2013 Excellence in Planning Awards recap

Paul Stagl of the OPPI and Colleen Hill of the Heart and Stroke Foundation present George McKibbon with the Healthy Communities Award for the Step Forward plan on behalf of his team.

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


  1. Not in the list: Toronto? Let me guess…

  2. The City of Toronto was among the winners of the Research and New Directions Award: “Urban Strategies Inc., Hariri Pontarini Architects & the City of Toronto’s Planning Division for Tall Buildings: Inviting Change in Downtown Toronto”

  3. Toronto is in the list for tall buildings in downtown. Interesting its downtown.

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