OALA honours Ontarians with Provincial Volunteer Leadership Awards

Photo credit: OALA

The Ontario Association of Landscape Architects (OALA) has honored a total of 11 Ontarians and one organization for their significant contributions to the landscape architect profession.

The OALA Honours and Awards are presented each year to candidates nominated by their peers and selected by the Association’s Honours, Awards, and Protocol Committee (HAP). The ceremony, attended by over 100 community leaders, took place at Toronto’s Distillery District on June 8, 2023.

Among the honorees were four women, seven men, and a not-for-profit organization who were recognized for their outstanding achievements. The awards encompassed various categories and celebrated individuals and organizations for their exceptional work in advancing the landscape architect profession.

Tony DiGiovanni, former Executive Director of Landscape Ontario, received the OALA Honourary Member Award. With over three decades of experience in landscape architecture, Tony’s leadership and commitment to collaboration have been instrumental in uniting diverse groups for the greater good. His efforts have significantly impacted Landscape Ontario members, and he initiated the Tony DiGiovanni Scholarship Fund, garnering support from numerous community members.

The OALA Research & Innovation Award recognized two recipients this year: Brendan Stewart, a professor at the University of Guelph, and Fadi Masoud, a professor at the University of Toronto. Both awardees have demonstrated excellence in their teaching, research, and innovative projects that address critical issues, including cultural landscapes, community design, global climate crisis, and social equity.

The David Erb Memorial Award was also granted to two recipients: Eric Conway, a dedicated volunteer and member of OALA and the Southwest Chapter, and Ryan James, an influential leader in both OALA and the Landscape Architecture Ottawa (LAO) chapter. Additionally, Khatereh Baharikhoob was recognized for her exceptional leadership and commitment to the profession through her volunteer work within OALA.

OALA Jack Copeland Award for Associate Leadership & Contribution honored Khatereh Baharikhoob, who has shown exceptional leadership skills and unwavering dedication to her profession through her volunteer work within OALA. As a current member of the Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) Task Force, Khatereh has played a crucial role in driving forward the CSLA + OALA/MALA associations’ JEDI Initiative. Additionally, she actively mentors, serves as a guest speaker, and participates as a review critic at the University of Guelph’s BLA Program. Khatereh’s commitment extends to providing ongoing mentorship to multiple students and new MLA graduates. She generously offers her time to engage with new graduates, discussing various opportunities for success in the landscape architecture profession and emphasizing the value of giving back to the community through advocacy and volunteerism.

In the Public Practice Award category, Stephen O’Bright and Robert Duguid were acknowledged for their remarkable contributions to the profession. Their projects, which include environmental sustainability, urban design, cultural landscapes, and waterfront revitalization, have significantly shaped Toronto’s public realm.

The Carl Borgstrom Award for Service to the Environment honored Sibylle von Knobloch. With a wealth of experience spanning over 40 years in landscape architecture, urban design, community planning, and project management, Knobloch has made remarkable contributions to the profession, leaving a lasting impact on Toronto’s urban landscape. Her work has garnered numerous awards and accolades throughout the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), including several Urban Design Awards from various municipalities. Sibylle’s involvement extends to prestigious committees, such as the Toronto Urban Design Review Committee and the Mississauga Urban Design Advisory Panel, showcasing her dedication to advancing the field. Her work consistently upholds a high standard of integrity for the profession, emphasizing ecological considerations and promoting well-being within the public sphere.

The OALA Award for Community Service to the Environment honored Plenty Canada, an Indigenous not-for-profit organization committed to reconciliation through cross-cultural nature protection and sustainable development. Their work includes environmental stewardship projects and Indigenous cultural revitalization initiatives.

Jane Welsh, former OALA President from 2018 to 2021, was recognized for her outstanding contributions in promoting and advancing the profession of landscape architecture in Ontario. As a true champion for inclusivity, diversity, and sustainability in the public realm, Jane has been an effective advocate for the profession, even during challenging times such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lastly, Donna Hinde, with an impressive 40-year career, was celebrated for her remarkable contributions to the field of landscape architecture. Serving as OALA President from 1998 to 2000, Donna increased the visibility and importance of landscape architecture in the province and successfully led efforts to remove sections of the Gardiner Expressway and modify the Oak Ridges Moraine plan.

Through these distinguished awards, OALA celebrates and recognizes the exceptional achievements of individuals and organizations that have enriched the landscape architect profession in Ontario.