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2023 PlanON Award WinnerS

Congratulations to this year’s 11 recipients and thank you to all
applicants who made a PlanON Awards submission this year.

The PlanON Awards is the highest honour OPPI can bestow!

This year, we received a record number of awards submissions which made the selection process very difficult for our jurors and is a testament to the exceptional achievements of OPPI members who demonstrated professional excellence and a commitment to advancing the planning profession in Ontario. 

For that reason, only members of OPPI are recognized through these awards. 



  • Bylaws for Biodiversity 
  • The Meadoway Visualization Toolkit


The Bylaws for Biodiversity public education campaign aims to provide widespread knowledge, education and support for urban biodiversity. This work has centered on advocating for reform of bylaws and ordinances to enhance biodiversity through lawn naturalization and healthy yard practices. This multi-faceted research and education project is part of a growing movement across North America, with the objective of mitigating the global impacts of biodiversity and habitat loss on one’s private property, through practices of naturalization, encouraging municipal-wide environmental stewards, and through the revision of outdated, colonially-rooted weed and grass bylaws. Since 2020, countless residents from across Ontario and beyond, have reached out to our lab seeking advice. With the ongoing collaboration of community partners, our team has translated municipal planning research into a series of free downloadable public-facing resources that provide factual data, support, and answers to the frequently asked questions we most often receive from the public. Our project now includes a research report on the troublesome history of lawns, a bylaw toolkit for planners, a free downloadable FAQ document and “how to” guide to naturalizing lawn space. These resources written by our team provide public knowledge and education, supported by fact, about not only resisting outdated urban planning practices and municipal property standards and by-laws, but also best practices when speaking to other members of the community, who may not yet understand the magnitude of the social and ecological value provided by the naturalized garden on one’s private property. 

OPPI Team Members:

  • Prof. Nina-Marie E. Lister, MCIP, RPP, Hon. ASLA
  • Aylise Cooke, OPPI Student Member
Nina-Marie Lister is Professor of Urban Planning at Toronto Metropolitan University where she directs the Ecological Design Lab. A Senior Fellow of Massey College, she is also Visiting Professor of Landscape Architecture at Harvard University where she directs the WildWays Project. Lister holds the Margolese National Design for Living Prize for her work in ecological design and she was awarded honourary membership in the American Society of Landscape Architects. As co-editor of The Ecosystem Approach, Projective Ecologies, and author of more than 100 scholarly and professional works, Lister connects people to nature in cities, through green infrastructure design for  climate resilience, biodiversity and human wellbeing.
Aylise Cooke holds her Master of Planning in Urban Development at Toronto Metropolitan University, a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a certificate of Ethics and Policy for Technological Innovation from McMaster University. Aylise is passionate about integrating science, local knowledge and policy to cocreate equitable and resilient cities. With the Ecological Design Lab, Aylise collaborated on the Bylaws for Biodiversity and Safe Passages projects. With the support of Nina-Marie Lister and Lorraine Johnson, Aylise completed a study investigating the potential of liminal ecologies. This research promotes further understanding of how informal ecologies can support biodiversity and resilience in the City of Toronto.


The Meadoway is a project that will transform 16 kilometres of hydro transmission corridor in Scarborough, Ontario into one of the largest urban linear green spaces in Canada. Partially complete, it has already served as a blueprint for revitalization, a world-class example of linear greenspace, and a precedent for future hydro corridor restoration across the GTA. Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA), in partnership with the Weston Family Foundation and City of Toronto, retained the design team to develop a visualization toolkit consisting of conceptual plans, renderings, and animations that demonstrate the look and feel of the future state of The Meadoway with the goal of generating public interest, stewardship, and funding for the project. We ensured the work was legible and accessible for the public. We put a lot of thought into choosing the best locations for the renderings, ensuring that there was enough variety in scale, focus, and perspective to comprehensively describe the project. In each rendering, we strived to highlight the positive impacts of biodiversity, habitat creation, and increased access to nature. We treated the representation as an opportunity for people to learn about the process of restoration and the types of flora and fauna that will call The Meadoway home. Beyond the interpretive map, we took an innovative approach to engagement by creating additional tools there were interactive and collaborative, including 3D models and digital tools such as VR/QR codes. It is challenging for residents and stakeholders to visualize themselves in the physical space of The Meadoway, so virtual reality became a powerful tool for public engagement and created excitement in the future state of The Meadoway.

