Track 5: CANADA 150 – INDIGENOUS HERITAGE, DIVERSITY, and NEW DIRECTIONS / Volet 5: Canada 150 – Patrimoine autochtone, diversité et nouvelles orientations

Participatory Planning for Cultural Heritage Landscapes: Experiences from the Heritage Resources Centre at the University of Waterloo

Saturday, October 14
1:30 PM - 3:00 PM

The Ontario Provincial Policy Statement directs that municipalities conserve significant Cultural Heritage Landscapes. A Cultural Heritage Landscape is defined as “a geographical area that may have been modified by human activity and is identified as having cultural heritage value or interest by a community, including an Aboriginal community.” In the Region of Waterloo, a Cultural Heritage Landscape study was undertaken in the rural Townships of Woolwich and Wellesley to determine candidate landscapes to be considered for designation by the regional municipality. The Townships’ communities live in rural areas as well as a few small, urbanized settlements and include members of hard-to-reach, culturally diverse populations such as Amish, Mennonite and several First Nations. Contained within the Townships are also Indigenous land claims. Therefore, the characteristics of these Townships present particular challenges for the engagement of local populations in the process of identifying candidates for Cultural Heritage Landscapes.

In order to address these challenges, the Cultural Heritage Landscape study pursued two goals. First, to apply and compare innovative methods for engaging diverse populations, including populations that may be hard-to-reach or require culturally sensitive approaches. Second, to collect data that would help to determine overall intrinsic values and community significance pertaining to candidate landscapes, whereby intrinsic values included both tangible and intangible aspects of Cultural Heritage Landscapes.

Following the study design, the two Townships served as replicates for the applied engagement methods. The various populations were engaged throughout the study using various culturally appropriate methods respecting local community structures, traditional values and cultural heritage. The methods were investigated for their effectiveness and efficiency in engaging the various populations, as well as their ability to produce knowledge on intrinsic values and community significance of candidate landscapes. The study results point to populations acknowledging Cultural Heritage Landscapes with differing intrinsic values and perspectives, however there was also some consensus on characteristics of some candidate landscapes. Engagement methods varied between populations in their effectiveness and efficiency, as well as in the knowledge produced. The study results expand the body of knowledge on the engagement of communities with diverse populations of which some may require culturally sensitive approaches, and advance planners’ knowledge on undertaking more effective forms of community engagement in municipal affairs. Our assessments of engagement methods for diverse, hard-to-reach and culturally specific populations, can guide planners on using similar methods under comparable circumstances in Ontario and elsewhere.

Learning Objectives:

Christopher DeGeer

Christopher DeGeer is an MES candidate in the School of Planning at the University of Waterloo. As a lead researcher on the 2017 Cultural Heritage Landscape Study in the Townships of Woolwich and Wellesley, Chris is exploring participatory approaches to landscape evaluation. Using several participatory approaches to elicit landscape values from a broad range of stakeholders and partners, Chris aims to glean a more comprehensive understanding of people’s perceptions of their environment while examining the effectiveness, efficiency and fairness of landscape planning methods.


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Tom Urbaniak, PhD

Tom Urbaniak, PhD, is the past chair of the National Trust for Canada’s board of governors. He has championed the Trust’s role as a high-profile, accessible, engaging organization, which links heritage to social justice, sustainability, reconciliation with Indigenous nations, and cultural diversity. He is a political scientist at Cape Breton University and also teaches in CBU's MBA program in Community Economic Development. Tom is the director of CBU’s Tompkins Institute. He is the author of four books, including Action, Accommodation, Accountability: Rules of Order for Canadian Organizations and Her Worship: Hazel McCallion and the Development of Mississauga. He recently co-edited the book Company Houses, Company Towns: Heritage and Conservation, working with authors from across the country. Tom has spearheaded demonstration projects in affordable housing using vacant historic properties, helping to set up a revolving fund and the Affordable Housing Renovation Partnership. Tom serves on the board of the Heritage Trust of Nova Scotia. He is active in Nova Scotia's Polish community, and chairs the parish council of St. Mary’s Polish Church in the multicultural community of Whitney Pier, where he resides. He has been working with the community to rebuild the historic church following a devastating fire. Tom has served as a Canadian election observer in Ukraine. He is a past board member for Centre communautaire Etoile de l'Acadie.


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Participatory Planning for Cultural Heritage Landscapes: Experiences from the Heritage Resources Centre at the University of Waterloo

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