July 12, 2018
AMO WatchFile Guest Column

By Jane Welsh and Robert Norman

Municipalities count!

For many ratepayers, well designed public spaces are the most visible expressions of municipal pride. Landscape architects make sure these projects start with the right design – one that is aesthetically pleasing, functional, durable and integrates the natural environment.

As current and former Presidents of the Ontario Association of Landscape Architects, and having built our careers in municipal practice, we are pleased to accept AMO Executive Director Pat Vanini’s invitation to write for your publication, and explain what landscape architects can do for you.

People expect to ride bikes, walk their dogs and access public waterways safely with well-designed public spaces. Municipalities can depend on landscape architects to design and create these open spaces, both as staff and consultants.

Landscape architects in consultation with the public and elected officials are important partners for municipalities in designing safe and attractive spaces that enhance community. We are the site planning and design experts that assist in solving complex problems related to land-use planning, site design, storm water management and surface water runoff, land development, rehabilitation and safe designs that deter crime.

OALA, founded in 1968, is the self-regulating association representing the profession.

The combination of a university education in the field, the Landscape Architect Registration Examinations and OALA membership ensures that the landscape architect you hire meets our high professional standards. OALA members are trained in design, construction and presenting ideas.

We are proud of the three Ontario projects that were recognized nationally on April 7 with Canadian Society of Landscape Architects Awards of Excellence. Representing cooperation with all three levels of government they demonstrate the value that landscape architects bring to our communities.

Berczy Park – Toronto (Claude Cormier et Associes, Claude Cormier)
  Photo of Berczy Park – Toronto

In the heart of downtown Toronto, across from the famous Flatiron Building, dog lovers have traditionally walked their pets through Berczy Park.

The newly renovated space now welcomes 2,000 dogs per day and their owners with a fountain, elm trees, tulips and its trademark – whimsical, canine sculptures.  In addition to this light-hearted public space, the park acts as an oasis for the public in a high density urban area of Toronto’s core. The grass berms, gathering spaces and fountain provide relaxing opportunities for the public, contrasting the city’s urban bustle.

Globe and Mail writer Christopher Katsarof described the park as “both hilarious and hospitable.”

Trillium Park and William G. Davis Trail – Toronto (LANDinc, Patrick Morello)
  Photo of Trillium Park and William G. Davis Trail – Toronto

Described as “a celebration of the experience where land meets the water,” this project introduced 7.5 acres of greenspace – with a crisscross of parklands, trails and amenities – to a former parking lot at Ontario Place.

The project welcomes cyclists and others with system of trails, meandering through rolling landforms, rock outcrops, pebble beaches and native plantings, giving rise to spectacular views of the city and the infinite horizon across Lake Ontario.

Parliament Hill Escarpment Stairway and Site Rehabilitation – Ottawa (Civitas Group, Diane Matichuk)
Photo of Parliament Hill Escarpment Stairway and Site Rehabilitation – Ottawa

The Escarpment Stairway connecting Parliament Hill with the Ottawa River is the first landscape intervention on the site in 100 years.  

Designed to meet heritage conservation standards, the modern stairway provides residents and visitors with a “stroll” through a rugged forest while enjoying stunning views of the Ottawa River landscape.

These projects demonstrate the sort of beautiful, safe and environmentally sustainable spaces that landscape architects create.

OALA has resources available to help your municipality to engage the expertise of landscape architects including fees and services guides.

You can find a landscape architect online at www.oala.ca.  

Jane Welsh is the President of the Ontario Landscape Architects Association and a Project Manager in Environmental Planning with the City of Toronto, and a Fellow of the Canadian Society of Landscape Architects.

Robert Norman is an Ontario Landscape Architects Association Emeritus Member and a Fellow of the Canadian Society of Landscape Architects.  Robert is a Past-President for both the Ontario Association of Landscape Architects and the Canadian Society of Landscape Architects. Robert has direct experience in working in five Ontario municipalities, over his professional career.

Disclaimer: The Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) is unable to provide any warranty regarding the accuracy or completeness of third-party submissions. Distribution of these items does not imply an endorsement of the views, information or services mentioned.