Landscape Architect Quarterly
Round Table Resilient Renewal Features Endangered Landscapes
A Once-in-a- Lifetime, Never- Before Place
Publication # 40026106
Winter 2019 Issue 48
Editor Glyn Bowerman
2019–2020 OALA Governing Council
Photo Editor Jasper Flores
President Jane Welsh
OALA Editorial Board Kanwal Aftab Shannon Baker Trish Clarke Jasper Flores Eric Gordon Aaron Hernandez Eric Klaver (chair) Phaedra Maicantis Nadja Pausch Le’ Ann Seely Katie Strang Sarah Turkenicz Andrew Taylor Devin Tepleski
Vice President Kendall Flower
Web Editor Jennifer Foden Social Media Manager Jennifer Foden Art Direction/Design Noël Nanton/typotherapy www.typotherapy.com Advertising Inquiries firstname.lastname@example.org 416.231.4181 Cover Photograph of Lake Erie algal bloom bloom by Zachary Haslick, Aerial Associates Photography Inc., Courtesy of NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory Flickr, Creative Commons License. See page 08. Ground: Landscape Architect Quarterly is published four times a year by the Ontario Association of Landscape Architects. Ontario Association of Landscape Architects 3 Church Street, Suite 506 Toronto, Ontario M5E 1M2 416.231.4181 www.oala.ca email@example.com Copyright © 2019 by the Ontario Association of Landscape Architects. Contributors retain copyright of their work. All rights reserved. ISSN: 0847-3080 Canada Post Sales Product Agreement No. 40026106
Treasurer Steve Barnhart Secretary Stefan Fediuk Past President Doris Chee Councillors Cynthia Graham Cameron Smith Justin Whalen Associate Councillor—Senior Mark Hillmer Associate Councillor—Junior Leah Lanteigne Lay Councillor Peter Hersics Appointed Councillor Liat Margolis
About the OALA
Ground: Landscape Architect Quarterly is published by the Ontario Association of Landscape Architects and provides an open forum for the exchange of ideas and information related to the profession of landscape architecture. Letters to the editor, article proposals, and feedback are encouraged. For submission guidelines, contact Ground at firstname.lastname@example.org. Ground reserves the right to edit all submissions. The views expressed in the magazine are those of the writers and not necessarily the views of the OALA and its Governing Council.
The Ontario Association of Landscape Architects works to promote and advance the profession of landscape architecture and maintain standards of professional practice consistent with the public interest. The OALA promotes public understanding of the profession and the advancement of the practice of landscape architecture. In support of the improvement and/or conservation of the natural, cultural, social and built environments, the OALA undertakes activities including promotion to governments, professionals and developers of the standards and benefits of landscape architecture.
Upcoming Issues of Ground Ground 49 (Spring) Access Deadline for advertising space reservations: January 14, 2020
Ground 50 (Summer) Flow Deadline for advertising space reservations: April 8, 2020 Deadline for editorial proposals: February 7, 2020
Appointed Educator University of Guelph Brendan Stewart Appointed Educator University of Toronto TBC University of Guelph Student Representative Devon Kleinjan University of Toronto Student Representative Elspeth Holland OALA Staff Executive Director Aina Budrevics Registrar Ingrid Little Coordinator Sarah Manteuffel
See www.groundmag.ca to download articles and share content on social media. See www.groundmag.ca for a digital, searchable, archival database, listing all articles, authors, subjects, key words, etc. published in Ground over the years.
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Andrew B. Anderson, OALA – Inactive Member, BLA, MSc. World Heritage Management Landscape & Heritage Expert, Oman Botanic Garden John Danahy, OALA, Associate Professor, University of Toronto George Dark, OALA, FCSLA, ASLA, Principal, Urban Strategies Inc., Toronto Real Eguchi, OALA, Eguchi Associates Landscape Architects, Toronto Donna Hinde, OALA, FCSLA, Partner, The Planning Partnership, Toronto Ryan James, OALA, Senior Landscape Architect, Novatech, Ottawa Alissa North, OALA, Associate Professor, University of Toronto, Principal of North Design Office, Toronto Peter North, OALA, Assistant Professor, University of Toronto, Principal of North Design Office, Toronto Nathan Perkins, MLA, PhD, ASLA, Associate Professor, University of Guelph Victoria Taylor, OALA, Principal, Victoria Taylor Landscape Architect, Toronto Jim Vafiades, OALA, FCSLA, Senior Landscape Architect, Stantec, Toronto
Up Front Information on the ground
Death & Renewal: Endangered Landscapes
Editorial Board Message
Editorial Board Message
Winter’s shorter days often mean more time indoors, and time to reflect on matters of importance: our role in the world, sowing seeds of change, and the call to action on climate change are all ideas which resonate with the theme of death and renewal.
Every year, when the editorial board decides on the next round of themes for upcoming issues, we brainstorm any number of possibilities, discuss, and then vote for our picks. Typically, about fifty are spitballed, which are whittled down to four. When death was suggested, and subsequently discussed, we almost immediately—seemingly reflexively— added “and renewal.”
TEXT BY SARAH TASLIMI, OALA
Round Table Resilient Renewal MODERATED BY KANWAL AFTAB AND KATIE STRANG 16/
A Once-in-a-Lifetime, Never-Before Place Ontario Place was a declaration of optimism, and a visionary work of landscape architecture. When did we lose it, and how do we get it back?
Landscape architecture is … Through members’ efforts, we have been amplifying awareness of the role landscape architecture plays in designing our environment. We all need to continue to communicate why our work is so important to the future resilience of Ontario and Canada.
TEXT BY ERIC KLAVER, OALA
Plant Corner Growing Grit: Resilient Planting in Aggregate Substrates
TEXT BY BEN O’BRIEN
Notes A miscellany of news and events
Artifact Boulder on Bloor TEXT BY SHANNON BAKER, OALA 42/
Sow Seeds of Change Landscape architecture schools at the University of Toronto and Guelph offered Indigenous Cultural Competency training for students this fall. The program in Toronto was also open to OALA members. The intent was to increase effective communications, build sustainable relationships, and promote systems-based thinking concerning reconciliation. Funding was provided, in part, with a donation from the OALA, on behalf of its over 250 volunteers. DESIGN CLIMATE ACTION – mobilizing the design community to draw down carbon On September 16, the IFLA declared a Climate and Biodiversity Emergency, calling on landscape architects to stand up for the values of the profession. IFLA mapped out a six-point action plan for change, including local action. The formation of the DESIGN CLIMATE ACTION (DCA) group is one such example. The climate strike march on September 27 galvanized landscape architects and design professionals to organize. Over 90 people attended a kick-off DCA meeting on November 7th (including me). If you are interested in joining and/or participating in the discussions, please contact www.designclimateaction.org.
Winter 2019 Issue 48
2020 AGM & CONFERENCE 20/20 Vision: IMPROVEMENT + CLARITY The 2020 OALA AGM & Conference is taking place in London, Ontario, April 30 to May 2. Landscape architecture is about vision—our skill at seeing and responding to landscape and imagining possibilities— and I look forward to meeting you there and engaging in these important conversations with you! JANE WELSH, OALA, FCSLA OALA PRESIDENT PRESIDENT@OALA.CA
There was no disagreement about this addition, and while I think it is partly due to the discomfort we have as a culture around death, I believe it is also due to the fact that, in landscape architecture, renewal is a significant part of our stock in trade. In 1994, as a celebration of the OALA’s 25th year, Robert Burley was commissioned to photograph built works of landscape architecture by OALA members that became the Tithing for Eden exhibit in the Design Exchange in Toronto. Included in the exhibit as a coda was a photograph and brief elegy for the Ontario Place Forum, now considered a masterpiece of landscape by Michael Hough (then Hough, Stansbury & Associates), as part of the Ontario Place. What sprang up in its place was an affront to the original design. Coincidentally, and perhaps instructively, we are in the same situation with the entirety of Ontario Place under threat. Like Saturn eating his own children, our actions can precipitate loss that echo into following generations. In this issue, we explore the threat to Ontario Place and other important landscapes, not just as lost places, but also as existential cultural loss. As part of “and Renewal,” we also turn to those landscape architects’ works which serve to reclaim and renew cultural landscapes. Renewal is a hopeful and fulfilling part of our profession. Equally, we are called to engage with death as part of the process, where perseverance of, and resistance to loss is paid as a fundamental element of our vocational tithe. ERIC KLAVER, OALA CHAIR, EDITORIAL BOARD MAGAZINE@OALA.CA
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a native plant database Conservation and restoration are most often associated with wild areas, parks, and large open spaces. But a tool developed by Evergreen 15 years ago to support their work in the stewardship of urban greenspaces, has helped evolve the notion that restoration can be done by anyone, even in the most ordinary of places. It was part of a larger groundswell around ex-situ conservation ideas, where even the smallest urban spaces could
Up Front: Information on the Ground
become meaningful sites for returning a robust biodiversity to the landscape. The Native Plant Database (NPDB) was envisioned as a tool for a range of users who shape the landscape through planting. The initial seed of this idea was simply to provide plant selections and information for school grounds beautification and naturalization projects through Evergreenâ€™s programming, but like so many good ideas, it grew well beyond its original intent. Recently, Evergreen decided that, in order for the NPDB to continue to thrive as a tool for landscape restoration, it would need to be passed on to an organization with the expertise and capacity to refresh and develop the tool further. In early 2019, Guelph-based ecological and landscape consulting firm Dougan and Associates successfully won the bid to take over the stewardship of this important project. The winning proposal put forth by D&A is centred around connecting people to native plants through an accessible resource for plant cultivation and sourcing information.
