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Laura Elizabeth Taylor

Thesis submitted in conformity with the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy Graduate Department of Geography University of Toronto

Laura Elizabeth Taylor 2007


THE PRODUCTION OF NATURE IN PLANNING FOR URBAN EXPANSION: A CULTURAL LANDSCAPE STUDY OF NEW URBAN GROWTH IN OAKVILLE, ONTARIO by Laura Taylor Doctor of Philosophy, Department of Geography 2007 Chairperson of the Supervisory Committee: Professor Michael Bunce

The citys edge is a cultural landscape of conflicting and competing meanings. The visible, physical edge of rapidly urbanizing cities is emotionally charged, representing prosperity to some, and sprawl and environmental destruction to others. My dissertation is a cultural landscape study of city expansion at the edge of the Toronto-centred region, where urban growth pressures are as intense as anywhere in North America or Europe. My research reveals that ideas about the countryside are produced against the city, and these ideas are discussed in terms of ecology and natural heritage. This is a study of the cultural politics of landscape meaning in a contemporary planning process where local area planning comes face-to-face with the global environmental imagination. In the Town of Oakville, a wealthy suburb in the Toronto metropolitan area, a planning process to urbanize the last remaining countryside of the town has been underway for the past two decades. In the end, the decision to urbanize has been in lock-step with the decision to conserve: through the creation of a large natural heritage system (almost 900 hectares or more than 2,000 acres), fully one-third of the planning area, development of

the remainder of the lands can take place. While pastoral ideas of the romantic countryside underlie the valuation of this landscape, representations of ecological sensitivity by environmental science were politically the most successful. Local area politics have undergone a revolution resulting from the negotiation over the future of this countryside. Using discourse analysis (text analysis of public planning process documents and popular media), participant observation of public meetings, and interviews with informants, my research reveals that cultural attitudes toward growth and conservation are informed by symbolic landscapes of country and city and these are implicated in the production of real landscapes and places. As planning practitioners and academics involved in the political process of shaping landscape change at the citys edge, it is difficult to represent those opinions of the public and other participants in the planning process that are not supported by scientific, empirical study. The lens of cultural landscape provides tools to understand and recognize cultural value, meaning and symbolism in edge landscapes and to engage with them in areas which are being planned for change.


CHAPTER 1 ............................................................................................................................................... 5
INTRODUCTION......................................................................................................................................... 5

Focus of research is the countryside as a cultural landscape ..........................................................................7 Research questions ...............................................................................................................................7 Where the country and city collide [site of study]...............................................................................9 Major theoretical focus: the ideology of nature in the countryside...................................................11 Research case study: North Oakville .................................................................................................12 Contribution of this research .........................................................................................................................16

CHAPTER 2 ............................................................................................................................................. 19

Collision of city and country landscape values in planning policy and practice motivated study .......................................................................................................................................................... 20 Cultural geography provides conceptual and methodological framework for study .................. 23 Cultural geographys intellectual traditions .................................................................................. 25 Landscape as a focus of study ........................................................................................................ 26 Spatial descriptions of material landscape .................................................................................... 33
Urban geography produces quantitative and descriptive representations of metropolitan, suburban, sprawl landscapes ......................................................................................................................................................35 Landscape representation of the citys edge in rural geography addresses urban influences on the countryside ....................................................................................................................................................38 Material landscape representation informs the planning process .................................................................42

Theoretical approaches to studying landscape representation .................................................... 43

Landscapes in social imagination .................................................................................................................44 Representation is political .............................................................................................................................47

Critical and cultural approaches to the study of landscape ......................................................... 48

Discourse frames the study of landscape meaning in action ........................................................................58 The power and politics of landscape interpretation ......................................................................................61

Sense of place and landscape interpretation ................................................................................. 68 Planning process structures the negotiation of cultural landscape representation .................... 70 Conclusion ....................................................................................................................................... 75 CHAPTER 3 ............................................................................................................................................. 77
REVIEW OF LITERATURE ON THE COUNTRYSIDE .................................................................................... 77

Countryside as a cultural landscape .............................................................................................. 77 The citys countryside ................................................................................................................. 79 Same landscape, different perspectives: how countryside is viewed from the urban and the rural .................................................................................................................................................. 80 The critical importance of countryside valuation ......................................................................... 83 The nature of nature in the countryside ........................................................................................ 86 Concluding with thoughts on the Canadian countryside ............................................................. 90
The Ontario countryside is enshrined (but not defined) in GGH Greenbelt ................................................93 Canadian emphasis is important ...................................................................................................................95

Table of Contents

CHAPTER 4.............................................................................................................................................. 99

IMPLEMENTING THE CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK OR RESEARCH APPROACH ............. 99 Qualitative methods to study the use of landscape representation in the discourse of the planning process in Oakville ......................................................................................................... 100
Detailed description of the research process .............................................................................................. 103 Document review and analysis ................................................................................................................... 103 On the use of the internet for document review .............................................................................. 104 Limitations of the archive ................................................................................................................ 106 The interview process ...................................................................................................................... 109 On the writing and production process ........................................................................................... 111 Concluding thoughts on the use of qualitative methods and case study approach .................................... 112

CHAPTER 5............................................................................................................................................ 115

NORTH OAKVILLE: A LANDSCAPE HISTORY ................................................................................. 115

The settlement history of Oakville, of which North Oakville is only more recently a part ....... 117
Within the British colony of Upper Canada, Trafalgar was built around the road and Oakville around the harbour ........................................................................................................................................................ 118 Dundas Street was settled first.................................................................................................................... 120 The town was at the front and Trafalgar was at the back ................................................................... 121 From woods to farmland............................................................................................................................. 126 Sixteen Mile Creek in North Oakville history ........................................................................................... 129 The beginning of the post-war suburban era .............................................................................................. 131

History of post-war plan-making .................................................................................................. 132

How a local landscape fits into large-scale governance............................................................................. 132

Current landscape description ...................................................................................................... 138 Conclusion ..................................................................................................................................... 140 CHAPTER 6............................................................................................................................................ 143
PLAN-MAKING ...................................................................................................................................... 143

The decision to urbanize North Oakville ..................................................................................... 144

Who is planning Oakville? ......................................................................................................................... 145 Watershed planning is overarching ............................................................................................................ 147 The Halton Urban Structure Plan set the stage for urbanization ............................................................... 150 ROPA 8 and regional planning ....................................................................................................... 151 Amending the Towns Official Plan .......................................................................................................... 153 OPA 198: A controversial process .................................................................................................. 153 Several background studies supported the Towns amendment ..................................................... 155 The Strategic Land Use Options Study ........................................................................................... 157 Few changes visible in the landscape ......................................................................................................... 159

Planning the transformation of North Oakvilles landscape from countryside to town........... 160
Charrette begins process of detailed planning............................................................................................ 161 The Natural Heritage System is the focus of the secondary planning process .......................................... 164 Provincially-owned lands provide an example of natural area politics .......................................... 166 Conclusion to plan-making......................................................................................................................... 167


CHAPTER 7 ........................................................................................................................................... 169

NEGOTIATING LANDSCAPE REPRESENTATION: THE PRODUCTION OF NATURE IN THE PLANNING PROCESS ............................................................................................................................................... 169

Oakvilles self-portrait is of a place where residents connect with nature ................................ 172
Community identity in Oakville is expressed through this connection to nature ......................................173 Loss of last countryside an affront to community identity .....................................................................180

North Oakville landscape represented as environmentally significant in the planning process ........................................................................................................................................................ 181
Representation of the landscape as environmentally significant by Oakvillegreen dominated the process .....................................................................................................................................................................182 Local newspaper also represented the process as a contest over the environment .........................188 Other representations subdued .........................................................................................................190 Sense of place within the Town not well articulated in the planning process ................................191 Farmed landscape not represented ...................................................................................................193 Environmental debate upstages growth agenda ..............................................................................194 The representation of the landscape by land economics .................................................................195 Representations of this area as a future community were also overshadowed ...............................199 Oakvillegreens approach criticized ................................................................................................202 Biophysical science provided by government agencies and consultants ...................................................204 The culture of science is rarely in evidence.....................................................................................209 Environmentalism within society provide epistemological space for the dominant reading.................218 Influences of environmentalism in North Oakville .........................................................................219 Focus on environmental science a metanarrative for things left unsaid ....................................................222 Anti-growth sentiment .....................................................................................................................223 Race ..................................................................................................................................................226 Last settler syndrome .......................................................................................................................228 The representation of the landscape as natural dominated politically, in the end......................................229

Conclusion ..................................................................................................................................... 231 CHAPTER 8 ........................................................................................................................................... 233 CONCLUSION ................................................................................................................................... 233 Cultural politics and landscape representation in Oakville ....................................................... 234 The production of nature in planning for urban expansion ...................................................... 241 The rise and fall of the countryside ideal .................................................................................... 244 Local area planning and the global environmental imagination .............................................. 248 LIST OF FIGURES ............................................................................................................................. 255 APPENDIX A: INTERVIEW QUESTIONS ............................................................................................. 1 APPENDIX B: INTERVIEWS ................................................................................................................... 2 APPENDIX C: MEETINGS ................................................................................................................... 4 List of Meetings Held ......................................................................................................................... 4 APPENDIX D: STUDIES............................................................................................................................... 7 List of North Oakville Studies ............................................................................................................ 7 REFERENCES .............................................................................................................................................. I





Chapter 1

INTRODUCTION The citys edge is a cultural landscape of conflicting and competing meanings. Neither urban nor rural, this visible, physical landscape is a space in between. On one side, the city accommodates the homes, workplaces, and services of its population with an infrastructure of roads, pipes and wires connecting buildings and people together. On the other side, the country is in productive use for farming, mining and lumbering as well as providing for amenity uses such as housing, tourism and recreation. Between these two is a zone, which I call the citys edge, that is like the pressure wave in front of the cityships bow (Hart 1991). Here the landscape is a jumble of urban-serving and rural-seeking uses that can only exist in proximity to the city. Yet, there are strongly-held perceptual differences between country and city here that bubble to the surface when land use changes are proposed. The decision to expand an urban boundary to encompass and then urbanize these lands at the citys edge is always hotly debated in the Toronto area. At the edge of Canadas largest city are some of the fastest-growing suburbs in North America and a proposal for urban expansion triggers a local municipal planning process forcing the people involved to discuss their views about country and city, and other values of community, nature and home. My dissertation research is the study of the current expansion of the Town of Oakville, a suburban lakefront community on the western edge of the built up area of Toronto. It focuses on peoples reaction to the proposed urbanization of this countryside and how competing ideas about the past, existing and future landscape were negotiated within the planning process. This particular case of urban expansion has been controversial and very political and provides valuable insights into how people make sense of landscape change and contemporary cultural values. The case study focuses on North Oakville, the last remaining area of countryside on the inland edge of the lakefront town of Oakville, today one of the wealthiest communities in Canada. Oakville historically grew around its harbour on Lake Ontario 5 Introduction

and the case study area, much greater in size than the original old town, was the agricultural back of the township. While the case study is unique to its contemporary time and place, it deals with issues common to urban edge expansion planning in rapidly growing Anglo-American cities. Rapidly-expanding urban regions have historically grown into their surrounding countryside and have raised contested ideas about nature and the countryside. This case study examines cultural politics and landscape representation in the urban expansion process in Oakville where a large natural heritage area was produced through the use of environmental science in the planning discourse. The study raises important questions about the contemporary valuation of countryside in an era of global concern over the environmental impact of urbanization. In this introductory chapter, I will set out my research questions, discuss the approach to research within cultural geography and describe the site of my research. Chapter 2 presents the conceptual framework within which the research is being carried out; landscape is a central concept in cultural geography and material, symbolic and cultural approaches to thinking about and studying landscape are discussed. Following immediately on the conceptual framework for studying landscape representation, Chapter 3 discusses the literature on the specific cultural landscape of the countryside and brings this together with questions about the culture/nature dichotomy that has recently preoccupied cultural geography. Chapter 4 reviews the research methods of cultural landscape studies that I adopted to undertake the research. Chapters 5, 6 and 7 present the research including the historical narrative of Oakvilles development, a chronological account of the use of landscape representation in the planning process following by a discussion of the politics of landscape representation in this case. The concluding chapter presents the contribution of my research to thinking through the theoretical questions of cultural geography.


Focus of research is the countryside as a cultural landscape Research questions City expansion is the subject of theory, policy-making and practice in urban planning and draws upon studies of the visible, material world such as transportation, demographics, and settlement morphology to produce knowledge and understanding of the world. But these studies, as much as they may try to create real snapshots of what is going on in a particular place and time, represent contested understandings. Drawing upon the idea of landscape from cultural geography, the contestation of these views, values and beliefs within the planning process are available for study. The cultural politics of landscape representation within planning is the subject of this dissertation. In Ontario, urbanization is carried out through a provincially-led and legislated planning process within which decisions about changes to landscape are made. The planning process has historically been constructed to facilitate economic growth in Ontario and it is assumed that the countryside will be largely given over to urbanization as cities progressively expand. How is the countryside at the edge of the cityboth the bounded area identified for future change and the geographically imagined area outside of the city-represented in the planning process? In one way, the visible, material landscape that is the subject of planned change is assessed and described, for example, through built heritage inventories, peak hour traffic capacity, and environmental science; but how are the inventories of that particular landscape valued and debated? In another way, ideas of the countryside are discussed in a generalized fashion (for example as the source of 100-mile food; as pastoral scenic landscape); how do these imaginaries enter in to the debate? Planning for change at the citys edge is very political and is a venue within which people mobilize their values towards desired ends. How are ideas about the countryside represented in the face of urbanization, why, and with what effect on the material landscape? In this case study, I argue that the countryside was represented as the site of nature as defined by environmental science. The idea that this was an area of natural habitat worthy 7 Introduction

of ecological restoration was produced by environmental scientists and taken up and used politically by a group of local residents against urban growth. The ideology of natural heritage raises important questions about contemporary attitudes towards urbanization and has profound implications for those involved in the management of urban growth. A major question for the local municipal planning process is the role of the larger societal discourse of sprawl and the contribution of rapid urban growth to global environmental problems: residents in this case felt they were taking a stand to address global environmental problems in their backyard. The production of nature here may be seen by some to be a victory for local environmentalism but it is not without cost. The use of science as an objective authoritative way to express landscape value precluded a robust public discussion of other goals for the new urban area including affordable housing, provision of transit, the design of public spaces including schools, built heritage conservation, and scenic beauty. At the conclusion of the process to plan the urban expansion of Oakville, spanning two decades, a contiguous area of natural heritage conservation will be designated covering one-third of the study area. This raises an important question regarding how nature is produced and mobilized against urban expansion. Why were people willing to go to such lengths to prevent urban growth? How did one group come to control the agenda? Why was environmental science so successful in the cultural politics of the process? In the planning process, deeply entrenched ideas about city and country were expressed resulting in the creation of an area of future wild nature in an otherwise typical southern Ontario countryside. Cultural landscape studies provide a conceptual and methodological framework for studying the politics of landscape representation. Issues of urbanization in the Toronto area are shared by other rapidly growing cities in North America and the production of nature against sprawl will be of interest to those who study cities and urban growth. I will argue that the pastoral countryside, valued for its amenity and scenic beauty as a retreat from the city, may have been a motivating force behind the desire to protect this 8 Introduction

landscape from urban growth, but the use of scientifically identified natural habitat was successful politically. During the planning process, the size of this area grew dramatically through political negotiation from the size originally identified as candidate for ecological conservation and restoration. The planning process produced an area in which nature will be protected from the taint of human use. The privileging of science resulted in much less attention paid to the long history of settlement of this landscape shaping its current sense of place, or the long history of planning the metropolitan area of which North Oakville is a part, or the impact on the everyday environment of existing and future residents. Rather than creating an urban area reflecting a better way of living in nature, the production of nature here is a rejection of the city and in an attempt to recover a wilderness lost. Where the country and city collide [site of study] Raymond Williams (1973) wrote of the country vs. the city as one of the deep paradoxes of Western culture. He demonstrated how material landscapes are expressions of dominant cultural values, circulating intertextually within broader societal discourses, alongside words (and images). Williams suggested that it is useful, also, to stop at certain points and take particular cross-sections: to ask not only what is happening, in a period, to ideas of the country and the city, but also with what other ideas, in a more general structure, such ideas are associated (1973: 290). To this end, then, my dissertation is dedicated. I explore the persistence of ideas of country as produced against the city, using a case study at the citys edge. I discuss how ideas about the countryside and the cultural values that it represents are implicated in the production of real landscapes and places. Williams wrote, at times these [ideas of country and city] express, not only in disguise and displacement but in effective mediation or in offered and sometimes effective transcendence, human interests and purposes for which there is no other immediately available vocabulary (1973: 291). In my research, while testing the larger question of how ideas about the countryside are implicated in the politics of the production of urban landscapes, I find that countryside is the place where nature is. The idea of countryside, 9 Introduction

while not particularly well articulated or well defined in my case study, is valued as the site of nature in the geographical imagination of most involved in the process. Most of the debate in Oakvilles process focuses on articulating the importance of nature. Whereas Williams was writing of the English countryside in the early 1970s and how it had been represented in classic literature from much earlier, today in 2007, almost four decades later in a mature English colony, countryside has come to mean nature in the debate over landscape meaning and change at the edge of this large city region. Preserving nature in the face of imminent destruction by the city is the preoccupation of the planning process in this case study, with issues of agricultural land preservation and built landscape heritage relatively seldom raised. Preservation of trees and wetlands is championed as having self-evident benefits by local citizens, environmental consultants, and provincial experts. What proponents hope to gain (the unarticulated normative hopes and dreams) through the conservation of this countryside and the nature imagined to be here is less clear. The edge landscape of my research, North Oakville, is a contemporary example of the tension between country and city. As discussed, the valuation of the country over the city has been long-standing and it is no surprise that the proposal to urbanize this area of Oakville was hotly contested. The arguments used to fight urbanization are a product of further entrenchment of the nature good-city bad view and strengthening valuations of the natural environment generally. I find the negative attitude towards urban growth very troubling. It sabotages the planning process if there is no agreement in the first place that urban growth needs to take place. If people do not want urban growth, the discussion should take place in broader society not within the planning process about the desire to pursue an existence that rates its health on growth: more houses, more units sold, jobs created, and bigger profits. In the Ontario context by the time a local area municipal planning process occurs, the decision to grow and urbanize has really already been made, the process tends to be a



rubber-stamping at the local level of a provincial mandate, and the guts of the process is focused around how (not whether) development should take place in a given area. Cultural geography provides a conceptual framework to get at these issues. The topic of urbanization is, of course, the subject of other disciplines including urban and economic geography, rural geography, urban studies, cultural studies (especially American, Canadian, Chinese, etc.), urban and regional planning and urban design. But in cultural geography, the contested meaning of landscape is up for theoretical and empirical exploration. In contrast, for instance, in planning, sprawl is a spectre to be stopped, and good planning is the grail held against it: communities should have a compact urban form, have a range and mix of housing, be walkable and transit supportive, have a good ratio of homes to jobs, have a diversity of cultures, and preserve the natural environment. The theoretical framework for planning does not adequately excavate this normative value system, it instead revolves around ways of thinking about issues of process (rational comprehensive vs. normative vs. collaborative). To look at how these meanings are contested, cultural geography, in its intersection of more traditional landscape research and the more recent import of cultural studies, provides ways of interrogating how landscape ideas are represented and discussed in the planning process. These ideas about landscape are central to the discussion of alternative land use futures that are themselves informed by broader societal discourses around country and city. These ideas do not stay in the realm of interesting theoretical questions about language, text, and discourse or questions of how individuals represent themselves and their values spatially: they are implicated in the production of real landscapes and places. Major theoretical focus: the ideology of nature in the countryside Within the broad topic of the countryside, the ideology of nature is very important and I will argue in this case study that the valuation of nature by environmental science has displaced the value of the cultivated pastoral countryside in the discourse of the planning process. In 2004, in the third year of my doctoral program, the Ontario government created a 7,300-hectare (1.8 million-acre) Greenbelt around the urbanizing area of the 11 Introduction

Toronto region (north of the study area). The major policy achievement of the Greenbelt is the addition of a Protected Countryside designation to areas already protected under other legislation. 1 For my research, the use of the label Protected Countryside reinforced the integrity of thinking about the importance of countryside in the politics of urbanization: the countryside is what you say you want when you do not want urbanization. Why urban growth is so undesirable needs to be interrogated: normative thinking among land use planners and policy makers is towards intensification, revitalization and redevelopment of the city yet so many people if given the choice do not choose the city but choose nature and the countryside instead. I conclude that in the case of North Oakville, the idea of countryside is conflated with the ideology of nature in the planning process. My question is now whether the cultural valuation of nature has widened and deepened to the extent that it has outpaced the ability of the planning process to deal with it. Research case study: North Oakville The Town of Oakville is located just west of Toronto (see Figures 1, 2). With its historic mainstreet closely paralleling Lake Ontario, Oakville has grown in bands northwards ever since, hemmed in by neighbouring municipalities to the east and west. Its 2001 population was 145,000 and is estimated to be about 160,000 today in 2007 (Oakville 2005b). North Oakville is planned to be the final band of development in the town, an area of 3,100 hectares (7,660 acres) 2, one-fifth of the total area of the municipality. North Oakville is planned to accommodate 55,000 new people and 35,000 jobs over the next 50 years. This area is unremarkable except for how typical it is as an edge landscape in the Toronto area. The Town of Oakville itself is not so typical, as it is one of the wealthiest communities in Canada. In a metropolitan area known for its international immigration and ethnic diversity, Oakville has remained predominantly white, middle to upper class in

Niagara Escarpment Plan, Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan, Parkway Belt West Plan and the Rouge Valley Management Plan.

The entire North Oakville study area is roughly the same width as the distance along Bloor Street from the Humber River in the west past the Don River valley in the east and would run from Bloor down to about Front Street. North Oakville is two-thirds the size of the city of Cambridge which the Encyclopdia Britannica pegs at 41 square kilometres (10,000 acres).



spite of its rapid growth. The study of this communitys response to urbanization provides insight into the cultural values of the elite in a place where members of the community have the time, skills and resources to mobilize with such force in the process. In September 2003, the Town of Oakvilles official plan (the comprehensive land use plan for the town) was amended to include the lands north of Dundas Street and south of the new Highway 407 expressway as part of the urban area of the town. Although the decision to urbanize these lands was made four years earlier when the Regional Municipality of Halton revised their official plan through a public process, the decisionmaking process in Oakville, the local municipality, was the one that provoked a dramatic reaction from local residents. The urbanization of these lands was fought long and hard. The Town portrayed itself as having no choice in urban expansion (the decision had already been made--with the Towns prior buy-in--by the Region, the upper-tier municipality). The residents and environmentalists against urbanization used every tool in the book to block development of the entire area, including evoking the idea of a moraine in the area as having enough environmental significance to preclude development, similar to the recent conservation of the Oak Ridges Moraine. 3 Following the Town Councils decision to amend the official plan to designate North Oakville as future urban, the planning process (still highly contentious) has been focused on the detailed planning for these lands. As of April 2007, this detailed planning process is still ongoing. After eight pre-hearing conferences, several postponements, and major mediation and out-of-court settlements with several landowners, an Ontario Municipal Board hearing is again set for May 2, 2007, the result of which may be an approved detailed secondary plan land use map and text policy for the area.

The Oak Ridges Moraine is major landform 190,000 hectares (470,000 acres) in size stretching 160 kilometres (100 miles) in an arc encircling the northern edges of the Greater Toronto Area. An area of scenic countryside, it is also the watershed divide and the source of the headwaters for rivers feeding western Lake Ontario, the source of Torontos drinking water. The Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Act was passed in 2001 by the province to protect the ecological integrity of the moraines natural heritage and hydrologically sensitive features (MAH 2002 and see Bocking 2005 for a critical discussion).



