Pragma Council

Established in 1987, Pragma Council is a group of thought leaders who practice in diverse leadership roles in the planning and development realms. Pragma members are an exclusive group of trusted individuals who come together twice a year at the School of Planning to discuss topical planning and development challenges and opportunities within Ontario in a university environment where open, objective debate is encouraged.

Pragma Council maintains a vibrant connection with the School of Planning in terms of its history, mandate, and future. Many members are alumni; council membership fees help realize the events and support student awards and initiatives, School faculty and students are active participants in each event and much more!

Pragma events involve candid constructive discussion on priority topics of interest and these experiences are fundamental to the success and sustainability of Pragma. The unique structure, format and candor of debate at Pragma are at the core of what member’s value and why it continues to thrive. For many there is no other forum where such a vigorous unrestrained debate is encouraged on important public policy issues.


  • To host constructive critical discussion on topical and timely issues through bi-annual conferences.
  • To enable unique networking and learning experiences within a collegial environment where the frank exchange of ideas and views on a range of timely and relevant issues and topics is encouraged.
  • To create an environment for open discussion and learning based on the Chatham House principle of what is said in the room stays in the room while allowing the key discussion points to be captured in a non-attributed summary format.
  • To inform members professional practice, effectiveness and enhance their ability to influence change.
  • To establish research agendas that spark interest in and potential uptake by the School of Planning and broader research community including students.
  • To support, facilitate, and benefit from the exchange of ideas with the Planning School including contributing to research and conference topics and through the sponsorship of a topical research paper each year.

Discussion topics

The following are examples of issues that have been discussed at Pragma conferences:

  • Missing Middle Housing
  • Growth Planning
  • Sharing economy impacts
  • Retail transformation
  • Autonomous Vehicles
  • Transit Station Planning (Fall 2019)

Pragma conferences provide opportunities for graduate and senior level students to attend sessions and discussions. Pragma also holds a networking dinner session in conjunction with every meeting and invites the School community to engage with the members of Pragma.


Benefits of attending the Pragma seminars and dinners include:

  • opportunities to network and exchange ideas with professionals who bring a broad range of career experiences, personal insights and perspectives to urban and environmental issues
  • information regarding current issues and new research activity
  • review and serious consideration of development issues that are of particular interest and concern to council members


Pragma Council Member diversity is viewed as a real strength and as such, the Pragma Council aspires to promote diversity among its members in terms of individual characteristics and professional backgrounds in disciplines involved in planning and development decision-making. Individual diversity would include gender, race and professional practice experience. Examples of our members’ areas of practice include

  • Commissioner of Planning and Economic Development
  • Partner, Planning, Urban Design and Landscape Architecture Consulting Firm
  • Manager of Land Use Planning
  • Program Director, Non-government Housing
  • Senior Executive, Land Development Firm
  • Chief Administrative Officer, Regional Government
  • Associate, Planning Consulting Firm
  • Professor, School of Planning

If you’re interested in becoming a Pragma Member, please contact Angie Hildebrand.

Previous conferences