rising inequalities. I want to bring that knowledge to Toronto and help address the issues that we face here. I have been and always will be a strong advocate for creating cities that serve all people; cities where people feel they belong and where they can enjoy a high quality of life no matter their age, ability, background, or income.

Toronto is good, but honestly, we must admit that we could be better. There are still big problems with affordability and equity, as anyone who spends time in our parks, streets, and other public spaces can tell you. We must make sustainable mobility safe, enjoyable, and convenient for all. We must invest in housing and neighbourhoods, so everyone has a safe walkable community to call home. I truly believe that with a clear vision and good leadership we can move in a more ambitious direction, from good to great.

Toronto, a city for EVERYONE.

— Gil

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