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OALA Awards

Congratulations to all those honoured with the 2021 OALA Recognition Awards, and special thank you to the OALA Honours, Awards and Protocol Committee (HAP) members: Doris Chee (Chair), Nelson Edwards, Khatereh Baharikhoob, Chen Zixiang, Stefan Fediuk, and Jim Melvin.

Emeritus members are full members of the OALA who have ceased full-time practice and who are nominated by another full member in recognition of their years of service to the profession.

Gordon Dorrett, OALA
Gordon retired in 2019 from his position as President and CEO of FORREC Ltd. after nearly 20 years. His work at the helm of FORREC is evident in its wide-ranging field of projects and diverse staff. Gordon’s leadership brought a plan for company-wide professional development through mentorship and structured learning. His mentorship program fostered the next wave of FORREC leaders (many of whom are landscape architects), and had an indirect impact on the OALA, given that FORREC currently employs and promotes roughly 40 landscape architects and landscape designers—the largest employer of landscape architects in Canada. Gordon’s role in ensuring an active livelihood for landscape architects in the future is the very reason for honouring him with the OALA Emeritus status.

FORREC Ltd. project: Wanda Xishuanba Theme Park. IMAGE/ Courtesy of the OALA

This award recognizes the outstanding leadership of a member of the profession in public practice who promotes and enhances landscape architecture by working for improved understanding and appreciation of the work of landscape architects in both public and private practice. There are two recipients this year.

Helene Iardas, OALA
Helene has worked for several municipalities during her career: the Cities of Oshawa, Markham, and Toronto. She is a University of Guelph landscape architecture graduate, and member with the Ontario Professional Planners Institute. Landscape architecture has been the driving force in her planning reviews. Helene has been an essential member of the North York District’s Urban Design team and had a hand in every major project in North York since amalgamation, and she helped create ground-breaking policies through urban design guidelines and secondary plans. Some of her major works in Toronto are: Don Mills Center, the Aga Khan Museum, Concord Park Place – Streetscape and Urban Design Guidelines, York University Secondary Plan, and Percent for Public Art Guidelines.

Helene Iardas on site. IMAGE/ Courtesy of the OALA

Jane Welsh, OALA
Jane is the Acting Manager of Policy in the Strategic Initiatives, Policy and Analysis division of Toronto City Planning. Her 37 years of municipal planning experience include development and implementation of new innovative land use policy tools to address sustainability, resilience, climate change, biodiversity, and natural heritage protection. Jane was also responsible for preparing the environmental policies for the City of Toronto Official Plan and preparing waterfront plans for Metro Toronto, the City of Mississauga, and Halton Region Conservation Authority. Throughout her work in public practice she has been a strong voice for the role of landscape architecture in city building. She is recognized by the profession, nation-wide, as an authority on the landscape architect’s role in combatting climate change.

The striking cover photo for the Biodiversity Strategy for Toronto (Sept 2019). IMAGE/ Courtesy of Robert Burley

This award recognizes the outstanding leadership of a member of the profession in public practice who promotes and enhances landscape architecture by working for improved understanding and appreciation of the work of landscape architects in both public and private practice.

Justin Whalen, OALA
Justin has been an active member of the Association since his first term on Council as Associate Rep in 2016, and successfully ran for Council once his Associate term ended. He has always been extremely active and willing to offer advice and assistance, especially when it involves inclusion of Associate and Student Members of the organization. He continues to support associates through his involvement as a PDP reviewer and has served on the OALA HAP Committee. Justin assumed the role of Chair of the Social Committee, which has resulted in a great deal of interest in participation, and also sits as a private practice member on the Municipal Outreach Committee to demonstrate how municipalities can effectively recruit and retain landscape architects.

Justin Whalen meeting his MPP –Laura Mae Lindo. IMAGE/ Courtesy of the OALA

Jack Copeland was an enthusiastic advocate for Associate members. This award recognizes the outstanding leadership and contribution of an associate for going above and beyond to assist fellow associates, including being an associate representative on OALA Council.

Jenny Trinh
Jenny epitomizes what makes Associate leadership. She volunteers on the OALA Social Committee and finds venues and organizations to support and hold OALA events. She also strongly encourages participation from fellow Associate members. Recent activities include the Ottawa Chapter holiday social, with guest speaker Gina Ford, FASLA and principal of Agency Landscape + Planning in Boston. Jenny has helped in reaching out to students in the BLA and MLA programs at the University of Guelph about volunteering and becoming active in the OALA. She provided reviews of portfolios and gave insight into the LARE exams. We are pleased to note that a cheque for $500 also accompanies this award to help offset the cost of a LARE exam.

This award recognizes an OALA member or landscape architectural group, organization, or agency recognized by the OALA whose practice promotes special or unique contributions to sensitive, sustainable design and use of the environment.