The future of North Oakville is a consequence of its geography within Canada. North Oakvilles contemporary urbanization is directly affected by the historical settlement pattern of Canada as well as the systems and structures of governance that have been created. The large Central Ontario region focused on Toronto is forecast to increase in population by about 100,000 people per year for the next 30 years (we are surpassing that at the moment), and these newcomers will be added to an existing population of about 7.7 million people (Hemson 2003). For greater Toronto, this new population, plus an aging existing population, means more than one million new housing units will need to be built within the next thirty years. In the debate about the best way to grow and accommodate all these people, the issues of urbanizing the countryside--expanding the city to make room for homes, shops and jobs--are among the most emotional. The policy at the national level to allow a high level of immigration responds to demographics and global economies, but the effect is felt at the level of the local landscape where changes to make room for additional people is very personal. Within this larger geographical context, the study area, North Oakville, is a substantial acreage set back from the lake (see Figure 3). It is about a fifth of the total size of the municipality in area, much bigger than the original historic town. On a map, it looks to be about the same in size as the new suburbs built within the town north of the new Queen Elizabeth Way expressway in the early 1950s (linking Toronto with Niagara), but in area it is not quite. The landscape of North Oakville is an unremarkable slice of Ontario countryside with straight two-lane roads rolling up and down as they follow the lot and concession survey grid through local topographical variations in a fairly flat landscape. The roads carry substantial commuter traffic as they link Mississauga and Toronto to the east with residential suburbs to the north and west. One of these roads, Dundas Street, has served for many years as the boundary between the urban serviced area to the south and the countryside landscape to the north. Dundas Street was one of two original colonization roads built in this part of the world to link Toronto west with the town of Dundas and Hamilton beyond (along with Yonge Street which linked Toronto north to Lake Simcoe). The North Oakville area is also referred to locally as the Lands north of 14 Introduction

Dundas (Figure 4). Immediately to the south of Dundas Street are the recently built suburbs of the Town where new urbanist-style houses, parking lots and big box retail stores back up to the six lane road. The contrast with the countryside landscape to the north is startling: to the north is a wide open area with long views of mostly farmed lands interspersed by woodlots. The roads within the area are lightly settled by farmhouses on tracts of 100 and 200-acre farms, with mostly cash crops, some horse farms, and a few exurban homes on manicured land. The Sixteen Mile Creek is substantial as southern Ontario rivers go, with a hundred-foot-deep densely wooded valley. The visible landscape is a farmed, inhabited countryside at the edge of the city. The primary land use here, though, is speculation. Most of these lands have been held by developers for years, in anticipation of the urban expansion of the town from the south. As early as 1958, urbanization of these lands was expected (ODPD 1958a-f) and in 1973, a plan showed the possible future development of the town into these lands (Paterson 1973). The North Oakville lands are owned by many people. The properties range from 50-foot house lots to several hectares in size. Land uses include rural residential, grain and produce farms, equestrian centres, a municipal water tower and public works yard, churches, schools and cemeteries. Some of the properties are lived on by their owners, some who also farm there, and others are absentee landowners renting out their land. Depending upon what decisions are made about the distribution of land uses and density, some people will consider that they have benefited from urbanization in monetary terms or quality of life, some will be ambivalent, and some will think that they have lost more than they have gained. Some of the residents of Oakville to the south have been very vocal about what changes should be permitted here and how development should proceed. Whether the ultimate measure of benefit is money, profit, or quality of life, who captures the advantage (and at whose expense) will remain to be seen some twenty-plus years from now. Suffice it to say, the discussions in which this community has been embroiled over the future of this landscape have been very political. I argue that the landscape itself is political, given the relative value conferred to different sites. For instance, a site with large trees is seen either to be less valuable from a development 15 Introduction

proforma perspective or quite valuable from an ecological perspective and very valuable from an aesthetic one. The discussions and decisions about relative value and the power relations they constitute are carried out within the structured discourse of the land use planning process, including appeals to the Ontario Municipal Board. Within this process, residents and property owners lobby local planners and Councillors, and provide arguments to the OMB to have certain lands valued in ways that those actors think will give them an advantage, but their motivations are very complicated. Contribution of this research This case study of the urban planning process in Oakville demonstrates that cultural politics and landscape representation play a role in the urban expansion process. A large natural heritage area was produced through the use of environmental science in the planning discourse. Exploring how local community identity in Oakville is expressed through this connection to nature explains how the impending loss of the Towns last countryside was seen an affront to community identity. However, the pastoral countryside was not well represented. Instead the representation of the landscape as environmentally significant natural heritage dominated the process, the result of the intersection of the work of government agencies and environmental consultants mobilized politically by the local residents group. The discourse of environmentalism and sprawl within society provides an epistemological space for the dominant reading of the landscape in this way. Oakville proved to be a superb case study to reflect on the cultural politics of landscape representation within planning because of its long planning history leading up to the contemporary moment and the decisiveness of the ideology of nature raised in opposition to urban growth. This case study of the edge of the Toronto area shows that the countryside is valued by the public, yet people have great difficulty in communicating its value in ways that they think will make a difference within the planning process. The planning process is not designed to deal with qualitative statements of scenic beauty, pastoral landscape, or spiritual personal or community experiences of nature, nor is it equipped to respond to 16 Introduction

macro-concerns such as global warming, air and water pollution and species extinction. The process is designed to produce and compare alternative development futures for a given area, not to highlight or question normative values (although these are contested and defended throughout). Instead, in this case, people on all sides of the urbanization question use environmental science as the Trojan horse to insert their values into the process whether to prove that the nature there needs to be preserved and enhanced or whether it is degraded, devalued, or altogether absent and as such, developable. The language and methodology of environmental science communicates landscape value in ways useful to the planning process. The result in this case, is that one-third of the future urban area will be set aside for natural conservation. The Natural Heritage/Open Space System includes lands that are currently visibly wild natural habitat (eg. in creek valleys, wetlands, and woodlots), as well as lands under cultivation or other high impact use. These will now be zoned environmental protection with directed landscape management that will reinforce nature as the dominant reading. Other visibly natural areas in residential or employment designations will likely be effaced. Thus the reading of the current landscape and its representation and discursive construction in the planning process will have produced the future landscape.





Chapter 2

THE PERSPECTIVE OF CULTURAL LANDSCAPE: MATERIAL, SYMBOLIC AND CULTURAL APPROACHES TO STUDYING LANDSCAPE REPRESENTATION For the town of Oakville, Dundas Street is the line where country and city collide. I emerge with my bag of chilled beer from the LCBO (the provincially-controlled liquor store) into a large parking lot just south and downhill from Dundas Street. I am in the land of Wal-mart and its armada of little big box stores at the edge of town where everything still feels new. Across the road are flat farmers fields; a grove of trees frames a farmhouse in the distance. The juxtaposition between the new and old, asphalt and crops, buying and growing, black and green is a felt one. There is nothing remarkable about the fields, or the farmhouse, I could be looking at such a scene anywhere around Toronto but to hear what some of the local people have to say about this land, you would think it was remarkable. You would think that at least some indication of its future urbanization would be visible. But there are no clues that I can see, the impact is in the words. In the stacks of documents being produced in the process to plan for the future of North Oakville, this line at Dundas Street represents the line between the present and future, rural and urban; moving that imaginary line requires a re-imagination of this space. This is the landscape of the urban edge: visibly countryside but the site of a complex intersection of ideas and meanings about what this landscape represents. Perhaps the interest I have in lines such as these stems from my own view growing up in Ottawa on the line between urban and rural. From the picture window of my 1960s-era semi-detached suburban bungalow, I would day-after-day stand and look at the cows sheltered by a few very large trees grazing in the pastureland directly across the road from my house. The road was literally the line between urban and rural. Today (some thirty years later) looking out that same window, there are the wide, low buildings of a business park and the road now has a five-lane curb and gutter cross-section, replacing the twolanes with deep ditches that I grew up with. I will admit to being nostalgic for the cows 19 Conceptual Framework

and trees, although as a planner, I have since participated in their loss around the edge of Toronto. How are choices made about moving the line and how does it affect the outlook of people who live and work on either side? How and why do these choices matter?

Collision of city and country landscape values in planning policy and practice motivated study
As discussed in the introductory chapter, the landscape where country and city collide is highly contested. My enduring interest in making sense of that view out the window has led me to cultural geography--a sub-discipline of human geography. Cultural geography has as its focus of study the contested values and meanings of landscape and provides a theoretical and methodological approach to studying landscape. The negotiation of landscape meaning, that is the subject of this dissertation, uses the future expansion of the Town of Oakville as a case study of competing ideas about transforming rural to urban as these are at the heart of the public planning process. In this chapter I will trace the intellectual lineage of contemporary cultural landscape theory as it informs my research. In this dissertation, I will draw upon the work of several scholars in cultural geography. But my research within geography is only the most recent phase in my academic and professional life, with my interest in landscape change beginning with the view out my picture window (Baxandall and Ewen 2000). My undergraduate academic training was in urban and regional planning where the focus at the time was on how planning is done, rather than on the ideologies behind the doing. My graduate studies focused on heritage planning within the context of environmental studies: the ethnographic and environment/behaviour approaches to studying the world employed there were more critical than at the planning school with respect to what questions were asked by whom, to whom and with what effect. My work experience in the ten years between completing my masters studies and beginning doctoral studies has been as a consulting land use and policy planner. My interest over the years has revolved around the same questions about 20 Conceptual Framework

how we make the world we live in (or more accurately, the world I live in as I have been immersed in the urban experience in contemporary Canada). While (put simply) planning negotiates among different values with the imperative of making decisions about change in the material environment, cultural geography provides a robust theoretical base for asking questions about those changes. Planning is action-oriented: we ask questions about the world in order to influence better decision-making, but planning is seldom reflexive enough in asking questions of its own practitioners about why the world is changing or is seen to need changing. In comparison, cultural geography asks questions about how people interact with and derive meaning from the landscape, how they communicate their ideas, and above all, how this is political. Cultural geography can be applied geography too and with its stance in critical and social theory at the same time as it considers representations of material landscapes; applied cultural geography works to effect change in socio-ecological justice. My experience as a consulting planner led me back to academia. Over many nights of public information meetings and Council meetings, had I not been witness to discussions where land use change was resisted, the force of the power of ideology in shaping landscape may not have seemed so apparent. I saw that the same property will have multiple meanings and through the planning process certain meanings are reinforced while others are subdued. The dominant reading is embedded in the landscape through development of that property. The dominant reading may seem to be local and personal, but on a broader scale, that property must fit into the phased planned future of the larger area. Geography matters? You bet it does: living on one side or the other of an abstract line in a planning document can change everything. In my experience as a consulting planner I often worked in a supporting role to my firms partners. Although my own work was directly fed into various planning processes, I was rarely the final judgement-maker in matters of policy formulation, decision-making, or political positioning. This arms-length stance gave me a good vantage point to observe how choices were made as the process unfolded in a given project. As much of the 21 Conceptual Framework

planning work in the Toronto area is in growth management studies at the urban edge, or in creating comprehensive plans for new urban areas, or in helping property owners negotiate those processes, I spent a great deal of time watching and listening to people appealing to government, and to each other, about land use change and choices. I see the planning process as very responsive in some ways to local opinion (recognizing the limitations of who participates), but I also see the process as a tool of the state to produce places that are congenial to growth of the economy. Having the opportunity in this research to undertake an analysis of a planning process as an observer allows me to ask questions about the larger picture within which this process is being carried out, as well as who is discursively involved. The value of researching a planning process is that it provides a limited frame within which to explore issues of contemporary urbanization. In edge landscapes around Toronto such as North Oakville, the countryside has been to some extent protected from change over the past decades through comprehensive municipal plans delimiting urban areas and through restrictive rural zoning. When the decision is finally made to expand an adjacent urban area into the countryside, the countryside then pushes back. Urbanization is resisted through the planning process, and the resistance is in turn challenged by proponents of expansion. In my work as a planner, I observed that the resistance has employed arguments of agricultural land preservation, ecological conservation, rural cultural/built heritage conservation and lifestyle preservation to mount defences to block growth. In most instances, the resistance is emotional, vociferous and at times quite personal. The rural blockade is often led by insurgents from the urban area. As a witness to these battles, I wondered why the development of the country to make room for the city was so hated. Why are people so adverse to the idea of urban growth? What does it mean for governance and urban planning that expansion is always resisted?


Conceptual Framework

Cultural geography provides conceptual and methodological framework for study

The contribution of this research is to draw on the conceptual and methodological framework of cultural geography in order to demonstrate how landscape values are at the centre of the discussion of the kind of world people want to live in. Planning for urban expansion in the local municipal process requires a discussion of alternative visions for a given landscape that draw upon historical, material, experiential and symbolic notions about that landscape and landscapes in general. In discussing landscape, people are revealing their values and beliefs about themselves and their society. Cultural geography provides concepts and theories to understand how material and symbolic landscapes are at work in the discourse around the production of real landscapes and places. This North Oakville landscape (in many ways typical of southern Ontario) has meaning but different people/groups derive different meaning from the same place--they see it and imagine it differently--and these meanings are contested within the discourse of the planning process. Ideas about landscapes communicated within society more generally such as landscapes of sprawl, landscapes of nature, and countryside landscapes are drawn upon to describe this landscape and to talk about how this landscape should be in the future. The idea of countryside as a valued landscape is well documented in the literature as a romantic pastoral idealization of the rural landscape and valued alternative to urbanization. In my study of how perceptions and ideas about landscape are at work in the politics of urbanization, I found that while pastoral notions may be behind it, the valuation of the landscape as natural heritage was what was politically successful. The countryside ideal of a treasured amenity landscape of cultivated inhabited farmland, living close to the land in close-knit rural community was not represented. Instead the view of this area as wildlife habitat as defined by environmental science and a landscape degraded by human inhabitation yet worthy of restoration was successful. While this point of view did not succeed in preventing urbanization of the area entirely, more than one-third of the North Oakville area will be set aside for open space, with large areas of core natural features managed for ecological restoration, not human use. 23 Conceptual Framework

In order to research the political use of landscape values, I chose a case study with a contemporary planning process. The planning process is where major decisions about managing change in the landscape take place. This process represents a discourse within which actors articulate their opinions and concerns to influence political decision-making, and the process has an archive of words and images in reports, meeting minutes and transcripts which are accessible for research. Within this archive, landscape is represented through material studies common to urban and rural geography. In this chapter I present my review of the conceptual approaches to studying the material landscape to inform my understanding of this work that was carried out in the process. But material studies fall short of recognizing the ways in which landscape also circulates as a symbolic concept and is full of cultural meaning about social value. There has been a great deal of theoretical discussion in the literature about landscape interpretation and this informs my research by framing how ideas about the city, countryside and wilderness are represented and discussed in the process. As I will discuss, however, the theoretical discussion of landscape often fails to ground itself in empirical study and in my research I show how an existing material landscape is represented in contested ways. The negotiation of landscape meaning in the production of everyday space in the real world is perhaps understudied and the theoretical framework provided by cultural geography provides the concepts and tools to study how the political process shapes new urban areas and produces the spaces within which existing and future residents will live. In order to study the issues of urbanization in this case study through the lens of cultural landscape studies, in this chapter I will discuss the idea of landscape as an object of study, and then review the literature on landscape representation beginning with material approaches, symbolic approaches and then critical and cultural approaches to show how landscape is a symbolic concept within which various meanings are embedded and then negotiated in the planning process.


Conceptual Framework

Cultural geographys intellectual traditions

Cultural geography brings together several intellectual traditions (Mitchell 1996: 3), at the centre of which is the idea of landscape as a focus of study, and I have used these to structure my conceptual framework. The first tradition is the conceptualization of landscape as tangible and material. Ways of studying the visible, material landscape belong not only to cultural geography, but are shared by geography more generally, and by urban and regional planning. A second tradition addresses landscape interpretation. Landscapes are meaningful; people derive meaning from looking at landscape, they connect with it, are oriented in it in time and space, and their self-identification is wrapped up in what they see and experience. Much has been learned from literary studies about how signs and symbols circulate within society and how landscapes work with other texts (words, images, gestures) to allow people to make sense of the world. Third and finally, these meanings are contested--the struggle for the dominant reading of a landscape is political. A sense of belonging and entitlement is given to those who are comfortable with the dominant reading. Others are excluded--their performance with respect to that place less compelling--if they do not fit with that reading. To address my research questions regarding the cultural politics of landscape representation, I draw upon material, symbolic, and cultural approaches. The material approach includes ways of understanding the visible landscape including the facilities and activities taking place there. Traditional urban and rural geographies and urban and regional planning fit with this approach. The symbolic or interpretive approach considers the different meanings derived from or brought to the landscape. These meanings are produced and reproduced intertextually through discourse where words, images, and real landscapes express ideologies and values. The cultural approach takes on the politics of the various valuations and meanings of landscape and recognizes that the politics are ultimately inscribed in the landscape. This conceptual framework of material, symbolic and cultural approaches to landscape study put forward by Mitchell (1996) reflects the discussion of landscape in the literature. 25 Conceptual Framework

Material approaches are often seen unproblematically as spatial description and void of consideration of the symbolic. The symbolichow interpretations of landscapes are studied--is focused on semiotics and representation to the detriment of research on actually existing places. The cultural makes use of both the material and symbolic showing how greater understanding of landscape is enabled when they are seen as mutually constitutive. In addition, cultural theory in geography shows how landscape representations in text, art and the media are embedded in everyday life and how studies of those representations gives access to understanding culture and cultural politics in ways that are not easily gained otherwise. This chapter is structured around this three-pronged conceptual approach with a consideration of how material landscape is studied, followed by the theoretical approaches to studying landscape interpretation, and then critical and cultural approaches to the study of landscape. But first I begin with a definition of the object of study -landscape.

Landscape as a focus of study

Landscape is used in geography as a concept to study cultural processes converging in time and space producing material artifacts that we see and touch and experience. The concept of landscape used in this way to study contemporary everyday environments is a recent one and there are good genealogies of landscape study which I draw upon in my work (including Bender 1993; Cosgrove 1985; Crang 1998; Duncan and Duncan 2004; Groth and Bressi 1997; Osborne 1998; Relph 1981; Rowntree 1996; Schein 1997). While the term landscape may conjure ideas of paintings hung in museums or views a tourist might enjoy while traveling, landscape in cultural geography is the context for everyday living and needs to be understood as enmeshed within the processes which shape how the world is organised, experienced and understood (Seymour 2000: 214). The definition of landscape as a material product of culture has undergone a transformation as cultural theory has revolutionized geography. Donald Meinig dealt with 26 Conceptual Framework

the difficulty of defining the term landscape in his introduction to The Interpretation of Ordinary Landscapes (1979) and compares the term but dismisses synonymy with: nature (it also includes things human-made); scenery (it is not defined aesthetically); environment (it means more than our surroundings which sustain us); place (often a label resulting from a negotiated cultural politics of a defined area; see discussion in Chapter 3); region/area/geography (more about spatial relationships) and he declares a preference in the end for ordinary landscapes to define the continuous surface which we can see all around us and which is defined by our vision and interpreted by our minds (3, 6). The scholars of Meinigs era of landscape investigation are J. B. Jackson (eg. 1984; 1986; 1994; 1997), Peirce Lewis (eg. 1976), David Lowenthal (1976), Ted Relph (1981; 1987), and Yi-fu Tuan (1974). More recently, landscape study has been influenced by cultural theory as part of the new cultural geography which I will discuss in a moment: reflecting these changes, Paul Groth edited Understanding Ordinary Landscapes with Todd Bressi (1997) and Everyday America: Cultural Landscape Studies after J. B. Jackson with Chris Wilson (2003). What all of these scholars have in common is their approach to landscape as a cultural production and within that, an interest in historical contestations over landscape as the settings for peoples lives. How is the landscape of North Oakville defined by the vision of those involved in the planning process and interpreted by them, and how are these negotiated? Conceptually, the idea of landscape opens up a way of thinking of a place with simultaneous consideration of the material, symbolic and political through time. How landscape is organised, experienced and understood is the enduring interest of cultural geography: more than just the physical environment, landscape refers to an ensemble of material and social practices and their symbolic representation (Zukin 1991: 16). Trevor Barnes and James Duncan (1992) discuss this ensemble as a medium of particular discourses and, as I will discuss in this chapter, landscape is read in many of the same ways as literary text where many different lines of thinking come together through one or more authors to create an artifact (a book or a landscape) that is then read. Landscape is one moment framed by and constitutive of larger discourses (Barnes 27 Conceptual Framework

and Duncan 1992; Duncan and Duncan 2004; Schein 1997: 676), in other words, whether an ensemble, medium or moment, the landscape provides clues to how we think about things, including cultural attitudes and beliefs. I have studied the current process of landscape change in North Oakville in terms of its landscape history to illustrate how contemporary representations are contingent upon the convergence of prevailing ideas. Cultural values with respect to the North Oakville landscape have shifted over time and these moments are reflected in the existing landscape. Ideas about the countryside and nature would seem to be shifting again, and the result will shape the future of this landscape, erasing some of the past and setting the stage for negotiation over future representations. While the study of power relations as manifest in the landscape is the subject of the current work, cultural landscape study has not always been socially critical and my research in looking at the politics at work in this present day First World landscape is enabled by the past two decades of work of the cultural turn (Jameson 1998) in landscape studies; a shift that could be seen in the literature by the early 1980s. Recognizing a shift occurring in approaches to studying both culture and landscape, Linda McDowell published an article in 1995 reviewing the new cultural geography. She wrote that whereas, in the tradition of Carl Sauer earlier in the twentieth century (see Sauer 1965), there had been a focus on how cultures over the centuries had shaped their landscapes, with the cultural turn the focus was no longer an apolitical study of how cultures shape landscapes but instead how the landscape is shaped and reshaped by many hands in constant political struggle over time (Duncan 1980; P. Jackson 1989). Indeed as summarized by McDowell (1995), the central preoccupation of cultural geography--with how people shape the land, and then how the landscapes and spaces that are created in turn shape individuals and society--was being reinvigorated by postmodern thought about the experience of real (unexceptional, typical) humans as thinking, feeling, irrational and sometimes ambitious individuals each with unique histories motivating their actions. Postmodernism says that your reality is different than mine because reality is contingent upon the moment, where you have come from, where you are going and what you are 28 Conceptual Framework

choosing to see. When you and I read the same meaning onto certain material things, such as landscapes, we are in cultural consensus, and we should be very interested in unpacking the reasons why. The role of the expert--practitioners and academics--is questioned by postmodernism and this has implications for both the way that the planning process is observed and described. So much of the previous science in planning and geography had abstracted human activity into systems and models (e.g. transportation, park use, zoning, forecasting, behavioural studies) and practitioners were constituted as objective experts. With the cultural turn, the contingent and constructed role of the expert in making claims about the real world is questioned. The role of science and scientists in landscape representation and production is of enduring interest to cultural geography and plays a key part in the production of landscape meaning in my present research. Linking postmodernist particularity of knowledge and experience (McDowell 1995: 153) with the geographers conventional study of society in space provided the right conditions for geographers to receive Henri Lefebvre (1974) and the reinterpretations of his work by David Harvey (1996, 2000) and Edward Soja (1989). Their views distinguish[] between a scientific, rational view of space, the subject matter of urban planning and conventional geographic analysis and an idea of space as something that is experienced or imagined, a more ambivalent concept that is not possible to represent either in scientific discourse or in sets of social statistics (McDowell 1995: 153). This is the postempiricist (Schein 1997: 662) approach to cultural geography. Quantitative approaches to theorizing geographical processes are still important and useful, but limitations need to be discussed. As I have said, producing knowledge about space is a political act and science is not neutral in its claims of truth and reality. Bringing cultural studies to the study of space and landscape opens up lines of questioning about knowledge production and spatial politics in urban planning, a profession grounded in the belief that decisions about landscape change are made through rational, objective, scientific study.


Conceptual Framework

Cultural landscape studies enable questions about urbanization because landscape change is a site of cultural negotiation. In defining the approach to my research in Oakville I turn again to Don Mitchell, this time in Cultural geography: a critical introduction (2000), where he presents the scope of contemporary cultural geographical studies and identifies four dimensions of landscape. First, to look at something as a landscape is part of the capitalist and Enlightenment transformation, removing the observer from the scene, implying ownership of the land, and the shaping of the land to suit this particular way of seeing (Berger 1972; Hall 1999; Jay 1993; Rose 1993). Here Mitchell draws upon the scholarship of Denis Cosgrove (1984, 1985), who presented the idea of landscape as the result of the capitalist transformation in land ownership. This dimension of landscape (the view of the observer as though removed from the society, culture and landscape under study) is still at work in North Oakville through the descriptive reporting by the various expert consultants involved in the process. Further, an historical result of the Enlightenment view is to recognize the study area itself as a product of this thinking: North Oakville is defined by human-made municipal boundaries (which were located to coincide with road right of ways, which in turn were opened because of the superimposed geometry of the original settlement surveys) which are part of the fundamental social construction of the colonial landscape that permitted property ownership and the rights that went along with it (Wood 2000: 20-22; J. B. Jackson 1994). The decontextualizing of the landscape as study area in these ways enables the circulation of landscape representations ripped free of the lived-in experience of that place. Secondly, Mitchell describes the ways in which a landscape can also be read as a text, similar to the way novels have been discussed in literary studies (Barnes and Duncan 1992; Brown and Yule 1983; Duncan 1990; Duncan and Duncan 1988) and paintings in art history (Cosgrove 1984; WJT Mitchell 1994; Relph 1981; Short 1991). Landscapes are real material and concrete, walkable and observable and landscapes can be prose, photographs, and graphic images that use metaphor and symbolism to evoke a setting (or a response). In the section of this chapter discussing critical and cultural approaches to the study of landscape later in this chapter, I draw upon James and Nancy Duncans 30 Conceptual Framework

approach (1992, 1998, 2001b, 2004) to textual readings of landscape in order to understand how ideas of landscape come together intertextually within the discourse of the planning process. Thirdly, landscapes are not just rural or historical as was the focus of earlier landscape study. Landscapes are also urban and contemporary (Anderson 1988; Davis 1990; Domosh 1988; Duncan 1992; Relph 1987). As Groth (1997: 5) wrote: one term covers all. City, suburb, countryside, and even wilderness are all human constructs, all touched by human management. All are cultural landscape. Studies of the here and now proliferate under the cultural turn (eg. Cronon 1996; Duncan and Duncan 2004; J. M. Jacobs 1992, 1996; Kinsman 1993; Ley 1995; Mitchell 1996; Schein 1997; Seymour 2000). Fourth and finally, landscapes are complicit in the construction of self and identity in ways that are profound. As Mitchell says, how can ordinary people continue to make their own histories and geographies (i.e. make their own identities) given the overwhelming power of the economy, various states, militaries, and even the confederated media and culture industries to shape our lives and our selves for us (61-2, emphasis in original). Here Mitchell is calling for the deconstruction of the stories society tells itself (attributed to Derrida 1973) about how individuals are constituted within larger society (the work of Michel Foucault is especially relevant [1970, 1977]). More study is required with respect to how culture is appropriated by people in their everyday lives (De Certeau 1984) and on the impact of the culture industry (Hall 1990). Landscape is inscribed by culture often in deliberate and purposeful ways, but also sometimes in fleeting and spontaneous ways as well. This spatiality of cultural processes is the subject of Doreen Masseys Space, place and gender (1994) in which she relates the immediate and the local to other spatial scales and asks questions about their mutual constitution. Masseys contribution is in thinking about how different places, from the local to the global, are linked. Her work is taken up by Ruth Fincher and Jane M. Jacobs as they are also interested in the complexity of spatial scales that flow through place (1998: 21). In their book, they explore how space is made real 31 Conceptual Framework

by individuals. This complexity is defined as the ways in which the local is always also a national or an international space, or the way in which local identities are always also constituted through non local processes, or the way in which place-based identities are tied to the micropolitics of the home or the body (Fincher and Jacobs 1998: 21). The production of space is fraught with competing meanings and the spatial turn in cultural studies questions established ways of seeing and understanding societal relations (De Certeau 1984; Foucault 1980; Giddens 1984; Harvey 1996; Lefebvre 1974; Soja 1989). David Harvey regards urbanization as a spatially grounded social process in which a wide range of different actors with quite different objectives and agendas interact through a particular configuration of interlocking spatial practices (1989a: 5). Therefore, the landscape may be seen as a cultural production within which people make their lives and their selves, both in its discursive creation (which I will discuss in detail in a moment) and in its material form. The four approaches set out by Mitchell and described above encompass the understanding of landscape that I bring to my research. My research questions how ideas about landscape are caught up in the urbanization process, a political process through which the material landscape itself is transformed. In North Oakville, the ways in which the existing countryside is valued and represented in the process produces plans for the future of the area, a community in which 55,000 people will live and work. Landscape is a concept that is useful in my research to refer to the lived and perceived space of society (Mitchell 1996: 3-4) especially in the case of this particular planning process where ideas about the past, present and future landscape are represented. The landscape is the setting that structures our everyday lives: it is constructed, remodelled, dreamt, photographed, and familiar, found, and valued. I believe that landscape continues to have purchase conceptually in cultural geography today because who controls space--whose vision is inscribed in the landscape--affects the possibilities for peoples lives (Zukin 1991). Who gains from the politically successful dominant reading of this landscape as important ecologically?