OPPI Team Members:
  • Eunice Wong, MCIP, RPP, LEED ND
Eunice Wong, MCIP, RPP, LEED ND is an urban designer, associate, at Perkins&Will. They are passionate about the human experience and believe that good design should always represent a people-first philosophy. Their work includes strategic policy planning, built-form testing, urban design guidelines, and a focused interest in social resilience. Notable projects include Toronto’s First Resilience Strategy, TOcore, The Meadoway, Toronto’s Transit Design Guide, and the Jane Finch Initiative. Eunice has also led research which explored how responding to social inequities should be a critical part of every planner’s toolkit. Eunice is also a planning instructor at TMU, a member of the studio’s  JED Committee, and host of the Inhabit Podcast.


  • OMAFRA Project
  •  Planning Dementia - Inclusive Communities


The OMAFRA sponsored research explored best practices related to on-farm diversification policy design and implementation at provincial, municipal, and individual farm levels. This research made many recommendations related to policy change and implementation process. The dissertation identifies how on-farm diversification impacts the family farm and how Ontario land use planning policies can balance agriculture and family farm resilience. This research took on a more theoretical review of agricultural resilience literature, On-Farm Diversified Use (OFDU) examples and land use policy to connect a balanced approach to economic development and agricultural land preservation. This research is the first to provide in-depth review of OFDU policy and identifies recommendations and best practices. Municipalities have evidence to design and implement policies/initiatives supportive of OFDUs, to achieve a balance between farmland preservation and agricultural viability. This includes municipal councils, planning departments, economic development, and various committees. The information and best practices in this research are shared across the Province to lead to consistent interpretation and application of provincial policy. The provincial government has access to a thoughtful evaluation of existing policies on OFDUs to provide insight into the success of the Guidelines and assist with PPS reviews. Research identifies ways the planning profession can devote efforts to training/supporting RPPs in interpreting, designing, and implementing policy supportive of OFDUs that is consistent across Ontario.

OPPI Team Members:
  • Emily Sousa - MSc, RPP Candidate
  • Dr. Pam Duesling - PhD, MCIP, RPP, EcD
  • Dr. Wayne Caldwell - PhD, FCIP, RPP
Emily Sousa, MSc (PI), RPP Candidate is a Planner with the County of Brant and specializes in agricultural development review, Agricultural Systems planning, and rural community development. She recently graduated from the University of Guelph with an M.Sc. in Rural Planning and Development and is a Candidate Registered Professional Planner with OPPI. She is a past award recipient of OPPI's Gerald Carrothers Graduate and Southwest District scholarship. Being passionate about local government, agriculture, and food systems planning, you can find Emily volunteering as an appointed member of the City of Cambridge’s Farmers Market Advisory Committee in her spare time. 
Pam Duesling, PhD, MCIP, RPP, Ec D, CMM3, is a Registered Professional Planner who has been practicing in rural southern Ontario for 25 years. Pam is the General Manager of Development Services in the County of Brant. She has a Bachelor of Environmental Studies in Urban and Regional Planning, a Masters of Applied Environmental Studies in Local Economic Development from the University of Waterloo and a PhD in Rural Studies from the University of Guelph. Pam is a lifelong volunteer with OPPI and is currently serving as a Director on OPPI Council. Pam understands the challenges and opportunities of both rural economic perseverance and agricultural land use planning through her dedication of being a sixth-                                                       generation family farmer in Norfolk County.
Wayne Caldwell, PhD, RPP, FCIP, is a retired Professor in Rural Planning at the University of Guelph. He previously held interim positions as Dean of the Ontario Agricultural College and as Associate Vice-President Research. His interests include planning for agriculture, farmland preservation, rural communities and community-based approaches to economic and environmental issues. He has ten books to his credit including Planning for Rural Resilience; Farmland Preservation: Land for Future Generations and Rediscovering Thomas Adams He is a Fellow of the Canadian Institute of Planners and has served as Chair or President of a number of local, provincial and national organizations including President of OPPI.