Appropriately named CanPlant, the new vision for the database is a catalogue of plants adapted to their particular environment, focusing primarily on native plants, their diversity, and uses. D&A wanted to respect the original format of the web interface, so the search function is largely based on the old website, in order to preserve functionality for legacy users. Beyond that, the search function is organized to be highly flexible, giving users the ability to search broadly within categories, or refine their search for a specific plant set. Searchable categories include plant type (grasses, ferns, woody plants, and herbaceous species), habitat, growing conditions, aesthetic characteristics, and province, among other categorical search terms. The database will be built to cover a lot of ground for plants across the country. 01/
Asclepias incarnata, commonly known as swamp milkweed, or rose milkflower, is a herbaceous perennial plant native to North America
Zach Harris, Dougan & Associates
Anemone multifada, commonly known as cutleaf anemone, is a member of the buttercup family
Zach Harris, Dougan & Associates
Carex sprengelii, commonly known as long-beaked sedge, is known for its long stems and hanging seed heads
Zach Harris, Dougan & Associates
interesting repositories of collectively sourced ecological information. CanPlant will be a thorough, expert vetted list, as well as a repository for keen users— naturalists, gardeners, conservationists, landscape architects—to build and share their own lists and instances of plants. In its new form, the website could be conceived as an open source field guide, with the potential to express the range and diversity of plant species in landscapes across Canada, their properties and uses, both ethno-botanically and ecologically speaking. 03
Future iterations of the website may include a selection of plant palettes that would be strong groupings of native species for a chosen application, a resource for Indigenous ethnobotanical knowledge of native plants, and even a geographically specific compendium of native plant growers and plant availability. This could help to expand the supply of locally grown native plants and increase the diversity of selection beyond the few commercially available plant species that are currently on offer at larger nurseries. D&A is interested in evolving the next phase of the project to include potential partnerships with other important online resources such as iNaturalist and Canadensys, two very
Rather than focus restoration and conservation efforts on wild areas, this tool elevates the notion of ex-situ conservation— where the protection of biodiversity need not happen only in wild, remote places, but may occur even in someone’s home garden, in a streetscape bed, or a schoolyard playground. This emphasizes the notion that every little space matters in the effort to restore local biodiversity, and plans for the future resilience and adaptability of our environment through careful stewardship of all species in a rapidly changing climate. Find out more about CanPlant at www.canplant.ca TEXT BY KAREN MAY A LANDSCAPE DESIGNER WITH PLANT.
04 TREES FIRST
queen’s park revisited “Trees First” is a great name for a nonprofit organization or advocacy group. It also makes for a snappy slogan. But in a recent project in Toronto, it went beyond slogan to guiding principle for landscape design. At the newly renovated Queen’s Park North, trees were put first in vision and practice, during and after the design work for this beloved greenspace in the heart of downtown Toronto. “Every decision had to be measured against tree survivability,” says Michael OrmstonHolloway, a principal at The Planning Partnership, the firm that led the design and consultation process for the City of Toronto, creating a master plan and implementing it. “Through consultation, we heard that what the community treasured about Queen’s Park North are the trees and the green oasis in the busy downtown,” says Nancy Chater, senior project coordinator for Toronto’s Parks, Forestry and Recreation Department. “So rejuvenating the urban forest and regreening the lawns was a major focus.”
What this meant, in practice, was “not only not damaging trees,” explains OrmstonHolloway, “but breathing life into them.” His descriptions of some of the techniques used for this work sound almost surgical in their precision. For example, all excavation was done using air compressors hooked up to air spades with high-pressure tips, to dig down deep and lift soil without damaging trees’ feeder roots. “You can’t put a shovel anywhere in the park without hitting feeder roots,” notes OrmstonHolloway, and those feeder roots are directly related to tree health. While it’s not unusual to use air compressors for exploratory investigations into root locations, Ormston-Holloway says “it’s not typically used as a construction tool,” as it was at Queen’s Park North. As well, machinery was “tracked” (wheels removed and tracks wrapped around them) in order to minimize soil compaction and maintain soil pore space. Radial trenches, 8 to 14 inches deep and a foot wide, were dug out in a star pattern around more than 250 semi-mature and established trees that had been suffering from compaction—in effect, vertical mulching to fluff up the soil and restore bulk density. The drilled cores were then filled with soil amendments such as micronutrients and micro-fungi. “We packed the holes with food,” Ormston-Holloway
says with enthusiasm. “Once you’ve got healthy soil, you’ve got the beginnings of a living system,” he adds. “And the integrity of living systems drove this project.” Just as the combined arboricultural practices created a unique construction process, there is likewise a highly unusual aspect to the post-construction life of Queen’s Park North. “Tree rejuvenation rest areas” are being piloted there, with large fenced-off sections protecting the soil from the compaction caused by foot traffic. According to Chater, “we have started with two of these rest areas, one in the southeast and one in the northwest,” and “the rest areas will rotate gradually through the park.” While fenced off for two years, these areas will not be mowed. “It will give the soil a chance to rebound a bit,” says Ormston-Holloway. Having restricted areas, even temporary ones, in a public park is a bold move, and the City has installed signs to explain the reasoning to the public. Just how important Queen’s Park North is to people was demonstrated at the beginning of the project, when most of the arboricultural
Rejuvenating the tree canopy was a major goal of the Queen’s Park renovation.
Courtesy of The Planning Partnership
Retaining this mature Crimean linden tree interfered with the design of a central pathway, so part of the path will not be installed during the lifetime of the tree.
These Cornelian cherry trees are the oldest specimens planted in the city.
Signs have been installed in the park explaining why certain areas are closed off.
Michael Ormston-Holloway leading a tour for student landscape architects.
Restored archival images of Hamilton’s North-Western entrance, from the archives of Royal Botanical Gardens.
Courtesy of Alexander Topps
work was being done. “The public didn’t see a lot of machines and big activity so they thought nothing was being done and they called 311 to let us know!” says Chater. Where work on the park was anything but invisible was in the widespread planting of new trees. Prior to the rejuvenation of Queen’s Park North, there had been extensive evaluation of the health of the trees there, in 2004, as part of a Trees for Toronto Foundation project. This study found there were 290 trees representing 45 different species, but with just six species (Norway maple, red oak, European ash, eastern white cedar, littleleaf linden, and Austrian pine) comprising 54 per cent of the total number. Of great concern in terms of biodiversity was the fact that 21 per cent of the park’s trees were non-native Norway maples, and that native species comprised just 28 per cent of the trees. There was also concern that many of the trees were older specimens and that there were not enough young trees in the park to maintain canopy cover as the older trees died. Thus, the renovation of Queen’s Park North included the planting of 160 new trees, with a focus on native species—
“diversity for landscape resiliency,” as Ormston-Holloway puts it. Ever since it opened with royal fanfare in 1860 as the first public, municipally operated park in British North America, Queen’s Park has accommodated at least two very different civic impulses: to be a place of ceremony, gathering, and protest, and to be a place of respite, leisure, and pathway. Some of the park’s trees—350-year-old red oaks, and white oaks approaching 400 years old—have been growing for longer than the city has existed. Deborah Metsger, assistant curator of botany at the Royal Ontario Museum, calls them “grandfather trees.” Ormston-Holloway calls them “remnants of the original forest.” These trees are legacy treasures, and now, with the rejuvenation of Queen’s Park North, a legacy for the future has been planted and, even more importantly, the health of the new forest prioritized. As Ormston-Holloway puts it, “this project is going to be successful if all of the trees survive and if the trees are in better shape as a result of this work.” TEXT BY LORRAINE JOHNSON, WHO WRITES BOOKS ABOUT RESTORING NATIVE PLANT ECOSYSTEMS.
there were other perks. Carl Borgstom’s company was given the contract to build the landscape and gardens, with a fee of 10 per cent of the cost of construction. John Lyle was tasked with creating a new design for the High Level Bridge, and the Dunington-Grubbs carried out other local projects, including landscaping for the new Hamilton campus of McMaster University.
