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Harbourfront Centre at York Quay - Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc.

Conference Schedule


SEPTEMBER 28, 2023


2:00-4:30 pm

Designing Biodiversity: A Mini Forest Case Study at the Toronto Port Lands
A mini forest is a biodiverse community of native trees and shrubs planted tightly together in an urban or suburban setting using the Miyawaki method. First developed in Japan over 40 years ago and since adopted across the globe, this method accelerates the upward growth of trees by improving soil conditions and encouraging resource-sharing, resulting in a composition and structure that mimics older-aged forest communities.

The Miyawaki method frames an approach to reforestation that responds to the scale and specificities of each site, with the potential to expand and connect habitat at the regional scale. Integrated into urban systems as a form of green infrastructure, a coalescence of mini forests could add significant benefits in urban and ecologically degraded settings.

Planting mini forests in urban settings has the potential to punctuate our anthropogenic landscapes with living systems of native species diversity, introducing a new and biodynamic parameter into the experience of the public realm. In a time of staggering biological losses, habitat destruction, and an impending climate emergency, mini forests counterintuitively offer urban opportunities to innovate new forms of practice that address these issues through landscapes that are also culturally expressive.

Join Heather Schibli of Dougan & Associates and Marc Hallé of CCxA for a tour of the Leslie Lookout Park's mini forest. One of the first for the city of Toronto, this forest includes nearly 5000 plants representing 45 species of trees and shrubs. Participants will be required to wear a hard hat and steel-toed boots and may be invited to contribute to the planting of this future forest.

Important note: Attendees must bring their own hard hat and construction boots to the site.

5:00-8:00 pm

President's Reception


SEPTEMBER 29, 2023


7:30-8:30 am


8:30-8:45 am

Welcome Remarks

8:45-9:45 am

Keynote Presentation: Let's all get together and do less!
It turns out the great work we are doing as landscape architects may not be achieving our desired outcomes. Join Robert Mays, Senior Project Manager at Transportation Services, City of Toronto, for an enlightening keynote that challenges the assumptions of landscape architecture's impact on climate change mitigation. Landscape construction activity continues to contribute substantially to greenhouse gas emissions. It's time to embrace a paradigm shift and recognize that constructing less is the most effective way to reduce our carbon impact.

This keynote will stimulate discussion, urging participants to reassess their current design practices and explore how by doing less, we can provide more climate-positive design services. Don't miss this opportunity to challenge assumptions and embark on a path towards a more sustainable future in landscape architecture.

9:45-10:15 am

Exhibit Break

10:15-11:15 am

Morning Concurrent Sessions

From Words to Sketches: Implementing policy through public realm design (MANDARIN A)

Examine an approach to implementing planning policies that facilitate the growth and intensification of Toronto's Midtown neighbourhood through significant enhancements to the public realm, parks, and open spaces. Join Svetlana Lavrentieva, Senior Urban Designer/ Landscape Architect at the City of Toronto, for an overview of the public realm policies within the Yonge-Eglinton Secondary Plan and their impact on the development of the Midtown Public Realm Implementation Strategy (PRIS). In this session, we will explore the vital role of landscape architects in policy writing and implementation, as well as the translation of aspirational policy language into practical schematic designs for diverse audiences. Participants will gain insights into securing and implementing green, public, and open spaces in rapidly growing neighbourhoods and discover the potential of a "Leading with Landscape" approach to city building.

POPS in the Post-COVID City (MANDARIN B)

Join us for a thought-provoking roundtable discussion led by Terence Lee, Senior Associate, NAK Design Strategies, that delves into the approach to designing public spaces in our post-COVID world. As we navigate new realities, such as re-evaluating the need for social interactions and prioritizing mental health and well-being, city-builders are compelled to adapt to changing needs and values driven by climate considerations and volatile world politics. This session will explore the demand for privately-owned public spaces (POPS) in urban residential work and the critical role they play in meeting the evolving needs of our society. The discussion will bring together key members for an open dialogue on the cooperation between private and public sectors in city building.


