Projects based on making communities healthier and more livable were recognized at the Ontario Professional Planners Institute’s (OPPI) 27th annual Excellence in Planning Awards at Queen’s Park on Nov. 8.
“People are expecting something different now in their communities other than a double driveway,” said Paul Stagl, the OPPI’s president.
“There’s an element about looking beyond the traditional land use planning… bringing something that makes the community a little healthier,” he said, of a trend he’s noticed in recent years.
The fact that the Step Forward plan, which centres around making Hamilton more walkable, was the lone project to receive multiple awards at the event, seems to underpin the health-conscious shift Stagl identified.
The plan, a collaboration between the City of Hamilton, McKibbon Wakefield Inc. and O’Connor Mokrycke Consultants won both the Research and New Directions Award and the Healthy Communities Award.
Through setting minimum requirements for pedestrian infrastructure such as sidewalks and crosswalks, the hope is the plan will create a “friendlier pedestrian environment and a more functional pedestrian environment as well,” said George McKibbon, an environmental planner for McKibbon Wakefield.
“It’s really shifting the focus… from planning the street from the outside edges in towards the street as opposed to from the centre and out,” said Steve Molloy, a transport planning project manager for the City of Hamilton.
Some other winners included a plan to rejuvenate underused and derelict sites in the Niagara region and a study of tall buildings in Toronto that looks at setting design regulations to improve how they fit in with their surroundings.
In all, seven awards were given across six categories ranging from design and planning to education and research.
While Stagl said, “It’s nice to have an award you can put up on the wall,” he noted the real importance of the event lies in recognizing innovative projects so that others can learn from them and share ideas.
Here’s a full list of the categories and the winners:
Urban and Community Design Award
Urban Strategies Inc. for The University of Guelph Campus Master Plan
Municipal Statutory Planning Studies, Reports and Documents Award
Region of Niagara, Dillon Consulting, RCI Consulting and Watson & Associates for the Niagara Economic Gateway Strategy and Community Improvement Plan
City of Guelph and Urban Strategies Inc. for the Guelph Downtown Secondary Plan
Community Planning and Development Studies and Reports Award
City of Hamilton for the City of Hamilton’s Neighbourhood Action Strategy
Research and New Directions Award
City of Hamilton, McKibbon Wakefield Inc and O’Connor Mokrycke Consultants for the Step Forwad: Hamilton Pedestrian Mobility Plan
Urban Strategies Inc., Hariri Pontarini Architects & the City of Toronto’s Planning Division for Tall Buildings: Inviting Change in Downtown Toronto
Communication and Public Education Award
City of Hamilton for The IDEAS CAFÉ: A street master planning and visioning workshop
Healthy Communities Award
City of Hamilton, McKibbon Wakefield Inc. and O’Connor Mokrycke Consultants for the Step Forward: Hamilton Pedestrian Mobility Plan
photo by Loretta Ryan