I love cities. But more than that, I love working with people to figure out solutions to hard problems. I do that by listening, bringing people together and not being afraid to talk through the things that stand in our way.
Who is Siri?
I have two school-aged kids and have lived in the Roncesvalles area of Parkdale-High Park for more than ten years. I’ve worked as a journalist, led a technology incubator and held senior positions in municipal and provincial governments. During the pandemic, I advised various public and private sector organizations on their strategic direction and management, designed a federal funding program for neighbourhood improvements and activations across Southern Ontario and worked with an Indigenous government in the Northwest Territories.
I’m known for getting stuff done and bringing people together to find solutions and affect positive change. Yes, it’s my real name. Yes I’ve heard all the jokes.
What does Siri know about cities?
I’ve always worked in and around cities. I was the urban affairs reporter at The Globe and Mail. I was Director of Communications to Minister of Municipal Affairs Kathleen Wynne, and her Deputy Director of Communications as Premier of Ontario. I have worked as a private sector consultant on urban projects, with clients including The 519, Union Station, and the Canadian Urban Institute.
From 2015-2018, I was Director of Strategic Initiatives for Mayor John Tory, meaning I understand how City Hall works and how to get things done. In the Mayor’s Office, I was a progressive voice responsible for government modernization and involved in the Bloor Street bike lane pilot and King Street Transit Priority Project. I helped make the case for the City Building Fund and tolls on the Gardiner and DVP, and led the Mayor’s Office creation of the #TorontoStrong Fund.
Other professional and volunteer roles:
- Strategic Resources Development Committee Member, United Way of Greater Toronto;
- Bentway’s Capital Projects and Neighbourhood Development Committee
- Consultant: Federation of Canadian Municipalities, Canadian Urban Institute, The 519.
- Mentor, Civic Action Emerging Leaders Network;
- National Advisory Council, Walrus Magazine;
- Advisory Board, TechTO;
- Organizing Committee TEDxToronto (2012, 2015);
- On stage interviewer, Toronto Festival of Authors (Michael Chabon, Junot Diaz, Heather O’Neill)
- Guest Lecturer, Public Policy, Munk School for Global Affairs
- Featured speaker, Walrus Talks (Social Impact, and Humanity & Technology);
- Co-founder of Prose Portraits, a literary portrait initiative in support of the Toronto Public Library Foundation
- Volunteer driver, Hand Up Toronto
- Volunteer newspaper delivery, West End Phoenix
Why isn’t Siri on social media?
I think we need to change how we talk to one another. Social media has given many people a voice, but it’s also increased polarization, spread lies, targeted many people with abuse, and damaged our kids’ self esteem.
Most importantly, does it really tell us what we want to know? Or make us feel heard?
Instead of social media, I’ll be using digital tools and good old fashioned ways of communicating to make sure the people of Parkdale-High Park know what I’m all about and are able to engage with me directly, asking questions and sharing their ideas and priorities.
What other people are saying about Siri
Very excited to hear about Siri Agrell’s ideas for the city and my ward!
City council would never be boring if Siri Agrell wins a seat.
A thing about Siri: as long as I’ve known her, she’s been linked in my mind with Toronto’s West End. That’s her house, and she’ll fight for it.
We asked people how they know Siri, what she’s like and why she’d make a good city councillor. Here’s what people who know her have to say: