The CSLA’s Position on Licensure in Landscape Architecture

Approved by the Board September 10th, 2020

Policy Statement

The Canadian Society of Landscape Architects (CSLA) believes that the licensure of the practice of landscape architecture in every province and territory is essential to protect the public’s health, safety, and welfare. Licensure is the appropriate statutory process by which an individual meets the legal requirements of education, experience, and examination to demonstrate minimum professional competency. 

Licensure offers the consumer assurance that a landscape architect has met a minimum set of professional standards and is qualified to provide services within the profession’s regulated scope of practice. Furthermore, licensure:

  • Increases public safety by avoiding injuries from poorly designed outdoor spaces
  • Improves cost effectiveness by preventing property damage, fixes and high maintenance costs
  • Increases property values by providing economic stimulus through the design and construction of outdoor spaces
  • Improves the lifespan of outdoor spaces and provides ecosystem and environmental benefits by ensuring high performing landscapes

Rationale

The practice of landscape architecture should only be performed by licensed individuals as defined, titled, and governed by enacted license requirements. The title "landscape architect” should also only be used by licensed individuals in keeping with the legal requirements. 

Qualified individuals are encouraged to pursue licensure as landscape architects to demonstrate minimum standards of competency across the profession and to strengthen protection of the public interest in the delivery of landscape architectural services. Licensure of landscape architects provides parity with the other design professions such as architecture and engineering. 

Background

What do landscape architects do?

Landscape architects plan livable communities that foster active lifestyles, design green streets that manage stormwater runoff, plan cutting-edge transportation corridors that are safe for all users, and help communities prepare for, and recover from, natural disasters. Landscape architecture encompasses the analysis, planning, design, management, and stewardship of the natural and built environment through science and design. Examples of this work can be viewed here.  

Landscape architects must obtain the requisite design and technical education and skills to be deemed competent to perform landscape architecture work, with the highest regard being given to ethics and professional practice aimed at public health, safety and well-being. 

In Canada, landscape architects are evaluated and licensed based on the same exams as American landscape architects, which are administered through an independent body: the Council for Landscape Architecture Registration Board (CLARB). This ensures that the examination process and validation of competencies for licensed landscape architects is rigorous and based on an international context.

Why is licensure of landscape architects important?
  • Regulation of landscape architecture is necessary to protect public health, safety, and welfare. 
  • The practice of landscape architecture keeps the public safe from hazards, protect and maximize the use of natural systems and resources, and prevents damage to public or private property from changes in the built environment. 
  • The profession of landscape architecture must master extensive, complicated codes and laws and are responsible for certifying compliance, quality, and integrity of work.
  • Professional licensing protects the public by ensuring a baseline level of proven qualification and expertise. This baseline helps protect consumers from unqualified practitioners. This is particularly important in highly complex, technical professions where consumers do not have the specialized knowledge needed to evaluate qualifications and performance.
  • The education, experience, and examination required of licensed landscape architects can effectively protect the public and our communities from harm. 

The way to ensure that landscape architects protect the public is through the regulation and licensing of landscape architects.

Facts and Figures

  • Three Canadian provinces have a Title Act for landscape architecture. British Columbia’s Title Act was established in 1964, Ontario’s Title Act in 1984 and Alberta’s Title Act in 2010. 
  • According to 2019 statistics, 71% of landscape architects in Canada are licensed through a regulated body.
  • Most landscape architects hold an accredited degree in landscape architecture. The CSLA’s Landscape Architecture Accreditation Council accredits bachelor and master programs in six universities across the country.
  • In the United States, Practice Acts for landscape architecture have become the norm. Beginning with California in 1953, there are now 47 states with Practice Acts and three states with Title Acts (Maine, Massachusetts and Illinois). In addition to legislation in the 50 states, the District of Columbia passed its Practice Act on April 17, 2017.

Resources

 

CLARB: Why Licensure is Important

CLARB: 2016 Licensure/L.A.R.E. Task Analysis

CLARB: Direct Deregulation of Occupants

ASLA’s Licensure Handbook

ASLA Licensure Brochure

ASLA Licensure Fact Sheet

BCSLA and the Professional Governance Act

OALA: Reducing the Risk of Public Harm

 

CSLA | AAPC 12 Forillon Crescent, Ottawa ON K2M 2W5