Conceptual Framework

The landscape setting is certainly not benign but everyday landscapes (eg. a suburban neighbourhood, a busy street, a natural heritage conservation area) are taken for granted and not always seen as overt sites of political contestation. Landscapes are constantly being revised and reshaped, both materially and discursively (Williams 1973; L. Marx 1964; Duncan and Duncan 2004). While much of the focus in the literature is on the city, where the countryside landscape is threatened by the expanding city, the landscape is especially political (Walker and Fortmann 2003) and how the countryside is seen to be a site of political contest is a focus of the dissertation. Landscape, then, is a powerful topic of study as it is a product of culture and politics, at the same time as it is a material and abstract phenomenon. Its study provides insights into the processes that create it. Looking at North Oakville as a landscape under contestation within a planning process enables the questioning of cultural landscape values, in this case ideas about the city, countryside and nature within the landscape discourse structured by the planning process. The planning process requires studies of the existing landscape--for instance its settlement pattern and land use, built heritage, road network, natural habitat and wildlife--to inform decision-making. In the next section, I review the literature of the ways in which spatial descriptions of the material landscape are studied, drawing on those concepts which informing my research. The material section is followed by symbolic and then cultural approaches.

Spatial descriptions of material landscape

Of great interest to geographical research is the study of urban expansion through analysis and description of settlement at the urban fringe. North Oakville as a planning area is a visible, material landscape within which certain land uses and activities are carried out, that have changed over time. Within the context of my case study, the preparation of reports describing various aspects of the material landscape of North Oakville was undertaken to inform the planning process and constitute a major part of the discourse. In many ways, these reports continue the work of traditional geography focusing on descriptive analysis of the material landscape, especially the geographical distribution and 33 Conceptual Framework

impacts of settlement. These approaches to the study of urbanization and settlement are interested in the visible form and morphology of cultural landscapes or the environmental impact of material cultural practices (Johnston et al. 2000: 136). While I have introduced cultural geography as the sub-discipline within which my research is being carried out, urban geography and rural geography are related subdisciplines traditionally focusing on description, classification and mapping of particular landscapes within human geography. Material descriptive analysis is also carried out by the environmental sciences and of major interest to my case study is biophysical analysis describing the natural environment of the North Oakville landscape and providing input to the planning process (Diamond et al. 2002; Hurley and Walker 2004; Lister 1998). In this section I will review approaches to material landscape analysis that are part of the epistemological framework of the planning process as I have studied it in this case. Urban and regional planning generally draws upon material geographies with the intention of managing change in the landscapes analyzed. The first step in the planning process is data collection including information about: the land itself (geology, soils, slopes, water flows, vegetation); activities in the study area (residential, employment, retail, recreational, traffic and other human activities and their facilities as well as animal use); and projections of future changes in the land, activities and facilities. Collection of data is carried out within theoretical understandings of how the world works within each of the specializations that gathers and presents the information. I will discuss these generalized approaches here. I have divided the discussion into: urban geography with its focus on the city, rural geography and its study of the countryside, and urban and regional planning with its applied approach. Representations of the material landscape derived from these approaches are taken as objective and scientific analysis for use in the planning process but as I will discuss, the production and use of information about the landscape is very political.


Conceptual Framework

Urban geography produces quantitative and descriptive representations of metropolitan, suburban, sprawl landscapes Within urban geography, the study of cities is carried out within a dominant narrative of urban dispersal from a concentrated centre into the countryside. Urban growth and countryside destruction tend to be seen in a negative light, and much of current planning policy reflects and reinforces this view. The study of settlement patterns, their influences and effects are at the heart of inquiry in urban geography and my specific interest in reviewing the literature is to ground my case study in an understanding of the way in which urban geography describes and models urbanization. Seeing the city as expanding outwards to encompass a larger area is the subject of metropolitan studies (Lewis 1995; Gottmann and Harper 1990; Sudjic 1992) which includes the idea of the urban field (Friedmann and Miller 1965; Friedmann 1973; Blumenfeld 1983; Beesley and Walker 1990; Coppack, Russwurm and Bryant 1998) and the citys countryside (Bryant, Russwurm and McClelland 1982; Carter Park and Coppack 1994; Bryant, Coppack and Mitchell 2000) to describe the rural area under the immediate influence of the city which it surrounds. The documentation and analysis of urban dispersion (migration from the countryside to the city) and counterurbanization (migration from the city to the country) works within the metropolitan view, much of it describing population migration patterns, the distribution of housing and densities, labour markets, the flow of goods and services, and commuting patterns to represent spatial human activity at many different scales -- for example, the metropolitan region, city, and local development area -- using a variety of statistical tools (Berry 1976a, 1976b; Berry and Gillard 1977; Halfacree 1997; C. Mitchell 2004; P. Nelson 1997; Pacione 2001). These approaches to studying metropolitan growth are understood through regional science and land economics (eg. Bryant and Charvet 2003). In the North Oakville planning process, land economics underpinned the process where population and employment forecasts and estimates of future land need created the study area and defined its boundaries. North Oakville as a delimited area and subject of a planning process is understood by its situation in geographical time in the Toronto metropolitan 35 Conceptual Framework

area and the naturalization of the idea of metropolitan growth held by the politicians and planners in various levels of government was challenged by the local residents group. In addition to these quantitative approaches, the sociology of metropolitan expansion and change as seen to be experienced within the last century is discussed through the literature describing the phenomenon of suburban growth. Robert Fishmans Bourgeois Utopias (1987), Kenneth Jacksons Crabgrass Frontier (1985), Peter Halls Cities of Tomorrow (1988) and more recently Dolores Haydens Building Suburbia (2003) and Richard Harris studies of Canadian suburbs (1996, 2004) are histories of suburbia beginning in England and crossing over to North America, and all acknowledge the influence of ideologies of country and city in metropolitan settlement and change. As discussed in these histories, the promise of the suburbs is best illustrated by Ebenezer Howards Garden City concept in which he deliberately set out to combine the best of both the town and country and the suburbs became imbued with the promise of a middle landscape between the two (1898). These stories of how todays Western cities grew are based within a theoretical framework of the rise of industrialism and the impact of modernization (see Berman 1982, Heynen 1999 and Anderson 1998 for postmoderism). The suburban literature tells a story of expansion of urban uses into the countryside, largely focusing on socioeconomic forces that produced the single family home and the societal changes supporting it such as automobile use, rise of the middle class, dispersion of employment (see also Walker and Lewis 2001), mortgage financing, and the nuclear family. In these texts there is a narrative of the unfortunate decline of the country (both as a social world and as a landscape) as a victim of rapid industrial growth and expansion. The normative values underlying these ways of understanding urban growth still play a big part in landscape change. The suburban literature provides the narrative of how the suburbs came to be: the city disperses into the countryside with profound effects on both. The dominant narrative seems to be that urban expansion and suburb creation (i.e. sprawl) are possible only at the expense of the countryside whose loss is first fought and then lamented. The 36 Conceptual Framework

naturalization of this line of thinking is the context within which the urbanization of North Oakville can be understood. In the case of North Oakville, the continued pressure of the new home real estate market to provide single family homes and neighbourhoods is understood and naturalized in the context of this long suburban history. But my research suggests that the ability to plan a suburban middle ground may be disintegrating because of the desire to conserve large areas of countryside for ecological restoration and the view by planners that individual homes in the countryside (as were typical of the early suburban models) are wasteful sprawl. Sprawl is a pejorative descriptor of urban growth and is seen as a problem of settlement dynamics, including transportation, land economics, and consumerism. Urban expansion is characterized (it would seem almost exclusively at times) as sprawl to the extent that this thinking dominated the case study process. The view that urban expansion of any kind is bad and as sprawl is something to be fought was repeated in the discourse of the planning process. Dolores Haydens A field guide to sprawl (2004) is a photo essay vividly demonstrating how sprawl is visually devastating: her books aerial photographs juxtapose asphalt and sylvan views, playing upon the impact of visual culture in the conceptualization of sprawl. The negative view of urban expansion has led to the analyses of sprawl as environmentally-devastating uncontrolled growth (eg. Gillham 2002), with proposals of how best to tame it through better urban design (Calthorpe 2001; Duany, Plater-Zyberk and Speck 2000), and as the pejorative description of a normal contemporary condition (Bruegmann 2005). The view of urban growth as sprawl is pervasive and as I will discuss through the example of North Oakville, the rejection of the idea of new urban growth by the public is a major issue of contemporary times. I draw upon the idea that urban geography offers a city-centred view of urbanization and settlement to inform the discussion of North Oakvilles urbanization as the naturalized next step in the growth of the metropolitan region. In the following section I discuss the concepts and theories of the landscape beyond the urban offered by rural geography.


Conceptual Framework

Landscape representation of the citys edge in rural geography addresses urban influences on the countryside Rural geography complements urban studies by concentrating on non-urban areas and their characteristics. Its importance to my research is to conceptualize urbanization of the countryside from the view of the rural, for instance as a way of understanding representations of landscape from the view of those within the existing North Oakville countryside. While questions of rurality preoccupy this rural geography, I am interested in its long history of studying urban dispersion and its effects in the countryside. As with urban geography, the urban field is one way of conceptualizing the area around major cities with which they are co-dependent (Coppack, Russwurm and Bryant 1998; Friedmann and Miller 1965). Rural geography describes the destruction of a productivist way of life as working landscapes give way to amenity landscapes under greater influence from the city. Counterurbanization, while a phenomena of urban studies, is as much or perhaps even more of a focus of rural studies. The rural approach is less a description of dispersed settlement (than the urban metropolitan approach) and more descriptive of sociological and local economic impact (for instance Punter 1974; Halfacree 1993, 1994, 1997; Bunting and Mitchell, 2001; Mitchell, Bunting and Piccioni, 2004). American academics have studied the rural landscape from its metropolitan edge to its more remote reaches, but with remarkable differences (see for example J. B. Jackson 1984, 1986, 1994, 1997; Conzen 1990; Hart 1991). The American countryside is vast, there are extreme regional differences, but the general narrative seems to be that the American countryside is productive; it is home to hard-working, God-fearing people who are the foundation of the work-hard-and-you-can-achieve-anything ethic on which the nation is built. The story of the American countryside is one of progressive colonization of the continent from east to west enabled by land division, capital markets, railway access, water management, and, later, the national highway system (see for example Cronon 1992).


Conceptual Framework

Although similar processes encouraged Canadas early settlement, the experience was somewhat different as I found in researching the cultural landscape history of the study area. Upper Canada especially was a settlement of the interior and based on exporting raw materials (notably lumber and wheat) back to Britain. I spend some time considering possible cultural differences in countryside valuation in Chapter 3. However, the most fertile landscapes inevitably hold some of the most successful cities, including Toronto, and it is at these edges that the most cherished rural landscapes are subject to the greatest threat. Globalization, postmodernism and the cultural turn have had a great impact on the discipline of rural geography. Internal debate questioning if urban and rural continued to be conceptually useful geographies in academic research because of the pervasiveness of the urban everywhere (largely due to telecommunications) has occupied researchers (Cloke 1985; McCarthy 2005; Murdoch and Pratt 1993; Pahl 1968; Philo 1992; Pickvance 2003). Through this discussion, interest in rurality has not been abandoned but reinvigorated and has moved beyond homogenizing, quantitative studies of the material land to challenges to hegemonic views of rurality and countryside, especially in British scholarship. Today, there is continued interest in how people sustain the idea of rurality; there were great discussions about the rural countryside at the 2005 American Association of Geographers meeting in Denver looking at actually-existing and symbolic landscapes, and peoples experience of the rural. Also, Paul Cloke, a British geographer, in his recent edited volume presents rurality in terms of its representations, embodiment and performances (2003) and represents the new rural geography by moving away from descriptive analysis of the physical environment to critical rural geographies. Often focused on the challenges of contemporary productive landscapes and rural community decline, there is work considering the conflict of rural and urban, especially as it reveals the unequal relationship between country and city (Dupuis and Vandergeest 1996; Furuseth and Lapping 1999).


Conceptual Framework

The dominance of the city over the country is discussed in this literature. Both in economic terms and in the social imagination of how the landscape should look and be used, the theoretical authority of Williams (1973) is evoked. In my case study I certainly found the voices and vision of the North Oakville landscape from the city to be far more strident than those of the rural. I looked for representations of the landscape from the rural community in resistance to urbanization in the documents and in my interviews, but found instead acceptance of urbanization and interest was fractured by self-interest in the face of possible future changes to their individual properties. The edge landscape in between city and country, which is the focus for my research, is caught between urban and rural geographies. The study of this area belongs to both urban and rural geography and has been studied by both, but there is a body of work that can be drawn out because of its specific interest in the fringe (refer to citys countryside and urban field above). The fringe is between the city (built-up, tightly planned and controlled, serviced) and the countryside. Yet for the people in my case study, the fringe area of North Oakville is the countryside that they know and are fighting over. The countryside further out, with its own problems of community decline and the effects of global agricultural restructuring is not the subject of their concern. The literature with an explicit intent to study the fringe includes Beesley and Russwurm (1981), Bunce and Troughton (1984), Daniels (1995), and Furuseth and Lapping (1999). Garreau (1991) and Lang (2003) track the migration of employment from the centre city to the fringe. Ivonne Audirac (1999) is interested in the interface between the city and countryside (she began from the rural perspective of agricultural decline, see Audirac 1997). She describes the edge or fringe as a zone of perpetual transition, a battleground between conflicting values (1999: 7 quoting Hart 1991). The fringe literature is useful because of its recognition that the landscape and values held there are destabilized by the increasing influence of the city. In the case of North Oakville, because much of the land is held under speculation and many residents rent homes and lease farmland, the idea of this area as productive countryside is less entrenched and the expectation of change--at least by those within the landscape--is focused on when and how change will take place, not 40 Conceptual Framework

whether. There is a striking difference between those who have lived experience of the landscape and the view of the townspeople and their outsiders view, and I draw out this difference in my discussion. The material landscape of the countryside is studied by those interested in heritage conservation. The term cultural landscape is increasingly invoked to describe the retention of historic artefacts in place (for example, it is used in the proposed land use policy for North Oakville see Oakville 2004a). Historical geography has worked in efforts to catalogue historical artifacts, such as McIlwraiths Looking for old Ontario (1997) and the work of Michael Troughton at the University of Western Ontario in the classification of rural heritage artifacts in the face of rural restructuring (2002). Heritage conservation in Ontario is largely based on preserving individual features including buildings, structures and other pieces of the landscape such as fences etc. that are rare, associated with an historical person or event, or distinctive of a certain time (see the Ontario Heritage Act). The process of heritage conservation requires the cataloguing of built heritage features and is most often carried out in advance of planned development (Fram 2003). Cultural landscape in heritage terms refers to the ensemble of bits and pieces that are seen to have greater value together and in situ. While the cataloguing of built heritage is with explicit recognition of its cultural value, the politics of privileging a particular (often elite colonial) story over others and the effect of heritage preservation on landscape choices is less often discussed. The role of built heritage study in the planning process has been minor. Heritage studies have been undertaken to catalogue existing homes and the village of Palermo was identified as a remnant grouping of buildings to be retained (Unterman McPhail 2004). While the Towns heritage planner has been active in North Oakville in reviewing proposals for change (Rampen 2006), the built heritage studies were seldom referred to within the discourse of the planning process. In contrast, the idea of natural heritage upon which the proposed natural heritage system is based, ensures the preservation of core natural features. These are supported by 41 Conceptual Framework

buffers and linkages to ensure long-term natural habitat survival. The use of the term heritage is used as a label for an area defined by environmental science apparently without critical discussion of the cultural appropriation of nature as an inheritance of society to be protected for future generations. In this way, natural heritage is caught up in the goals of sustainability and biodiversity and makes it very hard to argue against (see UNESCO 1972). Through the discourse of the planning process, the idea of the North Oakville landscape as a countryside shaped by human use and valued for its cultural heritage is subsumed under the idea of this landscape as natural heritage valued for its non-human biophysical characteristics as defined by science. While I will argue that the pastoral ideal is behind this valuation, scenic beauty and aesthetic appreciation of this nature are not explicit reasons for conservation based on my reading of the discourse of this process. Material landscape representation informs the planning process Material approaches have focused on description, classification, and spatial theory. Descriptions of the material landscape by biologists, geomorphologists, transportation engineers, land use planners and others involved in landscape decision-making processes are representations of the real landscape. Duncan and Ley refer to this as mimesis or trying to produce as accurate a reflection of the world as possible (Duncan and Ley 1993: 2). While urban and rural geographies as discussed above describe and model the landscape, it is when these representations of the landscape are mobilized in the planning process that the values entrenched in these ways of seeing are embedded and reembedded in the landscape. The act of describing or representing the world is informed by and clouded by the imagined world in our heads. Part experience, part training -- all of it acculturation -- it affects how we approach a given landscape to inventory and describe what we see, and make recommendations to decision-makers. There is in practice an invisible join between reality and cultural representations of it (Duncan and Ley 1993: 4) unless we


Conceptual Framework

disrupt it by asking questions about the contingency in time and place of naturalized assumptions. The early work on cultural geography was a study of the material landscape. As Yi-Fu Tuan said in his retrospective in the Annals, he spent much of his academic life studying regions, trying to draw boundaries around them as though they were objective entities. Tuan captures the difficulty in the approach to dogmatically undertaking studies of the material world which do not see landscapes as collages of geography, memory, and sentiment, welded together and burnished by art and ideology (2004: 729). In this section, I have reviewed the interpretations of the material landscape which inform the North Oakville planning process. These classifications of the visible world through the collection of objective evidence are the substantive data collected, analyzed and synthesized in the process. While I am studying a specific planning process for this research, as a planning consultant, this is the world in which I live. The extent to which objective, scientific data is privileged in the process over qualitative descriptions of lived landscapes by residents, and over self-conscious statements of landscape ideology, has always troubled me. While it is understood that choices among alternatives are made within the planning process, an explicit discussion of the idealized notions of city, suburb and rural areas that are intertwined in the production of information and in choice making is embraced.

Theoretical approaches to studying landscape representation

How is landscape representation questioned theoretically? There are three points that I would like to make in this section. The first is that representations of landscapes become symbolic, meaning that they are abstracted, imagined and idealized, cut loose from their material space. The second point I will discuss is that landscapes so represented are more than abstractions of themselves but are often symbolic of broad ideological stances, sometimes as shorthand for taken-for-granted views of the world. Third, is that the use


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of these symbolic landscapes in discourse is political and through deconstruction of the backstory behind representations of landscape, we can ask questions of culture. In my research, I probe how Oakville has been (and is being) discursively formed. In order to do this, I need to interpret representations of the actually-existing material landscape and ask questions about how they are used in the planning process. I also look at how symbolic landscapes (such as an idealized countryside or natural landscape) circulate in the planning process. The concepts of semiotics and representation have migrated into geography through the linguistic turn in cultural studies. The approach to studying representation is to see that culture is produced and reproduced through the communication of symbols, but more importantly that the use and meaning of those symbols is multiple and contested. Landscapes in social imagination Given that many of the people involved in the process do not access North Oakville in their daily lives their interest in this landscape works on the symbolic level. Written texts such as novels and poems from classical literature were traditionally studied to determine what the authors message was and how his narrative structure was crafted; now texts are deconstructed to look for deeper meanings having to do with things unsaid, left out, or assumed by the author about the stories being told. Clues to ideas about culture, including race, gender and class, are present in text and are important to the study of society especially to understand how ideology structures social relations and space. As we are acculturated in a certain time and place, we learn what is intended by certain words or images. Communication is possible because of the signs and symbols used in language, but it is not just written text (words and sentences) that are used in communication, but also images, gestures, landscape and other things that stand in for text. Deconstruction recognizes that there are other ways to read the same thing besides the dominant, intended reading depending upon differences such as race, gender, class, time and place. The dominant reading is often seen as serving one particular group, intentionally or


Conceptual Framework

otherwise (more on the provenance of these ideas in the following section on critical and cultural geography). A productive intersection of the work of several scholars has provided a foundation for understanding symbolic meaning in landscape. As the focus of semiotics, the study of symbolic meaning has allowed new questions about the communication of culture. Semiotics has expanded its view from the study of language and the symbolism of words in literary studies, to photographs, art and other forms of representation including landscape. John Bergers Ways of seeing (1972) is a good introduction to problematizing representation in art history and uses landscape as an example. Roland Barthes led the use of spatial semiotics, applying semiotics to the study of the material world (1979a; 1979b; 1986b). The use of semiotics crossed over into cultural geography through the work on landscape by Denis Cosgrove (1984). In his book Social Formation and Symbolic Landscape, Cosgrove explores how landscapes are represented in societal power relations. He focuses on landscape representations, on portrayals of real landscapes, and how images of places are caught up in identity and the telling of stories about what social norms are embedded in the portrayal of different landscapes. Cosgrove co-edited a volume on the iconography of landscape with Stephen Daniels (1988) to draw upon his earlier work and explore how idealized landscapes work to communicate meaning within society. Another good recent example of this idea is the album of images in Uncommon ground (1996: 219229), which illustrates how images of nature are used to express other meanings in advertising and because of the association of natural images with goodness, products sell. When symbolic landscape is used in the planning process, what do the images of natural heritage/protected nature do? In opposition to the creation of a new urban landscape, I argue that things that are natural are more authentic, provide a better setting for family life, are privileged in scenic terms, compared to a city landscape where images of new suburbs are used as shorthand to portray the environmental destruction of sprawl. Given


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that many of the people involved in the process do not access North Oakville in their daily lives their interest in this landscape works on the symbolic level. The use of landscape and images to depict socially dominant and desirable ways of life is evident in the planning process. WJT Mitchells Landscape and Power is an edited collection of essays on landscape representation revealing how the artificial worlds portrayed in landscape art naturalize ideologies of how the world should be (worlds that because they are artificial, we can never get to) (1994: 2). He argued that in this way, European colonization was naturalized with the depiction of landscape as property: cultivated lands were scenic and wilderness areas were dangerous. John Rennie Short (1991) also examined famous paintings depicting landscapes of city, countryside and wilderness and discussed how these images circulate within the myth-making discourse of these archetypal attitudes towards landscape (xxii). The theoretical understanding of how landscape representations communicate cultural ideas provided by Cosgrove (1984), Cosgrove and Daniels (1988), WJT Mitchell 1994), and Short (1991) is necessary for understanding how landscape is used politically in the planning discourse. For instance, the depiction of the landscape through aerial photographs and mapping created by the material studies disassociates the viewer from the lived experience of that landscape and perpetuates the Enlightenment view of the distant colonizer. In another way, the Towns pictorial coffee table books predominantly consist of images of residents (especially children) in natural settings representing the Town as the setting for individuals to commune with nature. Images of the built environment are scarce, except for the mainstreet and oldest historic homes. I would argue that images of near-wild nature are valued most highly and the rejection of everyday suburban representations in favour of sojourns into the more natural areas of town takes its cue from images of suburban homes as sprawl in the media; the archetypal view of sprawl is of new, large, detached, well-kept homes in subdivisions like the ones that most people in Oakville live.


Conceptual Framework

The semiotics of landscape has also been taken up by historical geography to study landscapes of representation and memory (Seymour 2000). The preservation of artefacts in the landscape by the dominant culture tells a history that is often one-dimensional and arguably continues the process of colonization to the present day. But, through the work on heritage planning, particularly from Australia (eg. Anderson and Gayle 1992; J M. Jacobs 1996; Johnston 1994; also Seymour 2000) and drawing upon Edward Saids Orientalism, the practice of built heritage conservation is undergoing a revolution in understanding of the multivalent meanings in landscape. However, this discourse is not represented in the North Oakville planning process. In order to prepare a plan for the area, the politics of this particular place required the stamping of a particular representation of the landscape almost to the exclusion of all others. Not only is the heritage valued in this landscape depicted in terms of its natural value, and not its built human-shaped values, but the nature is scientifically understood, and neither the pastoral, sublime, nor productive uses of this nature were very much discussed. Representation is political The role of thinking conceptually about landscapes as symbolic is necessary for undertaking this study of North Oakville. Participants in the planning process are dealing with landscape change as an idea: the subject of future urbanization the landscape of North Oakville is largely discussed in conceptual terms, especially as different alternative plans are being produced. Participants are dealing with imagined futures and are dealing exclusively with images, representations, and with projections of economic, social and environmental impacts. Battles are won and lost; planning permissions granted or denied; millions of pounds committed or withdrawn on the basis of fantasies--images of the future which are to be weighed and tested against current realities. The value of the landscape is discussed in symbolic terms and is constructed and contested (Burgess 1992: 242, 246). While there are important contributions of semiotics to the understanding of landscape it is necessary to ground spatial and social theory in the material where everyday contests 47 Conceptual Framework

over desired spaces are held. So whereas material studies, as discussed in the previous section, do not take into account the broader critical discourses/geographies in which they operate, the symbolic studies of landscape do not consider the essential material conditions, and mental referents, without which other cultural practices and forms of representation (in addition to architecture, planning and urban design)writing, mapping, ethnography, film photography, paintingwould have been impossibleMoreover, such spatial and built form arrangements are not simply signifiers of power and control, they also materially affect the life changes of those who live within them (King 2003: 389). This concern leads us to the next section on the theory of how to hold the material and the symbolic together for study.