hamilton’s grand entrance In the late 1920s, a remarkable competition pitted Canada’s best landscape architects, engineers, and town planners against each other for a unique prize: the right to design a spectacular new main entrance to Hamilton, the “Ambitious City.” Hamilton’s prestige was somewhat in jeopardy in the 1920s. The main road between Hamilton and Toronto ran the length of the Burlington Heights, giving those arriving a less than “ambitious” impression. A high, narrow peninsula of compacted sand and gravel, the Heights was covered with gravel pits, small buildings, telegraph wires, and billboards when the City bought all available land in 1926. It also had a darker reputation: during the War of 1812, British casualties were buried 1.7 km north of today’s Dundurn Castle, cholera victims were buried there between 1830 and 1855, and railroad accidents claimed another 70 lives in the 1850s. Burlington Heights separates Hamilton Harbour from Cootes Paradise Marsh, a large wetland. In the 1850s, a cut was opened through the Heights to straighten a canal, requiring a major bridge be built. But by the 1920s, the the third “high level” York Road bridge was in desperate need of replacement. In 1926, Hamilton bought 22 hectares on the Heights, north of the cut, and in 1927
launched a daring design competition to solve both problems: replace the bridge and create a landscape of welcoming gardens and amenities, the “North-Western Entrance to the City of Hamilton.” Submissions were to include perspective drawings for the bridge, the landscaping, and cultural features such as conservatories, art museums, lookout pavilions, gas stations, and even botanical gardens and zoological parks. By February 1928, twelve submissions had come in. The Board of Assessors gave highest marks, and the $2,000-first prize, to a consortium led by Carl Borgstom (Wilson, Bunnell and Borgstom, Limited, consulting engineers and landscape architects, Toronto; Earle K. Sheppard, architect, Toronto; and Messrs. Harkness, Louden and Hertzberg, consulting bridge engineers). Second prize went to H. B. and L. A. Dunington-Grubb, landscape architects, Toronto, and W. A. Watson, architect, Toronto. John M. Lyle, architect, Toronto, placed third. In addition to the monetary prizes for the designs,
Each designer approached the site differently. Lyle proposed a lily pond and tea house. The Dunington-Grubbs proposed a large amphitheatre. Borgstom’s solution was a daring rock garden. To create it would require thousands of tons of limestone from the Niagara Escarpment, 10 miles away. Construction began in 1929, at the beginning of the Great Depression. The Rock Garden opened to visitors in 1932, becoming a favourite destination for residents and tourists. The surrounding gardens were also completed, including a large memorial area surrounding the Old Soldiers Graveyard. Today, three features have survived: The High Level Bridge (renamed the T. B. McQuesten Memorial Bridge in 1988), the Rock Garden (made a part of Royal Botanical Gardens in the ‘30s and refurbished in 2016), and the War of 1812 memorial. The other gardens were lost by 1970s to road construction, as well as some drawings from the original 1928 submissions. TEXT BY DAVID A. GALBRAITH, HEAD OF SCIENCE, ROYAL BOTANICAL GARDENS.
TEXT BY SARAH TASLIMI, OALA
It’s easy to think of landscapes as being static: a vista, a backdrop, a picturesque painting on a wall. The figures in the foreground may change but the scene behind them feels immutable. Iconic landscapes become great wonders that lie in wait for intrepid travelers to capture in the same photograph, over and over again. As landscape architects, we know that nothing is static, but it is still difficult to think of time at the geological scale. When I hear the word ‘endangered,’ my mind jumps to the Jefferson salamander, the grey fox, or the spotted turtle. Barring an imminent development application or a contested pipeline, landscapes aren’t often thought of by many as an endangered species.
More and more, our iconic landscapes face a range of stress factors that threaten to destroy both the destination snapshot and the important habitat it is part of. The old dangers of wind, water, and ice are ever-present, bringing with them weathering and erosion. Added to these are tillage and other agricultural practices, logging and housing development, urban growth and tourism. Climate change is bringing about landscapes that have not been seen in 40,000 years, as in the case of Baffin Island. The following is an exploration of six quintessential Canadian landscapes in distress, and some of the stewardship efforts and policies that attempt to reframe them as inextricably linked with human activity.
Visitors explore the unique natural formations of Hopewell Rocks.
Carolinian Forest, Dundas Valley, Ontario
Kevin Klerks, Flickr, Courtesy of Creative Commons License
Elephant Rock: Erosion & Climate Change In March 2016, the iconic Elephant Rock formation at the Hopewell Rocks in New Brunswick collapsed. Some 200 tonnes of famously photographed rock crumbled into the Atlantic Ocean, closing off an entire passageway to the site’s interpreters and thousands of tourists. The very same forces that created the historic landmark and its surroundings—air, wind and water—also pose a constant threat. Staff use this event as a teaching moment to demonstrate that the layers of conglomerate, sandstone, and shale are constantly changing, disintegrating
and reforming over time. While erosion itself is framed as cyclical, rising sea levels and increasing rainfall caused by climate change speed up the process, so that flowerpot formations disintegrate more quickly than they are formed. Although policies such as the Climate Change Act have been put forward by the government of New Brunswick, the threat to the east coast is not a problem that can be solved by a single province. Wide-reaching federal action is the most necessary and compelling solution.
Carolinian Forest: Urbanization The Carolinian Forest ecosystem is arguably the nearest to extinction of this collection of threatened landscapes. Once encompassing most of southern Ontario, this unique ecozone of approximately 20 deciduous tree species has been hacked away by urban development, agriculture, and invasive species that are introduced and spread by human movement. Small pockets of the forest remain, segmented by jersey barriers, fencing, highways, and housing, so that its inhabitants are
isolated from one another. The old growth, biodiversity, and large breeding mammals of the pre-European Carolinian Forest have all disappeared. To reconnect the fragments, municipalities bargain with developers, trading permit approvals for the dedication of land towards ecological restoration. However, it takes a long time to grow an old growth forest, and our cities are growing much faster.
Baffin Island: Climate Change In the far north, on Baffin Island, rapidly retreating glaciers have exposed landscapes that have been continuously covered in ice for the last 40,000 years. According to researchers studying ancient dead moss and lichens, the entire island is likely to be ice-free in the next few centuries. The disastrous impact this will have on the islandâ€™s wildlifeâ€”polar bears, snow geese, caribou and arctic wolves, to name a fewâ€”is distressing, but unfortunately not unimaginable. In the case of Baffin Island, it is not the actions or lifestyles of its 13,000 inhabitants that are causing such a dramatic change, but a worldwide warming trend towards the disappearance of permanent sea ice and the melting of the permafrost. Whether humans can rise to the challenge of climate change on a global scale remains to be seen. 06
Chunks of Grinnell Glacier in Frobisher Bay, Nunavut
Gregory “Slobirdr” Smith, Flickr, Courtesy of Creative Commons License
Lake Erie Algal Blooms
Zachary Haslick, Aerial Associates Photography Inc., NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, Flickr, Courtesy of Creative Commons License
Lake Erie: Agriculture, Invasive Species & Climate Change The bright green hues of Lake Erie’s algae blooms have been a focal point of concerns over pollution, water quality, and climate change for decades. In the 1960s, phosphorus and nitrogen loading from detergents, fertilizers, and waste-water treatment plants hit critical mass, and the lake was deemed “North America’s Dead Sea,” owing to its oxygen depletion and shores littered with dead fish. In an international effort, Canada and the United States responded by capping household phosphates and upgrading its sewage plants. Lake Erie’s algae subsided, and it was hailed as an environmental success
story. Half a century later, the bloom is back. Half of the phosphorus dumped into Lake Erie flows from Ohio’s Maumee watershed. Fertilizer, in the form of liquefied animal waste and pellets, is sprayed onto untilled farms and then washed away by increased rain and snowmelt caused by climate change. Helping the toxic algae along is the invasive zebra mussel, which eats non-toxic green algae and eliminates the toxic algae’s competition, as well as the main food source for Lake Erie’s fish. With one province and four states claiming shoreline along Lake Erie, another international movement is needed to change agricultural practices, eliminate invasive species, and prevent Lake Erie from being declared dead for a second time.
Prairie fence line
Bruce Guenter, Flickr, Courtesy of Creative Commons License
Grain elevator, Saskatchewan
Bruce Guenter, Flickr, Courtesy of Creative Commons License
Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan
Edna Winti, Flickr, Courtesy of Creative Commons License
Chris Huggins, Flickr, Courtesy of Creative Commons License
A sunlit path through the old growth
Lee Coursey, Flickr, Courtesy of Creative Commons License
Douglas firs reach for the sky
Fyre Mael, Flickr, Courtesy of Creative Commons License
Cathedral Grove: Logging Located within the small MacMillan Provincial Park, Cathedral Grove is a museum-like remnant of British Columbia’s ancient Douglas fir trees. The park draws approximately 500,000 visitors annually, who come to view the 800-year old giants in one of the only remaining areas where the old growth ecosystem is protected. With only about 1.2 per cent of the original coastal Douglas fir ecosystem remaining, Cathedral Grove is becoming increasingly isolated. Logging companies use the freedom afforded by the Private Managed Forest Land Act to cut down old growth trees, in exchange for the promise to reforest the area, otherwise paying
an “exit fee” to shirk the responsibility. Environmental groups and Indigenous peoples have protested the destruction of B.C.’s forests for decades, but as the number of ancient trees dwindles and logging companies enter increasingly visible areas such as hiking trails and hillside vistas, the controversy has reached a heightened state. In May 2019, the B.C. government announced a review of the Private Managed Forest Land Act, and recommendations were made this fall. Until then, there is nothing to stop a landowner from exiting the program for a small penalty, clearcutting the land, and selling it to a private developer.
