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Excellence in Planning Awards

Recognizing excellence in all its forms, OPPI has celebrated professional planners and outstanding projects annually through the Excellence in Planning Awards, since 2001.

To ensure that we are celebrating and elevating the role of Registered Professional Planners (RPPs) to the best of our ability, the Institute is taking a valuable hiatus in 2018 to reflect on the awards process and determine the best approach moving forward.

Our aim is to promote the understanding, value and credibility of the designation, especially in light of Bill 122 and its progression. The awards will evolve into a clear reflection of that goal. We will update this section when a new process has been developed and the next awards season has been confirmed.

In the meantime, please explore the recent 2018 Award Winners below:

HOK (Client: Public Works Government Services Canada)

Tunney's Pasture Master Plan
District: Eastern District

The Tunney’s Pasture Master Plan creates an environment that effectively responds to an existing urban fabric with significant heritage, adapts to long-term market conditions and creates an intensified, sustainable and mixed-use transit-oriented community. The Master Plan also represents a significant milestone in the Federal Government’s real estate portfolio; as one of the largest federal employment nodes in the Canada, it will set an important precedent for the redevelopment of other government-owned urban lands - including those within the provincial and municipal levels of government.

Dillon Consulting, RCI Consulting, City of Welland, BNC Inc.

Downtown Welland Revitalization
District: Western Lake Ontario District

In 2013, the City of Welland embarked on an ambitious plan to completely regenerate and revitalize its downtown core and adjacent health and wellness district. The City’s program includes two main vehicles for revitalization:

1. Community Improvement Plan (CIP) for the Downtown and Health and Wellness Cluster; and,
2. City-wide Urban Design Guidelines
The CIP promotes building and property revitalization, reinforces Downtown as a mixed use, transit supportive area, and encourages uses in the Health and Wellness Cluster that build on and strengthen Welland's existing health and wellness uses and resources. The Urban Design Guidelines provide a practical and flexible tool for assessing new development and redevelopment in the City, including the Downtown and the Health and Wellness Area. The City’s Urban Design Guidelines were prepared in parallel to the CIP project – effectively the two projects were undertaken in an integrated fashion.

Town of Oakville

“inZone Project,” the Town of Oakville’s Comprehensive Zoning By-law Review
District: Western Lake Ontario District

Oakville’s inZone Project was the preparation of the town's new Zoning By-law 2014-014. inZone implemented the policies of the new official plan, the Livable Oakville Official Plan, into a new zoning framework. The end result of the inZone project was Council’s unanimous passing of a new Zoning By-law 2014-014 alongside a number of significant innovations for consultation, customer service, and information management related to land use regulation in Ontario.

Toronto and Region Conservation Authority

The Living City Policies for Planning and Development in the Watersheds of the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority
District: Toronto District

The Living City Policies for Planning and Development in the Watersheds of the TRCA (LCP) is a conservation authority policy document that guides the implementation of TRCA’s legislated and delegated roles and responsibilities in the planning and development approvals process. Comparable to a combined municipal official plan and zoning by-law, the LCP represents a compilation of existing plan and permit review policies and practices that have evolved over time. It also contains new policies related to TRCA programs, scientific research, and external planning and development initiatives. The LCP’s purpose is to: guide TRCA review of planning applications and environmental assessments; provide the basis for approving permit applications under the Conservation Authorities Act; inform TRCA’s advocacy role for The Living City in the planning and development process; and assist and enable our partners’ and stakeholders’ contributions to building The Living City.

Toronto Public Health with Gladki Planning Associates, DTAH, City of Toronto Planning, City of Toronto Transportation Services

Active City: Designing for Health
District: Toronto District

Gladki Planning Associates partnered with DTAH to develop an educational document for Toronto Public Health on the salubrious role of urban design. Entitled Active City: Designing for Health, it drew on academic research and a number of design case studies of successful projects in Toronto and around the world to make the case for prioritizing cycling and walking in urban design interventions of all scales. Endorsed by Toronto’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David McKeown, Chief Planner, Jennifer Keesmaat, and General Manager of Transportation, Stephen Buckley, Active City followed a process that brought together and engaged staff from a number of City departments.