Critical and cultural approaches to the study of landscape

The landscape of North Oakville is imagined as countryside, nature and the city of the future. Contested representations of this landscape intersect with changing valuation in society generally of city and country, culture and nature. My research is based conceptually on the idea that landscape is political, contested, and implicated in the production and reproduction of culture and cultural identities. Cultural geography today marries two traditions--a focus on empirical study of the material along with an acknowledgement that different ways of looking at the world are fraught with competing understandings. Through this cultural geographical approach I am able to apply the concept of discourse to the planning process as a way of exploring how representations of North Oakville landscape as natural habitat became policy. In my dissertation I provide the reader in Chapters 5 and 6 with a narrative of the history of the North Oakville landscape leading up to the present-day contestation of landscape meaning with the planning process. Chapter 7 explores the ways in which various representations of the landscape in the discourse of the process were negotiated. This case study of North Oakville tests the theoretical and methodological framework of cultural geography. The opportunity opened up here is to be able to ask questions about how space is implicated in the constitution of culture. In the case of North Oakville, I 48 Conceptual Framework

argue that discussions about the future of this landscape give us insight into our culture broadly speaking especially with respect to antipathy towards the city and the valuation of the countryside as the site of nature. A major contribution of this research is to demonstrate that landscape representations are used in the planning process to discuss cultural values that, as Williams said, are not otherwise easily accessible (1973). This chapter section describes the transmission of cultural theory to geography. Here I draw upon the work of James Duncan, Peter Jackson, Don Mitchell, David Ley, and Jane M. Jacobs to facilitate a discussion in support of my research into how cultural theory works within landscape studies to show how landscape meaning is contested. Today, some twenty years or so after cultural theory first infiltrated geography, it is accepted within the discipline that culture is at all times negotiated, that although the dominant culture is what is most often reflected in the landscape, the dominant reading is at all times tested and contested in the everyday use of that place. The future lived landscape of the new urban area of North Oakville will be shaped by the policy framework and plans emerging from the political negotiation of landscape representation in the planning process. James and Nancy Duncans study of Bedford, New York represents the most interesting empirical work and theoretical framework for my own research. Published in several articles and book chapters (1984, 1988, 2001a, 2001b, 2001c) and finally culminating in a book in 2004, their research has had a great impact on my approach to thinking about North Oakville. The study of Bedford is an inquiry into the political use of landscape representation. It confronted my interest in urban design and heritage conservation-which I considered to be positive forces in landscape management--with accusations of an aesthetic approach to landscape potentially reinforcing the dominant narrative at the expense of issues of social justice. The Duncans argue that the appreciation of scenic landscape beauty is largely class-based and is an exclusionary practice with the effect of displacing unwanted others from a locale. The aesthetic works as the hegemonic reading of the landscape and reinforces the structures of power in the society. Hegemony is 49 Conceptual Framework

based on a type of alienated thought by which the interests of the dominant classes in society are naturalized and universalized to the point of being seen as coincident with the interests of all classes (Duncan and Duncan 2001: 392). Supported by local government and its institutions and processes, scenic landscape protection in Bedford is naturalized as a desired good and the exclusionary and exploitative effects are not discussed. Following from their work, I see the promotion of natural heritage in Oakville operating in similar ways. The starting point in their argument is David Harveys The condition of postmodernity (1990a, especially Chapter 17) and his questioning of the power of the aesthetic of antimodernity, providing an illusion of disconnection from global networks and reembeddedness in place (Duncan and Duncan 2001: 388). Indeed, as my work with Blum, Cadieux and Luka (2004) posited, people have to work at reproducing the aesthetic through the constant reshaping of the material landscape to fit with the pastoral vision of the imagination. The need to reproduce the identity of Oakville as a small town retreat from the city resulted in the rejection of new urban growth and the use of nature to protect this self-image. In order to study the political use of landscape representation in Oakville I approached my research drawing on the theoretical and methodological precedent of the Duncans Bedford study. Tracing the development of their work in the following section of this chapter provides a framework for approaching the critical and cultural study of the landscape used for the North Oakville research. Their archive provides a narrative structure in this section to describe how cultural theory has informed the study of landscape which frames my own research. In 1980, James Duncan published an article entitled The superorganic in cultural geography. In it, he takes direct aim at the concept of culture in the academic discipline of cultural geography as practiced by Carl Sauer and others. The contribution of this article is to explode the then prevalent idea that culture is something that works on its own, somehow autonomous and outside society. In the article, Clifford Geertzs use 50 Conceptual Framework

of semiotics is used to put forward the idea of looking at culture as a web of signs and symbols providing the context for individual actions where culture works as a socially established code (Geertz 1991: 5, 6). Cultural geography as a discipline had been using a definition of culture which defined culture as separate (as if on another plane above the individual) and cultural geographical research had focused on how this autonomous superorganic culture moulded the landscape. The result was that the work of traditional cultural geographers had failed to take account of many critical social psychological and social organizational variables because of active, causal properties attributed to culture by the theory (Duncan 1980: 185). Duncan suggested instead that cultural geography should embrace the complexities of human decision-making and see that things, such as landscape, are the outcome of social interaction and often represent the interest of certain groups as opposed to others. The assumption of homogeneity within a culture had become untenable as geography turned its attention to its home turf to study the complex cultural geography of America (Duncan 1980: 191, 193). Culture instead makes better theoretical sense as describing the social and institutional constraints within which the individual picks and chooses from the multitude of choices provided by the many social worlds with which he is familiar (Duncan 1980: 197). To study culture according to this approach, Geertzs concept of thick description untangles the web of interrelationships of the social worlds, the piled-up structures of inference and implication (Geertz 1991: 7) within which choices are made (and understood) by individuals in a given time and place. The article ends with a call for cultural geography (with its emphasis on landscape) to work with social geography (with its understanding of the social, psychological and political). Ten years after the superorganic article, Duncans book, The city as text: the politics of landscape in the Kandyan Kingdom, was published and is an example of the melding of social theory and cultural geography. He also co-edited a volume linking sociological and geographical imaginations (Agnew and Duncan 1989) including a chapter on his Sri Lankan research. The study shows how the physical form of the city constituted a text 51 Conceptual Framework

which was in turn a transformation of the texts (written about what constituted a good king in that era in Sri Lanka) that informed the discursive field of Kandyan kingship (Duncan 1990: 6). The study demonstrates how landscapes are politically charged and many different types of landscapes, including those that cultural geographers are wont to refer to as ordinary are susceptible to political readings (Duncan 1990: 7). Using the Kandyan kingdom is an exceptional example of how a landscape was deliberately built to reflect written religious work that described appropriate settings for a powerful king. The success of the built lived-in landscape reinforced the kings power, and overthrowing the king in the end meant destroying that built landscape. This research provides a powerful example of how landscape and culture are mutually constitutive. In the intervening decade between the superorganic article and the publication of the Kandyan Kingdom, there had been a great infiltration of cultural studies into geography. Cultural studies itself had been undergoing a transformation with the implosion of the superorganic idea of culture: individuals, not a superorganic culture, are seen to have agency within a larger web of cultural politics. A great variation exists in individual experience due to race, gender, class, sexual orientation, physical ability and other circumstances; individual epistemologies and behaviours are not stable and are contingent upon time and place. The result has been that avenues for exploration have been opened up by considering difference, discourse and everyday life. Working in this decade of transformation, Duncan based his study of the Kandyan Kingdom on Michel Foucaults (1970) discursive strategies, Clifford Geertzs use of narrative (1991), Roland Barthess application of semiotics to the material world (1979a; 1979b; 1986b), and Michel De Certeaus (1984) understanding of how the symbols of culture are appropriated by people. Raymond Williams and Stuart Hall are among the key scholars who are credited with effecting change in cultural studies. New work in literary theory sparked an interest in discursive relationships, especially among structuralists and poststructuralists as they questioned how social structure is reproduced through all kinds of communication. Explicitly concerned with things geographical such as nature and 52 Conceptual Framework

settlement but drawing upon the ideas suggested by the cultural theorists are Neil Smith and David Harvey. Through Duncan and his contemporaries, the work of these scholars has been taken up and is now part of the theory base for the new cultural geography. Today, cultural geography is the product of cross-fertilization of such diverse intellectual strains as anthropology, literary and art criticism, psychology, and political science (Duncan 1990: 13). Duncan draws upon Foucaults The Order of Things (1970) to elaborate how landscape circulates intertextually with words and images as part of cultures code or communicative system. But first he uses Pierce Lewiss Axioms for reading the landscape to make the point that landscapes are communicative devices that encode and transmit information (1990: 4; and refer to the discussion of landscape previously in this chapter). Lewiss view is compelling: The basic principle is this: that all human landscape has cultural meaning, no matter how ordinary that landscape may be (Lewis 1979: 12, emphasis in original), but Lewis does not make explicit the theory upon which he constructs his approach. Duncan writes: To understand the relational nature of the world we need to fill in much that is invisibleto read the subtexts that lie beyond the visible text [the landscape]. Reading a landscape requires a critical approach where the meaning of these texts and subtexts changes both over time and with the changing perspective of the interpreter. In order to know the meaning of a text we must preconceive the whole of which the text is a part (1990: 14). The whole from which landscape meaning is derived is seen as a changing epistemological space by Foucault (1970: xi). Looking at landscapes allows us to ask questions of the broader epistemological space of society, or as Tuan calls it: the spirit of the age (2004: 730). Whereas Foucault in The order of things was questioning the causes of changes within specific scientific disciplines and thinking about how those changes might be related to the entire philosophical discourse that was contemporary with [those changes] (1970: 251), Duncan assembles the discursive practice within which ideas make sense to people in a given time and place (1990: xiv). He writes, The fundamental 53 Conceptual Framework

codes of a culturethose governing its language, its schemas of perception, its exchanges, its techniques, its values, the hierarchy of its practicesestablish for every man, from the very first, the empirical orders with which he will be dealing and within which he will be at home (1990: xx). Practically speaking, empirical scholars can only try to imagine this whole as best they can, to piece together threads that are circulating and which are taken up in any given place and time by people within any given epistemological space. In my research I question how the ideas of city and countryside (a dialectic whole) are contested and negotiated in the planning process for North Oakville. Foucault helps to see how truths are produced and make us critical of the presumed rationality of our discourses and practices (Baynes et al. 1987: 97). For instance, in the planning process, nature is self-evidently good and sprawl is bad; for example arguing for less greenland conservation and more urban growth is morally reprehensible. Foucaults chapter on the panopticon from Discipline and Punish (1977) discusses how individuals are encultured to see the world; how the world is seen and appropriated, and how it is not fixed but always shifting, is useful for those of us interested in planning human environments. For example, Jane Jacobs famously critiqued the common view in planning circles in the 1950s of the city as a place of crowding and needing to be dispersed (and completely reinvented in the process). Jacobs refocused the lens and instead reasoned that crowding was beneficial (providing a sense of community and eyes on the street); her book is still required reading in most planning schools, and today density, not dispersal, is at the heart of good planning. Through Foucault, we can ask what was in the air generally to give planners the power to undertake clearance of dense slums in the first place, and then what shifted so that Jacobs book has subsequently been so widely accepted. Foucault writes: the circuits of communication are the supports of an accumulation and a centralization of knowledge; the play of signs defines the anchorages of power; it is not that the beautiful totality of the individual is amputated, repressed, alternated by our social order, it is rather that the individual [planner, resident, developer, biologist, politician] is carefully fabricated in it (1999: 70). 54 Conceptual Framework

In Questions of method: an interview with Michel Foucault (Baynes et al. 1987), Foucault says that his research for the prison study (1977) was undertaken: with the aim of grasping the conditions that make these [practices] acceptable at a given moment; the hypothesis being that these types of practice are not just governed by institutions, prescribed by ideologies, guided by pragmatic circumstanceswhatever role these elements may actually playbut possess up to a point their own specific regularities, logic, strategy, self-evidence, and reason. It is a question of analyzing a regime of practices practices being understood here as places where what is said and what is done, rules imposed and reasons given, the planned and the taken for granted meet and interconnect (Baynes et al. 1987: 103). The inspiration for my research that I take from this is to look at what people do in the planning process, and what they say about what they are doing. In the case of North Oakville: why preserve nature in a Natural Heritage System? Why prevent urban growth and take away development rights? I learned as a professional planner preparing cases to be heard before the Ontario Municipal Board that a distinction is made between planning policy (prescription about what is to be done) and practice (what is actually carried out). Foucaults presentation of looking at the practice of imprisonment through jurisdiction and veridiction is pertinent to my approach (Baynes et al. 1987: 103). How has the preservation of nature in the countryside in this way come to be accepted? How is the use of environmental science privileged in the planning process? Foucault says, Its a matter of shaking this false self-evidence, of demonstrating its precariousness, of making visible, not its arbitrariness but its complex interconnection with the multiplicity of historical processes (Baynes et al. 1987: 103). Of course I cannot take this on by myself within the confines of this thesis, but I can look to others who have questioned how nature worship has come to be and with what effect (see The nature of nature in the countryside in Chapter 3). Foucault says (Baynes et al. 1987: 108): If I have studied practices like those of the sequestration of the insane, or clinical medicine, or the organization of the empirical sciences, or legal punishment, it was in order to study this interplay between a code that rules 55 Conceptual Framework

ways of doing things (how people are the be graded and examined, things and signs classified, individuals trained, etc.) and a production of true discourses that serve to found, justify, and provide reasons and principles for these ways of doing things. To put the matter clearly: my problem is to see how men govern (themselves and others) by the production of truth (I repeat once again that by production of truth I mean not the production of true utterances but the establishment of domains in which the practice of true and false can be made at once ordered and pertinent). Here I find important the concept of looking at attitudes towards the city and country as within the production of discourses of the truth about the way the world should be. That interviewees in my North Oakville research considered environmental protection a self-evident truth is worth asking questions about because this thinking denies other social justice goals. Foucaults interest was in the discursive fields of science which attempt to create truth, and I take this idea to think about environmental science used to construct nature in North Oakville and the incontrovertible view of scientists that ecological protection and restoration are self-evident goals. From Foucault we understand that discursive fields intersecting in a place like North Oakville are part of the larger epistemological spaces of society. Within the larger, widely shared, cultural sphere are discursive fields which are focused on institutions. The term discursive field here refers to a range of competing discourses constituted by a set of narratives, concepts, and ideologies relevant to a particular realm of social practices. For example, one could say that there are discursive fields within law, medicine, or religion (Duncan 1990: 16). I am interested in the discursive field of environmental science including open space conservation, ecological habitat protection and restoration and the discursive field of planning with its acceptance of that science. The discourse of environmental protection in North Oakville suggests that of course we need to protect the environment; but how these views have become stabilized, with what effect in the landscape, and with what impacts on other aspects of society and space needs to be questioned if there are other goals for the landscape that we wish to also achieve. To define what is meant by discursive field, it is necessary to begin with the idea of discourse itself. It has several meanings and the term in general use means everything 56 Conceptual Framework

from having a conversation (A connected series of utterances by which meaning is communicated from the Oxford English Dictionary online) to a series of dialogues around a specific topic or issue (in the way that I refer to the discourse created around the North Oakville planning process) to the social framework of intelligibility within which all practices are communicated, negotiated, or challenged (Duncan 1990: 16). The use of discourse in cultural geography is derived from linguistic theory (Barnes and Duncan 1992) with its traditionally narrow focus on the analysis of discourse in spoken and written texts which is expanded by geographers to include landscape as text. Of Foucaults approach to text, Mark Poster (1997: n.p.) writes: the major theoretical tendency of Foucault's work is to regard the literary text as part of a larger framework of texts, institutions, and practices. The two most important examples of criticism associated with Foucault's ideas, those of Edward W. Said (Orientalism) and Stephen Greenblatt, are stunning examples of this kind of reading. Like other poststructuralists, Foucault urges the critic to complicate the interpretation, to reject the turn to the author's intention as the court of last resort, to look in the text for articulated hierarchies of value and meaning, above all to trace filiations of inter- and extratextuality, to draw connections between the given text and others, between the text and the intellectual and material context. Foucauldian readings are sensitive to the political impact of the text and the political unconscious behind the text, informing its statements and shaping its lines of enunciation. Foucaults focus on literary text has been extended to understanding landscape. Foucault allows us to question the stories we are told and to look for the motivations behind the stories. This approach, added to the approaches of traditional cultural geography with its combination of observation, archival work, oral tradition and literature review, adds questions about the stories that have been erased from the landscape, and questions the power relations that have resulted in a particular visible, material landscape in a particular place and time. Text is a record of a communicative act (Brown and Yule 1983: 6). Even for traditional linguists, text is not just the words, but how they are presented within a context. Handwriting, typeface, spelling errors, colours, pictures, etc. are in a cohesive 57 Conceptual Framework

relationship (Brown and Yule 1983: 11, 199) are all part of the text, all affect a readers subjective perception and interpretation of a written text with different individuals paying different attention to different aspects. The content of the text appeals to them or fits into their experience differently (Brown and Yule 1983: 11). From here it is not a stretch to see how producing a landscape (eg. a home, a park, a new suburb) similarly involves choosing and communicating topics for those who upon seeing that landscape will read and draw inferences. For instance, when homeowners contemplate the curb appeal of their homes, they are deciding on what elements to include or remove that will determine what their residential landscape will communicate to passers-by (whether others read the landscape in that way is another question). Duncan and Ley (1993: 11) refer to text as an interpretative metaphor to apply to landscape, rather than seeing landscape as a communicative act right alongside with words and images which is the theoretical position that I take. It is within discourse that the text is taken up and used as I will discuss in the next section. Discourse frames the study of landscape meaning in action Discourse is text in use, it is social in character (Luke 1995-6: 8; see also Mills 1997). The analysis of discourse explores how forms of language are used in communication (Brown and Yule 1983: ix). In discourse analysiswe are concerned with what people using language are doing (Brown and Yule 1983: 26) for instance, what effect does the curb appeal have? Discourses are structures of social interaction manifested in conversation (Brown and Yule 1983: viii): It is speakers/writers who have topics, presuppositions, who assign information structure and who make reference. It is hearers/readers who interpret and who draw inferences (Brown and Yule 1983: ix). Curb appeal is a conversation between homeowners, neighbours, and passers-by perhaps about class, ethnicity, wealth and family status. For my case study, the discourse of the planning process considers the negotiation of landscape representation in use and how ideas about landscape circulate within the process.


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For the purpose of analysis, a discourse can be considered closed (such as a narrative contained in a book or a planning process) but regard must be had for what both the author and reader are bringing to the production/deciphering of that reading. In one case he has a mental representation of what is in the world, in the other he has a mental representation of a world created by the discourse. In each case he must look into his mental representation to determine reference (Brown and Yule 1983: 201). Ideas about countryside, natural habitat, new suburban communities are constantly being tested and remade within the planning process with reference to the existing landscape under study. Within a discursive community, such as the one created by this particular planning process, there are rules for communication, what can and can not be discussed, and how language is to be used in social interaction (Luke 1995-6: 8). A critical use of discourse sees the naturalization and disguise of power relations that are tied to inequalities in the social production and distribution of symbolic and material resources (Luke 1995-6: 12). Some discourses are large-scale ideological formations (Luke 1995-6: 10) and these inform smaller-scale discourses limited to scientific communities or conversations and in my research I refer to the broader societal discourses such as global warming, sprawl, and nature as informing and being informed by the local discourse of the case study. Further to the approach of discourse analysis as a way of understanding the communication of culture, Williams Keywords (1976) are enormously useful, providing a definition of culture as a signifying system. Williams says that culture is not merely material production in the Sauerian fashion but a signifying system in the symbolic fashion used by cultural studies (Williams 1976: 78). Therefore, culture can be read off many different kinds of texts including landscape, not just traditional words in classic prose or through classic painting in art history (Duncan 1990: 15). The idea that landscape and not just the written word can be considered a communicative act is also partly attributable to the Swiss linguist, Ferdinand de Saussure who recognised that langue need not only refer to literary systems, but that other cultural forms could be analysed by an analogy with language and could, therefore, be read (Brown and Yule 59 Conceptual Framework

1983; Duncan and Duncan 1988). Saussures theoretical approach to language began with thinking about words as signs. His concept of signifier, referring to physical form, and signified, referring to content or meaning, together (in a constant dynamic interaction between the two) constituted a sign. The relationship of a sign to its referential reality he called signification. In this way, landscape operates as a sign in the communication of meaning within society (Brown and Yule 1983; Duncan and Duncan 1988). I will argue that images of landscape, especially natural settings circulating within the planning process, represent community identity and the pastoral. Looking at landscape as text alongside (or at times inclusive of) advertisements, photos, film and literature provided new avenues for exploration for cultural geography. And at the same time new thinking was generated about how discourse and text work to reproduce culture. Because texts are moments of intersubjectivity--the social and discursive relations between human subjects--they involve writers and readers, speakers and listeners, individuals whose intentions are neither self-evident nor recoverable without reference to another text. Reading and writing and listening and speaking thus depend on intertextuality, repeated and reiterated wordings, statements and themes that appear in different texts (Luke 1995-6: 13). Williams explored how the English landscape is intertextual with classic literature in The country and the city (1973), written ten years before Keywords was published. Here is how intertextuality works: how a receiver hears, sees and processes the words, images and landscapes of culture is based on his experience with everything he has seen, heard or experienced before; this interpretation is played forward in the communicative acts of that person. This acknowledgement of multiple kinds of texts, and the multiple possible readings of those texts and possible intersubjectivities, transformed the social sciences, especially art history and literature studies. I am interested in how the landscape of new urban growth and suburbia circulate especially as negative images of sprawl. As I will show, natural landscape or activities in nature are used to reinforce notions of community identity and cohesiveness. 60 Conceptual Framework

Landscapes can act back on culture and affect the competition between discourses (Duncan 1990: 181). I draw upon this idea from Duncans conclusion to the Kandyan Kingdom by asserting exploring the role of the natural heritage system in the future of Oakville. Will the natural heritage system in North Oakville develop over time to be the place where nature is? How will the presence of this landscape affect the way people will see nature and themselves in relation to it? Is it more difficult to talk of a discourse when you are in it? Duncans landscape in Sri Lanka is about the landscape of an historic capital in Southeast Asia, a landscape of the gods. Others have turned this approach to textual landscape towards the contemporary West. The landscape of Duncans study is also quite a literal translation of texts into landscape which are directly intended to provide a singular reading, supporting the king. Especially in the case of North Oakville, landscape is not royal, exotic or even unique; how the most ordinary landscapes are discursively constructed, and how ideas about landscape circulate intertextually with other ideas, is my fascination with the North Oakville process. Conceptually, then landscape is readable as a text; it works intertextually with other texts to consolidate shared meanings (Duncan and Ley 1993: 17). Literary studies provide strategies for looking at how texts are produced and read and how they operate within discourses. Cultural studies add the critical social dimension of hegemonic power to the utility of looking at the world in this way. The power and politics of landscape interpretation The study of landscape discourse is carried out according to three lines of inquiry (Duncan 1990). The first is the examination of local accounts of the nature of landscape, what importance they [locals] attach to the landscape, and how their readings of the landscape contribute to a politics of interpretation that either naturalizes the social relations in a society or transforms them (Duncan 1990: 17). The researcher is necessarily positioned outside of these accounts and interprets what he is being told in a Geertzian way. The second is non-local accounts, which for my purposes is the 61 Conceptual Framework

description by the outside planners and experts of the countryside and nature found in North Oakville: The interest here lies in the difference between the discourses within which the outsider interprets the landscape and those of the insider (1990: 18; and see Walker and Fortmann 2003 and Lage 2005 for a discussion of newcomers). The third is the relationship between these inside and outside discourses and how they fit into the broader world, as best as can be discerned by the researcher. How do they draw upon and inform the broader cultural system? I structured my study of Oakville along these lines. My analysis of the discourse is presented in Chapter 7 following the discussion in Chapters 5 and 6 of representation in landscape and planning history of Oakville. The importance of this landscape to Oakville residents was expressed through the importance of nature to the constitution of their community identity. This insider representation at the town scale is contrasted in my research to the representation of the landscape by government outsiders at the provincial, regional and local level. The dominant representation of the landscape as environmentally significant was successful because of the political agreement between these insiders and outsiders. In a curious twist, the true insiders-- the residents of North Oakville -- were generally more accepting of urbanization and wished to participate in this dialogue, but their views were overwhelmed. The landowner/developers as insiders and outsiders simultaneously have in the end generally agreed to work with the natural heritage system in order to develop their lands as soon as possible. The broader world of the third line of inquiry above is the broader societal discourse of environmentalism and its contempt for sprawl. How ideology becomes naturalized in landscape so that the meaning derived from that landscape (for instance by planners or urban designers) is described without reference to ideological systems (Duncan and Duncan 1988: 117) is an important question. In (Re)reading the landscape the Duncans discuss the application of linguistic theory to landscape analysis drawing upon the work of Roland Barthes to demonstrate the role of landscape in the reproduction of social processes as it is always being reinterpreted, its 62 Conceptual Framework

meaning constantly reproduced (Duncan and Duncan 1988: 119). The major contribution of this article is that the reading of the landscape often has more weight than that of the actual place. Using Edward Saids Orientalism (1978) as an example, they explain how Said shows there was a clear break between the landscape of the Orient and that which its readers, the Orientalists, constructed. The Orientalists have not, he claims, merely filled the gaps nor followed the clues in the landscape, they have created something quite apart and quite their own (Duncan and Duncan 1988: 123). I argue that in Oakville there is a clear break between the existing countryside landscape and the image of natural heritage created through the planning process. Whose definitions of reality come to the fore is, however, an inherently political question: a question of the politics of interpretation (Duncan and Duncan 1988: 123). It is the Duncans approach to landscape discourse which grounded my own research. Conceptually, it made sense to me that the landscape produced by local elites through their own control of property and through their influence in the local land use decisionmaking process was an entrenchment of their power. I did not realize until I undertook my own research the extent to which planning and environmental science are tangled up in the reinforcement of normative values which continually aid those same elites. My interest in Oakville as a case study is its self-construction as an elite town and the parallels and contrasts with the Duncans study of Bedford. Duncans Elite landscapes as cultural (re)productions: the case of Shaughnessy Heights chapter in Kay Anderson and Fay Gales Inventing Places (1992) is his discussion of how a posh neighbourhood in Vancouver reinforced the dominant British country estate aesthetic through zoning and the planning process, a move not contested by those who would seem to be marginalized by it. In a similar fashion, I wonder if the creation of the natural heritage system in Oakville will be seen as a victory for local environmentalism in spite of the social justice issues it raises. Literary and cultural theory in geography has generated wide-ranging scholarship exploring landscape interpretation. The conceptual framework for my research has been described above through the review of the work of the Duncans but there is a great deal 63 Conceptual Framework

of scholarship which draws upon many of the same theoretical threads. James Duncan has collaborated with several others in cultural geography who were also drawing upon literary and cultural theory in interesting and exciting new ways. Together with Trevor Barnes, David Ley, and Derek Gregory he published edited collections of scholarship undertaken in his image of the new cultural geography. Trevor Barnes and Duncan edited Writing worlds published in 1992; Duncan edited place/culture/representation with David Ley in 1993. That same year, he collaborated with Denis Cosgrove and Peter Jackson in preparing a Commentary in the Annals which debated the value of his theoretical approach to cultural geography. Peter Jacksons Maps of Meaning took a central place in shaping the cultural turn in geography. It was published in 1989 just slightly before The Kandyan Kingdom. Jacksons purpose in writing the book is to create a new theoretical space for cultural geography after the implosion of the superorganic definition of culture. Jackson sees culture as the production and communication of meaning (xiii) where culture refers to the codes with which meaning is constructed, conveyed, and understood and cultural politics where meanings are negotiated and relations of dominance and subordination are defined and contested. He defines culture as socially constructed, geographically expressed and spatially constituted and advances a vision of cultural geographical study that focuses on the way cultures are produced and reproduced through actual social practices that take place in historically contingent and geographically specific contexts (P. Jackson 1989: 2, 3, 23). Social relations reproduce culture in Jacksons view and critical study seeks to deconstruct the naturalized views of reality, especially race. He argues for a distancing from geographers obsessive interest in landscape (P. Jackson 1989: 20) and advocates for a turn to the non-material or symbolic qualities of culture or to other dimensions of the concept [of culture] that cannot be read off directly from the landscape (P. Jackson 1989: 19). I think here he is getting at what Geertzs argument that the locus of study is not the object of study (1991: 22). Extending this idea to the study of Oakville, my 64 Conceptual Framework

methodology has been to limit my study to representations of the landscape as they circulated within the discourse of the planning process, and not to create a descriptive study of the landscape as a traditional study of the real North Oakville landscape might do. Jacksons contribution has clearly been (along with Mitchell and Duncan) to open up cultural geography to the idea of negotiated meaning. For my research, he provides a useful foil for my argument that landscape is a site of study. I agree that the Sauerian view was limited to the study of landscape as a record of human activity (P. Jackson 1989: 14) and required a distancing from the place of study in time and mindset. It was the geographers gaze of the distant past and primitive that allowed this. The cultural turn in geography was necessary to allow the study of contemporary cultures, especially those within which we as researchers are constituted. The superorganic approach to culture does not work for those trying to study their own cultures: a member of one of the primitive cultures that Sauer studied may have in his own era seen the landscape as changing and politically contested, not merely as an accretion of interesting artifacts. That which survives over the centuries to be studied raises interesting questions, certainly, and looking back at North Oakville a thousand years from now will also prove interesting: the differences between public and private space are those that tend to endure, but what goes on in those spaces often changes. Will the farmland newly designated within the Towns natural heritage system then have been reforested to hold thousand year old trees and be seen as primeval forest, untouched by humans? But, thanks in part to Jacksons work here, we have refocused the work on landscape. In their introduction to place/culture/representation, Duncan and Ley write, the sheer visible presence of landscape provides a convenient grounding and point of departure for discussion of less fixed and visible cultural domains (1993: 12). Here they are reestablishing landscape as a conceptual basis for cultural geography, but now securely tied to the study of the social relations which work through it (see also Olwig 2003 on the reassertion of landscape as a phenomenon for epistemological inquiry). They 65 Conceptual Framework

acknowledge that Landscape is of the longue duree seemingly fixed and natural when experience is not, expressing actors long past and intents no longer relevant. Yet landscape may also have the capacity to reproduce and confirm social relations (1993: 14). Landscape is an exercise of the imagination according to Don Mitchell in The Lie of the Land. Mitchells study of the California landscape discusses how landscapes are literally made by labour into a scenic vision meeting the dominant ideology about what countryside in California is. He says there is a need to examine the spaces that give that ideology [of nature and countryside] currency and serve as its referent (Mitchell 1996: 5). Landscape as a material thing is represented and discussed and contested, and that materiality is understood based on representations of landscapes elsewhere that support or subvert that understanding. I argue in my research that the pastoral countryside ideal is not a politically successful landscape representation within the planning process whereas nature conservation and restoration is. Neither are new urban landscapes valued. We are bombarded in the media with images of pristine nature endangered by human exploitation. Imagining an area within the town where nature can exist apart from the degrading impacts of the city is an exercise with grave political consequences. In The Lie of the Land (1996) Mitchell discusses the California countryside and its aesthetic beauty, and how it is maintained by the exploitation of migrant workers whose labour and community are absent from the scene. While the North Oakville area is seen as an area of scenic beauty, or as an area of nature conservation, there is little recognition of the labour that produces and maintains the view, nor is there discussion of the impact urbanization will have on the people working in that landscape. In North Oakville, the discussion of who will maintain the landscapes zoned for conservation is central (will it be the Town or private landowners), but who is actually doing this labour, and whether farming will be continued, or whether new types of landscape management will require different types of labour was not raised as an issue. The success of the residents in