Temperate Grasslands: Agriculture & Development Surpassing coral reefs, tropical rainforests, and old growth forests for endangered status is the temperate grasslands, which have been declared by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature as the least protected and most endangered type of ecosystem in the world. Canada’s prairie grasslands are some of the most vulnerable, with more than 70 per cent of its native grassland having been converted to crops and other development. These delicate ecosystems support more than 60 species at risk, and have a long history of cattle grazing. Once plowed,
their deep, ancient root networks— essential for carbon sequestration, and therefore fighting global warming— are destroyed, and the land is rapidly colonized by European grasses. Restoration projects, such as those by the Nature Conservancy of Canada, and sustainable grazing initiatives such as the Blackfoot Confederacy’s Iinnii Initiative to protect buffalo, are fighting to keep the grasslands alive. Without federal protections, however, the grasslands are vulnerable to market influences and will be tilled, planted, and built-up as our society demands. BIOS/ SARAH TASLIMI, OALA, CSLA, ISA, IS A LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT, ARBORIST, AVID GARDENER AND SEASONAL KNITTING ENTHUSIAST LIVING IN KITCHENER.
How to design for climate events MODERATED BY KANWAL AFTAB AND KATIE STRANG
CYNTHIA GRAHAM, OALA, WORKS WITH THE CITY OF HAMILTON’S LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURAL SERVICES SECTION, WHICH PROVIDES PARK, TRAIL AND OPEN SPACE DEVELOPMENT DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION SERVICES. CYNTHIA IS THE MANAGER WHO OVERSEES THE SECTION TO ENSURE DELIVERY OF CAPITAL PROGRAM, QUALITY CONTROL AND REPORTING, PREPARATION OF CAPITAL AND OPERATING BUDGETS, CONSULTATION WITH COUNCIL, AND LIAISON WITH STAKEHOLDERS. DEBORAH KENLEY, SENIOR COORDINATOR, GREENING CORPORATE GROUNDS (GCG) HELPS CORPORATIONS AND INSTITUTIONS IN THE CREDIT RIVER WATERSHED INVEST IN NATURE AND BECOME LEADERS IN SUSTAINABILITY BY ADOPTING ECOLOGICAL LANDSCAPING AND STORMWATER MANAGEMENT BEST PRACTICES. DEBORAH WORKS WITH MEMBERS TO IDENTIFY OPPORTUNITIES THAT REDUCE THE IMPACTS FROM CLIMATE CHANGE, CREATES HABITAT FOR WILDLIFE, AND MAXIMIZES AESTHETIC APPEAL AND ECOLOGICAL BENEFITS ON THEIR PROPERTY. MICHELLE MOLNAR IS THE TECHNICAL DIRECTOR OF THE MUNICIPAL NATURAL ASSETS INITIATIVE, AS WELL AS AN ENVIRONMENTAL ECONOMIST AND POLICY ANALYST AT THE DAVID SUZUKI FOUNDATION. HER WORK FOCUSES ON THE CONSERVATION OF NATURAL CAPITAL USING VARIOUS TOOLS OF ECOLOGICAL ECONOMICS, POLICY ANALYSIS, AND PUBLIC OUTREACH. SHE IS THE AUTHOR OF SEVERAL NATURAL CAPITAL VALUATIONS AND SITS ON THE B.C. GOVERNMENT’S CLIMATE SOLUTIONS AND CLEAN GROWTH ADVISORY COUNCIL. OLIVIA SPARROW IS ORIGINALLY FROM SOUTHERN ONTARIO, AND HAS SUPPORTED CLIENTS ACROSS CANADA AND THE MID-WESTERN UNITED STATES FOR SEVEN YEARS THROUGH WATER RESOURCES MODELLING, STORMWATER BMP DESIGN, STORMWATER MANAGEMENT PLANNING, AND BMP MONITORING
PROJECTS. OLIVIA WAS A KEY CONTRIBUTOR IN SEVERAL RECENT PROJECTS, INCLUDING THE CITY OF THUNDER BAY’S STORMWATER MANAGEMENT PLAN, THE RURAL STORMWATER MANAGEMENT MODEL FOR THE EASTERN SHORE OF LAKE HURON, AND DEVELOPING A PRIORITIZED INVENTORY OF OVER 85,000 URBAN LOW IMPACT DEVELOPMENT RETROFIT OPPORTUNITIES IN EDMONTON. OLIVIA’S WORK CONTINUES TO ESTABLISH PLANS, POLICIES, REGULATORY FRAMEWORKS, AND BEST MANAGEMENT PRACTICES AIMED AT MITIGATING THE DETRIMENTAL IMPACTS OF LAND DEVELOPMENT ON WATER RESOURCES, ECOSYSTEMS AND COMMUNITIES. MIKE WILLIAMS IS A LONG TIME EMPLOYEE WITH DUCKS UNLIMITED CANADA (DUC). HE BEGAN HIS CAREER IN NORTHERN ALBERTA IN 1990 AS THE AREA BIOLOGIST FOR THE GRANDE PRAIRIE OFFICE AND REMAINED THERE UNTIL 1997. SINCE RELOCATING TO SOUTHERN ONTARIO, MIKE HAS WORKED IN VARIOUS ROLES DESIGNING AND IMPLEMENTING WETLAND HABITAT PROGRAMS AT THE LANDSCAPE LEVEL. IN 2016, MIKE TOOK ON THE ROLE OF HEAD OF RESTORATION AND CLIENT SERVICES AND MANAGES THE OUTSOURCING DUC HABITAT RESTORATION SERVICES TO INDUSTRY, DEVELOPERS AND OTHER CONSERVATION AGENCIES. KANWAL AFTAB IS A DESIGNER AND WRITER BASED IN TORONTO. WITH DEGREES IN ARCHITECTURE, LANDSCAPE, ART HISTORY AND ECONOMICS, SHE CURRENTLY WORKS AS AN URBAN DESIGNER FOR THE CITY OF BRAMPTON, TEACHES AT THE DANIELS FACULTY OF ARCHITECTURE, LANDSCAPE AND DESIGN AND IS A MEMBER OF THE GROUND EDITORIAL BOARD. KATIE STRANG IS A GROUND EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBER AND WORKS AT THE PLANNING PARTNERSHIP.
Toronto Islands Flooding in 2017
Daniel Williams, Flickr, Courtesy of Creative Commons License
phragmites is up there too, we manage hundreds of wetlands, and we’re seeing it invade areas where we haven’t before. It seems to be everywhere and it’s difficult to control. Especially when it’s growing in water because you can’t spray it. We are working with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry and other partners in the Long Point area (on Lake Erie) where they’ve got a special permit to do some over-water spraying as a pilot project. It’s effective, but not a permanent solution. You have to budget to go back every second or third year to control it, because once the seeds are in the soil it’s an ongoing issue. It’s costly, and most municipalities just don’t have the money to do it.