Niagara Region

Imagine Niagara
District: Western Lake Ontario District

In 2013, Niagara Region kicked off their 5 Year Review of its Official Plan with the goal of receiving substantial public comments to support the policy direction for Niagara. The Plan was branded “Imagine Niagara” and easy to understand categories were developed to transform, what could have been a complex planning exercise, into a relatable visioning exercise. To engage residents, Niagara Region went into the community using engagement tools, such as YouTube videos, surveys, "meet and greets" at popular local venues, Facebook advertising and Twitter. We found that Facebook ads and videos worked beyond our expectations (well beyond) to get valuable and informed feedback on planning issues. On a project that typically garners very little interest, we had the highest number of engaged citizens in Niagara Region for any Regional project. The substantial feedback tells us we are on the right track and aligned with the Regional community’s priorities and hopes.

Caledon East Community Improvement Plan: an Innovative Tool to Promote Healthy Lifestyles

Town of Caledon, MMM Group Limited and Region of Peel -Public Health
District: Oak Ridges District

The Caledon East Community Improvement Plan is a long-term strategy for revitalizing the community and enhancing the quality of life for Caledon East’s residents. Uniquely located at the confluence of the Oak Ridges Moraine and the Niagara Escarpment, Caledon East is a well-known stop for cyclists.

The Caledon East Community Improvement Plan envisages the revitalization of the community as a safe, attractive, walkable, and active community. The Plan was jointly funded by the Town of Caledon and Peel Public Health, and prepared in consultation with MMM Group.

Building upon the work of Peel Public Health, the Community Improvement Plan focuses on promoting active living through pedestrian-oriented design, accommodation for cyclists, and universal accessibility. The Plan outlines financial incentives for property owners and tenants, as well as other improvements to the public realm. The Plan aims to help transform Caledon East into a healthy, prosperous, and complete community.

Humbertown Master Plan

Urban Strategies Inc., First Capital Realty, Tridel
District: Toronto District

The Humbertown Master Plan reimagines a once state-of-the-art single-purpose community shopping plaza as a new vibrant mixed-use community, representing the latest thinking in planning, architecture and urban design.

Structured around a generous, attractive and accessible public realm, the Master Plan proposes intensification that expands on the existing retail-commercial offerings with a mix of residential housing types including condominium residences, senior suites and townhomes, and a number of community amenities such as a day care, a health club, a grocery store and a pharmacy.

The Master Plan incorporates all the elements desired in a modern neighbourhood – function and beauty, activity and quiet, efficiency and sustainability, landmarks and context – all within a palette that allows this new community centrepiece to appear at once unified and uniquely diverse.

City of Ottawa Transportation Master Plan

City of Ottawa
District: Eastern District

Ottawa’s 2013 Transportation Master Plan (TMP) sets a new standard for sustainable transportation planning in Canada. The plan, unanimously approved by Ottawa City Council in November 2013, sets ambitious targets for sustainable modes and represents a significant paradigm shift away from the traditional “predict and provide” approach to transportation planning.

Although most master plans now prepared in Canada place a policy emphasis on sustainability, few go as far as to follow through from vision to action. 
Specifically, Ottawa has adopted a TMP that:

  • reduces per capita vehicle emissions;
  • better ties transportation planning to land use planning;
  • is affordable, because a plan is only as good as what can actually be achieved;
  • designs for the peak period rather than the peak hour;
  • sets aggressive targets for sustainable transportation modes and outlines the funding commitments required to achieve them; and
  • shifts focus from achieving mobility to achieving accessibility.

MTO Transit-Supportive Guidelines

Ministry of Transportation, Urban Strategies, GHD
District: Toronto District

The update of the 1992 Ontario Ministry of Transportation's Transit-Supportive Guidelines is a response to new policy frameworks, emerging ideas and lessons from a generation of transit-supportive communities. The expanded guidelines are a distillation of transit-friendly, land use planning, urban design and operational practices, drawing from experiences in Ontario, elsewhere in North America and abroad. The document includes over 50 guidelines and almost 450 strategies to assist urban planners, transit planners, developers and others in creating an environment that is supportive of transit use and increasing transit ridership.

