Pug Talks is the newest addition to the Pug Awards program and will play an important part in fulfilling the mandate of the Pugs. Where the Pug Awards "promotes" design excellence, and Pug Ed "educates" students about design, the Pug Talks are aimed at "facilitating" design excellence.

In an effort to facilitate design excellence we began looking at the basic framework within which our physical environment gets created. The planning and approval process is integral to this framework and is vital to the successful development of our city. Unfortunately, the current process can be highly politicized and reactionary, creating an environment where quality design is difficult to achieve. Among the major challenges in planning is the way in which the key participants engage each other during this process. Residents, Councillors, City Staff, Design Consultants and Developers all exert their own influence over design proposals but rarely is this done in a harmonized way.

Our response to this problem is the Pug Talks. The Pug Talks is a series of roundtable conversations that take place periodically throughout the year. The members sitting at the table will typically be representatives from each of the five main participant groups in the development process. Topics will be centered on design, architecture and planning in our city and will be an opportunity for these individuals to engage each other in a non-confrontational setting where ideas can be discussed. Our talks will be held in a public venue and the first series will be moderated by John Bentley Mays (Architecture Columnist, Globe Real Estate). Video casts of each talk will be posted onto the Pug Talks website and an interactive discussion forum and map set up to continue the conversation online.

While it is clear that a wholesale change in the planning process cannot come from these talks alone, the incremental aggregation of dialogue and public awareness is the path to real change. With a citizenry that is engaged and has forums like this to discuss ideas about our city, issues that otherwise are left off the table begin to play a part in the collective debate about our city. In this way the Pug Talks will strive to achieve its goal of facilitating design excellence.

The Pug Awards gratefully acknowledges the support of our Platinum Sponsors for their commitment to enhancing Toronto's cityscape through the promotion of innovative architecture and design. Through their advocacy of the Pug Ed youth education program, our Members' have given our city and its students an opportunity to think critically about urban environments and sparked community engagement that will resonate for generations to come. Thank you.
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