Kanwal Aftab: What do you see, through the work of your organization, as the biggest climate change issue facing Canada and Ontario? How have the efforts within your particular organizations focused on mitigating that issue? Deborah Kenley: There are two issues we struggle with. Stormwater management is definitely a huge issue: encouraging private landowners to adopt Low Impact Development (LID), and also creating healthy habitats while managing invasive species on that property. I weight them equally in a way. Katie Strang: What’s the most damaging invasive species at the moment? DK: We’re looking at Mississauga up to Orangeville, and most of my work is in the urban environment. There it’s phragmites. It’s hard to control, and once you have that swale on your property, it’s amazing how quickly it just moves in. Especially as you get further south, closer to the Lakeshore, it’s rampant. You wonder how much money a company has to throw at it to manage it? And when I’m trying to budget a project, I estimate two to three years up front just to manage invasive species before we can even get something in the ground. That’s a huge deterrent for people. Mike Williams: I concur. We’d probably give a slight edge to flooding as economically
costly. Some of the most costly natural disasters recently, in urban areas at least, have been flooding—in Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg. How do you manage stormwater in urban areas? We’re looking at an integrated approach, incorporating natural infrastructure with grey infrastructure. We feel that, if properly implemented, natural infrastructure can increase the lifespan and resilience of grey infrastructure to the effects of climate change. You may not have to invest as much and see additional benefits that natural infrastructure provides like clean water and more green space. And
The Royal Canadian Navy Monument overwhelmed by the swollen Ottawa River
Hans Raffelt, Flickr, Courtesy of Creative Commons License
A set of benches overwhelmed by the flooded, raging Ottawa River at the most western end of Britannia Park in Nepean (Ottawa)
Hans Raffelt, Flickr, Courtesy of Creative Commons License
Cynthia Graham: The biggest climate change issue from the City of Hamilton’s perspective is the management of stormwater. Hamilton is also challenged with shoreline protection, and that’s a huge project that my team is working on right now: to try and make sure that our beaches and our shorelines aren’t just being washed away as the lake levels rise and extreme storms occur. Those two things are big issues in Hamilton, and other municipalities. The challenge for municipalities is land is scarce in cities and we need to have creative solutions to be able to manage those things. The other thing is, if we’re building new LID technologies to help mitigate impacts from climate change, how are those going to weather or function over time? What maintenance schedule is needed? There are a lot of unknowns at this point. We’re busy installing infrastructure, but are we going to have to go out and rip it up and clean it out in 10 years? The staff we have to maintain the parks, trails and openspace systems have to be trained on this new technology. And so we need to have an institutional effort to up our game with the knowledge and the techniques needed to maintain these things properly. Michelle Molnar: I have to agree that stormwater is a key issue for cities. We are working with a community in New Brunswick that, this spring, dealt with a one-in-1,000-year storm event. I can’t say how many communities we visit where I’ve heard people say ‘we’ve never seen this extent of flooding before.’ The other one I’ll throw in is the need for cross-departmental integration with this work. We bring engineers, hydrologists, and ecologists to work with these communities and help them understand that natural assets can indeed provide equivalent levels of service to engineered infrastructure, and can and should complement it. That when we look at scenario modeling under climate change and land intensification scenarios, we find the value of natural assets actually increasing. Because if you look at what you need to do with engineered options, it would generally cost more. And we find that the communities we’re working in are interested in expanding this approach. In doing all of that work, however, it’s really important to not
just be working with the engineers in the city or the staff from Public Works. We need to hear from the people in parks, finance, or health. Climate change is not affecting just one sector. More and more, we’re seeing an increasing number of concerns that bleed through everything. I hope to see a more cross-departmental approach to our responses to climate change. Olivia Sparrow: Definitely stormwater management, and that’s basically what I do every day. We’re talking a lot about flooding. The other huge issue with climate change is the degradation of
Homes surrounded by the swollen Ottawa River in Gatineau, Quebec
Hans Raffelt, Flickr, Courtesy of Creative Commons License
Closed Flooded Road at Toronto Islands
Ryan Raz, Flickr, Courtesy of Creative Commons License
ecosystems. I hold those hand-in-hand, although (similar to the invasive species issue), water quality and ecosystem health gets overlooked. A final challenge I am seeing is, once a municipality and a conservation authority commit to LID and flood mitigation, it’s a huge endeavour identifying and prioritizing all of the things that need to be done, especially in the built environment. The City of Edmonton shifted responsibility of stormwater management to EPCOR, which was already in charge of drinking water and wastewater and so now it has over-arching ‘one water’ responsibilities. The City and EPCOR hired EOR (Emmons and Olivier Resources) to identify all of the LID opportunities within the city’s built landscape. The primary goal was to offset increased pollution from the ongoing growth of Edmonton with LID retrofits in their urban core. We identified over 85,000 LID retrofit opportunities. Zooming in, the mapping would show an opportunity like a rain garden between the road curb and a sidewalk. It was very refined, and you need really good GIS mapping for that. EPCOR integrated the LID inventory into their Stormwater Integrated Resource Plan (SIRP) this year, which outlines a city-wide flood mitigation strategy with multiple lines of defence. Prioritizing a huge inventory of LID retrofits is almost as big of a road block as the maintenance issues Cynthia mentioned, where it seems like an insurmountable task to integrate LID into the existing fabric, but Edmonton and other communities like Vancouver are setting a strong example of how it can be done. KA: Related to these challenges your organizations or municipalities are trying to address, what are they doing to deal with the climate change impacts from flooding and extreme temperatures? And how are you engaging specific audiences, whether it’s the people at the top or the community that you’re trying to design for? DK: For the Greening Corporate Grounds program, my focus is really about outreach and education for corporations and institutions. Recently, we partnered with the City of Mississauga because they have a
stormwater charge they started a few years ago, and landowners who adopt or have existing LID features are able to apply for a credit of up to 50 per cent. There weren’t that many takers early on, so it became obvious there needed to be more education and help going towards the land owner before they even hire an engineer. That’s been our focus lately: getting out there and showing land owners what some of the quick wins are, such as catch basin inserts and enhanced swales. One of the difficulties is no one is going to rip up their parking lot before it needs repair, so we’re trying to change our focus a little bit and target people who have projects like resurfacing, or if they have to replace their roof. I can’t tell you how many times someone will call me and say, ‘hey, I just heard about your program, but we just paved our parking lot.’ So we’re trying to get to them early, and think long term, to plan to include some LID practices. MW: We know that wetlands can be important for mitigating flooding downstream. We’re promoting the integration of natural infrastructure with grey infrastructure to reduce flood risks, and we’re working hard to drive home that message with municipalities, industry, and the Ontario government. As an example of the insurance industry understanding the value of natural infrastructure and flood mitigation: you have Cowan Insurance and Intact Insurance investing directly into more wetland conservation projects. That shows that industry is starting to understand the value of natural infrastructure and the role it plays in making communities more resilient. Wetland conservation is part of a holistic approach to building community and watershed resilience to the impacts of climate change. Part of our team promotes the benefits and science of wetlands to government in order to protect what is left on the ground and help put more wetlands back on the landscape, and we have a conservation team that works with land owners and other provincial entities to restore and create wetland habitat and encourage stewardship. And then we have our environment consulting business line, which works with industry and developers who need to restore habitat as a condition of their development permits. We are also working hard with our partners including
Conservation Authorities to strengthen the business case (via cost benefit assessments) for combining natural and grey infrastructure to reduce the impacts of flooding at the watershed level. MM: Because all of our work fits within modern structured asset management, the life cycle considerations are very important. We find that natural infrastructure has lower up-front costs, and doesn’t depreciate in the same way that engineered infrastructure does. And over time (if it’s properly managed), it can actually increase in value and bring a range of additional benefits to the community. We started this work with the town of Gibsons, British Columbia about six years ago, and they’ve been building this approach into different aspects of city management. One has to do with how to fund ongoing operations and maintenance costs. In B.C. they have development cost charges where developers will contribute to shared costs, or for services, largely infrastructure, that are incurred during the development. The town of Gibsons worked with the relevant provincial ministry to say ‘hey, this forest, which contains a number of ponds and wetlands, is actually providing stormwater services, and we’ve done modeling, and here’s the results. Can we receive a portion of these development cost charges to maintain those wetlands which are really nature-based infrastructure?’ So in B.C. you can now obtain some funding for the ongoing maintenance. The other thing they’ve done is, when they’re looking at community development (creating a new parcel of land or neighbourhood), they first ask ‘what natural features can we maintain that are actually going to offset some of the engineered requirements for infrastructure? Before we clear that land, what needs to stay in place?’ So they’ve actually incorporated this into the City regulations and bylaws. This thinking and approach is starting to permeate all different aspects of city management and planning. OS: In order to gain support for a project we tailor communication to each audience. Municipal staff need a detailed, technical account of how a project meets certain criteria, often from
an engineering perspective. On the other hand, when we’re engaging the public, private land owners, I find it way better for our landscape architects to talk to land owners, to focus on their current land use and how it can be more resilient with our projects. Engineers like myself can take the back seat and listen in those settings, and then it’s our job to collaboratively design solutions that meet everyone’s needs. How a project enhances a landscape for users on a daily basis is equally important as how it functions during extreme rainfall events. KA: How can environmental designers and landscape architects learn from these ongoing conservations, ecological restoration, and maintenance efforts, and play a role in managing the environmental crisis? 06
KS: And what would you like to see that you don’t feel is currently happening to help achieve climate goals? OS: When we’re talking about climate resiliency and achieving environmental objectives, it’s a no-brainer: we need to learn from Indigenous communities. They have a deep understanding of land and water, and they experience climate change early when they sustain themselves off the land. Indigenous communities have been forced to face climate change when they physically relocate. We need to go beyond the inadequate minimum of ‘Duty to Consult’ to truly re-build more resilient communities. MW: Landscape architects and other environmental professionals play a huge role in combatting climate change—and looking for every opportunity to employ natural infrastructure solutions is another key tool they have at their disposal. We’d also like to see scaled-up funding for wetland conservation (and the environment in general), and effective, sensible policies to conserve wetlands that recognize their many values. In southern Ontario, we’ve lost over 72 per cent of our wetland base since European settlement and we’re still seeing wetlands being destroyed, despite the fact they provide many ecological goods and services—some
of which can be directly linked to human health. We need to put an economic value on these services so that municipalities can comprehend the value these natural features provide for their residents. DK: I want to stress having more incentives for private land owners. A lot of people think corporations can afford it, but often there needs to be an incentive to adopt new practices.
makes predicting those impacts extremely challenging. Long-term monitoring, being flexible, and trying a portfolio of approaches, so that we’re constantly learning and adapting as we go, is important.
THANKS TO PHAEDRA MAICANTIS FOR HELP COORDINATING THIS ROUND TABLE
CG: I’d like to see climate change adaptation at the forefront: thinking about it from the beginning, having projects that consider how this landscape will function over the next 50 years, and what that means, and have it become so embedded in what we do that it’s second nature. I’d also like a mechanism to share more information about projects. That would be helpful as we all stumble forward. Figuring out what works and what doesn’t work, what’s been successful, and who has knowledge about it. Sharing information and resources so we can all move forward together. MM: As one last thought, I’ll stress the need for adaptive management. We know the impacts of climate change are going to rise from interactions between changes to climate, land use, and socioeconomic systems, which
The raging Ottawa River due to this year’s spring thaw in Ottawa
Hans Raffelt, Flickr, Courtesy of Creative Commons License
â€œA Once-in-a-Lifetime, Never-Before Placeâ€?
Ontario Place was a declaration of optimism, and a visionary work of landscape architecture. When did we lose it, and how do we get it back?
