June 15, 2013
The Toronto Chapter has built a successful network of connections and recognition forged through various community projects.

One such connection was the recently held first annual Gladstone Grow Op. Hosted by the Gladstone Hotel, the event was a public forum on how play can shape one’s experience of landscape. The garden show featured horticultural elements in an extremely creative and modern way.

Toronto Chapter board member Jonas Spring, owner of Ecoman, participated in this inaugural event. Spring also assisted in connecting Landscape Ontario members with this event by promoting it at a Toronto Chapter meeting and connecting home office with the event conveners (The Gladstone Hotel and the Landscape Architect Canada Foundation).

Making these new and exciting connections will assist Landscape Ontario to reach out to a variety of demographics in the Toronto downtown core. Victoria Taylor, OALA architect, said the event will be open to any LO members who wish to participate next year.

Connecting with government

Projects such as the St. James Park rejuvenation and Celebrate Yonge Street are two more important connections for the Toronto Chapter. The Chapter’s first vice president Allan Kling CLP, president of Urban Garden Supply, explained how recognition from these projects has led city councilors to contact Landscape Ontario.

He says it’s likely as a result of public citizens/community groups demanding green space, attempts to resolve public land usage issues and different attitudes at city hall. Kling has met with city councilors such as Kristyn Wong-Tam, who with the Downtown Yonge BIA, brought Celebrate Yonge to life. There are rumblings of a similar event taking place in the near future, so keep an eye on your emails for volunteer opportunities.

City councilors have also reached out to Landscape Ontario regarding the Pan Am games in 2015. Kling, along with Tony DiGiovanni and Denis Flanagan, have met with event conveners to discuss what role Landscape Ontario may play.  

Summer events

The Toronto Chapter has made great strides to encourage local industry members to become involved at meetings and events. The Chapter meetings throughout the winter saw a high level of attendance, as well as very engaged members.

Responding to the Stuart Knight presentation in April, one member wrote, “This will be a fantastic talk and I am happy to see LO organizing it.”

This summer, the Chapter is offering a July golf tournament and a very popular August baseball tournament. This year’s golf tournament will take place July 25 at Nobleton Lakes, with the baseball tournament on Aug. 18 at the Richmond Green Sport Centre and Park. Registration information is available at www.horttrades.com.

Chapter relevance

Landscape Ontario’s second vice president Warren Patterson requested LO’s membership department ask each of the Chapters to answer three questions. Some of the answers concerning chapter relevancy follow.

What is working in your chapter? The camaraderie in the group is a great stimulus to the sharing of new ideas. When each board member makes a point of discussing the chapter meetings with others and encouraging feedback from potential members, this helps with the process of creating a vibrant, effective meeting; engaging people so that they feel part of the group.

The events are most successful when those that attend feel that they have learned or profited in some way from the meeting. The biggest thing that is working for the Toronto Chapter is the cohesive drive, heart and commitment of the entire board of directors. Without their collective spirit, the Chapter would not be the success it is, as it continues to expand. The board chooses community events that demonstrate this heart, drive and commitment.

How do you attract and retain members to events? The board has found that one of the best ways to attract and retain members to events is to personally ask and encourage them to attend. Let the individual know that you will meet them at the venue; it is more comfortable knowing that there is at least one person they are familiar with and they usually end up knowing a lot more people.

The board has developed a great formula now with a consistent venue, dinner, drinks and a guest speaker. The opportunity for members to network with each other at the beginning of the meeting and through dinner is great. It’s a nice way for everyone to connect with others, meet new people and stay up-to-date on what’s happening at LO. It’s also important to let suppliers know about the meetings and encourage them to spread the word. Also, bring employees to the meeting. It’s important to get them involved and see this side of the business, and makes them feel more important and a part of something much bigger than a crew of two or three people in a truck.

What do you feel is critical to running a successful event? Planning and organizing and then re-organizing again and again. Being able to adjust on the fly and doing it with a sense of humour. What the board feels is critical to running a successful event is to be completely organized. Even if something goes astray, you have a backup plan available. Clear delegation of tasks is also very important, so that the board members can create an event and rely on each other, rather than one person having to do everything.

“I really like the group we have and appreciate the enthusiasm, ideas and support that we all bring to the table. I look forward to working with our new board members this year too,” says Chapter secretary Janet Mott CLP of Christine’s Touch Gardening in Stouffville.


Toronto Chapter snapshot

Number of Members: 953
Number of Active members: 601
Chapter Board
   Arvils Lukss, President
   Allan Kling, First Vice President
   Jonas Spring, Second Vice President
   Lindsay Drake Nightingale, Past President
   Ryan Heath CLP, CLT, Provincial Board Rep.
   Sabrina Goettler CLP, Treasurer
   Janet Mott CLP, Secretary
   Paulo Domingues CIT, Director
   Janet Ennamorato, Director
   Shawn Foley CIT, Director