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the economic system has given them the time and opportunity to participate in the planning process and to appreciate the landscape in certain ways. Who makes the landscape look the way it does? In my casual conversations with acquaintances, when I tell them I am a planner, they are very interested to discover that someone plans the way that the suburbs are, that the placement of stores and houses is the result of a political process and does not just happen. I realize that Mitchell is referring to the backbreaking labour of Mexican migrants and their oppression but a similar erasure exists in the way the average person is not aware of the amount of knowledge labour and effort that have gone into the production of a landscape, not to mention the construction workers who make the plan real. In our knowledge society much of the economy is based on information exchange and communication. All this analysis, negotiation, verbal battle and deal making within the planning process (a lot of it paid labour by speculators to lawyers, planners and other consultants) is not readily visible to the lay person. There is an entire invisible process of landscape-making at the level of representation making changes to the landscape. Jane M. Jacobs in Edge of Empire (1996) also considers how migrants are made invisible in the landscape, but in her series of case studies, she investigates how people from the British colonies have colonized the homeland. The value of her book to my research is as a good example of cultural spatiality, emplacing the local at all times within the global. Her empirical case studies are based on the belief that it is through the local, rendered in detail, that the complex variability of the (post)colonial politics of identity and place can be known. (Jacobs 1996: 6). Her analysis reaches out beyond the narrow discursive and representational spheres that were produced by these struggles over urban space and incorporates a broader political and economic context. The discursive and representational practices associated with urban developmentare in a mutually constitutive relationship with political and economic forces. Together, they actively create the material and imaginary landscapes of the city (1996: 9). As I will discuss, North


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Oakville is an example of where global economic processes hit the ground as well as where larger discourses of economic growth and environmentalism come to rest.

Sense of place and landscape interpretation

Cultural landscape studies provide the theoretical framework to look at both the symbolic and the material landscape together and to consider how one influences the other. Following on the groundbreaking studies in cultural geography by the Duncans, Jackson, Mitchell, and Jacobs, I have explored how landscape both produces and is a production of culture, and becomes a taken-for-granted visual image and symbol that informs cultural value systems. In its empathetic approach to understanding places, humanist geography came on the scene in the 1970s as a reaction to the objective positivist approach (Adams, Hoeschler and Till 2001). While much urban geography and planning today is still concerned with the scientific, objective, quantitative representations of landscapes as I have discussed in this chapter, geography in the humanist tradition focuses on people and their experience through qualitative approaches. In contrast to the critical emphasis in contemporary cultural geography there is a slight difference in emphasis on the explicit study of place that geography in the humanist tradition brings. The concept of place helps to work through the social representation or the meanings that people attach to the landscape. Place is at work in the constitution of peoples very identities (Harvey 1996; Casey 1993; Relph 1976; Tuan 1979). In my research, I realized that I was investigating the attachment to a certain type of place where residents identify with this landscape as a part of their town, a remnant of the rural that underpins their identity as a community. Sense of place is an emotional response to meaning derived from landscape (Taylor 1991). Sense of place is defined by Michel Pacione in his introductory text to urban geography providing a simple definition with which I agree: sense of place has two distinct but interlocking meanings the first having to do with an intrinsic character based on unique physical characteristics or imageability and the second refers to 68 Conceptual Framework

topophilia or deep attachments to places through experience, memory and intention (2001: 353-4). Imageability is a concept drawn from Kevin Lynch and his work many years ago to study how residents made sense of their lived environment through cognitive mapping and topophilia is taken from Yi-Fu Tuan (1974). Individual and community identities are constructed in part through meanings derived from landscape. The notion of place-based identities is not new and in my masters research I studied Kevin Lynchs work on sense of place. He wrote of place as a way for those involved in city-building to provide connection, orientation and identity in the landscape to mitigate the negative effects of modernity (1961, 1972, 1976, 1981). Much of the work on place at the time I began to work in planning was in reaction to contemporary scholarship on placelessness of modern architecture and planning (Relph 1976). Tony Hiss popular The Experience of Place (1990) deplored the way in which contemporary processes were changing the look and feel of sacred places in America such as the Grand Canyon. Michael Hough produced Out of place (1990) which provided ways in which the unique character of the regional landscape should be conserved through careful planning. Slightly later, Ted Relph worked through Ruskin and Moore to get to The Modern Urban Landscape (1991); drawing on his work in Place and placelessness (1976) he explores the city as a place where a lived-in sense of belonging is thwarted by the sameness and universality of city-building processes. Sense of place became the goal of communities wanting to avoid the placelessness of modern landscapes and retain the built and natural heritage that gave their locality uniqueness (e.g. Maguire et al. 1999). But elitist notions of a good sense of place were criticized as the forcing of a hegemonic landscape character onto a community (Duncan and Duncan 2001c; Zukin 1991). The goal of new urbanism is liveable, aesthetically appealing communities with a sense of place derived from the local architectural vernacular. The new urban areas of Oakville are being planned in the new urbanist tradition drawing on precedents from historic Oakville. The place literature contends that natural landscape should also play an 69 Conceptual Framework

important part in contributing to liveability and should shape the built environment at an intimate scale. From the cultural perspective of sense of place, existing landforms and natural features are best integrated through community design into new neighbourhoods, even down to the scale of the individual lot. My fear is that in the case of North Oakville, the natural heritage system will be imagined as an area apart from the community and while the edges of the new neighbourhoods are defined by the buffer areas of the core natural areas, nature will remain on one side and its integration in peoples daily lives will not occur. What will be the role of this future nature?

Planning process structures the negotiation of cultural landscape representation

My research demonstrates how social relations structured by planning create landscape. In the planning process, actors participating in the discourse draw upon and create new representations as they communicate their values for the future of the town. One of the major contributions of this research is to present the story of a contemporary planning process within which landscape meaning is negotiated and the result of which is the transformation of an existing material landscape to reflect the dominant, politically successful reading. It is also important to create a story of the often behind-the-scenes process of landscape change which is often invisible to most people until the day the bulldozers arrive. It is through cultural theory in geography and its recognition that landscape is political that I am able to undertake this research and see the planning process as a discourse within which landscape meaning is negotiated. The process draws upon its larger geographic setting and broad societal discourses about liveable cities. While urban and rural geographies as discussed above at the beginning of this chapter describe and model the landscape, it is when these representations are mobilized in the planning process that landscape change is produced. Much of urban theory has been written to inform and improve the practice of city building and design, to improve settlement patterns, and the interconnections between different land uses. Urban theory looks for urban design solutions to the problem of 70 Conceptual Framework

sprawl and environmental destruction attributed to urban growth. A municipal urban boundary in southern Ontario today is based on accommodating population and employment growth for a twenty year period. The line is not fixed, it is dynamic and is drawn and redrawn through the political planning process. Preferred patterns of spatial growth within metropolitan areas are debated and new urbanism is currently a force of change in new urban area design in the Toronto area generally, and in North Oakville specifically. Planning sits squarely within this material discussion as it is through plannings intervention in the material landscape (where the landscape is understood through these urban, rural and ecological interpretive frameworks) that change in the landscape is managed. Planning takes these analyses of the visible landscape and draws them together in a discussion of current and proposed future land use: facilities, activities, and functions (Levy 2000; Hodge 2003). To this analysis, issues of governance and property ownership are added. The planning process privileges objective, scientific data over qualitative descriptions of lived landscape experience and sense of place. Ideologies about countryside, nature and the city have a major influence within the planning process, but planning theory and the planning process are not explicit about those underlying ideologies that inform choice-making. 4 Critics of the material effect of planning on settlement form and the visible landscape (for example Hiss 1990; Kunstler 1991, 1998; Langdon 1988) question the success of urban planning in creating everyday landscapes. What makes a liveable city is a question that is greatly debated in the planning literature with the emphasis on the ingredients of successful processes (Cullingworth and Nadin 2001; Garvin 1996; Wolf 1999). Kevin Lynchs Good City Form (1981) is one example of encapsulating the myriad of things that pull together to make a good place. In his book, Lynch was highly aware of the politics of

With the exception perhaps of Australian scholarship which has made strides in the discussion of social value encompassing competing values of landscape between Aboriginals, local homeowners and other groups (J. M. Jacobs 1996; Johnston 1994).


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space, and of difference, as he addresses how a persons environment affects their identity creation (but Lynch seems to have gone out of style as I imagine many have criticized it as a middle class manifesto). More recently, the work of Andres Duany 5 (with Plater-Zyberk and Speck 2000) and new urbanism (Calthorpe and Fulton 2001) provide ways of thinking about good cities and how to operationalize these goals. A major aspect of landscape description in the planning process is the natural environment. Identifying plant and animal species, classifying them according to their value as rare or native, and inscribing boundaries on their habitats is the purview of experts in the natural sciences, especially biology. Studies of the landscape from an environmental perspective are typically undertaken as part of the planning and development process, the purpose of which is to determine whether there are areas that should be removed from the developable area and placed within an open space or conservation zone, and to recommend how negative environmental impacts of change should be mitigated. In Ontario, the policy approach for inventorying and evaluating natural heritage is based in the life and earth sciences (OMNR 1999) and this has been used in Oakville. There is acceptance that greenlands will be protected by all actors in the process but the discussion revolves around how much land should or should not be protected, rather than why such spaces are valued. The emphasis is on establishing value for environmental features as substantiated through ecological science without a discussion of the values which underpin this approach. In 1990, a report was prepared for the Ontario government setting out an approach to the conservation of greenlands in the Greater Toronto Area (Kanter 1990). In this rapidly growing urban area the threat to yet-undeveloped areas was seen to be considerable. In the report, greenlands are described as having benefits for physical and mental health (especially important for children), and promoting a general quality of life for urban dwellers, especially with increased leisure time and an aging population. Kanter recognizes landscape values are not just based on the natural or physical characteristics as

North Oakville is being designed in part by Duany and his team


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described through science, but on the cultural value as well. This balanced view towards landscape value seems to have been lost somewhere along the way as the recent conservation of the Oak Ridges Moraine in the Toronto area has been based squarely in science and natural heritage value (Bocking 2005; MAH 2002). Even if not explicit in the process, I wondered if a discussion of the cultural value of representing landscape value through science was discussed by the scientists themselves. The scholarly journal Conservation Biology is, according to its website, the most influential and frequently cited journal in its field and is geared towards ecologists. A review of current articles shows that the purpose of the scientific study of species and habitats is to preserve them and a series of point-counterpoint articles on the idea of sustainability proves this point that environmental science is the study nature to ensure its preservation (see Lutz Newton and Freyfogle 2005). The weighing of ecological valuations with other social goals within the planning process is difficult because, as science, it is taken to be more compelling, more tangible, and more visible, than social or justice issues as I found to be the case in Oakville. Political ecology is a recent area of scholarship that draws attention to the politics of nature valuation (McCarthy 2002; Robbins 2004) and is making inroads with the ecologists. 6 For understanding the role of science in representing the landscape in North Oakville, a recent anthropological study of science addressed the issues that Conservation Biology did not. Science, author Sarah Franklin writes, is a source of cultural values that are deeply felt. Science is defended so vehemently because it is cultural, not because it is extracultural (1995: 165). The social practice of the natural sciences has evolved in such a way that communication with other forms of critical exchange found in the humanities and social sciences is not possible. Scientists have not been self-reflexive of their knowledge or practices to the extent that their cultural values are invisible (166). I agree that the idea of a natural heritage system having core areas and linkages has become

At the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning (ACSP) 2005 Kansas City conference, the topic of a wellattended roundtable discussion was the isolation of biologists from the social issues raised by conservation.


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an incontestable fact of biophysical science today; the science makes core areas real and linkages real although without that scientific imagination, these features are a challenge to imagine out in the field. The relationship between representation and ontology is blurred and science is both knowledge of the natural world expressed in naturalistic terms and the procedure for obtaining that knowledge (Franklin 1995: 173 quoting J. A. Moore, Science as a way of knowing (Cambridge: Harvard, 1993). What constitutes scientific information is problematic as I will discuss in the reporting on my research. The natural inventory undertaken for North Oakville underpins the proposed land use policy framework, yet it is as much a view of what could be, as what was seen and recorded (see Chapter 7). In addition to ecological science, other scientific studies of landscape play a large part in urban and regional planning. Employing the same strategies as urban geography, modelling human activity in the landscape provides the planning process with data about housing distribution and densities, transportation activity, commercial activity (office, retail, warehousing and distribution, etc.), and industrial activity. Based on past patterns and future forecasts of trends, these studies provide descriptions which tend not to be explicit about the underlying values behind the information gathering or the processes themselves. The results of such studies can be very controversial, but challenging results needs expertise and access to data ways that privilege expertise. In the case of North Oakville, the population and employment forecasts were especially influential in setting targets for future development, but presumably because of the expertise in statistics required to analyze the data, were not central to the discourse. The production of nature through the planning process in this case study is of great importance in considering how growth management is carried out in rapidly urbanizing metropolitan areas. The planning process with its rational approach to decision making based on data collection, the preparation of alternatives, public discussion and decision of the preferred alternative, constrains what is discussed and the kinds of representations that are accepted as valid. The cultural importance of scenic beauty, historic built heritage, 74 Conceptual Framework

and spiritual connection to the land are present in the discourse about the future of the North Oakville landscape, but within the politics of the process are given authoritative voice such as that of environmental scientific knowledge.

Cultural geography asks questions about the effects of the multi-scale construction of the economic world and its costs and benefits for social, cultural and ecological function. The way that stories are told about the countryside and about nature, the way that people talk about the countryside and about nature is of enduring interest to geographers. My desire is to test these theories empirically. Based in the theoretical framework provided by cultural geography, I look at how the landscape of North Oakville is represented and contested in the planning discourse around its future. How do people come to think about this area as countryside, the place where nature is? Within the broad conceptual framework of cultural geography, the concepts of countryside and nature are idealized forms of landscape representation. I have already discussed how the countryside is created symbolically in opposition to the city, and I will explore this more in the next chapter and discuss how the ideology of nature is theorized and is caught up in the city/country dualism. The review of the literature in the following chapter informs my understanding of the politics of landscape representation in Oakville. Looking out the picture window of my childhood home today, I see a business park and a five lane road. I now know how to study this actually existing landscape in terms of its role as an employment area within the greater Ottawa area: the floor-space per worker ratios and the zoning that separates the building across the street from my house. I see peak hour traffic cordon counts, mapping in gradations of pastel colours mirroring the intensity of planned activities, and the flows beneath the ground of clean and dirty water and energy pulses, and I see in the air the flows of words, images and data that are no longer tethered. I am nostalgic for my view of the cows and the trees, but I know the


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land this house is on once fed cows and grew trees, and that land was preceded by generations of others viewing other animals and other trees. What I see out the window today is the result of the urbanization of a countryside. Moving the line which trades cow pasture for sod and parking lots is justified by the need to accommodate more people and jobs, in turn justified by the need to make more and exchange more things for profits and tax revenue. The landscape changes are viscerally felt, but they are connected to a much larger network of capitalist organization and systems of production. The view is a moment framed by the discourse embodied in that space and held in my imagination.


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Chapter 3


Countryside as a cultural landscape

This chapter explores the concept of countryside as a cultural landscape where the politics of interpreting the visible material landscape can have profound consequences. As Raymond Williams (1973) contended, the city and country exist in dialectic and ideologies about both influence what people expect to see and experience. With respect to my case study, studying the representation of landscape in the politics of urbanization provides an excellent venue for seeing the country-city dialectic at work. In the case of North Oakville, the transformation of this edge landscape is represented in the planning process as the Towns countryside: a rural, natural area. This landscape is valued as a place where nature is, in spite of its long history of settlement and transformation. Ideas about the landscape of North Oakville circulate within the discourse of the planning process and the various ways in which this landscape is represented and imagined will produce the policy framework for future development. Countryside is an important concept in this dissertation because the landscape of North Oakville is represented as the Towns countryside, with meanings and values supporting both its preservation and its urbanization. The purpose of this chapter is to explore the idea of countryside, an amorphous term that has come to represent a whole bundle of ideas about life that draw their meaning in opposition to the city. To define countryside as a cultural landscape, the scholarly literature draws upon concepts including rurality and the rural idyll, pastoral and nature. While the idea of countryside in Canada draws upon both British and American discourses about landscape, both have historically been explored conceptually in terms of agrarian ideology. Canadian countryside as a landscape is perhaps less well documented and represented and I struggled with this dearth of precedent as I sought to make sense of the idealization of the Oakville countryside which surfaced in my research. While I expected to find an explicit representation of the agrarian landscape as something 77 Countryside Literature Review

cherished in the town, it was overshadowed by the way in which North Oakville was represented as a place of nature. In this way, it is a place that supports the towns identity as a retreat from the city; it is an idea that supports the towns residents personal sense of connection to nature in their everyday life; and it is where concerns of global environmental and economic issues are felt locally. While I would imagine that most readers know the countryside when they see it, the conceptual understanding of landscape discussed in Chapter 2 gives us pause in assuming that everyone sees the same thing, or places the same value on it. At the beginning of my research, I thought I knew the countryside when I saw it too. I saw North Oakville as an expansive area typical of Torontos pastoral countryside, with long views of lightly settled rolling farmland, the dramatic valley of the Sixteen Mile Creek, several large woodlots and a sprinkling of rural and exurban homes lining the back roads. That this area has a long history of inhabitation is evident from the built heritage in the landscape. Based on my reading of the scholarly literature which presents the myth of countryside as a pastoral ideal and the rural idyll (Bunce 1994; L. Marx 1964; Short 1991; Williams 1973), I set out to test how this ideal of countryside holds up in contemporary planning. However, I found that in the case of North Oakville, it was not a romanticized countryside that was represented in the planning process, but a romanticized view of nature. Less evident was the countryside as discussed in Michael Bunces The Countryside Ideal (1994) and more evident was the ideology of nature of William Cronons The trouble with wilderness (1996b). The value of this landscape is discursively constructed as an area that should be preserved in perpetuity primarily for the sake of nature. Within the planning process this nature was not discussed in terms of personal spiritual connection (think Thoreaus Walden), or a deep sense of place (think Tuans Topophilia), but of a nature for natures sake, better if left alone. Notwithstanding my findings, the term and use of countryside still has validity: it is the site of this contested nature, it is the fringe, that non-urban place adjacent to the city. In Oakville it is the area on the country-side of Dundas Street, with the new homes and big box stores of the town on the city-side. 78 Countryside Literature Review

The citys countryside

Oakvilles countryside is a visible, material landscape. It is characterized by farmsteads, fields of grain crops, horse farms, forested valleys and large stands of trees, a public works facility, private schools, and houses, some fanciful and some quite modest lined along two lane roads. It is non-urban, recognizable as non-city; it is a landscape under cultivation whether for commercial or personal pleasure, and is wholly inhabited. This is the citys countryside (Bryant, Coppack and Mitchell 2000) within the urban field (Friedmann and Miller 1965) under the influence of the Toronto-centred metropolitan area. Beyond this local countryside with the town immediately to the south, the Torontocentred countryside extends for some distance to the west and some distance to the east before becoming the truly rural area of large scale farming, resource production, and tourism. To the north is the Canadian Shield, the domesticated wilderness of cottage country that soon gives way to vast areas of rocky, forested land and finally to arctic tundra. This is clearly an Ontarian view where most people live in the south in the city and the citys countryside where the winters are mild. Beyond there remain thousands of hectares of land out of sight and mind of most of the population (see also Harris 1992; Pahl 1968). The citys countryside is a constellation of ideas, some coming from a city view and others from a rural view (Bryant, Russwurm and McClelland 1982; Carter Park and Coppack 1994; Bryant, Coppack and Mitchell 2000). It is the zone outside the built-up area of the city that looks rural but has a functional base that is primarily urban. It is this zones natural environment that attracts urbanites. But these areas are undergoing severe environmental degradation because of intense development pressures that urban encroachment brings (Filion, Bunting and Gertler 2000: 22). While it perhaps goes without saying that the countryside is not homogenous, and is, rather, a collection of environments, a complex environment with multiple dimensions (Bryant, Coppack and Mitchell 2000: 333), under countryside all of these differing meanings are rolled up into one landscape type. From a cultural landscape perspective where competing 79 Countryside Literature Review

valuations of landscape are seen to be in political tension breaking apart these meanings is necessary.

Same landscape, different perspectives: how countryside is viewed from the urban and the rural
Two broad ideological stances predominate in the literature on the countryside. The first is an urban centrist perspective of the countryside out there and the second is the view of the countryside from within the rural area. The overarching view of countryside is as a positive thing, a place with good qualities, whether seen from within or without (although with some recent critical scholarship this view is being unsettled, eg. Cloke and Little 1997). People feel good about the countryside for two main sets of reasons, according to environmental planning professor Jonathan Murdoch (2003: 278-9): it is firstly a place where timeless and virtuous ways of life still act as civilising influences in the increasingly insecure and frenetic world of todays [sic] global economy and secondly, the countryside is a place of nature, and it continues to offer access, even for the most cursory visitor, to a rich array of biological processes and entities. The urbanbased view values the countryside for everything that the modern city is not: peaceful, slower pace, private and close to nature. These ideals are characterized as the rural idyll. The rural idyll is a largely British conception of the countryside. Documented comprehensively by Raymond Williams (1973), it is a discursive construction of the pastoral countryside in English classic literature produced for a largely urban audience. Paul Cloke (2003: 1) provides an excellent contemporary definition of the rural idyll as an introduction to his edited collection Country Visions (and then proceeds to deconstruct it): Somewhere deep down in the early twenty-first century psyche there seem to remain longstanding, handed-down precepts about rural areas, marking them as spaces enabled by nature, offering opportunities for living and lifestyle which are socially cohesive, happy and healthy, and presenting a pace and quality of life that differs from that of the city. Such precepts provide cartographies of identity, encapsulating for some a repository of norms, values and treasures which both illustrate and shape what is precious in a nation, a region or a locality. They also raise up a voice, as self-appointed 80 Countryside Literature Review

guardians of that identity insist on prescient narratives of how to preserve the country from threat or harm. Equally, these country precepts are plundered by multifarious commercial interests seeking to cash in on the psychological comfort or cache inherent in rural imagery in order to commodify seemingly any product, any time, anywhere. The rural idyll exists as a result of pastoral (re)visions of countryside through time, and circulates in discourse as a symbolic representation (Cloke 2003: 11). As a nostalgic abstraction (although grounded in nature) it is human-centred as it provides an explanatory framework for people to approach the countryside landscape in certain culturally-prescribed ways. The countryside from the urban view is an amenity landscape in the pastoral tradition, not a place of industry or production (Bunce 1994), indeed the labour of the land is glossed over or hidden from view. The idealization of the country is in part a reaction to the negative physical and social changes wrought by industrial progress and was possible only as a large proportion of the population came to reside in urban areas, distanced from the realities of a hard life on the farm. As Bunce writes, the intellectual climate of nineteenth century Britain invariably compared the city unfavourably with the countrysideAnti-urban and therefore pro-rural sentiment, however, was sustained by deeper anxieties about industrialism and modernism which have survived to the present day (Bunce 2003: 17). The perspective of the countryside from within seems to carry with it deep concern over the effects of global economic change on rural ways of life. Agricultural restructuring on a global scale, along with changes in other rural resource-based economies such as mining, and changes to urban-based economies that have resulted in counterurbanization, are perceived threats to rurality (Cloke 1985; Cloke and Little 1997; Dupuis and Vandergeest 1996; Furuseth and Lapping 1999; Murdoch and Pratt 1993; Philo 1992). These structural changes have brought about friction in community values among those living in the countryside and the literatures addresses the power imbalances between differing views of who belongs in this landscape and who does not (eg. Kinsmen 1993; Sibley 1997).