“A Once-in-a-Lifetime, Never-Before Place”
TEXT BY ERIC KLAVER, OALA
Riding high on the success of Expo ‘67, the Government of Ontario set out to develop its own, premier waterfront attraction, to promote all the province had to offer. Opened in 1971, Zeidler Architects (then Craig, Zeidler and Strong) with Hough Stansbury and Associates Landscape Architects, delivered a complex of ambitious, future-thinking architecture and, significantly, landscape that still resonates in the minds and memories of Ontarians today—the iconic pods on stilts, the legendary Forum, the first IMAX theatre in the “Bucky Ball” Cinesphere, the Children’s Village, and—unique for Toronto at the time—a waterfront promenade park, pivoting toward local ecology, with a view of the nascent modern Toronto.
Ontario Place at Night Sharon VanderKaay, Flickr, Courtesy of Creative Commons License
My own experience, which I’m sure is shared by many, runs from childhood through parenthood: Children’s Village play, fueled by orange Tang from a Thermos (very space age); being thrilled, though slightly ill, while watching Silent Sky at the Cinesphere; warm summer nights at the Forum, feeling the lake breeze while doing the “safety dance” to Men Without Hats; presciently grooving to Nova Heart by The Spoons; watching birds fly from the lawn while hearing Aaron Neville sing Bird on the Wire; and then, yet again, running through the Children’s Village with my own boys.
“A Once-in-a-Lifetime, Never-Before Place”
member of the advocacy group Ontario Place For All, for his thoughts on the state of Ontario Place, work that has been done since to renew the site, and the legacy of landscape architect Michael Hough, still on display there. Eric Klaver: What are the attitudes, from a landscape or a planning perspective, that has allowed Ontario Place to decline, and what exactly is its current state?
“close to downtown Toronto and the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport,” are highlighted as features that make it “an exciting urban renewal opportunity.” Breathtaking. Notably, it fails to highlight the lead taken by Trillium Park, a significant return to the public legacy of the site that builds on its cultural importance and waterfront prominence.
Feeling its age, and perhaps the result of a few short-sighted decisions by management to compete with similar theme parks in the area, the government finally shuttered Ontario Place in 2011. A pale reflection of its former self, with empty pods, the Forum demolished and replaced by the Budweiser Stage, and the Cinesphere still operating as a repertory theatre, the current Ontario Government has seized the opportunity to redevelop the site, stumping for proposals to partner with a private developer to, in their words, “bring Ontario Place back to life as an exciting, year-round destination to attract local and international visitors. This could include sport and entertainment landmarks, public spaces and parks, recreational facilities, as well as retail.” Their website has all the aspiration of a real estate brochure, describing the site as “a unique waterfront asset, made up of 155 acres of land and water, and once served as an iconic cultural and tourism destination between 1971 and 2012.” That, and being
More diplomatically, the OALA outlined their concerns in a letter by Past President Doris Chee, sent last February to Michael Tibollo, then minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport. Highlighting the many challenges the site currently finds itself in, the letter insists that “redevelopment of this dynamic waterfront showpiece must respect the ingenuity, cultural history, and values of the people of Ontario.” Of the many suggestions for improvement, the letter outlines the many assets of the site that should be incorporated and renewed: “the redevelopment should build upon the three constructed islands, with mature trees and rolling topography, the new Trillium Park and the William G. Davis Trail, and an environment that reflects Ontario’s diverse nature.” Perhaps most importantly, it recommends the government “build upon partnership and reconciliation with the Indigenous people of Ontario.”
Ken Greenberg: We were making a really good start at reviving Ontario Place. Trillium Park was a huge step in the right direction. The work of LANDinc and West 8 on that park demonstrates elegantly the potential of Ontario Place as a park. I’ve actually seen some concept plans that would have extended that kind of treatment from the eastern edge of Ontario place, where Trillium Park now sits, laminated against the edge, in what were formerly service areas, extending toward the center. Ideally, that would have produced a new kind of 21st century park, embracing both Ontario Place and Exhibition Place, which is absolutely needed, and could be the keystone of the return to the waterfront we’re seeing all across the northern edge of Lake Ontario and beyond. In terms of why it declined? When it was originally conceived in reaction to Expo ‘67 in Montreal, with the work of architect Eb Zeidler and landscape architect Michael Hough, it was an interesting and dynamic intervention. It spoke to a spirit of optimism, and was really
The OALA is not alone in this sentiment, thankfully. In the interview that follows, I discuss with Ken Greenberg, planner and 04
“A Once-in-a-Lifetime, Never-Before Place”
conceived of as a park. But somewhere along the way we fell into a period of removing resources from public things and looking at them as assets to be monetized. A whole series of studies were done, mostly by accounting firms, looking at how to monetize this asset and stop spending public money. I think all of that was shortsighted and, even from an economic standpoint, made no sense. Very few of those studies actually looked at its great potential. Among those, I did a study that I felt was trying to push in a different direction, looking at the opportunity for a merger of the two sites, around 2006. I worked with David Leinster of The Planning Partnership. We didn’t have a big budget, but we came up with an idea that had a lot of support, and we got very close. We’d been working with the administrations of the two sites. But ultimately the provincial government, for no rhyme nor reason, decided not to proceed. And so Ontario Place has languished, like many things if you don’t continually reinvest and keep up the grounds. Especially since a lot the things built when Ontario Place originally opened were almost temporary structures like you would find in an exhibition. The fact that they’ve lasted as well as they have is extraordinary, given the almost complete lack of maintenance. That said, if you go there now, you will see significant numbers of people are using it as a park.
And that should be its true vocation. From an investment standpoint, if all you cared about was the bottom line for the province or the city, and you looked at this as an economic asset, you would conclude, looking around the world at the value of great parks, that what they contribute to local economies is enormous. The lack of that park space would be a tremendous opportunity cost that we’d be passing up. However, the Ford government seems determined to simply approach it as some kind of asset where the private sector would take over, and we’d get some version of a lifestyle center theme park. And although they’ve postponed releasing the results of the Request For Proposal, the conditions for the RFP would involve quite a bit of public money going into decontamination of the site and preparing it. But its proponents were not obliged to keep Trillium Park, they could simply provide seven and a half acres of green space somewhere on the site. They were not obliged to keep any of the artifacts—the Cinesphere, the pods, anything else—and the only thing that was required to be retained was the Budweiser stage. EK: Which is probably the least interesting part of it. KG: It was quite beautiful when it was the Forum. EK: Oh yeah, I went to the Forum. KG: And I think, on the landscape side, a lot of attention is being paid to the contribution of the Eb Zeidler and probably not enough to Michael Hough, and his vision for the site. The Forum was one of those pieces with the beautiful grassy slopes and naturalized landscapes, of which not much remains. In a sense, Trillium Park is homage to Michael Hough. But the direction the province seems to be taking is so unbelievably wrong-headed. Even if you are a fiscal conservative, it’s hard to fathom. Like so many things they’ve done, we’ll see if they are forced to backtrack. There’s a tremendous number of people who care about Ontario Place. Both in terms of personal memories, a sense of the site,
A lakeside view From City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 124, File 9, Item 49, Ontario Place 1972-1989 A cluster of pavillions From City of Toronto Archives, Series 1465, File 360, Item 2 Children entertained by duly designated representatives of Ontario Place From City of Toronto Archives, Series 1465, File 138, Item 3 Rubble Pile; art installation during in/future Art and Music Festival Sharon VanderKaay, Flickr, Courtesy of Creative Commons License Ontario Place Sharon VanderKaay, Flickr, Courtesy of Creative Commons License Abandoned Slide at Ontario Place Allen Lai, Flickr, Courtesy of Creative Commons License
“A Once-in-a-Lifetime, Never-Before Place”
but also a growing appreciation of the fact that having that site, plus Exhibition Place, as part of this emerging network of interconnected public green spaces is crucial, given our enormous population growth. The pressure on public space that we’re experiencing, the people’s desire to get to the water, and the design ideas have been around for a long time. They go back to that 2006-2007 study I worked on, but many people have been looking at really significant transformative ideas that would link the two sites, and extend the Martin Goodman Trail out around the water’s edge as it does in Trillium. That would provide better connections, and sequentially remove surface parking and create an integrated landscape within which there could be a whole variety of activities— ideally free, but some things could produce revenue to fund the programming, operation, and maintenance of the site. EK: Talking about Ontario Place as a keystone, to me it’s always been in its own little isolated bubble on the shore. There’s a nostalgia aspect to that physical separation, but, in order to move forward, is it necessary to separate the nostalgia of Ontario Place from its idea, or can the two
co-exist? Can they move forward and also connect to the city effectively? KG: I would say all of the above. The opportunities for it to become more accessible are absolutely there. We’re getting all day GO service to Exhibition Place. We now have the 509 streetcar that comes from Union Station right to that GO station. Many people have come to the conclusion that there should be some kind of internal shuttle that would navigate the two sites (Exhibition Place and Ontario Place) from the GO station and the 509 streetcar. And I fear that the Ontario Line that the province is talking about is really tied to the idea of some mega commercial complex, but if there were, in addition to everything I mentioned, this Ontario Line (whatever form it takes), the transit accessibility would be far greater. At the same time, we’re getting more and more cycling accessibility across the waterfront, the Bentway as an opportunity to connect right into Exhibition Place under Strachan Avenue, which is being planned now. On top of that, you have the huge amount of development occurring in the Fort York neighborhood, Liberty Village, Bathurst
Quay, surrounding the sites on all sides. People can actually walk in, so it’s isolation can easily be overcome. All the surface parking is actually a tremendous asset that can be reduced and consolidated into some form of structured parking. All the conditions are in place to rescue it from its isolation, and the need to do so is obvious, in terms of the amenity it would provide. But, having said that, I think the vision, the Michael Hough-Eb Zeidler-vision of this machine-in-the-garden, of the pods, the Cinesphere, a few of those objects... the garden has to be weeded, for sure. There’s a lot that can be taken out, simplified, made into a more permanent and beautiful form of landscape. A lot of the ways we think about landscape now in terms of environment—climate readiness, sustainability— are different how we thought then, and we could bring that new sensibility without making tabula rasa of the place, starting all over again, and losing its essential quality as a free and open public place. EK: What would you keep and what would you get rid of? KG: I would keep the Cinesphere, the pods, and some of the landforms that Hough conceived. I love the breakwater with the sunken lake freighters, out on the edge. But I think a lot of the smaller structures, the places where originally there were markets and cafes and things, could be upgraded. The uses are interesting, but they could be accommodated much better. A lot of the parking spaces—that whole band of parking on Lakeshore Boulevard— can be repurposed. The waterways can
“A Once-in-a-Lifetime, Never-Before Place”
be improved, but the idea of a series of islands absolutely should be kept. EK: What’s the biggest hurdle to renewal of Ontario Place? KG: We were on the right track. Had we just continued with the recent start that Trillium Park had made, we could have moved toward an economically sustainable model that would still be a great public space. The biggest hurdle is the wrong-headedness of the provincial government, and this attitude of divesting itself of public places, of turning everything over to the private sector, washing its hands and saying ‘we don’t want to put any money into capital or operating, we want to run this as a business.’ At this point in time, in the evolution of the city, that’s counterproductive and economically foolish. 11
The only way I see that being stopped is if people push back, as they did on the waterfront before with the “no casino” movement, protesting the proposed MGM resort in Exhibition Place in 2013, and when the Ford brothers on city council tried to derail what’s happening in the Port Lands now with the Don River relocation. I’m hoping we can see a replay of that.
