TCLF: Leading with Landscape Conference Presentation – Panel II: Thomas Woltz

Compelling and visionary designers and others examine Toronto’s international leadership in landscape architecture-based development. Provocative, headline-making speakers at this May 2015 conference in Toronto highlighted exceptional design and sustainability in world-class waterfront projects, the city’s extensive ravine system and it legacy of parks. To learn more about the conference:

Landscape architects have the tools to realign urban environments to their dependent systems for better quality of life and financial and environmental resilience. Using research into the physical, ecological and cultural aspects of a site/city as supported by collaborations with allied disciplines landscape architects can steer public and political will towards the creation of a compelling framework for action. Seen from this panned view parks and a wide variety of public spaces can become connected to each other and to the greater ecologic systems. This approach provides efficiencies in everything from preparation for extreme weather events to stormwater management and maintenance and financial investment. The social and environmental ecology of Toronto makes it a perfect laboratory for developing this approach, which will ultimately lead to the betterment of its citizens.

Acknowledging the importance of connections, engagement and education in designing civic spaces.

1. Address the scale and ambition of the 1.8 million acres of the Toronto Greenbelt and the role of landscape architecture in contributing to its development. Explore a range of tactics from street design, and on-structure interventions to stormwater management and sustainable agriculture, implementable on a city-scale. Share proposed and built examples that address diverse conditions including agricultural, industrial and urban sites and note overlaps.

2. What happens when the largest parks of a region are restored leaving the smaller parks without funding? Discuss examples of political conflict that can arise and the perception of inequity.

3. Lobbying for and envisioning a model where private/public partnerships sustain and preserve a park network or greenbelt of connected sites from streetscapes to historic parks. Use well documented models of financial structures and support and expand to explore a possible city model:
a. BeltLine Atlanta
b. Bayou Greenways Initiative, Houston
c. The Ravine network, Toronto
d. Houston’s Memorial Park, Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone structures and Parks Department and Conservancy funding

4. Compare and contrast the services and costs of the hard edge infrastructure of the Toronto Waterfront with those of Toronto’s 44,000-acre Ravine Network. How can we monetize the services of the ravine network to stand up alongside the economic development potential of the $25 billion spent on the Toronto Waterfront to make the case for expenditures for care and maintenance of the network? How do we design resilience: can we balance new projects with the long-term maintenance and preservation of landscapes?


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