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Editorial Board Message

A message from Eric Klaver, Chair, Ground Editorial Board

One of the legendary stories from my school days was from one of my professors, who told a tale about a site planning test he once wrote while he was a student. The test involved describing strategies for the landscape design of a conservation area and sketching a plan. His answer was simple: do nothing. Unfortunately, according to his professor, do nothing was not an option. He failed.

It might be easy to dismiss this as academic hubris or conceit, but it points to a central conflict at the foundation of landscape architecture as a business: in practice, we play a role in the development economy, while as a profession, we are stewards of natural systems.

Now that we are “Open for Business” in Ontario, this conflict is just beginning to test the moral mettle of our profession. Many processes and policies developed over the years that protect our core ideals are being threatened. As much as conservation authority procedures and rules can be onerous, success can be seen in the slow recovery of our watersheds over the past 30 years. Many times I have been happy that questionable development options were dead before they started, due to these policies. Having the conservation authorities play “bad cop” makes our job easier to perform in many ways when it comes to our core principles.

The OALA’s pursuit of a Practice Act targets reduction of the risk to public harm, directly mentioning financial loss due to negligence. The OALA has also has spoken out about Bill 108 and its threat to the public realm and green space in our cities. These are concerns at the core of the business of our profession. What of the core values of our profession? What of the threats to natural heritage embodied in our greenbelts, rivers, and lakes? What of the threats to our cultural heritage, symbolized by putting Ontario Place up for sale?

The power of our profession lies in its core values—the ones we so often pat ourselves on the backs for, lecture, write and tweet about. These values bring meaning to our day-to-day undertakings.

This issue demonstrates the power of our profession— sometimes fully employed, sometimes untapped. I hope the contents can help bolster spirits for the challenges ahead. This issue is also the first for our new editor, Glyn Bowerman, and it’s been a pleasure working with him. We also enjoyed a productive visioning session in midsummer, to map out the creative direction for the next two years of Ground. We look forward to thoughtful and productive collaboration in the future.

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