scape legacy. And there’s a kind of wonderful sequence here from Michael Hough to the work that LANDinc and West 8 has done. Sometimes as design professionals, we’re all too willing to shrug our shoulders and do whatever the clients who pay want, and not take public positions. But this is a case where it would be great to have the landscape profession stand up and be counted.
EK: You highlighted in an article that people are starting to come back to the park. There were 1.4 million visitors in 2018. A spark started with Trillium Park. As landscape architects and planners, how can we keep that agenda of public interest moving forward in the park?
EK: Who should be at the table, talking and engaging with Ontario Place and moving it forward?
KG: The hard thing is for the people, especially the younger people, who will miss this when it’s gone. Obviously, many of the people who have memories and experience with Ontario Place are stepping up from across the province. But it’s the future generations who will benefit the most from having a public, spirited, outward-reaching Toronto that places a high value on public spaces and landscape, versus an attitude that theme parks are good enough (which is the attitude of the current provincial government). But it’s hard to get that constituency. What was the line from Joni Mitchell? “You don’t know what you’ve got ‘till it’s gone?” I think that’s the situation we’re in, and we have to speak on behalf of those to come.
KG: Well, the Toronto Society of Architects and the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario have stepped up on the built form side, and I would love to see the landscape profession step up equally, in tandem—I don’t think you can isolate one or the other—around the value of this as public space and its land-
Trillium Park and William G. Davis Trail, Toronto Nadia Molinari
BIOS/ ERIC KLAVER, OALA, IS CHAIR OF THE GROUND EDITORIAL BOARD AND A PARTNER AT PLANT ARCHITECT INC.
Resilient Planting in Aggregate Substrates TEXT BY BEN Oâ€™BRIEN
Designed plant communities have been my professional focus since graduating from the BLA program at the University of Guelph in 2014. This focus has led me to different symposia and conferences, none more influential than the inaugural Urban Growth Conference held in Lund, Sweden, in September 2017. With its emphasis on the mechanics and performance of designed plant communities in urban environments, the conference opened up a world of new knowledge. James Hitchmough, a University of Sheffield professor of horticultural ecology, and one of the leaders in the field, led a particularly insightful session looking in detail at his own planting successes and, notably, failures. The failures were often due to an invasion of aggressive plants that, when left unchecked because maintenance resources were sparse, overwhelmed desirable species. The lesson was that an ideal situation is one in which plants can establish without weed pressure and quickly knit together to form a dense community that weeds can’t invade easily.
To create the best foundation for longterm success, the designed plant communities developed by leading practitioners, including Hitchmough and fellow Sheffield professor Nigel Dunnett, Cassian Schmidt and others in Germany, and Peter Korn in Sweden, all start the same way. Rather than planting into existing or imported topsoil, plants are installed into a layer of sterile aggregate-based substrate, ranging in depth from 10 cm to 20 cm. Substrates used range from coarse sand to small gravel. While it sounds paradoxical, these soilless substrates have numerous benefits. Unlike organic bark mulches which decompose over time, aggregate substrates are permanent. Unlike soil, they contain no weed seeds. Rapid drainage ensures the surfaces of substrates dry quickly, so weed seeds that blow into planting areas are unlikely to germinate. They resist compaction and can handle periodic foot traffic without the soil underneath being damaged. Even in the heat of summer, when most soils are dry, hard, and impermeable, aggregate substrates are still able to infiltrate rainwater. Finally, aggregate
Peter Korn’s garden in southern Sweden. A hugely diverse range of perennials, grasses and bulbs are grown in a 20cm (8”) deep layer of coarse sand, over the existing soil. Ben O’Brien Rough blazing star (Liatris aspera) flowering at the Growing Grit trial garden in August 2018, with the silvery seedheads of little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) in the background. Ben O’Brien
The “Grey to Green” stormwater infiltration planting in Sheffield, UK, in its first season of growth. The planting was designed by University of Sheffield professor Nigel Dunnett to simultaneously provide dramatic flowering moments throughout the growing season while capturing stormwater runoff from the adjacent streets and sidewalks.
Courtesy of Robert Bray Associates
substrates offer the opportunity to re-use waste materials such as crushed brick and recycled concrete.
rainfall alone. This will determine which species are ultimately best suited to the conditions.
Buoyed by the ideas presented at the Urban Growth Conference, I decided to put them into action in a trial garden on a sun-baked area of lawn at an elementary school in Prince Edward County. In late May of 2018, with the help of a grant from the Landscape Architecture Canada Foundation, I constructed, laid out, and planted 12 trial plots with 48 different species of herbaceous perennials and grasses. The goal of the experiment is twofold: to evaluate how a range of plants perform on different aggregate substrate mixtures, and to investigate which substrates prove most weed-resistant.
In September 2018, with funding from Community Futures Prince Edward Lennox and Addington, a second round of building took place to test a further range of species and substrate combinations and, most importantly, how plants perform after fall planting. Substrates included a mineral component (3/8 inch crushed limestone, 3/8 inch granite pea gravel, high-performance bedding limestone screenings, or a combination thereof), combined with small amounts of compost. In some plots, the substrate was top-dressed with a 1- to 2-inch layer of pure aggregate (either 3/8 inch crushed limestone or 3/8 inch granite pea gravel) to test whether a “crust” of gravel further inhibits the germination of in-blown weed seeds. Thanks to plentiful autumn rains, the fall-planted plots were only irrigated twice after planting.
