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Sarah Culp (President, 2014-2016)

I am pleased to acknowledge the significant accomplishments of the OALA over the past 50 years and to state – unequivocally – how proud I am to be a member the Association.  Our Association continually grows and adjusts as opportunities and challenges emerge. As a recent President reflecting on my terms on Council, some particular achievements come to mind. These highlights bear witness to a renewal of spirit among practicing Ontario landscape architects and the vibrancy and energy inherent in new professionals, and also reflect our expanding profile among the public, other professions and government.

Early in my tenure on Council, I and fellow Associate Representative, Sandra Cooke, felt that a gap existed between students of Landscape Architecture programs and Associate and Full Members. The forming, then, of a Social Committee which continues to function, effectively integrates members of all categories in fun and inclusive ways, hosting networking programs and events throughout the province.

The OALA also undertook a re-branding initiative in 2015. The Marketing Committee, chaired by Luke Jefferson and project managed by Graham Taylor, launched a renewed visual identity standard and accompanying Style Guide. OALA’s refreshed brand provides a modern image for our forward looking profession while being rooted in our shared heritage.

The Fees & Services Guide Task Force, chaired by Lawrence Stasiuk, was established with a mandate to generate the Engaging a Landscape Architect guides series.  The 2016 guides demonstrate value to our members and serve to assist Ontario landscape architects and their clients to achieve a new level of exposure, awareness and understanding of the profession in Ontario.

The largest OALA AGM & Conference took place in Guelph in 2015 recognizing the landmark of half a century of Landscape Architecture education at the University of Guelph.  The Association maintains strong ties to the accredited programs of Landscape Architecture at Guelph, as well as at the University of Toronto.   For many of our colleagues, the Guelph AGM & Conference was a “homecoming” and the registration numbers signaled a renewed enthusiasm among the membership.  Also, in 2015, the OALA surpassed 1,700 across all membership categories and we continue to be the largest component of the Canadian Society of Landscape Architects (CSLA).

It’s an honour to have worked with members of Councils, Committees and Association staff, advancing the interests of the OALA. I’m thankful for the opportunities to be involved in the Association and to those I have met and volunteered with, many of whom I admire for their leadership, passion and dedication to the organization.

The OALA continues advancing the profession, promoting our core values and improving professional standards and practice, as it has for fifty years.  We landscape architects are key players in Ontario’s growth and our profession is integral to the landscapes that protect vital and resilient natural environments and sustain healthy communities.  Today, with the on-going pursuit of enhanced legislation, the OALA is making significant strides to ensure that landscape architects continue to influence and effect change and to improve communities across Ontario and beyond.

Sarah Culp, OALA, CSLA