This is my last message as OALA president. It has been an interesting time to have this role—including an unprecedented 3rd year with the extension of councillor terms in 2020, due to the pandemic. It has also marked a transition to a ‘new’ normal, as we worked from home and connected virtually.
Like many, my normal now includes daily walks in my neighbourhood. I rediscovered the delight in our small ravine, aptly named Small’s Creek. I then realized that it will be radically impacted with the planned expansion of a new fourth track to the GO/Via rail corridor. As in so many cases, the natural environment is seen as expendable to make way for necessary infrastructure. I am happy to say the local community has come to the defence of more sensitive ecological design, including OALA members Sheila Boudreau, René Fan and student member Matthew Canaran.
Speaking Up for Nature
Landscape architects are important advocates for creative solutions to protect and enhance natural features and functions through sensitive design.
The OALA continues to speak up for the natural environment and has written letters to the province about changes to the Planning and Conservation Authorities Acts that would undermine the independent voice of conservation authorities and the protection of natural features, as well as impacts of installing electronic billboards on 400 series highways and rail lands. We submitted feedback for the NDP Green New Deal, at their request. We wrote to City of Toronto about the need for revisions to their Grass and Weeds Bylaw to encourage natural gardens. And we have written articles in support of our natural spaces and parks; see the article in May’s issue of Municipal World by OALA member Cynthia Graham on ”The new medicine: How COVID-19 Made Parks Essential to Healthy Cities,” and Steve Barnhart prepared an opinion piece titled “Public Space will Never be the Same in a Post Covid-19 World.”
Our upcoming 2021 CSLA-OALA Congress Nature-Based Solutions: The Green Recovery that Ensures a Great Recovery also reflects this thinking.
Together we can make a difference.
Jane Welsh, OALA, FCSLA