Caledon East Community Improvement Plan: an Innovative Tool to Promote Healthy Lifestyles

Town of Caledon, MMM Group Limited and Region of Peel -Public Health
District: Oak Ridges District

The Caledon East Community Improvement Plan is a long-term strategy for revitalizing the community and enhancing the quality of life for Caledon East’s residents. Uniquely located at the confluence of the Oak Ridges Moraine and the Niagara Escarpment, Caledon East is a well-known stop for cyclists.

The Caledon East Community Improvement Plan envisages the revitalization of the community as a safe, attractive, walkable, and active community. The Plan was jointly funded by the Town of Caledon and Peel Public Health, and prepared in consultation with MMM Group.

Building upon the work of Peel Public Health, the Community Improvement Plan focuses on promoting active living through pedestrian-oriented design, accommodation for cyclists, and universal accessibility. The Plan outlines financial incentives for property owners and tenants, as well as other improvements to the public realm. The Plan aims to help transform Caledon East into a healthy, prosperous, and complete community.

University of Guelph Campus Master Plan

Urban Strategies Inc.
District: Southwest District

This Plan is a significant milestone in the University's evolution.

The University will encounter many opportunities and challenges in the coming decades, perhaps most importantly the need for campus and building renewal.

The plan provides an opportunity for the re-examination of the framework and directions for physical change, supporting the University's far-reaching academic goals, while enhancing the campus experience for students, staff, faculty and neighbours.

The Plan is also an innovative and flexible "management tool" that will ensure the University is positioned to proactively respond to these challenges in a sustainable and cost effective manner.

Urban Strategies' plan for the University goes beyond the physical design of the campus itself and considers trends in education, demographics and the alignment of campus growth with external factors such as transit and community issues.

City of Markham’s Bird Friendly Guidelines

City of Markham
District: Oak Ridges District

The Bird Friendly Guidelines were endorsed by City of Markham Council on February 11th, 2014 to assess background conditions on documented bird strikes in Markham, bird migration implications and the development of window treatments and site plan considerations for the reduction of bird-window collisions. The Guidelines were prepared to address future buildings, but also provide direction on addressing bird friendly retrofits of existing buildings. 

These provide a number of implementation recommendations which include the incorporation of bird friendly treatments into the site plan approval process, through the use of a Bird Friendly Guidelines Specification Checklist, and the development of an education and outreach program to guide the development industry, businesses and residents.

These Guidelines are intended to be made available to builders and developers and to be incorporated in the City’s site plan approval process.

Niagara Economic Gateway Strategy and Community Improvement Plan

Region of Niagara, Dillon Consulting, RCI Consulting and Watson & Associates
District: Western Lake Ontario District

In an effort to capitalize on the Province's direction and address emerging economic and planning-related issues, the Region of Niagara launched its comprehensive Niagara Economic Gateway Strategy and Community Improvement Project in 2010.

The two-year project featured a multi-jurisdictional, collaborative and innovative approach to land use and infrastructure planning and economic development for these key employment lands.

The vision for the Strategy is to attract investment and promote employment growth in "strategic locations for investment" throughout southern Niagara.

The plan is to transform a collection of unrelated, disorganized vacant lands and derelict brownfields into a diversified mix of vibrant, attractively designed, accessible, competitive and sustainable employment areas.

New Communities Guidelines

Regional Municipality of York
District: Oak Ridges District

The New Communities Guidelines document outlines expectations on how new community areas will be built, which is fundamentally different from communities of the past. 

When York Region updated the York Region Official Plan, 2010, it was determined that additional lands would be needed to accommodate growth to the year 2031. 

