It is a great honour to move into the role of President of the CSLA, and I welcome the responsibilities of the presidency building on the strengths of our existing, talented Executive and Board. I had the luxury of time this past year to spend with Michelle, Hope, Cynthia and Glenn, in conversation to gain greater background on existing committee initiatives. Our committee work is impressive, and I have met with our committee members to hear about new products and speciality studies that are forthcoming. I was the Board champion for setting up our new Cultural Landscape and Legacy Committee with Chair John Zvonar and we are well into responding to requests to support community efforts in cultural heritage preservation.
Although we all took a quick “pause moment” last spring in the wake of the pandemic, that pause and digital re-grouping was short lived – and we jumped into an energetic working session on our response to the Federal pre-budget process, as well as, discussing new approaches to tackle our political engagement plan as a priority of the CSLA strategic plan.
We will undoubtedly have challenges directly meeting with our key federal politicians for some time, however, we are discussing other methods to work with the components across the country to gain information about federal investments in landscape architectural projects that support our “livable communities'' direction supporting our government contacts. This work will assist in establishing fresh, substantial messaging to approach our elected officials and senior government staff, and will directly highlight federal investment in a wide range of projects in urban design, green infrastructure and transportation, as well as community renewal, natural asset management and climate adaption. The latest Federal budget announcement last week has been a major inspiration for our profession with new funding for natural legacy projects and green transformation (Congratulations to our Climate Adaptation Committee and team for their persistent political agenda).
Through our awards program and bilingual magazine publication, I am so impressed with the excellence of design and research that is being exhibited by established firms and our emerging leaders in the field. The extent of landscape architectural leadership in areas of city building, climate change, nature-based solutions for infrastructure, resource management, reconciliation, technology and urban restoration demonstrates a huge growth in public and private investment – one which we need to promote and capitalize. In addition, the quality of multidisciplinary involvement weaves a thoughtful and creative landscape identity into projects that shows a paradigm shift from past infrastructure assignments. The pandemic has woken our communities to the necessity of our well-designed outdoor spaces and the importance of places of health and natural treasures close to home. We need collective energetic advocacy to capture the moment of this heightened awareness, and include all of us in our various professional and community capacities to build voices heard loudly both within and outside the country.
Consistent with the general directions of our CSLA Strategic Plan, I look forward to working with our components and Board representatives to:
- To continue to enhance communications for a national voice of the profession – (including Board members - practitioners, agency leaders, academic leaders and stakeholders);
- To build a narrative around federal investment in landscape projects making a significant improvement in our public realm across the country, and to advocate for a discussion about a new landscape for the future one for recovery and community transformation – messaging tied to our healthy, livable communities direction, climate adaptation and foundational changes in inclusion, equity and diversity.
- To initiate a “Value of landscape architecture” study updating the growth of our profession over the last 10 to 15 years, and the influence that we have made on all aspects of city building, green infrastructure and community renewal. We will need everyone’s assistance on this.
Crisis, no matter how devastating, can bring unexpected opportunity, and our work has not only formed a positive legacy for landscape change in the past across Canada, but is more relevant than ever as we evolve and respond to the next challenges on a national basis.
I look forward to our continued dialogue.