Contrary to popular belief, over 2/3 of people living with dementia (PLWD) live in community in Canada, yet there is limited research on how land use and design impacts their ability to access their neighbourhoods, with none done in Canada before this project. PLWD deserve to access their neighbourhoods, like anyone else, so this project investigated how PLWD experience their suburban neighbourhoods. The project sought to answer two questions: 1) What are the barriers and facilitators to accessing their neighbourhoods for PLWD? and 2) What can planners do to make the ubiquitous open house public engagement tool more accessible to PLWD? The research included 7 PLWD in suburban Waterloo Region, and used innovative methods to address the RQs, like narrative interviews, multiple go-along interviews with photos, two-week GPS tracking and travel diaries (to address Q1), and participant observation at public open house meetings and post-experience interviews (to address Q2). I address two core ways of working towards justice in planning– through outcomes and processes. OUTCOMES: Biglieri & Dean (2022) examined barriers and facilitators to mobility for PLWD in terms of land use, urban design and wayfinding. With my background as a landuse planning consultant, I created a list of built environment features to help planners to think about how suburban areas can be familiar/comforting to PLWD, but also a scary place that forces people to remain in a particular area, or indoors. PROCESS: Biglieri (2021) examined adapting the public open house to be more accessible to PLWD, providing easy-to-implement, low cost recommendations for planners in communication, selection of interior spaces/lighting/sound/layouts, presentation of info and feedback mechanisms. I question planning theory, that grand ideas about inclusion are not enough – we have to conduct on the ground, microscale studies to see what barriers exist for people with disabilities during public engagement

OPPI Team Members:

  • Dr. Samantha Biglieri, MCIP, RPP
  • Dr. Jennifer Dean, Candidate Member
Samantha Bilglieri, PhD, RPP, MCIP, is an Assistant Professor in the School of Urban and Regional Planning at Toronto Metropolitan University and Director of the Health, Access + Planning Lab. Her research focusing on experiences of older adults and people living with dementia in their neighbourhoods and accessibility/disability in the profession has been funded by national/provincial governments and published in academic/practice-based journals in Canada, US and UK. At TMU, she teaches land-use/community planning studios, participatory research methods and health, accessibility and aging in planning. She is also a consultant with The Biglieri Group Ltd. and previously served on the Toronto Council on Aging board, a civic engagement non-profit.
Jennifer Dean is an Associate Professor in the School of Planning at the University of Waterloo. A social scientist and health geographer by training, Jennifer’s broad research program investigates the connection between people and place. Much of her work explores how marginalized populations interact with their local environment, examines the role of the planning profession in the development of healthy communities, and assesses the link between built form and social inclusion/belonging. Jennifer’s work has been featured in academic, community, and professional outlets including Plan Canada and OPPI Magazine/Y Magazine. Jennifer has a passion for teaching future planners and planning researchers in the areas of health and the built environment, social and community planning, research methods, and planning theory and law.


  • Building LeBreton - Master Concept Plan
  • Town of Kingsville Temporary Farm Worker Housing Study

