October 1, 2017
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Landscape architects and designers find common ground

Cooperation enhances safety

Landscape designers and landscape architects are working together to provide better services and public safety. As many of you may know, the Ontario Association of Landscape Architects (OALA) has been actively supporting the work of Landscape Ontario (LO) for several years.

Specifically, for the first time OALA was a key partner of the 2017 Landscape Ontario Designers Conference. I addressed the conference, along with OALA Executive Director Aina Budrevics, and brought greetings from OALA. “For many years, our organizations have worked hard together to build a better, stronger and safer landscape industry in Ontario,” said Ms. Budrevics. “We have a unique opportunity to lead our country in showing we take our responsibilities very seriously.”

OALA has requested that the Ontario government introduce a Landscape Architect Practice Act to ensure landscape architecture is practiced in the public interest. To that end, both organizations have recently agreed on comprehensive comparison documents outlining their different skill sets. These included a skills matrix and a code of ethics and an entrance requirements comparison.

OALA and LO have had monthly joint meetings for over a year. “At these meetings, we reviewed the skills matrix to help assess the areas of commonality and differences between landscape designers and landscape architects,” said LO president Paul Brydges, who is also an OALA member. “This was a very helpful exercise and clearly illustrates that while there is a large overlap in skill set, landscape architects have developed specific expertise in the areas of research, report writing, obtaining approvals and project management,” said Mr. Brydges. “Overall, there was unanimous agreement that the matrix accurately reflected those skills generally practiced by Landscape Designers and Landscape Architects,” he said.

bowl of cucamelons Premier Kathleen Wynne MPP (Don Valley West), centre, had a chance to meet LO and OALA representatives at a reception in August 2016. From left to right are LO President and OALA Member Paul Brydges, LO Executive Director Tony DiGiovanni, OALA Practice Legislation Committee Chair Eha Naylor and OALA President Doris Chee.
Landscape Ontario is actively supporting OALA’s request for a Practice Act while LO is actively preparing its request for a Name Act for Landscape Designers. As stated in a letter from OALA to LO in January 2017: Given the present situation, we are prepared to support your goal. By achieving our respective goals we will elevate the green industries to a higher calibre of respect and achieve an overall professionalization of the field. We are here to support you with your initiative for a landscape designer title act.

Currently 47 of 50 U.S. states have a Landscape Architect Practice Act. A Landscape Architect Practice Act would meet many public interest goals such as enhancing economic ties with the U.S., building safer communities and addressing climate change. Ontario would be the first jurisdiction in Canada to have a Landscape Architect Practice Act. It would ensure public interest is paramount in the work of landscape architects.

As well, the results would benefit Ontario and continue its goal to be a leader on climate change, storm water management, prevention of flooding and pedestrian mobility and pedestrian safety, to name a few.

This summer, the OALA presented the Attorney General with a Risk of Harm document that outlines why there is public risk in not having a Landscape Architect Practice Act. This fall, OALA will also provide the Attorney General with the new letter of support from Landscape Ontario as well as copies of new MPP letters of support, the updated proposed act, the new OALA/LO skills matrix and the code of ethics and entrance requirements comparison.

OALA’s plan of action and goal is to meet with the Attorney General’s office in the coming weeks to review the additionally submitted materials and ask for a commitment to introduce legislation and provide a timetable. We’re looking forward to the introduction of this legislation!
Doris Chee is President of Ontario Association of Landscape Architects.