You left a rather prosperous job as a partner at a private firm six months ago to become Toronto’s chief planner, and you took a pay cut of more than 40 per cent in the process. Who does that?
I don’t know! Look: my friend died of cancer last year, at age 39. Gone. I know this sounds heavy, but I want every day to matter. I didn’t hate what I did, but I love what I’m doing now.
For a professional planner, you’ve got a surprisingly haphazard office. I count four paintings on the floor waiting to be hung. What’s the deal?
Oh no! I’m mortified, because I am actually extremely particular. I’ve got big dreams for this office, but I’m busy planning a city. The walls used to be yellow and there was bad art everywhere, so I painted everything white and ordered new furniture, and I don’t want to hang anything until it arrives.
You’re a big fan of bike lanes and walkable neighbourhoods, which can sometimes put you at odds with the mayor. Your husband played football against Ford in high school. Did that connection help break the ice?
It did. When I told him who I was married to, he said, “Oh, Tommy Freeman! He was big and fast!” My husband’s team won the Metro Bowl, and he was a starting rookie fullback at the University of Guelph. He was hard to miss if you were following football at the time.
Where did you two meet?
At Muskoka Woods summer camp. I was a basketball instructor; he was a waterski instructor. We got married 18 years ago. Today, he runs a company that sells products to five-star hotels—everything from lighting to art.