The Master Concept Plan sets in motion the transformation of a 29-ha brownfield site into a complete community. The plan will achieve carbon neutral, affordable housing, and active mobility to create a dynamic new neighbourhood. Designed as a model community, the project has implementation targets to ensure the creation of public benefits (parks and public realm, community amenities and local economic benefits). The MCP has 7 guiding principles and organized by 4 districts to bring capital, destination and civic experiences to life. The vision is a thriving cultural hub and diverse community grounded in a sense of history and place. The MCP is structured by 7 strategies: Parks & Public Realm, Mobility, Land Use, Built Form, Sustainability, Culture and Heritage, Housing. It provides for flexible development targets to guide long-term development and achieve an appropriate mix of land uses:  12.5 ha of parks/open spaces; 520,000 sq.m. of GFA;  4,000 units; 7,500 residents; and 3,750 jobs. The redevelopment of LeBreton offers a model for the future of downtowns that addresses challenges of climate change, equity, affordability, and health. The Plan outlines policies and targets to create a transit-oriented, mixed-use that sets a new bar for sustainable, inclusive, active-mobility oriented development. More than 40% of the area is dedicated to parks and public realm. As a carbon neutral neighbourhood, all buildings will certify to CaGBC Zero Carbon Building Standard and energy demand will be met through district energy. The project is committed to the delivery of at least 25% affordable housing and 15% of overall units be family-sized. The housing targets have been put into municipal policy, thus when sites within LeBreton are going through municipal development, they will be required to meet these policies. The MCP will follow best practices, innovation in sustainable development, and use social procurement to implement benefits to the community and local economy. 

OPPI Team Members:

  • Hieu Nguyen, MCIP, RPP
  • Mark Conway MCIP, RPP, PLE
  • Chris Hardwicke, MRAIC, MCIP, RPP
  • Matthew Bennett, MCIP, RPP, PLE
Hieu Nguyen, MCIP, RPP is a senior planner with the National Capital Commission. Hieu has worked on the development of the LeBreton Flats Master Concept Plan and now on its implementation. She supports the achievement of the plan’s bold goals for affordable housing, sustainability, and public realm. Hieu has over 15 years of experience managing complex projects in the public, private, and non-for-profit sectors in Ottawa and internationally. Her past work include: project management for Adisoke (Ottawa Public Library and Library and Archives Canada joint facility), the creation of the Innovation Centre at Bayview Yards,  and delivery of the post-tsunami Canada-Sri Lanka Municipal Co-operation Program.
Mark Conway, MCIP, RPP, PLE is the President of NBLC and oversees the management and professional activities of the company. Mark is a professional planner and land economist with over 40 years of experience in housing and real estate development. Since graduating from Ryerson’s School of Urban Planning Mark has held a variety of planning and real estate roles in both the public and private sector. Mark is currently the President of N. Barry Consultants Limited (NBLC), specializing in providing real estate advice in complex high-density markets. NBLC is routinely engaged to provide guidance on housing products and pricing, land valuations, and development strategies for Canada’s leading developers.
Chris Hardwicke, MCIP, RPP, MRAIC is a principal with O2 Planning and Design, managing the firm’s Design Studio. He is a registered professional planner, a member of the Royal Architecture Institute of Canada and an urban designer with over 25 years of experience. He has achieved international recognition as a Fellow of the Forum for Urban Design in New York; a Recognized Practitioner in Urban Design in the UK; and, as a member of the Fast Company Impact Council and the Council for Canadian Urbanism.
Matthew Bennett, PLE, RPP, MCIP is a Professional Planner and Land Economist with over 15 years of experience in a wide range of both public and private sector real estate development and land use planning projects across Canada. Matt's experience spans most forms and types of residential, commercial, mixed-use, and institutional real estate development. These projects include major urban infrastructure investments and renewal initiatives, affordable housing strategies, market and financial feasibility analyses. Matt's work often focuses at the intersection of concept development and economic viability. He led NBLC’s work across a series of market and financial analyses that are foundational to the business case for the LeBreton Flats Master Concept Plan.