Jay Cranstone, OALA
Early in his career, Jay had the opportunity to assist with development of Canada’s first Great Trail pavilion site (formerly the Trans Canada Trail), in Caledon East, Ontario. For over 25 years, his work has focused on managing projects involving research, conceptual planning and design, public consultation, detailed design, and construction related to trails and active transportation facilities in Ontario and a number of other provinces. His tenure with firms including ESG International, Stantec, MMM Group, WSP, and, currently, the City of Guelph, has seen Jay evolve into a literal trail blazer. It is evident from even a select group of Jay’s projects that he has a love for pedestrian and cycling trail designs through some of Canada’s most majestic country.

Great Trail Pavilion. IMAGE/ Courtesy of Jay Cranstone / OALA

This public outreach award recognizes and encourages special or unusual contributions for sensitive, sustainable design solutions, leading to the improvement of environmental health, community livability, and human interaction in the environment.

Dave Harvey and Park People
Dave is the founder and Executive Director of Park People, an independent charity created in 2011 that animates and improves parks. He always brings a thoughtful, solutions-based approach to the challenges he has helped governments and organizations address, and he’s devised and driven many of the Toronto region’s most significant greenspace and city building initiatives. Dave served as Senior Advisor to the Premier of Ontario, working to develop, implement, and communicate the government’s agenda in the areas of environment and natural resources, and played a key leadership role in the Greenbelt, the GTA Growth Plan, and the City of Toronto Act. Dave Harvey and Park People play an important advocacy role in keeping the environment and open space at the forefront of planning and design.

Park People event. IMAGE/ Courtesy of Park People / OALA

This award recognizes the outstanding leadership, research and/or academic achievements of a member or non-member who, through scholarly activities and/or the development of innovative practices, academic papers, research, publications, books, e-applications, or public presentations, contributes to the knowledge base that furthers the advancement of the art, science, and practice of landscape architecture.

Peter Kells
Peter is one of Canada’s foremost authorities on playground safety. As a member of the Technical Committee for CSA Z614 “Children’s Playspaces and Equipment” (published in 1990), he helped industry and children’s safety experts craft Canada’s first national standard for playground safety. He was instrumental in the development of criteria for children’s playgrounds and equipment that are accessible to persons with disabilities. More recently, he was a member of the International Standards Organization working group mandated with harmonizing international playground equipment standards. His concern for safe play spaces led to the formation of Grace-Kells Consultant Inc., which provides playground safety inspection services. With Peter’s help, the recent update of CSA Z614 has evolved to assist designers with the safe inclusion of natural materials and structures.

Peter Kells impact testing a swing seat. IMAGE/ Courtesy of the OALA

The Honorary category of membership is for non-landscape architects who have performed notable service in advancing the course of landscape architecture in the Province of Ontario whom Council wishes to recognize for outstanding contributions in their own fields to improving the quality of natural and human environments. There are three recipients this year.

Leo DeSorcy—Program Manager—Urban Design, City of Toronto
Leo joined the City of Toronto in 1988 as an Urban Designer and Planner. Through that office, many OALA members have met Leo as a hired consultant for studies, or across the approvals table. His work is focused on creating a better public realm, and he maintains a unique understanding of the historical context and the role of landscape in creating places. Under his management, there have been numerous, area-specific growth plans exploring the challenges of the urbanized, post-war suburbs of Toronto, and transforming industrial lands into more equitable, walkable, livable, beautiful, and resilient places. His commitment to design quality led to the founding of the Design Review Panel. These policies and initiatives always involve landscape architects in key decision-making roles.

Design Review Panel. IMAGE/ Courtesy of Leo DeSorcy / OALA
Design Review Panel. IMAGE/ Courtesy of Leo DeSorcy / OALA

Stefan Szczepanski—Manager of the Parks Development Department, City of Mississauga
A graduate of Ryerson University, Stef is educated in the field of landscape architecture and continues to apply his knowledge in his role at the City of Mississauga. He oversees a staff of 20, including 14 landscape architects, and insists landscape architects be involved in all City Park and Urban Design projects. His passion for design can be found in many of the parks in Mississauga, including the Japanese influence at Kariya Park, the development of one of the first accessible playgrounds in Ontario at Zonta Meadows Park, the O’Connor Park development that saw almost 50 per cent of the space developed for wetland habitat, and no less than six major waterfront parks within the City.

Kariya Park, Mississauga. IMAGE/ Courtesy of Stefan Szczepanski / OALA

Dr. Karen Landman—Professor, School of Environmental Design and Rural Development, University of Guelph
Karen’s field of interests continued beyond a Landscape Architecture degree, as she also earned a Master of Science in Planning, followed by a PhD in Cultural Geography. Dr. Landman’s accomplishments have made profound contributions to the profession and to students of landscape architecture. Her contribution to the profession goes beyond teaching skills. Her tireless work includes updating the standards and procedures for the accreditation of Canada’s landscape architecture programs, ongoing support and contribution to Ground Magazine’s content over the last decade, through her own writing and that of her student’s, and as Program Coordinator for both the University of Guelph’s BLA and MLA programs and the Rural Studies PhD program.

Karen Landman and students in the studio. IMAGE/ Courtesy of Karen Landman / OALA
Karen Landman at Jim Tovey Lakeview Conservation Area. IMAGE/ Courtesy of Karen Landman / OALA