The Region also recognized the need and opportunity to develop new community areas in a more sustainable way. Developed through consultation with residents, stakeholders and local municipalities, the New Communities Guidelines provides clarity on how to implement the applicable policies of the York Region Official Plan, 2010.

Religious Heritage Resource Management

Robert Lehman and Associates
District: Southwest District

The Religious Heritage Resource Management discussion paper and guidelines for alteration and demolition of designated places of worship were prepared in response to changes to The Ontario Heritage Act. The paper seeks to address the impact of the Act on the work of churches in the community. It also assess the placement of the authority to regulate the design and use of places of worship in the hands of municipal councils. The purpose of the project was to formalize the need to balance heritage preservation and religious needs in the decisions involving heritage preservation.

Guelph Downtown Secondary Plan

City of Guelph and Urban Strategies Inc.
District: Southwest District

The Guelph Downtown Secondary Plan, adopted in April 2012, is the culmination of a series of planning initiatives focused on the city's historic centre that began in 2007.

Taking a holistic, design-based approach, the plan covers many aspects of city-building and includes measurable targets.

Its policies cover economic development, mobility, the public realm, community facilities, heritage, energy, water and the natural environment, as well as land use and built form.

The plan recognizes that intensification needs to be balanced with steady improvements to the public realm, including the creation of new parkland on the riverfront.

By communicating openly and regularly with the various downtown stakeholders, and responding to issues as they arose, the City was able to build broad consensus around the final plan.

The Guelph Downtown Secondary Plan demonstrates how a mid-size can add vitality to its city centre and still protect its historic character.

Measuring the Sustainability Performance of New Developments in Brampton, Richmond Hill and Vaughan

City of Brampton Planning and Infrastructure Services Department; Town of Richmond Hill Planning and Regulatory Services Department; and City of Vaughan Planning Department
District: Oak Ridges District

The Cities of Brampton and Vaughan and the Town of Richmond Hill joined together to produce an innovative set of Sustainability Tools to be used as part of the planning process.

By integrating Sustainability Tools into the planning process, these municipalities are taking the road less travelled and daring to dream that a “menu” of small actions, when repeated over and over, will make a more measureable improvement to the function of the built environment than the traditional “big infrastructure” approach.

The partnership established a funding and collaboration model that enabled the municipalities to leverage resources across political boundaries towards a common purpose, including receiving partial funding through the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ Green Municipal Fund.

The Huron Sussex Neighbourhood Planning Study

Brook McIlroy, N. Barry Lyon Consultants, the University of Toronto, and the Huron Sussex Residents Association
District: Toronto District

The Planning Study for the University of Toronto’s Huron Sussex Neighbourhood re-envisions the City’s traditional approach to intensification, proposing strategically located laneway housing and midrise buildings within a low-rise neighbourhood to increase housing, while protecting the existing scale and architectural character.

The Study provides detailed housing typologies and supporting Performance Guidelines that respond to lot and neighbourhood-specific conditions.

An innovative financing strategy provides a delivery model that addresses campus housing needs while recognizing the increasingly limited capital and maintenance budgets available to Canadian universities.

The directions of this study have the potential to be an impetus for future laneway housing throughout the City, and the re-evaluation of the established policies and framework for residential infill. The Study is a joint effort between Brook McIlroy, NBLC, the University, and the Huron Sussex Residents Organization.

uPlan North Bay

City of North Bay
District: Northern District

The City of North Bay's new official plan is premised on the concept of participatory planning and embodies the principles of sustainability and healthy communities. Throughout the process, staff sought to engage the public in meaningful dialogue to enable residents and other stakeholders to shape the plan through all facets of its evolution. Written by city staff, the plan was approved by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing with no appeals to the Ontario Municipal Board.

City of Hamilton's Neighbourhood Action Strategy

City of Hamilton
District: Western Lake Ontario District

The City's Strategy was created in November 2010 to address health and well-being inequities in Hamilton neighbourhoods.

Employing an asset-based community development approach, the Neighbourhood Action Strategy utilizes the greatest resource in any neighbourhood, its residents, to intentionally focus dialogue around the positive things in the community.