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While urban-based and rural-based perspectives have been characterized here as quite broad, as I discussed in Chapter 2 there has been work specific to the citys countryside-the fringe--where urban influences on the countryside are greater and the pressures for change greater (Audirac 1999; Beesley and Russwurm 1981; Bunce and Troughton 1984; Daniels 1995; Garreau 1991; Lang 2003). The countryside at the fringe is what is seen by the most people. For example locally, the GTA has a population of over five million people, and whether they inhabit urban or rural places, the countryside of the fringe is what they see. The fringe is dynamic because of its proximity to the city. It is ephemeral, as expectations of urbanization in the not-too-distant future can be seen as property values rise through speculation and the suburbs creep closer and closer. The fringe is under immediate threat of the city and the idea of the countryside as a good place to protect and conserve things has meaning when mobilized against the oncoming city; countryside has meaning especially when represented in the face of urbanization. In the Toronto area, the landscape of this case study has been under regional planning control since the 1970s and the countryside has been held to be countryside, in most areas avoiding urban land use incursions through planning policy (Ghent 2006; Mathew 2006). The city and the countryside have deliberately been held apart through a land use policy framework that identifies what type of land uses are urban and rural (eg. Halton 2006a). The fringe in the Toronto area is less affected by unplanned, leap-frogging sprawl and exurban residential development than metropolitan areas in the United States. Perspectives of the citys countryside, whether urban or rural, are not fixed, but are nuanced, and they have changed over time. Each representation is limited to a certain view of the material landscape along with assumptions of its functional purpose and appropriate activities and behaviours that flow from that representation. These are deeply held, expressive of world views as so eloquently discussed by Raymond Williams (1973), Leo Marx (1964), and Carolyn Merchant (1996). They are difficult to put into words which is why quotations from poets and novelists (eg. Thoreau, Emerson, Wordsworth) 82 Countryside Literature Review

are often invoked to put a voice to the deep expressions of what it means to value and inhabit the countryside.

The critical importance of countryside valuation

Based in these two perspectives, the urban and the rural, countryside is valued across a whole range of ideas and these are contested in the planning process; the impact of those attitudes is made material through the creation of plans and policies guiding future decisions with respect to changes to the material landscape. As discussed in Chapter 2, Don Mitchell (1996) shows how the valuation of the California countryside for its aesthetic beauty overwrites the labour and hardship of immigrants who shape the landscape. What is gained by this view? Created through images, text, reinforced through media, what work does this do in contemporary society? This is the big question addressed by my work. In this chapter, I have defined the pastoral view the countryside, seen to be a place of nature. In Chapter 5, I will discuss North Oakvilles history and how the cultivation of the landscape in southern Ontario pushed back wild nature here. The largely forested landscape was completely cutover, thoroughly settled, and subsequently transformed through close to two hundred years of habitation. The countryside was the cultivated agricultural landscape shaped by colonists, but somewhere along the line this agrarian pastoral became painted as wholly green with the ideological brush from the city. The pastoral is now caught up in green environmentalism and all of it is worthy of conservation. No longer viewed only in terms of its agrarian ideology, the problems of the agricultural economy through what Keith Halfacree (1997) calls a crisis resulting in a postproductivist era, is that there has opened up the possibility of alternative views of the space that used to be under the control and hegemony of the agricultural community. Halfacree writes, a space in the imagination is opening that allows urbanites to create


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their own sense of the land as a place of nature, not industry (1997: 70, 72). The weakening of the agrarian ideology creates room for the ideology of nature. The need to be closer to nature is systemic, a reaction against, or a response to (Halfacree 1997: 78) everyday life in the post-modern world. David Harvey in The Condition of Postmodernity (1990a) describes a world in which time and space are compressed to the extent that everything seems fragile. The need for capital markets to turn over quickly pulls the rug out from people and destabilizes them, as where they work, what they wear, and what their values and attitudes are supposed to be are always being remade and changing. Individual identities are defined and secured through consumer fashion. As I will discuss in the discourse analysis, the town of Oakville represents its identity in reaction to this condition and as a retreat from the city and from modern life. The extent to which people demanded the conservation of this landscape is because it went to the root of their identities. The countryside as a landscape of desire and as a rejection of the city is taken up by John Rennie Short (1991) as he demonstrates how the countryside is a place of romantic pastoral values created in opposition to the industrial city. Short draws upon Williams in his way of looking at landscape as symbolic of power relations. He calls countryside a myth indicating that it is a socially constructed idea about a landscape of pastoral retreat and he also theorizes how the wilderness, city and countryside make sense together, as an ensemble (1991: xvi), a trialectic if you will: These three concepts constitute an ensemble, they reference one another; definitions of wilderness relate to the creation of the countryside, attitudes to wilderness implicitly express attitudes to city growth and rustic values have meaning only in comparison with those of the city. Each of the three terms resonates with meaning about the other two, each one helps to define the others. They have meaning only in relation to each other. To distinguish wilderness from countryside and the countryside from the city is to do more than classify different environments; it is to apportion social significance and political meaning.


Countryside Literature Review

In this passage, Short describes how a landscape is defined against other landscapes; it is as much what it is not, as what it is. Leo Marx, the American cultural historian, like Williams contrasts the country and the city as two worlds, one identified with rural peace and simplicity, the other with urban power and sophistication (1964: 7). In his book The Machine in the Garden: Technology and the Pastoral Ideal in America (1964) he discusses the conflicts of a culture that values pastoral landscapes yet champions technological growth. He explores the reaction of Americans to industrialization and finds a fundamental divide in American culture and society (1964: 18-19). There is a split between those who accept the primacy of material progress and those who emphasize the less tangible aesthetic, moral, and environmental qualities of life (1964: 383). 7 The city and the country have been conjured by American literature in opposition to each other, a kind of either/or. Marx fears that the presence of a pastoral ideology allows us to flee rather than confront the real problems of an industrial civilization (1964: 7). From within rural studies in recent years, the deconstruction of countryside has been the focus of much work. One aspect of this is the need to look at rurality in the countryside in terms of the natural, and not just social processes; this is the subject of the chapter by Jonathan Murdoch in Clokes 2003 edited collection. He argues that countryside is typically only represented as a social world, and the natural has not been given much attention. His argument is to adopt the theories of hybrid perspectives and actornetwork theory where the non-human is given agency in cultural process alongside people; he writes, the countryside is co-constructed by social and natural entities

There is a tension here, with the city representing material progress and the country representing the symbolic, emotional side of society which I do not think has been fully explored in questioning taken-for-granted approaches to cultural landscape studies (and that I am not prepared to take on here). Nature is a social construction; the culture/nature separation is misguided and is responsible for many of our environmental problems. But there is a danger in theory of bringing down the city itself, in dissolving the understanding, respect and wonder of its materiality and creative form with a focus in scholarly work only on nature. The social construction of nature argument so popular in cultural geography today seems to have a refusal to study the city because it too is socially constructed and problematic. As Mitchell says, critical and cultural geography has in many ways been a turn away from explanation and towards an exploration of meaning (2000: 65). But what of the beauty of settlement, at times exquisitely and unbearably human? What have I given up in chasing the cultural turn?


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(265). Although I do not intend to follow his line of thinking in my research (as interesting as it would be to apply ANT to North Oakville to reveal how processes have come together to change this landscape and ideas about it over time), he does raise the point that the nature in the countryside is undertheorized. The theoretical framework of rural studies assumes that countrysides are often represented as appropriate and obvious spatialisations of nature (Cloke and Little 1997: 2). Of course nature is found in the countryside, but what kind of nature is it seen to be? What happens when the civilized nature at the edges of farmland, the untillable marginal areas left to go wild, are discursively transformed as environmentally significant core habitat to be restored through buffers and linkages? Is it the same as wild nature in the wilderness? Do we have language to describe or represent these differences? The writing on culture/nature dualism reviewed in the next section asks questions about how nature is represented, especially as it relates to the city, and what is at stake.

The nature of nature in the countryside

[T]he environment of the city (both social and physical) is the result of a historicalgeographical process of the urbanization of nature (Heynen, Kaika and Swyngedouw 2006: 6). Urbanization has long been discussed as a process whereby one kind of environment, namely the natural environment, is traded in for, or rather taken over by, a much more crude and unsavoury built environment (Heynen, Kaika and Swyngedouw 2006: 4). This pejorative-sounding view of urbanization as the process of taking over nature by the city, this appropriation by the city of the country, has deep roots. The theoretical work in cultural geography has spent much effort in deconstructing the idea of nature and its valuation. Central to this discussion is Neil Smith (1984, 1996) from whom many discussions have been spawned of the implications of holding culture and nature apart. The end result has been to argue that nature is a social construction, a way of seeing the phenomena of the physical world that has been culturally shaped and mediated, with profound effects (OED online). The utility of this literature for my research is to ask questions about the dominance of the planning process by those who 86 Countryside Literature Review

wish to preserve nature in the countryside, a debate which seems to have occurred outside of larger questions about urbanization generally. According to the definition of cultural geography in the Dictionary of Human Geography, the recasting of the epistemological dualism of nature and culture upon which so much of the geographical traditions has conventionally been constructed has recognized both the inevitable cultural appropriation and mediation of the natural world, and that human beings are themselves embodied agents through whom an active nature constantly works. Agency cannot therefore be securely divided between nature and culture, so that all environments and landscapes are co-productions of nature-culture (Johnston et al. 2000: 135). Here Denis Cosgrove (author of the entry) is referring to the rejection of the superorganic idea of culture (Duncan 1980) and the deconstruction of the idea that nature is separate from culture. In Neil Smiths recent foreword to In the Nature of Cities, he called the deep-seated presumption of society separated from nature a grotesque fiction and discusses the ideological power that this has had in thinking and writing about society (2006: xi). Bruce Braun and Noel Castrees Social Nature: Theory, Practice, and Politics (2001) is an edited volume with several useful chapters exploring the problematic power of the social construction of nature. In the introductory chapter by Castree, he discusses how nature is defined, delimited, and even physically reconstituted by different societies, often in order to service specific, and usually dominant, social interests (3). He describes how nature is socially constructed as external and needing protection from human abuse, and he discusses how the idea that contemporary societies are destroying a first nature that needs to be protected in biosphere reserves, habitat area, and wilderness zones, trades on the distinction between a predatory humanity and a fast-disappearing nonhuman world (2001: 6). Here he draws upon post-colonial theory which has shown that the idea of the pristine world was socially constructed (Said 1978; and see also Pratt 1992 and Denevan 1992).


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The study of the physical natural world has seemed to remain largely outside of the cultural turn, as I described in the material landscape section in Chapter 2. Castree observes: In reality, what counts as the truth about nature varies depending on the perspective of the analyst. In other words, however rigorous and scientific ones investigations of the natural might be, there is no easy way to separate objective observations from social biases and political interest. As Raymond Williams (1980, p. 70) famously put it, What is usually apparent (when reference is made to nature) is that it is selective, according to the speakers general purpose. Secondly, it follows that statements about nature say as much about who is doing the talking, and what their individual group interests are, as they say about nature tout court. Thirdly, its often the case that claims about natureand actions based upon those claimscan serve as instruments of power and domination (2001: 9). Castrees approach in this passage is illuminating because he highlights how the study and inventory of nature is political. Views about nature held within the North Oakville countryside were the ones which moved the most political weight. Claims about nature in the Oakville urbanization process were used to limit urban growth. Castree, teaming up with Bruce Braun in Remaking reality: nature at the millenium (1998), in a previous collection adopts a tone of a call-to-arms with respect to the urgency of breaking down the culture/nature dualism. Working through Smith (1984), they contend that understanding nature as external to culture rules out humanitys creative capacities to transform it (1984: 7): it being nature (it I would argue, could also be the city). If urbanization means the destruction of nature, then there is no room for nature in the urban, nor the urban in the country. He writes, The crucial issue therefore, is not that of policing boundaries between nature and culture but rather, of taking responsibility for how our inevitable interventions in nature proceed--along what lines, with what consequences and to whose benefit (1998: 34). While Castree and Braun are making a point that today the gap between nature and culture seems to be widening with negative effect, boundaries between land uses are created by planning and the benefit mixing uses and of drawing nature into the urban has been acknowledged since the publication of Michael Houghs City Form and Natural Process (1989), Ian McHargs Design with Nature 88 Countryside Literature Review

(1992); and Dealing with Change in the Connecticut River Valley (Yaro et al. 1990) or arguably since the beginning of planning with Frederick Law Olmsted at the turn of the twentieth century (Rybczynski 1999). Based on my current research, it would seem that planning is forgetting what it knows. The effect of the culture/nature split is summed up in the following passage in the introduction to Anderson and Gales Inventing places (1992: 3): Many westerners also believe that nature and animals exist at a lower point on the chain of being than humans; that commodities hold some inherent magic that will give them status and identity; that the artefacts of the past possess character; that the (green and pleasant) English countryside is the model of landscape beauty; that rural life is simple and so on. Theserequire analysis because, far from being irresistible truths, they are the cultural stuff out of which broad moral and material systems are made. They are maps of meaningthat whether right or wrong are picked up by people, groups and institutions. Anderson is taking issue with the hegemony of the rural idyll. As will be discussed in the context of the research findings, the need to protect the environment is one of those irresistible truths for which it is almost impossible to argue. The result of the culture/nature divide in North Oakville is the valuation of areas that are seen to be where nature is and which need to be protected from urban development. William Cronons introduction to Uncommon Ground agrees with the idea of the irresistible truth. Nature is a complex cultural construct and he describes its central paradox in the following way: On the one hand, people in Western cultures use the word nature to describe a universal reality, thereby implying that it is and must be common to all people. On the other hand, they also pour into that word all their most personal and culturally specific values: the essence of who they think they are, how and where they should live, what they believe to be good and beautiful, why people should act in certain ways (1996a: 51).


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In his foreword to the paperback edition of Uncommon Ground, he states: nature is a human idea and the material nature we inhabit and the ideal nature we carry in our heads exist always in complex relationship with each other. He goes on to say, What we find in these places [such as the Sixteen Mile Creek Valley in North Oakville] cannot help being profoundly influenced by the ideas we bring to them (1996a: 20, 22). Cronons main point is that nature is always cultural; even though it has been socially constructed in Western culture to be seen as a reality apart from society. In conclusion, the ideology of the countryside and nature as apart from and needing rescue from the approaching city is bound up with deeply discursive ideas within the social production of nature (Castree and Braun 1998: 17). As my case study will show, these ideologies are made material through the planning process. Although our relationship to nature is complicated, how this relationship (as put forward through the culture/nature debate) affects the material landscape is not well understood because the debate is largely between theorists and there has not been a great deal of empirical evidence. The cultural landscape is only understood as the intersection of culture and nature, and perhaps this approach staves off some of the implied criticism of empirical methodologies put forward in the debate. What is clear however through my research is that the planning process for North Oakville did not begin with a cultural landscape approach, but with an environment first approach, which is certainly what they got in the end.

Concluding with thoughts on the Canadian countryside

By way of conclusion (albeit a rather lengthy one) I would like to comment on the difficulties I had in sourcing the literature on the countryside for my research here in Ontario. An image of a rural idyll unique to Ontario (or Canada) is not represented in the literature. Most of the literature available in English on countryside issues is from England and from the United States. In England, the countryside has developed over hundreds of years and is seen as a cultural artefact deeply connected to the patriotic 90 Countryside Literature Review

psyche nation and state. The image of the scenic countryside and public access to it are important themes of policy (Bunce 1994; Cullingworth and Nadin 2001; Sibley 1997). Canada, as a British colony, and Ontario in particular, while sharing much popular culture with Britain (and I am not just referring to Coronation Street and The Office), has a very different historical relationship with its land. Pastoral views of the countryside that are present within the Canadian psyche, I would argue, reflect the legacy of this British homeland (one homeland of many in our land of immigrants, but perhaps shared diasporas from other British colonies) and we have shaped this northern landscape to fit with British cultural and aesthetic values (Duncan 1992; Ley 1995; Traill 1855). At the same time, much of our cultural imagery and many ideas migrate from the United States. Again, they share a British heritage to some extent, but the cherished non-urban areas in the American view are wilderness (Bunce 1994; Cronon 1996b; Merchant 1996). The protection of the last remaining wilderness from settlement is at the heart of the valuation of non-urban areas in America, and certainly discussions in the literature apply this valuation of the preservation of wild nature closer to home in the countryside (Press 2002; Rome 2001). The country is also where the independent farmer in the spirit of Thomas Jefferson is said to reside (Bunce 1994; Castle 1995). Bunce contends that the American rural idyll was based on the family farm and the productive yet virtuous agrarian economy, but given the scale and diversity of North American rural landscapes, this has largely prevented the establishment of any of that sense of an archetypal and universal countryside which is the object of the English rural idyll (2003: 16). From where I am situated in Toronto today, to draw on the literature of the countryside is to draw upon these two traditions, one of an historically acculturated countryside in the English sense, and in the American view as an idea of landscape in vast country staked out by staunchly individualist-minded people (who think it most sublime to escape to the wilderness reading Thoreau, and who want to restrict anyone else from doing it).


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In the Ontario context, in an era of global agricultural restructuring, traditional productive uses of the countryside are set against amenity uses of the landscape. The countryside has historically been a working landscape providing food and resources (timber, aggregates) for the city, and yet these productive uses are meddled with by those who see the amenity value trumping the productive value (fighting new pits and quarries, blocking tree cutting, complaining about industrialized agriculture, implementing greenbelts). The contemporary use of the Ontario countryside is intensely political but under-theorized and understudied. That the definition of a Canadian/Ontarian countryside is so elusive is troubling. Is it not a sign of a hegemonic construct when a concept like countryside is so taken-for-granted (we know it when we see it) and yet underdiscussed? In the view of historical geographer John Warkentin, There are no overwhelming natural features in Southern Ontario that grip the imagination. He wrote, It is a serene countrysidewith long views of sloping green meadows and contrasting grainfields, great strong thrusting elms marking the fence lines [at least before Dutch elm disease], closely spaced farmsteads holding substantial late nineteenth century brick houses and large weatherbeaten barns on stone stables, and the gentle valleys and diminutive creeks pulling these together into one integrated vista after another (1966: 158-9). I agree with Warkentin that our view of the countryside is not gripping and further believe that we relate more strongly to the Muskoka cottage country landscapes of the Canadian Shield with its granite rock outcroppings, deep black lakes, fall colours, and Group of Seven pine trees. The countryside of the Toronto area as I experience it is between the city and the imagined wilderness of Muskoka. Warkentin concludes that In peoples minds the land has merely provided an ideally located and well endowed launching platform for the establishment of a vigorous balanced economy. It is the power nexus, the function of Southern Ontario in a modern industrial society and economy, which has assumed the dominant reality in the


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consciousness of the people (166-7), which explains why we are all still here with more on the way. The new Golden Horseshoe Greenbelt is a good example of this tangle of ideas. Within the Protected Countryside designation of the Greenbelt there are two policy frameworks, one for an agricultural system largely associated with the cultivated tableland, and one for a natural system consisting of watercourses, valleylands, wetlands and wooded areas. The agrarian ideology is conceptually held together with the ideology of nature in the Greenbelt. The Ontario countryside is enshrined (but not defined) in GGH Greenbelt As discussed in Chapter 1, where I debated the utility of continuing my research question along the lines of countryside instead of nature, my research has been complicated somewhat by the very recent implementation of the new Golden Horseshoe Greenbelt in Ontario (MAH 2005). Forming a neat geographical arc around Toronto, the Greenbelt incorporates the Niagara Escarpment and Oak Ridges Moraine, two notable geological features in southern Ontario with great influence on the way the region has been historically settled. The Greenbelt was enacted by legislation in 2006 and in total represents 1.8 million acres of environmentally sensitive and agricultural land as well as small towns and hamlets. The Greenbelt is the provinces identification of where growth should not occur in the Toronto area, and the accompanying growth plan says that it will enable the government to plan population growth, economic expansion, and the protection of valuable environmental and agricultural assets in a balanced and rational way, instead of trying to catch up after the fact (PIR 2006). Environmental groups have seen the Greenbelt as a major victory while area farmers were irate (they drove their tractors on the highways into downtown Toronto to protest, snarling traffic for hours). In combination with a provincially-created growth plan for the greater Toronto area, the Greenbelt is intended to stop sprawl and protect valued farmland and habitat. The Greenbelt uses the zone of Protected Countryside. As you can imagine, my frustration with analyzing the use of countryside is fuelled even more as the term is not 93 Countryside Literature Review

defined. If Ontario has a poor conception of countryside as seems to be the case, then what did the provincial government draw upon to create the Greenbelt? In land use planning terms, the protected countryside designation in the Greenbelt includes the natural system, the agricultural system and settlement areas. Sustaining the character of the protected countryside is a policy but this character is not defined (MAH 2005: 6). In the background documents, the countryside is identified as a valued landscape but no where can I find it justified in detail. The explanation does not move beyond motherhood statements; the Ministrys website quotes the provincial Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing as saying, The Greenbelt is a legacy for our children of protected greenspace, agricultural land, environmental areas, recreational and resource lands in the Golden HorseshoeIt will help improve our quality of life and ensure Ontario is the place to be for years to come. It seems as though we are captives of our ideology which has great power to shape our landscapes. Whom is the Greenbelt meant to serve? The lands designated for protection include farms but it is also a place where the wealthy have settled. Whose landscape does it protect? Mike Davis in City of Quartz (1973), related how the conservation movement in California was led by the wealthy who had settled first. These are Raymond Williams captains of change (Williams 1973: 294) who arrive in the countryside first, settle deeply and then object to urban encroachment. These people are exurbanites (Spectorsky 1955) and I have been doing a great deal of work outside of my dissertation on trying to understand their motivations and settlement patterns (Taylor forthcomingb). My research is showing that these are the people who sprawl the furthest into the countryside and yet object perhaps the most vociferously to urban expansion. Keith Halfacree has thought a lot about the representations of the countryside and agrees with Michael Bunce that the rural idyll is predominantly about the visioning of the countryside by a hegemonic bourgeoisie (quoted in Bunce 2003, 24; Halfacree 1993). Bunce goes on to say that the real power of this vision is revealed in the appropriation and re-shaping of actual landscapes by this class (Bunce 2003: 24). The town of Oakville


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is one of the wealthiest places in the Toronto area and efforts to shape this landscape are the efforts of the elite. The natural heritage system proposed in Oakville is unprecedented, perhaps except for the Greenbelt. While there was concern that the Greenbelt would cause unprotected countryside elsewhere to be considered developable in the face of the conservation of so many lands in the Greenbelt, in this case study, I have found that it has had the opposite effect of providing, instead, a precedent of conservation and planning tools to use to ensure the conservation of more local lands: the Oakville Beaver reported that Mayor Mulvale in her 2006 state of the town address declared the natural heritage system for north Oakville as right for the times and could set a new provincial benchmark for public policy on open space (Blackburn 2006c). In Ontario, the planning system does not seem to be set up at the local level to protect countryside. The cumulative impact of this public frustration with the planning process at the local level has been the grand gesture of the Greenbelt, which seems to have been met with great public support. With the legislating of the Greenbelt, the ideology of countryside is mobilized, providing a policy context for future changes to the material landscape. The discourse sustaining that ideology has proved to be complex as Ontario does not have an ideology of countryside that I have found that can easily be described. Instead, there is an increasing appreciation of nature, a sense that the countryside is no longer limitless, and a foreboding sense of environmental degradation generally with concerns on a global scale that transmit themselves into the local level by the desire to withstand further urbanization. The global abstract ideas are made intimate and local in and through the landscape. Canadian emphasis is important We need more research on Canada and Ontario, so as to establish ourselves in relation and comparison to the American and British contributions. We will admit to similarities in certain ways but definitely not in others. In spite of the historical British heritage of Canada, we somehow know that we are not like the English, the Irish or the Scots (and 95 Countryside Literature Review

certainly not the Welsh) in spite of the similarities in many of our customs and governmental structures. I was born in Canada and grew up in Ottawa, where we were always thinking about what it was to be Canadian and live in the nations capital city. I believe that the Canadian identity is defined against the American. I have to be careful how this literature can be drawn upon to inform my work in the Ontario context in the absence of a clear idea about what is behind the Ontario view of countryside and how this compares to the American countryside narrative. Is there a greater value placed on rural America than on rural Canada? Is there a reification of rural and/or exurban living in Canada, the way it is in America? U.S. and Canadian cities share a continent and have been shaped by similar economic forces: cheap land and building materials, large-scale immigration and rapid urban growth, a relatively high standard of living, and a shared labor market (Harris 1996: 5) to which I would add the temporal aspect of colonial development: the urban areas are recent, compared to Britain, and started by clearing out the original occupants and trees, and building towns with economies based in agriculture and timber. Harris writes in Creeping conformity (2004) that Canadian suburbs differ from their American counterparts because of the differences in municipal governance. For Americans, he writes, to be a suburb a place usually must have its own political identity, its own municipal government. Once a local government is created in the United States, it cannot be unmade by the state, while in Canada, local governments have no powers other than those the provinces choose to delegate (2004: 22). North Oakville as a new suburban area within the local municipality of Oakville, will not have an identity apart from that of the town. The appropriation of North Oakville into the imagination of the Town is part of this imperial legacy. The overriding conceptual framework in this research is based on the idea that Ontario has a countryside, or at the very least that the Toronto region has a countryside. This has 96 Countryside Literature Review

proven to be difficult to discuss from a review of the literature because there is a real dearth of discussion about countryside in Ontario, and Canada more generally. Cole Harris provides a conceptualization of the Canadian landscape imagining settled areas as an archipelago of civilization between snow and ice in winter, and between rock, muskeg, endless tangles of black spruce, and black flies in summer (1992: 395). Arable land is limited and quickly runs up against rock in all areas of the country. Ontario is perhaps blessed with a relatively large extent of agricultural land and is the home range of a huge proportion of the population. The Ontario countryside is represented through images in wall calendars, magazines, and tourist brochures. There is an implicit understanding of countryside from urban field studies, an idea of something, but the sense of place is not well represented in the Ontario literature. My research into the images of the Ontario countryside circulating in the larger population has found little in terms of specificity. Media coverage is of a pleasant and productive agricultural landscape (Bunce 2003) and of the recreational possibilities in the country around Toronto. Academic coverage of the character of the landscape of Ontario is light. Undergraduate geography textbooks include descriptions of the region and there is some cataloguing of heritage buildings and artefacts (McIlwraith 1997). But unlike many other places that have loving histories and coffee table books, Ontario does not seem to show itself off. Having grown up in urban Ontario, I believe that we think that everywhere else might be a better place to be: we have no oceans, mountains or canyons, curious settlements or the last of anything. It is a comfortable place to live and we spend a lot of time thinking about problems that people have in other parts of the country and how to hold the nation together. To what extent then have images, symbols and myths of the countryside from other places been absorbed in Ontario, by Ontario residents? How are they reflected in the material landscape and how do they figure into the planning process? What are the implications of age, gender, race and class? Is there a countryside ideal unique to southern Ontario that the people involved in my case studies use (imagine) as their referent? With 97 Countryside Literature Review

what image of countryside do people in Ontario identify? The answer, after years of thought (I am in my fifth year of study), is that I do not know. There is a need to treat public and official references to countryside with caution because as a cultural landscape it is fragmented into so many different meanings, of which a socially constructed natural environment is one. As I will discuss throughout this dissertation, the landscape in North Oakville was socially constructed as nature through the idealization of the landscape by some of the residents and through environmental science. With this view inscribed in the planning policy framework for this area, the material landscape will be shaped in this image. As Duncan found in his Sri Lankan study, that the physical landscape was a production of the stories of the Kandyan kingdom, so will the landscape of North Oakville be a production of the texts created through the planning process. Even though planning is seen to be a rational process, the stories created are no less fanciful than Duncan found centuries ago halfway across the world.