  • Tim Schnarr, Director, Development at Mattamy Homes, Greater Toronto Urban
  • James Parakh, Urban Design Manager, City Planning at City of Toronto
  • Terence Lee, Senior Associate Landscape Architect, NAK Design Strategies

Seeding Landscape Resilience: A Multidisciplinary Discussion of Ontario’s Source-identified Seed Capacity (VICTORIA ROOM)

Plants are critical allies in climate change mitigation and adaptation landscape projects. However, it is often difficult to find sufficient numbers and appropriate species of plants grown from local, source-identified seed. Given the limitations associated with wildland seed collection, scaling up supply involves the establishment of seed orchards from wildland-collected seed. In this engaging panel discussion, which will bring together a multi-sector group representing seed collectors, plant growers, landscape architects, landscape contractors, and researchers, we will explore the challenges associated with scaling up supply and the necessity of a collaborative approach.

11:30-12:30 pm


12:30-1:30 pm

Afternoon Concurrent Sessions

The role of technology in climate change and community planning (MANDARIN A)

Discover how landscape architects can leverage theory and technology to engage professionals and the public on the critical topic of climate change mitigation and adaptation. This session will delve into various technologies to analyze current conditions, project population growth, and showcase effective strategies for addressing climate change challenges. Through conceptual scenario planning for a growing city, we will explore the future risks and impacts of climate change, while promoting urban planning solutions that prioritize biodiversity, walkability, and livability for future communities. Visualizing and quantifying mitigation and adaptation strategies will be emphasized, along with addressing the challenge of population growth in small cities. Join Linzey Bedard, Service Delivery Manager with the Urban Solutions team at Esri Canada, for an enlightening discussion on fostering open dialogue and understanding the realities we face in our changing world.

Planning a Resilient Post-Secondary Campus: Incorporating Lessons from the Pandemic  (VICTORIA ROOM)

Explore the profound implications of the COVID-19 pandemic on campus design in this insightful presentation. With a specific focus on landscape architecture, this session will examine how the pandemic has reshaped our engagement with post-secondary campus landscapes, both urban and open spaces. Discover the critical role landscape architects play in designing resilient and adaptable environments for students, faculty, and staff in the post-pandemic era. Through showcased projects at DIALOG, we will delve into key considerations, including increased use of outdoor spaces, spatial flexibility, equitable landscapes, technology integration, and financial considerations. Join Khatereh Baharikhoob, Landscape Architectural Intern and Senior Urban Designer at DIALOG, to envision inclusive and future-ready campus environments that cater to evolving needs within the post-pandemic landscape.

Stormwater management in the landscape, the need for integration in the urban fabric (MANDARIN B)

Change is never easy, and changing the stormwater paradigm has been a long battle to be able to step away from the underground concrete structures and ponds to a greener option.

This session will explore the path toward changing the stormwater paradigm and embracing greener options. For years, stormwater management has been overshadowed by underground concrete structures and ponds, but landscape architects, as stewards of the land, are ready to lead the way. Discover how landscape architects can develop designs that meet infrastructure needs and the demands of their community.

Through the presentation and discussion of three projects, Melanie Glorieux, Project Director, Rousseau Lefebvre, will highlight the stormwater benefits, design challenges, and overall value of these green stormwater amenities. Uncover the incredible design opportunities and ecosystem benefits that arise from incorporating nature-based solutions.

1:30-2:00 pm

Exhibit Break

2:00-3:00 pm

Keynote Presentation: Thunderhead: Canada's 2SLGBTQI+ National Monument (MANDARIN BALLROOM)

Our closing keynote presentation will explore Thunderhead, the remarkable winning design proposal for the 2SLGBTQI+ National Monument in Ottawa. Led by project lead Liz Wreford, this collaboration between Public City, artists Shawna Dempsey and Lorri Millan, and Two-Spirit Advocate Albert McLeod stands as a powerful testament to the systemic injustices endured by the 2SLGBTQI+ community under the Canadian state.

Delve into the intricately designed site that allows numerous opportunities for engagement and a sense of belonging. From the medicinal garden and healing circle to the tribute area, fruit orchard, and the captivating disco-ball-clad thundercloud, Thunderhead celebrates our diverse histories, experiences, and identities.

During this keynote, Liz Wreford, co-founder and principal landscape architect of Public City, will share the concept, current design, and collaborative team experience, offering insights into the design and construction process.