This innovative strategy blends the foundations of asset-based community development with land use planning to develop resident-led, asset-based Neighbourhood Action Plans that build upon local social capital and address the health inequities in eleven Hamilton neighbourhoods.

The completed plans present a clear vision for the future and describe projects that are implementable, achievable and have widespread community support. Implementation of the plans will take place between 2013-2017.

Rural Landowner Stewardship Guide for the Ontario Landscape

School of Environmental Design and Rural Development, University of Guelph
District: Southwest District

The Rural Stewardship Guide (RLSG) for the Ontario Landscape recognizes the challenges associated with making environmental improvements through regulation alone. As planners we frequently establish regulatory criteria to ensure environmental protection. But how do we encourage voluntary landowner actions? The Guide provides an educational toolkit for planners, municipalities and others involved in conservation to mobilize landowners.

The Guide is a workbook that serves as a self-assessment tool for environmental issues. Actions from water and natural heritage protection to energy conservation are highlighted. The Guide is formulated as an easy to read and understand guidebook and can be used by individuals by themselves or in facilitated workshop settings.

The Guide is general enough to be used across Ontario; however, it can also be customized to various municipalities or watersheds. The Guide patterns itself and builds on the over 20 year success of Ontario's Environmental Farm Plan.

Seneca College Campus Master Plan

DIALOG Ontario Inc.
District: Oak Ridges District

As the first comprehensive master plan in Seneca College's 44-year history, this plan is positioned to assist the institution in achieving its goals of providing superior quality education and fostering student success. Phased over a 10 to 15 year development period and longer term build out, the plan is intended to serve as a tool for campus administration and faculty. It will guide implementation of three distinct campus plans — Newnham, King and Markham — and assist in establishing funding opportunities to advance Seneca College's goals.

The Step Forward: Hamilton Pedestrian Mobility Plan

City of Hamilton, McKibbon Wakefiled Inc. and O'Connor Mokrycke Consultants
District: Western Lake Ontario District

"Step Forward: Hamilton's Pedestrian Mobility Plan", establishes a 20-year framework to improve the pedestrian environment. The Plan achieves this goal by embedding a decision process, "routine accommodation" into municipal capitol and infrastructure renewal projects.

When streets are reconstructed, the Plan provides for the assessment of pedestrian facilities and improvements to be implemented concurrently during reconstruction to create safer, more interesting and functional pedestrian facilities.

When infrastructure projects are planned, a City department team, lead by a pedestrian mobility coordinator, will review the state of the pedestrian environment using a complete streets checklist and streetscape context analysis.

Significant projects may warrant the review and comment of a Pedestrian Mobility Committee comprised of neighbourhood stakeholders.

The evaluation will consider engineering, equity, education, and encouragement and enforcement issues associated with the selection of a preferred design from the Plan's "toolbox" of alternative designs.

Tall Buildings: Inviting Change in Downtown Toronto

Urban Strategies Inc., Hariri Pontarini Architects and the City of Toronto's Planning Division
District: Toronto District

Urban Strategies led a multi-disciplinary team in developing a strong, detailed, defensible, and comprehensive set of performance standards for tall buildings in Toronto's downtown core.

The report identifies appropriate locations and heights for tall buildings and set out regulations for how they should be designed in order to relate appropriately to their surroundings and improve the livability and enjoyment of the downtown as a whole.

The vision and regulations are designed to be seamlessly integrated into the existing regulatory framework through amendments to the Zoning By-law and the Official Plan.

The IDEAS CAFÉ A street master planning and visioning workshop

City of Hamilton
District: Western Lake Ontario District

The IDEAS CAFÉ is an innovative approach to visioning workshops, two of which, were implemented by the City of Hamilton Staff to advance the 'Ottawa Street Master Plan'.

This submission represents a new and creative approach to engagement both at the professional level and at the municipal level.

Participants at the IDEAS CAFÉ were involved in an 'immersive experience' that allowed these participants to discuss ideas and concepts at length to make common ground and to build a common vision.