A 2015 Young Alumni Award nominee:


MacKenzie KeastCo-Author of “Make This City: The State of Urban Manufacturing,” Mackenzie Keast looks at how to rebuild and foster local manufacturers. As a student in the School of Planning, Keast was motivated to “find the best way of doing things, always,” regardless of the status quo. With that, he hopes to empower other young people to participate in shaping the city around them.

NXT City Prize, co-founded by Mackenzie, is a public space ideas competition for young people across the country to help engage youth in the city building process and shape forward-thinking public spaces for the future of Toronto. Since 2014, Keast raised over $100,000 in funding. In collaboration with the City of Toronto, multi-million dollar public space improvements generated by young people are currently in progress, including the pedestrianization of a portion of Toronto’s Yonge St.

In 2013 Keast co-founded Distl, a global real estate advisory service to support boutique, neighborhood focused development and city building projects. He currently works as a partner at Distl providing developers and public clients with insights and strategy for successful specialized mixed-use projects.

Keast is involved in various projects in and around Toronto focused on improving the city. He co-founded The Laneway Project, a non-profit organization transforming Toronto laneways into pieces of art. At The Laneway Project, laneways are viewed as untapped potential and can create places that people want to live, work and visit. Keast also volunteers his time speaking and facilitating with a variety of organizations and events including Pecha Kucha Toronto, Civic Action Better City Boot camp and the Toronto Region Vision 2014 Summit. 

Keast graduated in 2011 with a BES in Planning from the University of Waterloo. As an undergraduate student Mackenzie founded the Waterloo Students Planning Advisory and contributed to Imprint, the University of Waterloo newspaper. He remains connected to Waterloo by attending the annual Planning Alumni reception in Toronto. Keast has worked with fellow UW alumni at both the NXT City Prize and The Laneway Project.