The existing turf and soil on site were stripped to varying depths (15 cm, 20 cm, and 30 cm), and timber-framed beds were placed over the existing subsoil and filled. Eight large plots were filled with a combination of crushed recycled concrete, coarse sand, and compost from a nearby green-waste processing facility. Four of these plots were mulched with a 1:1 mixture of crushed concrete and sand, to investigate whether or not a compost-free top layer better inhibited the germination of weed seeds. Four small beds allowed for experimentation with planting into thinner (approximately 15 cm deep) layers of either pure recycled concrete or the 1:1 mix of crushed concrete and coarse sand. The plots were irrigated regularly, on nine separate occasions, during the growing season of 2018. Most of the watering occurred within the first month, postplanting. (Providing an initial period of coddling helps plants form the robust root systems that will equip them to handle droughts in future years). Despite a hot, dry August and September, only one additional watering was required after July 6. As the experiment continues, the plots will be forced to survive on
2019 has been a year of observation, as plants have been forced to survive on their own without any supplemental irrigation. As anticipated, weeds have beenwere most plentiful in plots where compost was included in the mixture. Plots with a gravel “crust,” or where the substrate mixture of concrete, sand, and compost was covered by a 1:1 layer of concrete and coarse sand are more weed-resistant, but the inclusion of the fine sand particles some still allowed for slightly more water retention at the surface and thus some weed seeds have been able to germinate and push roots into the underlying substrate. The smaller beds mulched with pure aggregate mixtures are the most weed-resistant, and the two plots where the subsoil was covered with 15 cm of crushed concrete have remained completely weed free for two full growing seasons. While this is a promising development, plants in these plots are much smaller than others, with some species showing barely any signs
The Growing Grit trial plots in late June 2019 with Salvia nemorosa ‘Caradonna’, Nepeta ‘Joanna Reed’, Allium christophii and Allium ‘Purple Rain’. The Salvia and Nepeta doubled in size in the second year after planting. All the bulbs trialled performed exceptionally well in the aggregate substrates, especially the Allium varieties. In 2021, further observation will determine which bulbs return for a second season. Ben O’Brien Nigel Dunnett’s dry meadow at the Barbican Centre in London, UK. These plantings sit above a parking garage, so the growing medium is a green roof substrate designed to drain quickly, yet many perennials and grasses, as well as scattered trees and shrubs, thrive with minimal irrigation and weeding. Ben O’Brien
of growth. Weed species consisted largely of annual or biennial ruderal plants such as foxtail grasses (Setaria viridis and Setaria glauca) and lamb’s quarters (Chenopodium album), or tap-rooted weeds such as dandelion (Taraxacum officinale), black medick (Medicago lupulina) and sweet clover (Melilotus officinalis), all of which were easily removed from the gravelly substrate mixtures. In total, the trial garden was weeded three times over the course of the 2018 season: once in early July, once in late July, and once in early October, and twice in 2019: once in late May, and once in October. The total maintenance time required for 700 square feet of garden in 2019 (spring cutback and weeding) was approximately 3 hours. In 2020, I plan to investigate how different designed plant communities, in conjunction with these aggregate substrates, can combine to exert the maximum possible competitive pressure on would-be invaders. The research is new and just beginning, but the potential is enormous.
Trial Garden Top 10 Performers Perennials — Geum triflorum (prairie smoke) — Monarda fistulosa ‘Claire Grace’ (‘Claire Grace’ wild bergamot) — Nepeta ‘Joanna Reed’ (‘Joanna Reed’ catmint) — Penstemon hirsutus (Hairy beardtongue) — Ratibida pinnata (grey headed coneflower) — Solidago ptarmicoides (upland white goldenrod) — Solidago shortii ‘Solar Cascade’ (‘Solar Cascade’ goldenrod)
Grasses — Bouteloua curtipendula (sideoats grama) — Panicum virgatum ‘Shenandoah’ (‘Shenandoah’ switch grass) — Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem)
For a full list of plants, up-to-date photos, and more detailed information about the experiment, visit www.wildbydesign.ca/ growing-grit.
The Growing Grit trial garden in June 2018, a month after planting, with Coreopsis lanceolata and Salvia nemorosa ‘Caradonna’ flowering. The Salvia has performed well in 2019. The original plants of the short-lived Coreopsis disappeared in 2019, but second-generation seedlings have appeared in some plots.
Setting out the Growing Grit trial garden in late May 2018. Container sizes ranged from deep landscape plugs, to 9 cm pots, up to 1 gallon containers. The entire root ball of each plant was placed in the aggregate mulch. Nearly all have thrived in 2019, irrespective of their size at the time of planting, demonstrating the viability of more economical small containers and plugs.
BIOS/ BEN O’BRIEN IS AN ECOLOGICAL LANDSCAPE DESIGNER, RESEARCHER, AND CONSULTANT BASED IN PRINCE EDWARD COUNTY. THROUGH HIS BUSINESS, WILD BY DESIGN, HE CREATES RICHLY PLANTED RESIDENTIAL GARDENS INSPIRED BY THE LOCAL AGRARIAN LANDSCAPE. HIS CONSULTING AND RESEARCH WORK FOCUSES ON THE DESIGN AND MANAGEMENT OF BEAUTIFUL, BIODIVERSE, AND RESILIENT PLANT COMMUNITIES FOR URBAN PUBLIC SPACES.
TO VIEW ADDITIONAL CONTENT RELATED TO GROUND ARTICLES, VISIT WWW.GROUNDMAG.CA.
Notes: A Miscellany of News and Events
on the march This September 27 saw thousands of people rally at Queen’s Park in Toronto, as part of a global “climate strike” movement. Among the ranks were members of the landscape architect and design professions, who wanted to stand up and be counted among the many who are concerned with the existential threat our planet faces from pollution, ecosystem destruction, and the increasing intensity and frequency of devastating climate events. Police estimated 15,000 people attended the rally, according to CP24. Cities and towns across Canada, as well as all over the world held similar strikes. 01-02/
Landscape architects rally to protect the climate at Queen’s Park, September 27, 2019. Karen May The inaugural DCA meeting at Henderson Brewing, November 7, 2019. Courtesy of the Design Climate Action committee
in memoriam Peter C. Hubbell The OALA is saddened to announce the passing Peter C. Hubbell on September 25, 2019. 03
taking action The Climate Strike movement also led landscape architects and designers to form the Design Climate Action group, whose inaugural meeting was held November 7th. The DCA has a mandate to “educate, advocate and design for a socially just transition to a carbon neutral economy. Change is needed urgently. Collective action must be sustained. Now is our moment to develop new modes of practice rooted in land-based climate solutions.” Nearly 100 landscape architects, designers, and allied professionals turned out at the kick-off party at Henderson Brewing in Toronto to discuss the call to action.
While municipalities all over Ontario struggle to address stormwater management and flooding issues, and after record-setting flood levels across the province, the provincial government’s appointed special advisor on flooding, Doug McNeil, released a report on recent, devastating climate events stating “nothing points to human error or the negligent operation of water control structures.”
The Ontario Association of Landscape Architects is proud to recognize and welcome the following new members to the Association:
All the same, the report makes 66 recommendations to the province, municipal governments, and conservation authorities about planning for, and combatting the increasingly frequent and deleterious climate events experienced annually in Ontario. You can find “An Independent Review of the 2019 Flood Events in Ontario” at ontario.ca.
Tyler Allen Bradt*
Stephanie K. Campbell
D Leo Garcia*
Asterisk (*) denotes Full Members without the use of professional seal.
Peter Hubbell passed away peacefully at home on September 25, 2019 at the age of 81. Beloved husband of Kathy for 59 wonderful years. Loving father of Rick (Shelly), Carolyn (Jeremy Carder), and the late Christina (1974). Proud grandpa of Jack, Cate, Grace, Trent, and Charlie. Brother of Jean Muhleisen. Peter Hubbell became a full member of the OALA in 1985. He was a graduate of the Horticulture program at Michigan State University, and worked as a Landscape Architect and Supervisor of Grounds at Hiram Walker for many years. After retirement in 1993, he started Flower Mart Greenhouse, which he and Kathy ran together for 20 years. Pete was a proud member of X Fraternity, Landscape Ontario, and the OALA. He enjoyed spending time on the golf course, summers at the cottage in Michigan, and sailing where he was a member of the Bayview Mackinac Old Goats, having completed more than 25 Mackinac races. He was a past president of the Windsor YMCA and a longtime coach with Windsor Minor Hockey. One of Pete’s greatest joys was watching his grandchildren compete in sports, where he was always recognizable in his Spartan green. A funeral was held on September 28, 2019. As is OALA’s custom, a book will be added to our library and a Memorial tree will be planted at the Guelph Arboretum Wall-Custance Memorial Forest in Peter’s name.
hit the beach The installation art competition “Winter Stations” is about to enter its sixth year. Contestants from all over the world are encouraged to submit their ideas for transforming lifeguard stations along Toronto’s Kew and Woodbine beaches into striking works of art. Submissions for 2020’s theme “Beyond the Five Senses” are already in, and the winning designs will be announced this month. It’s a great way to embrace (rather than avoid) the frostier months. The exhibition begins this Family Day (February 17), and runs until March 29.
Last year’s Winter Stations on display. Khristel Stecher
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Details from a planned parkette, featuring the boulder.
The Annexâ€™s favourite boulder
Courtesy of DTAH
Courtesy of DTAH
the giant boulder is, and what its journey from the Canadian Shield might have been like. Frozen inside a massive glacier, the rock likely travelled from the Georgian Bay area around 14,000 years ago. When the glaciers began to retreat, the boulder may have dropped from an iceberg into the soft lakebed of the glacial Lake Iroquois, where it lay waiting to be unearthed until the summer of 2019. TEXT BY SHANNON BAKER, OALA
An ancient stone remnant of the last ice age was unearthed this summer, below a Toronto street. As excavation work progressed for a parkette on Bloor Street, construction crews hit a major obstacle: a billion-year-old rock that was likely transported to Toronto by glacier during the last ice age. Professor Joe Desloges of the University of Toronto was called in by the Bloor Annex BIA to provide some insight into how old 02
The parkette under which the boulder lay waiting is one of a series the BIA is creating with landscape architects at DTAH. After much debate, an adjacent parkette a few streets over will showcase the rock. Giving this prehistoric granite a prominent position within the streetscape provides an important touchstone to the landscape of Southern Ontarioâ€™s geologic past. BIOS/ SHANNON BAKER, OALA, IS A LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT AT WATERFRONT TORONTO AND A MEMBER OF THE GROUND EDITORIAL BOARD.
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