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Chapter 4

METHODOLOGY: IMPLEMENTING THE CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK OR RESEARCH APPROACH The process of planning for urban expansion in the case of Oakville was immersed in the negotiation over the vision of this landscape. The collision of values with respect to city and country, growth and conservation dominated the discussion. At this local municipal level where decisions about the future land use of this area are being made, the discussion could have focused on creating a policy framework for liveable new urban neighbourhoods and their fit with the existing town. Instead, the process was hijacked by a contest over urban growth and ecological conservation. Nature was discursively and materially produced within the planning process and mobilized against urban expansion. My research approach was informed by cultural geography theory and method. The concept of landscape as the object of study and interest in the politics and cultural production of landscape representation framed this approach. In Chapters 2 and 3, I considered the ways in which the North Oakville expansion area can be seen as a cultural landscape and how ideas of countryside and nature with respect to this landscape are used to communicate cultural beliefs and worldviews which are at the heart of citymaking. I reviewed the literature on landscape representation beginning with material and symbolic approaches and then discussed the theoretical view of critical and cultural approaches to exploring the political use of landscape meaning. The countryside is a particular cultural landscape with a large literature dealing with its cultural importance, especially as a place of nature. I saw the contemporary process in Oakville as an opportunity to explore the negotiation of landscape meaning in a real world situation where ideas about city, nature and countryside influenced and were influenced by a real landscape. My familiarity with Oakville and Halton provided the opening into the study of this particular place, while 99 Methodology

my background in urban planning and questions arising from my professional experience would allow me to tell a story of landscape, moving beyond formidable structure and procedures of the process itself. The planning process consists of studies of the material landscape based in the approaches that I discussed in Chapter 2 as spatial descriptions of the material landscape. Accessing the implicit valuing of various forms of landscape representation required a study of the discourse of the process to interrogate the creation and use of the text and images created by the studies of this landscape to ask questions about the cultural values and ideas for which landscape was being put forward.

Qualitative methods to study the use of landscape representation in the discourse of the planning process in Oakville
Given that my research interest is in the use of landscape representations in the politics of urbanization, my research approach draws upon the landscape studies in cultural geography. I have drawn upon the literature in Chapter 2 to demonstrate that meanings can be interpreted through consideration of discourse. Interpreting meaning requires the use of various qualitative methods including discourse analysis, interviews and participant observation (Hoggart, Lees and Davies 2002). My purpose is not to explain why landscape looks the way it does, but to ask questions about what it means. The planning process structures social relations within which landscape meaning is discussed. The benefit is in grounding the study of discourse in an existing landscape, working through the various levels of discourse about landscape, at the same time as making use of the boundaries of what was in and what was out of the discussion within the planning process. Planning results in landscape change and steps in to guide what is allowed or not allowed, its influence is in sometimes altering the understanding of a places history and in recasting the experience of people who are intimate with it. The irony is that the process is based on ideas brought forward through largely quantitative studies, devoid in this case of explicit discussion of ideology or meaning. Planning has a huge responsibility because of the issues of social justice enmeshed in landscape change 100 Methodology

yet it so often fails to make these explicit. My research does not create a description or interpretation of the North Oakville landscape -- my aim was to create an intelligent narrative of the process through the lens of cultural landscape studies. How is a countryside discursively remade through the planning process into a new urban area? This narrative is of the production of ordinary, everyday suburbia that is at the intersection of ideas about how the world should be. The challenge of this case study is to pull together a narrative of how landscape meaning was used in discourse. To this end I studied the documents produced in the process but used interviews with people involved to draw out their views on the meaning of the North Oakville landscape and how it was informed by their ideas about landscape generally. Participant observation of meetings in the process was used to see how landscape meaning was discussed and to observe the discourse in action. Seeing the informants interact provides more detailed insight into the appropriation of different landscape representations and allowed me to witness the reaction with which certain representations were met. In discussing the challenges of discursive analysis, Paul Robbins says in his excellent book on political ecology: Constructions of the environment [for instance the countryside] are communicated in myriad media, including advertisements, folk songs, photographs, scientific documents, daily conversations, diaries, and landscape paintings. Constructions are rarely fully embodied or realized in a single form, moreover, and are joined together from a collection of parts. Indeed, a construction of the environment (or more generally a discourse) represents a combination of narratives, concepts, ideologies, and signifying practices [Barnes and Duncan 1992, p. 8], including the things people say and do (Robbins 121). I appreciate now how complicated the circulation of ideas is, and what a challenge it is to study. The preparation of this narrative required an interdisciplinary approach and in the end is both interpretive and descriptive. It required putting the idea of landscape as discursively created and transformed through discourse to use. For this research I have 101 Methodology

used methods from ethnography, literature studies, material culture studies, environmental history, urban design and planning, and Canadian studies. The research is qualitative in that it seeks to understand human experience in all its complexity, diversity and contradictions. It has been informed by several edited collections on qualitative research including Adler and Clark (1999), Flick (2002), Hay (20000, Hoggart, Lees and Davies (2002), and Limb and Dwyer (2001). The study of the circulation of ideas about landscape in this Oakville process included document review and analysis, use of the internet, interviewing actors in the process, and producing a narrative of the process. But because of contingencies in time and place, landscape studies such as this one are fragmentary (Groth 1997: 5). While my study can suggest a greater understanding of the larger picture in Oakville and the Toronto area today, and about issues with urban growth elsewhere, there are limits to creating a whole story about the production of nature in planning for urban expansion. The study of Oakville tells us a lot about Oakville and the ways in which this wealthy suburb has negotiated its future urban expansion. But because it works within the larger discursive framework it does draw out important questions about society. I am pleased with the choice of this particular case study. While I had heard that the OPA 198 process had been hotly debated and would provide a good case study for looking at contested landscape meaning, I only now fully appreciate how exceptional the debate was in this area. The debate was exceptional, but the issues are common to other fast-growing city regions. The study area was large and complicated enough to provide wide-ranging views of landscape. As a contemporary example I was able to access information directly, often at the same time as my key informants, and I was able to interview people while they are still engaged with the materials. I captured the sense of urgency and immediacy of the debate which is more difficult to accomplish for past events. For instance, the drama of confrontational meetings earlier in the process are largely lost, except for transcripts and video for a handful of meetings, and the emotion has become tempered in peoples memories and are smoothed over in the written text. 102 Methodology

The utility of this case study is that it explores representations of landscape within the specific context of a planning process. As Greg Marston writes, text should not be artificially separated from an analysis of the institutional setting within which discourses are embedded (Marston 2004: 75). Planning processes create their own local discourses and these draw in ideas from much broader discourses at a national or global level. The broader discourse over nature comes to land in North Oakville and as I shall discuss, concerns over broader global environmental crisis and sprawl are performed in this process. Detailed description of the research process My research launched with the North Oakville Charrette in September 2003. It represented the first big accumulation of data presented in the form of reports, letters and memos; the first outline of the process that had been carried out and that was anticipated for the future; and most of all it was the first time that I became closely acquainted with the views of various individuals and organizations involved in the process. The Charrette was billed by the Town as the inaugural step in the secondary planning process to prepare detailed land use plans for the new urban area. From the Charrette I worked backwards through time to review the Strategic Land Use Options Study which led to Amendment 198 of the Towns official plan. I researched even further back in time to see what had been done at the regional level to amend the Halton regional official plan (back to where my involvement as a planning consultant began). Subsequently, I worked forward through the secondary plan process from the Charrette to the time of writing this dissertation in early 2007. At this time, the detailed plans for the area have not been finalized. Document review and analysis Where are representations of landscape available for study? In the planning process, consultant studies present the results of spatial description and analysis in the form of material landscape representations. They are picked up by the political process in the 103 Methodology

negotiation of importance of those findings to the future landscape. The planning process creates an archive of documents that include words, photographs, aerial photography, drawings, maps and video footage on compact disc of the Charrette. It is here that the North Oakville landscape is represented and discussed, and where ideas about landscape circulating in the broader discourse of environmentalism and planning are drawn in. For the research I reviewed the documents of the public record. These included: staff reports to Council; Council agendas, minutes and transcripts (uncommon); consultant reports; public correspondence; provincial policy documents and studies; and local media reports. The documents were prepared by: the Town of Oakville and its consultants; the Region of Halton and its consultants; and the Inter-Agency Review committee which included the Town, the Region and the Conservation Authority with assistance from the Ministry of Natural Resources. I also reviewed correspondence received by the Town from the public responding to various moments in the consultation process and from landowners and developers. Coverage of the process by the local newspaper, the Oakville Beaver was extensive and formed part of the conversation. My archive is an official one: all documents are publicly available and I deliberately chose to confine myself to these as I wanted to see how the countryside and nature were represented in the process, both in reference to this particular landscape and representations of landscape generally. On the use of the internet for document review The internet aided in obtaining the documents of the process but more importantly provided insight into their political use. The websites of the Ontario Municipal Board, Town of Oakville, NOMI (the developers group), and the local community group Oakvillegreen were all available, as well as personal sites of some individuals involved in the process. The website of the Ontario Municipal Board provided unprecedented access to the public in the North Oakville process. The dissemination and sharing of information is 104 Methodology

typically very difficult for someone outside the hearing to obtain (without attending the hearings in person and sometimes without obtaining party status). This openness and access to the legal discourse for lay people has contributed to the dissemination of original information for discussion and debate by those interested in the process. If laypeople have better access to the record of what information is being presented to the Board to influence their decision-making, they may also be able to see that the scientifictype arguments are privileged. The expression of sentiment is discouraged at the OMB in many of the same ways as other judicial hearings with the exploration of the facts by expert witnesses presented and rebutted, keeping to those issues of planning represented rationally, objectively and scientifically. The Town of Oakville posted their documents on their website. The benefit to my research was the ease of access to the documents. The downside was that report appendices and smaller bridging documents are typically not posted and experience shows that they are often among the more useful for analysis. The major developers group maintained their own website as well as the ratepayers group, Oakvillegreen and the website of one of the councillors, Allan Elgar, was useful. In combination with the OMB and Town websites, I was able to see the narrative of the process created by each of the groups, which is otherwise difficult to surmise. Online access allowed me, as the researcher, to have a different relationship with the material than I would otherwise have had. I had expected to rely on requests for documents from the Town Clerks office or the planning office or my interviewees, where the challenge is knowing what to ask for. Rather than hunting for information, the key moments in the process were broadcast online, flagged by Oakvillegreen, posted as latest news by the Town. These decisive moments were self-identified by the actors in the process and as the researcher I was able to gain insight into how landscape was being mobilized in those moments. 105 Methodology

Online access allows an iterative research process. I have gone through the Town of Oakville and Oakvillegreen website many times over the months of my research, making notes, downloading and printing bits and pieces. The benefit is being able to go back, reread and check information, or to bring up documents that earlier had not seemed as relevant. The downside is that in some cases, webpages about which I had written notes had altogether disappeared. A smaller issue occurred in writing up the final draft of this document when I had to finally be specific about the provenance of references, resulting in current retrieved on dates. My use of the internet over the months of research provides a more nuanced picture of how representations of landscape change over time and how ideas which are taken up in discourse are changed by their circulation in the process. Strategies which are seen to work are expanded and others disappear. For instance, the Oakvillegreen website has morphed over the years from a plea to the community to stop the destruction of a beautiful countryside with images of birds and flowers, to a formal presentation of the value of increasing tree coverage, reducing pesticide use and where to obtain information about energy reduction. Limitations of the archive One of the difficulties in relying on documented materials especially from the internet is the potential exclusion of information important to my research. The use of documents is not objective or neutral (Marshall and Rossman 1999: 117) and I have taken care to determine authorship and purpose. For instance, planners in their minute-taking at public meetings often disregard or fail to record comments from positions that are considered to be untenable, such as quality of life values with respect to landscape experience. These omissions are politically charged and the interviews probed these silences and other subtexts in the written archive. For example, the transcripts of the two major public hearings before Council are verbatim but lack the sense of anger and injustice held by the public that I was told about. The hesitation by the Mayor to intervene apparently changed the course of events in the process (Burton 2006, Elgar 2006, Mathew 2006).



I was curious from where actors in the process obtained their information about the process. While I posed the question during the interviews, it was not a successful query as most could not think on the spot of what they had read or the provenance of their ideas: I should have asked people to think about these influences in advance. This would have assisted in putting clearer boundaries around the discourse of the process. As the interviews progressed, I was increasingly curious to know what the interviewees were reading or watching that may have affected their views on key issues. The larger epistemological space of society was in evidence in the process with respect to ideas of landscape generally and specifically the ideology of countryside, nature and sprawl. I have had to assume that since I am also interested in development issues in southern Ontario many of the same sources that I repeatedly come across in my daily life might also have been caught up by the interviewees. For example, what kinds of landscapes were successful elsewhere? What issues of urban growth and countryside conservation are being discussed elsewhere? I kept a close eye on GTA newspapers and magazines including the Toronto Star, The Globe and Mail, the National Post, Toronto Life and Macleans. Keeping in mind where I happened across information generally, to examine how urbanization is discussed in broader societal discourse I systematically reviewed the local media in the Toronto area to look for popular texts and images addressing landscape change at the citys edge including the national newspapers, magazines and television. I made extensive use of online search engines including Google, Proquest and the Web of Knowledge to search for others interested in issues of urban expansion in the Toronto area. How are issues of urban growth, loss of countryside and environmental impact dealt with broadly speaking? For the Canadian Association of Geographers annual meeting in 2003, I presented a paper entitled Sprawl and the Media: A Cultural Geography of the Weekend Paper where I examined the discourse on urban growth in the Toronto edition of The Globe & Mail. I concluded that urban growth is seen as part of the global problem of environmental destruction especially through resource over-use and consumption. Yet this discourse is divorced in the media from personal home buying and 107 Methodology

decoration. The effect of personal choice related to home (privacy, views, neighbours), while discussed in the academic literature, is not well represented in more popular literature. The result is that in this wealthy suburb, anti-growth sentiment does not have to be discussed in terms of racial attitudes or anti-modernist, anti-city sentiments because of the work and values mobilized in the landscape of nature understood in broad epistemological terms. Research of the Town of Oakville itself included popular coffee table books on the local area and other literature describing the local place to see how Oakville has created its imaginative universe (Geertz 1991: 13). These included community descriptions by local authors, booklets produced by the local economic development committee, and tourist pamphlets; the booklets and pamphlets I obtained from the tourism office in the town hall. The Oakville Library has a local history room, including maps and books, and this resource was indispensable for compiling local information. The historical context of the study area was researched through review of past pivotal planning decisions and key debates, and settlement histories primarily from secondary sources. Archival research was difficult as there is a profound lack of information on the history of the North Oakville landscape, including the former towns of Trafalgar and Palermo along Dundas Street. 8 My history includes a major book published in 1953 by a local resident as well as more recent local history sources (but those focus on the town, not the country), more general histories of development of this part of Ontario or Upper Canada, the memory of two local residents (Rampen 2006; Post 2006) and the work of the heritage consulting planner for the Town (Unterman McPhail 2004). In spite of the lack of information specific to North Oakville, the result was positive in that I became familiar with the case study area, in many cases retaining tidbits about the history which assisted me in my interviews as well as providing needed context for the research (please see Chapter 5). The challenge with secondary sources is to keep in mind the raison dtre

Note that the Trafalgar Township Historical Society was established in January 2006 to create an archive and establish a museum of the rich history of North Oakville.



behind their production and be aware of what was put into the story and what was left out. In addition, although I was looking largely for information on settlement and planning history, I was also excavating changing attitudes towards country and city evident in the text with respect to this landscape and towards the countryside and nature here over the years. Gathering the documents was a large part of the process and continued right until the final drafting stage. Most of my analysis of the documents was undertaken at the same time as I carried out the interviews with informants. Document review was used as a method of obtaining history and context for the study as well as providing the text and images for discursive analysis. As a method, it was a way of checking information provided by interviewees, as well as a primary source of information itself regarding the ways in which ideas of the countryside were discussed. I tried to triangulate between documents and informants in my interpretations. The interview process I carried out twenty-one semi-structured interviews with North Oakville residents, ratepayers groups, municipal planners, planning consultants to the town and developers, and politicians. I selected stakeholders who had been actively and publicly involved in the planning process and canvassed for participants initially by telephone, with contact information supplied through public documents or through introducing contacts. Although most people agreed to speak with me, there were several residents, councillors, and a Town employee who did not return my calls or agree to be interviewed. Interviews were carried out in April, May, June and July of 2006. I prepared a list of questions but only loosely followed these during the actual interviews (Appendix A). I was interested in drawing out informants ideas about the contested representations of this landscape and the broader contexts within which the differing views were based. While I began with the list of questions in front of me, they were used less and less by the end of each interview, and as I became more comfortable in my role probing respondents for their views. The interviews were an hour minimum in duration, more often two, and some significantly 109 Methodology

longer. I interviewed most people at their workplace, or during working hours, limiting the time available. This was a good strategy as the work environment encouraged individuals to keep on their public hat within the setting of their public personae. Limiting interviewees to those with a public presence means that marginalized groups were not represented. In analyzing the entire archive, from historical documents through the planning discourse and the interviews, I was constantly reminded that not everyones views of landscape are represented, or represented equally. In creating my research design I deliberately chose this route as I wished to study the discourse of the planning process as it presented itself. A random sampling of Town residents or of North Oakville residents would have provided a sense of the breadth of representations of this landscape that exist, but not what was successful in creating the policy framework for the future area. During the interviews, I was very much aware of how much I am a part of the professional community being researched. Several of my respondents knew me with another hat from my work as a planning consultant. I am aware that I present myself as a planner, using language, techniques, and ways of looking at the world that are based on my experience and training. This presentation of myself will have figured into the character of the interviews (Butler 2001, 271). In a case study where ideas about urban expansion are explored, this is an important point because as a planner, I belong to a community of professionals who are often perceived as part of the problem, as part of the hegemony that produces and reproduces a system based on economic expansion, land speculation and sprawl. I am not sure what difference this actually made, but it was in my thoughts. In a different time and place, it is easy to imagine that I could be involved with many of these same people, but within a different set of social relations as consultant/stakeholder or consultant/client instead of researcher/research-subject (Berg and Mansvelt 2000: 165) and I imagine that following completion of my doctoral degree I could be involved in one of these relationships again.



The interviews explored views on, and experience of, a wide range of issues related to landscape change in North Oakville. I was specifically interested in probing meaning associated with terms such as countryside and nature. The interviews were taperecorded (with permission) and then portions transcribed as they related to the major themes. I chose not to use computer-assisted qualitative data analysis software because of the relatively limited number of respondents and because I was the only researcher involved and analysis software is especially useful for teams of researchers needing to coordinate the collection, comparison and organization of data. In addition, I was interested in concepts and themes derived from the discursive context more than specific instances of terms being mentioned (Peace 2001). I initially chose to relisten to the tapes instead of producing and then relying on transcripts as I feared losing the sense of the dialogic context within which comments were made, or losing the nuances of emphasis, hesitation and inflection (P. Jackson 1989: 203) within which comments were made. I took my own notes during the interviews and used these as well. I found that often in the process of listening to the tapes to transcribe the most useful parts, some meetings which had been interesting no longer seemed compelling, and other interviews held a great deal more information than I had remembered (Crang 2001: 219). In the end, I did make complete transcripts of almost all the interviews (after I encountered a problem with one of the tapes and was reminded of their fragility). On the writing and production process The research process was not linear (Flick 2002), it was iterative. Research tasks were undertaken simultaneously, and most importantly I did not leave the writing phase until the end. I have undertaken the research over many months, and although much of the structuring and editing has occurred during the most recent months, I wrote a great deal while the data gathering and interviews were still ongoing. Writing requires the researcher to make connections, and to state warrants and claims for which evidence will be required (Booth et al. 2003) often requiring deeper investigation.



Interview quotations were minimized to some degree as I wished to respect the ongoing political process in Oakville and the Region of Halton. In writing up the case study, I have used quotations from the interviews in order to better describe aha moments in the research using the respondents voices. The quotes were chosen based on representativeness of a broader sentiment, or uniqueness, or for the choice of words to describe the thought or experience. I have also attempted to include the representation of emotions (Butler 2001: 268) as well as the original colloquialisms to try to better communicate the flavour and tone of the interviews. I have tried to be very careful to make distinctions between what the respondents actually said, verbatim, versus what I took their meaning to be. In my research, I was interested in those moments of intersubjectivity where I was able to make connections between symbolic ideas about landscape and readings of this particular landscape. As the researcher, the connections are mine. With respect to the representation of the North Oakville landscape in this dissertation, I decided quite early on that I was not going to produce a study of the cultural landscape in which I produced another description and interpretation. My research asks questions about this discourse and how the landscape is represented within this urban expansion process. This archive (largely from 2003-6) is useful for future reference to document the changes and continuities in this landscape over time. While I am critical of the way in which the dominance of the depiction of this landscape as environmentally significant, it is based on consideration of the variety of other ways in the process that this landscape is represented. The central purpose then, of the maps, illustrations and photos included in the dissertation, is to illustrate for the reader the landscapes under negotiation. I paid particular attention to landscapes identified in the planning process as being particularly contentious. Concluding thoughts on the use of qualitative methods and case study approach The use of qualitative methodology recognizes that the researchers conceptual framework and research questions evolve during the process (Flick 2002). This certainly 112 Methodology

has been the case for me. The study of one communitys experience at the edge of a metropolitan region has allowed me to think about local cultural discourses in the context of larger scale ones, regionally, nationally and globally. As Richard Harris writes in his Introduction to Unplanned suburbs, focusing on one case study yields a deep understanding of one place which is transferable, with modification, to others (1996: 5). When I set out, I expected to find evidence of city and country, nature and conservation at various scales, not just within the discourse over the local inhabited landscape but also in wider circulation of discourse over qualities of urbanness and ruralness in landscape. The multiple scales at which this landscape was imagined is indeed in evidence as it is seen in terms of micro-habitats for wildlife, the countryside of the town, an urban expansion area within a region and yet another example of sprawl on a continental scale. I began this research with the idea that I would find golden moments in documents, or in interviews, where crisp statements about the importance of the countryside to a persons quality of life would be represented. I would then mine these representations for cultural meaning. Instead, I found that the articulation of the cultural value of countryside is a murky proposition. The gist of my analysis is that people say of course the countryside is beautiful: it is scenic, birds and animals live as though in the wild there, it is simple and peaceful and a great place to be. At the end of the current research process, I have concluded that perhaps there is no agreed-upon image of the countryside in southern Ontario. What are being used discursively are not clear images. The privileging of environmental science in the planning process has taught residents to focus on wildlife and habitats, geology and water flow. Scenic countryside was not a politically successful representation of landscape in this case. In the planning process it was not a sufficient reason to conserve a landscape--to withdraw development rights from property owners-but invoking the destruction of vulnerable species habitat was.





Chapter 5

NORTH OAKVILLE: A LANDSCAPE HISTORY Not many of us are witness to large-scale changes in landscape which occur as the result of urbanization. At the edge of the city, change seems to happen overnight. It is shocking to see the giant earth-moving machines reshaping the land from farmed or fallow fields into streets and building lots, and finally new houses, shopping plazas and warehouses. This change can be seen as a form of environmental destruction, and in Andres Duanys words, many people see landscape change as a trading down from the green countryside to the visual monotony of sprawl (Duany 2003). We know, however, that the countryside is itself the result of enormous environmental destruction that occurred with the clearing of the forests of southern Ontario for timber and farming with the United Empire Loyalist settlement of the early 1800s. The lands of North Oakville have a typical colonial history in this regard, but the details of this change which survive in the historical record are worth considering as part of this research project because the pre-British settlement landscape is reified in the planning process and informs ideas about the kind of nature that should be replicated through environmental management in this area. At the same time, the valuation of the countryside as a cultivated, inhabited place is subjugated by the natural representation. In this chapter I will discuss the history of the North Oakville landscape in the context of the overall development of what is now the Greater Toronto Area. The regional history provides a long look at both the changing and the constant attitudes towards this particular landscape. The planning process has historically been constructed to facilitate economic growth in Ontario and it is assumed that the countryside will be largely given over to urbanization as cities progressively expand. As part of the metropolitan area, Oakvilles historical geography contributes to its current fate. The imagination of the North Oakville study area at the back of the township facilitates the continued colonization of this landscape. 115

Landscape History

Cultural values with respect to the North Oakville landscape have shifted over time and ideas about the countryside and nature would seem to be shifting again. I argue that a change in ideology has occurred with respect to this landscape. My purpose here is to underscore that the production of nature currently is at odds with the settlement history of the town. Through my research, this particular area has not stood out as remarkable and records refer to it briefly, often in passing, as part of the history of the Town of Oakville based on the development of the harbour to the south or as part of the larger history of the settlement of southern Ontario expanding from York (now Toronto). This is a settlement history of Oakville--not a traditional social history, but one that focuses on the landscape, and, as much as possible, draws out the history of the North Oakville landscape as it was transformed from forest to farm. For this research, precolonial settlement by First Nations was not discussed in the planning process and I have not drawn it out in this discussion. The research challenge has been that while the landscape of the study area was actually settled by colonists first, around the military road of Dundas Street, historical accounts concentrate on the history of the Town on the lake. Drawing out the history of the study area from these histories, larger regional histories, the heritage study for the planning process and my interviews provided a narrative which I believe underpins attitudes towards the area today. From one view, North Oakville is part of the larger region with Toronto at its centre and its development has always been dictated by decisions from the centre. From a more local view, the idea of North Oakville as the back country of the town survives today and allows the imagination of the area by the town to dominate local resident views as the town imagination controls the countryside in ways theorized by Raymond Williams (1973) and those studying the urban field (Friedmann and Miller 1965) and the citys countryside (Bryant, Coppack and Mitchell 2000). This chapter presents a history of the North Oakville landscape. Oakvilles contemporary urbanization is directly affected by the historical settlement pattern of Canada, as well as the systems and structures of governance that have been created. The current planning Landscape History 116

process represents another moment in the historical material and ideological transformation of these lands. With the long perspective provided by this chapter, I will in Chapter 6 turn to the more recent planning history as it has shaped the study area today.

