Track 7: REGENERATION – COMMUNITY, ECONOMICS, and EQUITABLE PLACES / Volet 7: Régénération – Collectivité, économie et lieux équitables

Toronto's Fort York - Conservation in a rapidly changing urban context

Friday, October 13
3:00 PM - 4:30 PM

Toronto's Fort York – Conservation in a rapidly changing urban context
Fort York is an excellent example of the tensions that arise between the conservation of sensitive heritage assets and the continuing need to adapt to a constantly and rapidly changing urban context. This presentation focuses on the continuing efforts to protect and enhance the Fort in the face of new challenges created by intense urban development.
No event in Toronto’s history is richer in drama and consequence than the Battle of York and the destruction of Fort York. A National Historic Site since 1923, Fort York occupies 16.5 ha (41 ac.) in downtown Toronto and features Canada’s most important collection of buildings dating from the War of 1812. Beyond the stone-walled enclosure, the Fort includes Garrison Common, the Military Cemetery and the Fort York Armoury.
From 1812 to the present, Toronto’s Fort York has been under siege not only from foreign soldiers, but also from railways, highways, industry and sheer neglect. At times perilously close to extinction, the Fort has withstood many threats. Typically with the help of committed citizens groups rather than through official intervention, Fort York has survived and even thrived, and is today considered one of the City’s premier historic landmarks and cultural destinations.
Once isolated from the fabric of the City, Fort York is now becoming a valued community and open space resource for the surrounding, high-rise neighbourhoods rapidly emerging in its immediate vicinity. Now more accessible than ever before, the grounds are heavily used for dog-walking, strolling and casual sports. Moreover, faced with limited funding, Fort York offers the grounds as a venue for a wide range of musical and cultural events. These gatherings exact a toll on the grounds and potentially compromise conservation efforts, but attract thousands of people who might otherwise never visit the Fort.
The presentation focuses on recent planning initiatives and physical improvements aimed at balancing heritage conservation priorities against pressing community needs and aspirations. The primary strategy is to develop Fort York as a “living museum”, where heritage is celebrated, but presented within a context that recognizes the role of the Fort as a community asset serving broader educational, cultural and recreational priorities.

Learning Objectives:

Peter F. Smith, OALA / FCSLA


Peter Fletcher Smith is a landscape architect with over 25 years of experience. He has been a partner in DTAH since 2000, and was invested in the CSLA College of Fellows in 2014. Peter is a senior designer and project manager with particular skills in urban design, project design and execution, and in the analysis and planning of historic/cultural landscapes and building groupings. Peter was a key participant in a series of urban design and planning projects that focused on heritage landscapes associated with important and well-known Canadian sites. Examples include Fort York and Coronation Park in Toronto, and the Parliamentary Precinct Area and the Rideau Canal in Ottawa. Peter is currently contributing to the HCD Study for the Casa Loma neighbourhood in Toronto.


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Hanna Bell

Hannah holds an MBA in Innovative Management from UPEI, and has 30 years of varied experience in the public, private, and non-profit sectors in the UK, Brussels, and Canada. She is currently the Executive Director of the PEI Business Women's Association, owner of consultancy firm ‘The Solution Agency’; a partner in training firm ‘Business Learning Solutions’, and co-owner of ‘The SPOT Charlottetown’, a creative co-workspace and business incubator. Her work focuses on building capacity and influencing change through the power of story telling, practical training and skills development, strategic planning and partnerships, and sustainable project design.

Hannah is a community leader locally and nationally, including representing the province as governor with The National Trust for Canada and as champion for Startup Charlottetown, part of the Startup Canada entrepreneurs network.

Publications include:
“Development and Implementation of a Municipal Strategic Performance Management Framework Utilizing the Balanced Scorecard Methodology” October 2011, UPEI Scholar Press
“Validated entrepreneurial self-assessment instrument: A tool for self-evaluation of business-related knowledge, skills, and personal attributes" The Solution Agency, Charlottetown, PE, 2015
"Helping Women Get on TRACK:Building Resiliency Through a Business Mentoring Program for Women Entrepreneurs in Prince Edward Island", Chapter in "From Black Horses to White Steeds: Building Community Resilience" September 2017, Island Studies Press


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Toronto's Fort York - Conservation in a rapidly changing urban context

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