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BACKGROUNDER

Harry Pasternak

Harry Pasternak's background in research, policy development, and facilitating educational sessions with respect to the Public Realm (Public Open Space) and Livable/Usable Cities - Livable/Usable Neighborhoods:

A. As a consultant to the Province Of Ontario, Pasternak was asked to improve the "quality of life" for the tens of thousands on people living in urban developments that had been financed by the Province across Ontario. Pasternak was asked to focus on Metro Toronto; because of the number of issues  negatively impacting the Livability of these developments. Pasternak conducted a series of one of a kind primary research projects within the Metropolitan Toronto Region. Included:

1.) A face to face survey of 10,000 residents on their recreational wants/needs. This is likely the only survey of its kind ever done in Metro Toronto. The study found that recreational programming in the city had little to do with what residents wanted/needed - little to do with their aspirations. (It's unlikely that parks and recreation staff every ask a cross section of the people they serve - what the people they serve want/need)

2.) A complex primary research project to evaluated the "best" children's playgrounds in Metro Toronto. Pasternak asked the Recreation Directors of the various boroughs in Metro to pick the ten "best" children's "playgrounds". Pasternak designed the research project's structure and then administered the only research project ever done on so-called children's "playgrounds" in Canada. He hired the Ontario Research Council to collect the data with trained field workers and to do the preliminary analysis of the data. Time lapse filming was used to show that so-called children's "playgrounds" have little to do with children, little to do with play.

[The safety of so-called children's playgrounds (children's ghettos) is  deplorable  - 500,000 children are injured falling off "playground" equipment every year in North America - a further 500,000 injured are injured in collisions with cars going to and from "playgrounds" every year in North America! Both figures show that "playground" designers (landscape architects and others) and urban planners are both incapable of loving children - just love land speculators].

A national conference on children's play and "playgrounds" resulted from Pasternak's research. The basic recommendation of the conference attendees (all experts on childhood development, landscape architecture, urban planning, architecture and recreational programming) - stop building so-called children's "playgrounds" and instead initiate the training (and hiring) of full time professional neighborhood play facilitators. The conference attendees also agreed that the traditional play environment for children was the front lawn, sidewalk and road in front of their homes; but, that mindless anti-children, anti-people urban planning had allowed the car free reign - enabled (enables!) the car to "drive" children (and adults) away from this traditional play space - the street. A variety of studies show that the higher the car and truck traffic density and the higher the speed - the fewer social relationships in any neighborhood. Various restrictive bylaws (against kids) were also brought in to make children disappear from the public realm - in addition to making the public realm disappear. More on Pasternak's research and outcomes.

3.) A first of a kind research project to evaluate whether municipal and provincial tax money, in one of the boroughs in Metro Toronto, was dis-proportionally spent on upper income neighborhoods versus middle and low income neighborhoods. The study showed that the rich got most of the tax money - disproportionately to the middle and low income taxpaying residents. In other words, taxes collected from the middle and low income was (is?) being used to support the lavish lifestyle of the upper income folks - the rich. As a result of this study, the Province refused a multi-million dollar grant to this borough.

B. As a "teacher" within York University's Urban Studies program, Pasternak facilitated on "Non-Obtrusive Social Research Techniques". He supervised a research group of students who then utilized Pasternak's research techniques. These students, using time lapse photography and other non-obtrusive research methodologies - produced an original primary research piece (unusual for undergraduates - who typically do secondary research only - that is, a literature search). The results of the student's research piece showed that so-called open planned schools were anything but open in practice.

C. Pasternak developed a unique wants/needs waterfront design/planning questionnaire/survey that was used by the City of Kingston, Ontario to assist in the planning of City's Waterfront(s). The outcome of the questionnaire/survey showed that Kingston's taxpaying residents had a much more sophisticated vision for the City's Waterfront(s) than either the politicians, the "professionals" working in the city's planning department or the "waterfront" consultant hired by the politicians. The council, the city's planning staff and the consultant - all thought that a waterfront is all about a 6 foot wide asphalt path - but the taxpaying residents knew it was a lot more than the simplistic idea of a 6 foot wide path.

D. A built environment consultant, Pasternak advised the Premier of Ontario on specific built environment issues. As a result, the Premier turned down a multi-million dollar grant request by a major university in Ontario. Pasternak research showed that an entire neighborhood didn't have to be destroyed in order to facilitate the expansion of the university.

E. Pasternak has extensive experience in facilitating educational experiences at colleges and universities across Canada - in addition to his work at York University. As well, Pasternak created The Thousand Islands Institute - Canada's only independent housing research and educational centre. Over 3000 inexperienced women and men from across Canada (and the U.S.A.) attended the Institute's one of a kind 9 day workshop "The Knack Of Home Construction" and then went on to building their own custom dream home - while saving 30 to 50 percent of the cost of construction.

F. Pasternak has appeared on a variety of national and regional television and radio programs including CTV's Canada AM, CBC's Michael Enright and other CBC regional programs in Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal, on a variety of CFRB's programming - to talk about one aspect or another on the built environment. Pasternak has done television co-productions with TVO.

G. Pasternak was president of C.A.S.R.E.L. a research and engineering consortium comprised of: Peter Sheffield and Assoc. - Structural Engineers, Hansconb-Roy - Quantity Surveyors & Project Managers, Frank Wolman and Assoc. - Tourism Consultancy, and Pasternak & Assoc. - Research & Design.

H. Pasternak is the former Director Of Athletics and varsity basketball coach at Humber College. While at the college, Pasternak was instrumental in developing the first college program to train grooms for the thoroughbred and standardbred horse industry - as a result the annual income for trained grooms doubled. Pasternak was instrumental is producing North America's first degree program for professionals entering the various facets of the horse industry - from running riding centers to training the trainers in riding educational programs .