The Town of Kingsville has the one of the highest concentrations of commercial greenhouses in the world. Every year thousands of temporary foreign workers travel to the area for seasonal employment in these greenhouses. Workers require housing, which for Kingsville, has been provided both on-site, and off-site. WSP worked with the Town in 2021 and 2022 to undertake a review of land use planning policies related to temporary farm worker (TFW) housing within Kingsville. The primary question our team was asked to consider was whether worker housing should be located solely on-farm, or also permitted off-farm in the rural area and in the Town’s urban area. This study was at the intersection of several major planning issues, not just in Ontario but in the rest of Canada, the United States, and many countries around the world. As the impacts of climate change worsen, food supply chains will be threatened and local agriculture will become more and more important. The already vibrant greenhouse industry in Essex County is likely to experience rapid growth, and the need for temporary workers will increase, requiring thoughtful guidance to ensure workers are provided with safe and clean housing, treated equitably, while considering the housing supply for the Town’s permanent residents. Furthermore, our team explored, through our engagement with workers’ reps and our research, how the Town’s planning policies can be leveraged to improve connection and inclusion of temporary workers within the Kingsville community.

OPPI Team Members:

  • Will Lamond, RPP Candidate
  • Gregory Bender, MCIP, RPP
Will Lamond, RPP Candidate, is a Project Planner with WSP’s Urban and Community Planning group. He has a Master in Environmental Studies, Planning, from York University. Will works on a variety of municipal planning projects at WSP, including official plans, secondary plans, zoning by-laws, housing studies, and other related land-use planning studies. Prior to his planning career, Will worked in the Canadian theatre industry, and looks for ways to draw on his experience as an arts worker to develop holistic, creative, community-based methods of place- and policy-making.
Gregory Bender, MCIP, RPP, is WSP’s Director of Urban and Community Planning who has 20 years of municipal planning experience in the preparation of regional and local planning and growth management studies in some of the fastest growing areas in the country. These studies have been completed, or are currently underway, for upper, lower, and single-tier municipalities all who are facing significant growth pressures that have to be balanced with available land supply, transportation pressures, and intensification. Greg has also been involved on some of the largest transit infrastructure projects in Canada as the permitting and approvals lead for the Eglinton LRT and Regional Express Rail projects.


  • NADF Project Implementation Toolkit: Building Bimadizowin 
  • Saugeen First Nation Creator's Garden & Amphitheatre Master Plan


As a follow-up to Nishnawbe Aski Development Fund's (NADF) Comprehensive Community Planning Toolkit, the Project Implementation Toolkit is a practical guide, grounded in the context of First Nations in Northern Ontario. The Toolkit provides guidance, tools, examples and best practices, in a format that breaks down the implementation phase into a manageable, approachable process. It was written to be relevant and accessible to community staff tasked with “getting projects done” (plans, policies, programs or infrastructure), regardless of their experience or training. The Toolkit is intended to help fill a gap in planning resources and supports, a role often taken up by outside consultants, and responds to this real need in First Nations communities to develop local capacity, knowledge, and project ownership. It was developed in collaboration with an Advisory Group of First Nations representatives, whose years of experience ensure it reflects and is relevant to the specific context of First Nations community development. As governments, organizations and institutions work to support reconciliation, nurturing the means for First Nations to determine their own trajectories is a key component. OPPI has recognized its responsibilities in responding to the Calls to Action set out by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, which include Indigenous capacity building in the realm of community development and recognizing Indigenous knowledge within the planning profession. The Toolkit demonstrates Indigenous leadership and the valuing of Indigenous perspectives in an immediately relevant and applicable resource. It’s designed to foster in-situ capacity of First Nations practitioners who either choose to remain in their community or don’t have the ability to travel and live outside for educational/ training opportunities. It also fills a gap in resources developed by Indigenous practitioners for community practitioners, and for non-Indigenous planners to better understand First Nations contexts.

OPPI Team Members:
  • Janet Kivett Knight, NADF, RPP, MCRP


Janet Kivett Knight (Sr. Community Planner, NADF), Dan Paradis (Manager of Community Development, NADF) and David Hohenschau (Sr. Planner EcoPlan International) each have decades of experience working with Indigenous communities. NADF & Advisory Group provides community development services to First Nations across Northern Ontario, working with a group of First Nations Advisors, including: Priscilla Graham and Alice Sasines (Animbiigoo Zaagiigan Anishinaabek), Paul Henderson (Mitaanjigamiing), Roy Kakegamic (Sandy Lake), Leslie Spence (Webequie), Jutta Horn (Missanabie Cree), Brenda Morriseau (Sagkeeng) and Noreen Agnew (Long Lake 58). Each Advisor brings years of grounded experience, knowledge and expertise to guide the development of NADF’s supports.


In the 1970s, a classical stone Amphitheatre & Gardens were built on the Saugeen River slope by members of Saugeen First Nation. This cultural heart of Saugeen was for many years a cultural destination attracting people to ceremonial & performance events – a source of economic development & pride for the community. A strategy to revitalize the site is guided by a Master Plan that expands its role as a cultural centre based on Anishinaabek world views of land stewardship; sustainability; & the reclamation of Indigenous language & traditional knowledge. The Gardens, designed around a thematic interpretation of the 7 Grandfather Teachings, provides an inspiring setting for cultural reclamation. The Master Plan was prepared by Brook McIlroy’s Indigenous Design Studio in association with medicine plant educator Joseph Pitiwanakwat & Elder Duke Redbird guided by a series of community workshops & feasts held at the site. The Master Plan enhances the health & prosperity of the community, providing local jobs & economic development which is a key to self-governance & community well-being. The Master Plan is founded on targets for net zero carbon development, geo-thermal energy & ecological restoration including:
  • A holistic approach to the landscape, regenerating the land & increasing biodiversity with an emphasis on reintroducing medicinal & culturally important plants—& sustaining their use in the long term with a seed bank & storage
  • Economic sustainability through direct employment, skill training, & continued employment & revenue generation through event operations & tourism
  • Supporting knowledge transfer within the community through restoration of Indigenous plant knowledge & language, & designs that reference specific teachings & stories
  • All facilities target net-zero carbon, geothermal energy & the use of stone & wood as the primary building materials. 

OPPI Team Members:
  • Danny Roy* MCIP, RPP
  • Calvin Brook, MCIP, RPP
  • Jenna Davidson, MCIP, RPP
  • (*indicates Indigenous team member)
Danny Roy is an Associate at Brook McIlroy/ Indigenous Design Studio. He is Cree-Métis from Sakitawak and a member of English River Dene Nation, Treaty 10. He holds a M.Arch degree from UCalgary and a BA Honours degree from USask in Regional and Urban Planning. His work focuses on Indigenous design-thinking from master planning to interior design. Bringing years of experience in engagement and community planning, Danny works with communities to ensure their respective values, histories, and cultures are reflected in the built environment. Danny is working on multiple projects with Indigenous Nations, municipalities, urban Indigenous organizations, and post-secondary institutions.
Calvin Brook
​No bio or headshot received.


Keisha St. Louis-McBurnie is a planner, researcher and writer practicing in Toronto, Ontario.Her work focuses on understanding and documenting neighbourhood change in diverse and equity-deserving communities across the Greater Toronto Area, and explores alternative, value-driven approaches to community planning. She is currently an Associate at Urban Strategies Inc. and holds a Master of Science in Planning from the University of Toronto. In 2020, Keisha served on OPPI’s Anti-Black Racism in Planning Task Force and is a founding member of the Black Planners and Urbanists Association(BPUA). As an author of leading research and a Sessional Instructor in the University’s Daniels Faculty, Keisha demonstrates exceptional thought leadership.

What does being an emerging leader mean to you?

As someone born and raised in a housing co-op in downtown Toronto, I’ve always been surrounded by a unique democratic approach to community building and decision-making that have influenced me as an early career planner. Today, we sit at the intersection of several crises: climate, racial equity, affordable housing, and cost of living among others that require critical and constructive problem-solving. As an impassioned emerging leader, I have begun to develop a skillset grounded in presence, deep listening, understanding, relationship building and collaboration to tackle these challenges in planning education, professional practice and community. In my daily life, I embody a value-driven approach to leadership that requires me to serve and centre diverse sets of public interests, while working to advance equitable economic, social, and cultural development outcomes for systemically marginalized and emerging new communities across the country.