The settlement history of Oakville, of which North Oakville is only more recently a part
While the study area, North Oakville, has always been influenced by its position in the hinterland of Toronto, it was first valued by colonists as a resource for commercial agriculture and timber production for Britain and as a stopover along the military road of Dundas Street. North Oakville was then surpassed in importance by the town on the lake and became the countryside of the town, an agricultural service area. Only recently, with the threat of urbanization, has much attention been paid to this area and its representation as the place of nature -- not productive agricultural land -- in the town. The most recent decisions leading up to the current future urban designation view North Oakville within its regional context of the larger metropolitan area of Toronto where the politics of growth are managed at different scales: of the nation, the province, the Region of Halton, the local Oakville council, and finally the ownership and stewardship of the local landscape itself. Impacts of decisions at larger scales have always determined North Oakvilles development, and the current era is no different. The topdown approach to land management has persisted since the beginning of colonization. My research shows how, at the larger scale, ideas of growth in population and employment are abstracted in national and provincial policy, but in North Oakville, the impact is intimately felt on the ground. For this history, I have drawn upon written social histories, architectural histories, interviews (although the interviews were not for the purpose of doing a landscape history), archived newspapers and maps.

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The history of the harbour-based town of Oakville was masterfully researched and recounted in a substantial book entitled Oakville and the Sixteen (Mathews 1953). Its author is Hazel Mathews, great-great granddaughter of William Chisholm, the town founder. She spent years poring through primary sources in archives throughout the province and interviewing aging residents to put together her volume. I have based much of my historical narrative on her work, reviewing and rechecking several of the same sources. I find that she has produced a book that is not a typical colonial tale of heroic settlers subduing the wilderness, but a thoughtful consideration of what motivated settlement. Her narrative is detailed and inclusive but limited by her access to the documents and memories that have survived. Within the British colony of Upper Canada, Trafalgar was built around the road and Oakville around the harbour The story of Oakvilles history is seen as typical within the context of the historical development of southern Ontario generally (Mathew 1953: vii) and was tied closely to the establishment of a British centre at York (now Toronto). The settlement at York was meant to be a statement of occupation by the British Empire, following previous colonization by France. The colony was named Upper Canada, with Lower Canada referring to the area that is now the province of Quebec. Upper Canada was governed by an elite, colonial oligarchytown dwellers not farmers, who sought power and profit at the expense of the farmer settlers (Wood 2000: 3, 5). With the American Revolution, Upper Canada became a haven for loyalists to the British crown, including the family of Oakvilles own founder, William Chisholm (Mathews 1953). Settlement in the Oakville area--Trafalgar Township within Halton County 9--as with the rest of Upper Canada was governed by a democratically elected local council, but

Trafalgar Township predated the founding of Oakville. Trafalgar and Nelson townships were originally Toronto

Township but were renamed (with jubilation) after the Battle of Trafalgar (McKeon & McKeon 1986: 24). The County of Halton, with Milton as its capital, included four townships: Nassagaweya, Esquesing, Nelson and Trafalgar (Ahern 1981: 28).

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positions in upper tier levels of government were by appointment, with laws and methods imported from England (Wood 2000: 5). The County of Halton was created in 1816 as part of the Gore District. The District was governed by an appointed justice who reported to the executive council of the colony, not the people. By 1850, Trafalgar Township was incorporated as its own municipality was given downloaded responsibility. The Town of Oakville, established in 1827, withdrew from the township and became its own municipality in 1857 (Mathews 1953: 289-295). In Ontario today, it is commonly quoted that municipalities are creatures of the province: constitutionally, we have a top-down governance system where municipalities are created by the province largely to enable service provision at the local level. Local municipalities are only free to make their own decisions as long as they stay within the policies and practices set out by the province. The areas first industries were ship-building, timber shipment, and agriculture based on wheat farming, all for export to the home country of England in the early days and later to the United States (Mathew 1953; Wood 2000: 99). As with other settlements in early Canada, Oakville was merely an outpost of European commercial enterprises oriented towards export of easily procured natural resources and was dependent upon Britain for its manufactured goods, procured in exchange for primary products (Nader 1975: 128-9). Canadian urban historian Gilbert Stelter said, most early Canadian cities, unlike those in the United States, did not begin as commercial places. Toronto, for example [although today Canadas heartland for finance, manufacturing and culture], did not become commercially oriented until the 1820s, thirty years after it was founded. Its early function was largely limited to that of an imperial administrative and military center (Stave 1980: 183). The history of Oakville is inscribed by its relation to York, the centre of the colony, a regional relationship that has proved to be remarkably persistent (Wood 2000: 82). As an administrative and military centre in Upper Canada, York was governed by the British

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through Sir John Graves Simcoe. In addition to laying out lots for the town and harbour at York, Simcoe planned two major land routes through the forest for military security. One road, Yonge Street, led due north to Lake Simcoe (to intersect with a portage route) and it continues today to be a major focus of commerce. The second route, Dundas Street, ran due west from Toronto to the head of the lake at Burlington Bay, now in the city of Hamilton, and beyond to London and Niagara. To the east, Kingston Road was built to Kingston, also on Lake Ontario. York was strategically distant from the Americans compared to Kingston or Niagara but was isolated. Unlike the United States, Canadas urban growth did not begin on the Atlantic seaboard and move west. Rather, the St. Lawrence River extended the Atlantic shipping routes easily through to the Great Lakes, allowing much deeper penetration into the geographical centre of the continent. Upper Canada was the only British colony that was not situated on tidewater: it was nearly a thousand miles from the sea (Mathews 1953: 30). Travel was largely lake-based and travel by ship and steamer on the lake and by canoe on the rivers dominated. The motivation to open up the two rights-of-way of Yonge and Dundas Streets was military and to this end settlers were encouraged to locate along these lines first. Within this regional context of the settlement of Upper Canada focused on York, the landscape of Trafalgar Township was settled with two areas of concentration: one string of small settlements built along Dundas Street and the other at the lakefront harbour. Dundas Street was settled first On an 1833 map of York, Dundas Street is indicated as the upper road to Niagara with Lake Shore Boulevard shown as road to Niagara by the beach 90 miles (in Firth 1966). The imagination of the landscape of the hinterland that permeates the descriptions of the history of Dundas Street is worth exploring in the context of this research because it helps to place North Oakville within the Toronto-centred regional landscape imagination. Eric Arthurs 1964 book about Toronto (No Mean City) spoke of Dundas Street in his era as seemingly stretching from his vantage point downtown west to infinity (234). My imagination of Dundas Street as unrolling from its start in downtown Toronto at its Landscape History 120

intersection with Yonge Street west through the successive generations of suburbs all the way to Oakville and beyond is in keeping with Arthurs. It is hard to imagine this road two hundred years ago, a line drawn with surveyors precision on an imprecise map, an imaginary route through the forests and swamps of southern Ontario. From York outwards, Simcoe imagined roads connecting to distant communities. From the hour when he first spied out the land the projection of great roads was never absent from the Governors mind (Lizars [1913] 1974: 49). He initially wanted the capital of Upper Canada to be at London and began construction in September of 1793 of a road west of the [Humber] river, named Dundas Street after the Secretary of the Colonies, Henry Dundas (Myers 1977: 21). Surveyed in 1793, Dundas Street was opened for some distance towards London but was not completed until the late 1820s (Nader 1975: 165). Lots bordering the road were the first granted to settlers in 1808 (Unterman McPhail 2004). So urgent was the need to have the right-of-way cleared, that there were no Crown or Clergy reserves set aside along its length here as was typical elsewhere; the settlers had to remove all the trees on the right-of-way and on the front of their lots before they could fully own the land (ODPD 1958c: 3). The road then was improved with government grants in 1833, and became toll road by the 1850s when the roads were privately managed through the charging of tolls for upkeep. It was bought by the Federal government in 1863, then by the county in 1867 (Myers 1977: 82, 90). It remains a road under regional jurisdiction today. The town was at the front and Trafalgar was at the back The geography of the study area has shaped its settlement history. Response to the land has shaped Local attitudes affecting governance and economies are mutually constitutive with the land. The dominance of a harbour-based economy drew the settlement focus from the road to the lake, and at the same time entrenched power in the town which was served by the surrounding area. The present-day view of North Oakville as the towns countryside is an historical view which may have assisted in the ease with which the politics of urbanization have been dominated by the towns view. Landscape History 121

The Town of Oakville today refers to the entire municipal area stretching from Lake Ontario north to its boundary with the Town of Milton. Although the study area, North Oakville, is currently part of the local municipality of the Town of Oakville, it has not always been so. Oakville, the town and port at the junction of The Sixteen and Lake Ontario was a tiny settlement around the mouth of the Sixteen Mile Creek on Lake Ontario within the larger township of Trafalgar. Dundas Street as the first settler right of way--the great high road from Toronto to the Western District--was settled first (Mathews 1953: 181). Along Dundas Street within the study area, several small settlements grew around lot and concession road intersections including Trafalgar, Palermo, Munns Corners and Proudfoots Hollow at the Sixteen Mile Creek. The Trafalgar Township Council originally met at Posts Inn on the southwest corner of 7th Line and Dundas, known as Posts Corners. The Inn was opened in 1816 as a change-house for stagecoaches in the early 19th century when it was the halfway point of a twelve-hour ride from Hamilton to Toronto and was still standing in 1953 when Mathews book was published (Post 2006). It was not until 1831 that Posts Corners was connected south to the town of Oakville (Mathews 1953: 46, 192, 302; McKeon and McKeon 1986: 50). The Oakville post office was a bye route of the original Trafalgar post office (opened in 1822 in Proudfoots store at the corner of Dundas and Ninth Line) with a difficult trip up and down the Red Hill (the ancient Lake Iroquois shoreline now just north of the QEW). But by 1835, the mail started to arrive in Oakville by steamer in the summer and along the lakeshore road in winter and was then sent up to Trafalgar by wagon (Mathews 1953: 128-9, 256). Although historically Dundas Street was the focus of settlement, with the first inns and post offices and the official role of a regional military road, by the mid-1800s it was becoming relegated to the country as the role of the harbour and the town strengthened. Another land route along the lakeshore between Hamilton and Toronto was cleared and was favoured over Dundas Street because it was shorter. Lake Shore Road from York to Hamilton was completed in 1832, (Mathews 1953: 48). Oakville by then finally eclipsed

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the towns along Dundas Street in importance and these towns have all but vanished today. With the focus on the harbour, the back of the township provided the raw materials for shipping. Trees were cut for timber and potash, shipped south to the harbour via the Sixteen Mike Creek. Cleared land was planted with wheat, also for export. The history of the harbour town begins in 1827 with the purchase of lands at government auction by William Chisholm immediately after the Mississauga Indians surrendered the lands to Upper Canada. The larger area between Etobicoke and Hamilton had been bought from the Mississaugas earlier, in 1805 but they had retained the deltas at the mouth of the Twelve and Sixteen Mile Creeks. The town site was preplanned with roads and building lots and in this way was different from inland towns which had grown around mill/creek crossings or major intersections (Figure 5). Chisholm, not an immigrant like his father (and presumably his mother), was born on the north shore of Burlington Bay just to the west of his town. Building the harbour was Chisholms first priority, settling and building the town was second (Mathews 1953: 11, 24, 37). In addition to its early importance as a shipping port, Oakville soon became a summer resort. By 1833, day-trippers came out by steamer from Toronto, and shortly after with the advent of the train, the town became popular as a destination. By the 1880s, it was an important resort and by the early 1900s, many summer residences along the lakeshore had become permanent (McKeon and McKeon 1986: 56). The coming of the railway cemented Torontos prominence as the centre of commerce in the region diminishing Oakvilles role as an international port, industrial town and commercial hub. The Great Western Railway connected Hamilton to Toronto through Oakville along the lakeshore. A scheme to run a railway from Oakville north to Arthur (a town also co-founded by William Chisholm northwest of Guelph) never materialized. Landscape History 123

The rear of the county was instead connected to directly to Toronto by the Grand Trunk Railway. The beginning of Oakvilles role as a commuter suburb began with the electric railway in 1904 to Oakville (Mathews 1953: 334, 430). This was fifty years after the first train had arrived in Oakville and even at that time the trip to Toronto was only thirty-eight minutes and offered three times each way every day (Mathews 1953: 200; McKeon and McKeon 1986: 54). Commuting by rail, especially to Toronto for work and school, has been part of Oakvilles history (Ahern 1981: 38). The GO Train interregional commuter rail service began in 1967 (McKeon and McKeon 1986: 92) with Oakville the west terminus of the Lake Shore line (the east end at Pickering 68 kilometres or 42 miles away through Torontos downtown), shortly afterwards extended to Hamilton in 1970 (Nader 1975: 359). Todays interregional expressway, the Queen Elizabeth Way, follows the route of the old road from York to the Head of the Lake illustrated on an 1806 map. The Old Road was an Indian Trail at the bottom of the hill of the old Lake Iroquois shoreline. The sixlane high speed Queen Elizabeth Way through Oakville officially opened in 1939 and was (and still is during off-peak times) a half hour drive to Toronto (McKeon and McKeon 1986: 92). The imaginary geography of the Town still is as a place south of the Queen Elizabeth Way expressway and south of the railroad tracks, as the railway station (now south of the QEW) was historically considered out of town to the north. The edge of the Lake Iroquois shoreline was a barrier between the town and the rest of the township as it was difficult to navigate (Ahern 1981: 38). A written history of Oakville in the early 20th century talks about the small town character and says that Oakville remained a small town before industrialization arrived to change the small town entirely and forever (Ahern 1981). The 1950s heralds the arrival of the Ford Motor Company headquarters and assembly plant at the QEW on the south side, and the new postwar suburbs to the north (Nader 1975). Landscape History 124

The rivalry between the front and back of Halton County endures to the present day. The Village of Trafalgar, at the junction of Dundas Street and 7th Line (now Trafalgar Road connecting due south to the town of Oakville) predated the town by many years but was referred to as the back of the township, in the back country (Mathews 1953: 65). The rivalry between the front and the back I heard echoed in my interviews. Mathews writes about the historic difficulty of travelling between the lakefront and the rear of the county because the roads were only truly passable for a short time when the mud was dry in the summer and when it was frozen and snow-covered in the middle of winter, This isolation of the front of the county from the rear served to intensify this sectional jealously and rivalry which had existed so long. 7th Line, now Trafalgar Road, was opened in the 1830s for some 65 kilometres (40 miles) north from town into the remote parts of Halton County and then the route continued north to Owen Sound on Georgian Bay. It was easier to go from Oakville to Milton (a distance by road of only fifteen miles) by train through Toronto (Mathews 1953: 193, 335). According to one of North Oakvilles current residents (Knowlton 2006), Trafalgar Township including the Villages of Trafalgar and Palermo, did not want to be part of Oakville as it grew and demanded that the label Oakville Trafalgar be used. The Village of Trafalgar was centred around the intersection of Trafalgar Road and Dundas Street and Palermo was at Dundas and Sixth Line. Trafalgar has been all but erased from the landscape today, but Palermo is still discernable. The study area labelled North Oakville by the planning process, is locally referred to as Trafalgar and in the mindset of many of its residents, remains a separate rural community (Rampen 2006). Although steps are being made to retain the historical clues that do remain along Dundas Street, the towns history is much of what survives, not that of Trafalgar Township. For instance, Charles Biggar is shown as having title on the 1806 survey of the First concession, lot 19. His descendent, Norman Biggar is still a farmer in North Oakville, yet the story of their family is not celebrated in the manner of the Chisholms.

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Dundas Street today is three lanes wide in each direction and is a major barrier between urban and rural, north and south. It is a heavily-travelled commuter route from communities to the west to employment areas closer to Toronto. It has been the limit of urban development in Oakville for many years. The story of the settlement of Dundas Street and the town of Oakville gives a glimpse of the pre-colonization landscape that once used to exist. The mathematical precision with which the land was surveyed into farms ignored the laws of nature and the topography of the country. In a land of boundless forests it was the simplest approach for the surveyor, but many generations of the rural population were forced to struggle up and down dangerous hills, through swamps and bogs which could have been avoided had earlier trials been made use of (Mathews 1953: 48). Mathews point is of the inconvenience of the British grid, but also of the resoluteness of the colonizers to overcome the natural landscape. In the next section, I focus on one aspect of this, the trees. From woods to farmland I have provided an overview of Oakvilles early development history, pulling together historical narratives pertaining to the lands north of Dundas. Given that the purpose of this research generally is to discuss the discourse of urbanization in the planning process, in this section I have drawn together commentary about changing historical attitudes towards the countryside and nature in this area focusing in this section on the changing cultural value of trees and in the next section on the river valley of the Sixteen Mile Creek. The need to conserve trees and protect the valley in the planning process today is uncontested as a general goal in the planning process (although translating this need in into conservation areas is contested). This is an inversion in the valuation of nature from colonial times to the present. Historical geographer David Wood wrote that the primary instrument of transformation through nearly the first century of making Ontario was not the locomotive, but the axe. What occurred was a profound and thorough transformation of the land so much so that southern Ontario was transformed from one ecologic category to another--from Landscape History 126

woodland to farmland--in less than one hundred years by an army of axe-wielding settlers and woodmen. (2000: xviii, 8). Perhaps one of the more environmentally sympathetic writers of the colonial experience of her time, Catherine Parr Traill writes in her guide for Canadian settlers written in 1855, There is also a sad want of clumps of trees for shade, and shelter also, about the homesteads. With the early settlers [a generation or two earlier] every tree was a weed of gigantic growth. Down with it was the universal motto. While Traill describes the forest surrounding her settlers clearing in terms of its beauty and watches in wonder all of the animals and birds around her, she contrasts her life with that of the earlier settlers: all was lonely, wild and savage around him and only through his labour is she able to see beauty around her. She describes how the forest was burned, not just hewn down, as it was the easiest way of removing the trees. She saw the cleared farmland as the civilized countryside, with the wilderness beaten back: In long-settled portions of the province a traveler may almost imagine that he is in England; there are no stumps to disfigure the fields, and but very few of the old log-houses remaining: these have for the most part given place to neat pointed frame, brick or stone cottages, surrounded with orchards, cornfields and pastures (1855: 16-7, 40, 225-6). Of the trees specifically, descriptions of the pre-colonial forest speak of huge trees, yards of straight lumber for ship-building on one hand, and formidable impediments to the establishment of agriculture on the other. Descriptions of the trees in terms of their role as habitat or in terms of their aesthetic beauty are few and far between. This was wilderness, a boundless forest (Mathews 1953: 17) of lofty pines and sturdy oaks (Clarke 1955: 62). Warr, in his 1847 guide to new emigrants, briefly mentions the beauty of the scenery as one would expect to find in a travel guide today, but does not provide a satisfying description of the landscape as a newcomer might expect to find. His mention of trees is restricted to the comment that it takes two generations for the stumps to rot. Indeed, [g]ood early descriptions of the forests of Southern Ontario are rare, for the early settler regarded the forest more as an obstacle to cultivation than as a positive asset Landscape History 127

worthy of recording (ODPD 1958c: 1). Notwithstanding, the following excerpt from Mathews book provides a singular description (1953: 26) in which she quotes the Gore Gazette published in Ancaster, a town just northwest of Hamilton, on April 6, 1829. Mathews writes (1953: 26): The size of the trees that grew in former times is difficult to imagine in comparison with those growing on the same land today. In the primeval forest stood magnificent oaks, in particular white oaks, and pines rose for two hundred feet, the first hundred clear of branches. A few miles east of The Sixteen stood a pine tree of which we have this contemporary account: Wonderful Tree--In Toronto township near the Centre Road there is a pine tree of immense size--perhaps the largest in this quarter of the country. About a yard from the ground it is, by actual measurement twenty and one half feet in circumference and it appears to be little less for sixty or seventy feet up. Its height, as near as can be judged, is about two hundred feetIt is called Johnnie Martins Pine Tree because he never passed without stopping to admire it. Mathews also describes the fate of a pre-colonial ancient oak tree standing on the lake shore at the mouth of the Sixteen Mile Creek in Oakville until 1949 when it was toppled by unprecedented high water that reconfigured the entire lakefront and harbour (Mathews 1953: 456). 10 The lack of description of the forest writ large juxtaposed with the description of two trees raises some question of the ambivalence experienced by settlers who may have felt conservation on any scale to be impossible in the face of the economic pressures. Trail briefly discussed the impossibility of retaining part of the forest as small sections could not survive without the larger ecosystem and presented a threat to safety (1855). Or settlers may have felt no aesthetic appreciation of the landscape and the forest at all, as Williams argued where (1973: 20) one has to be removed from the harsh physical labour of the landscape to appreciate its beauty. Another set of descriptions of the landscape of the time are found in the surveyors descriptions of the land as related by the Ontario Department of Planning and Development in the 1950s (the survey notes were also referred to in the planning process


I tried and failed to corroborate her description in the newspaper archives.

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as part of the Towns environmental inventory, see the discussion in Chapter 6 of the 1999 LGL study). The lots with the largest trees were noted by surveyors and a record of lots south of Dundas Street document oaks 6 to 8 feet in circumference and 30-40 feet high, pines 6 to 9 feet in circumference and 60 to 70 feet high (ODPD 1958c: 4). The tone of the ODPD conservation document written fifty years ago is critical of the nonchalance by which the early settlers treated the trees. The turnaround in the cultural appreciation of the forest today is evident. One of my enduring questions about the history of the Toronto area is how the magnificent ancient trees could have all been destroyed. I find it bewildering that an entire area could be hacked down with no scenic area set aside. I visited the giant sequoias in California and these trees, now part of Yosemite National Park were set aside in 1864, according to the website. The underlying question is: how have we moved from one total vision of the forest as requiring removal-The attitude of the early settler to the forest was completely hostile (ODPD 1958c: 3)-to one where forest can no longer be removed? In his book Making Ontario, David Wood (2000: 9) writes that The general ethos in rural North America was anti-nature as settlers saw their livelihood tied to their efforts to subdue the wilderness. Progress always won out over the natural environment. Wood discusses the impact of the destruction of the forest on soils, the microclimate, hydrology and impact of the changed ecological circumstance on wildlife as well as that of the settlers (2000: 9-10). The impact of colonization on the landscape was to replace a largely forested landscape with cultivated farmland. The transformation was complete by about the 1860s (Mathews 1953; McIlwraith 1997; Wood 2000). This is the countryside landscape visible today. Sixteen Mile Creek in North Oakville history The presence of the Sixteen Mile Creek, a substantial landscape feature, has shaped the settlement of the Oakville area. Mathews draws the river into her history as it provided a natural harbour for the development of Oakvilles port and further upstream powered sawmills and other water-based industrial development along the river. As with the trees, Landscape History 129

the present-day treatment in planning policy of hydrogeological features causes me to ask questions about the historic approach to the water features on the land. The Sixteen Mile Creek river valley in its contemporary context represents the largest natural feature in the study area and is the backbone of the Natural Heritage System proposed for the new urban area. The history of the river is one of changing attitudes towards the natural environment by settlers over the years. Once seen for its utility as a power source, as a chute to clear lumber, and as a suitable landform to harbour shipping, the river is now seen as where nature is, not for human use. Based on my reading of the planning reports, and the discussions in the planning process, I had this idea that the Sixteen Mile Creek was a pristine area. But through my research, I found that historically, the river valley was inhabited and has undergone drastic changes over the years. The mouth of the river had been used for farming by the aboriginal people before the settlers arrived: the first map of the area shows flats in the delta where the aboriginals continued to farm apparently for some time after the beginning of colonization. Specific to the study area, Mathews describes a town built around a sawmill at Dundas Street and the Sixteen Mile Creek. 11 Known as Sixteen Hollow, it was founded by George Chalmers in 1826 around his mill. But Chalmers 400 acres were bought in 1840 by John Proudfoot and renamed Proudfoots Hollow. The property included a distillery, house, tavern, barns blacksmith shop built around the grist and sawmills. The red clay banks of the valley were 125 feet high and very difficult for travel. The village grew to have a three-storey hotel, a tannery, a carding mill, a stave mills and the shops of many small tradesmen and artisans such as blacksmiths, weavers, shoemakers, and a tailor. Proudfoot sold out in the 1860s after the decline of the forests upon which the town depended, and the mill closed in the 1880s (Mathews 1953: 181-2). Proudfoots Hollow was where the Dundas Street bridge is now. The first [permanent] bridge was built in

Sixteen miles was the distance measured from Burlington (Clarke 1955: 13), the head of the Lake (Lizars [1913] 1974: 50) at the western edge of the settlement survey.

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1885, replaced by a bridge built in 1921 that was barely wide enough for two cars to pass (Clarke 1955: 19-20). According to Mathews history, spring floods erased the signs of human habitation, and the building of the high-level bridge which now spans the valley completed the obliteration. She writes, the mill-race still winds along the flats of The Sixteen, and every spring the apple, pear, and cherry trees which have long run wild fill the valley with their blossoms ((Mathews 1953: 181-2). The river valley has been shaped by humans, and what trees and habitat are inventoried by the biologists today are regrowth belying those previous changes. To decide today to conserve that nature in an environmentally sensitive area and make it a no go area for people seems unnatural. In this chapter, a review of the historical documentation of North Oakvilles landscape suggests that the settlements along Dundas Street were quite remote from the town at the lake. Over the years of colonization, the aboriginal landscape has been cultivated, reshaped and reimagined. At the point at which the colonial settlement was complete with most areas under cultivation and the rest left to regenerate, the historical focus changes from a colonial, early-industrial story to one of a landscape thoroughly embedded within a modern metropolitan area. The beginning of the post-war suburban era In the early part of the 20th century, North Oakville was a rural community loosely centred on the historic crossroad hamlets of Trafalgar and Palermo and the agricultural resource centre for the Town (Rampen 2006). The end of the 1930s is in many ways the end of the golden age of Oakvilles history, written about and treasured. Although Hazel Mathews history of Oakville was published in 1953, she does not provide details of her post-war history except as the evidence of past changes are still evident to her in the landscape. The end of World War II and the post-war boom would see great changes to the landscape and the continuous development of land, farm by farm, led by development north up Trafalgar Road but generally from east to west and south to north. Landscape History 131

History of post-war plan-making

Oakville was sufficiently removed from the big city of Toronto that it served as a local service centre for the immediate countryside. As the halfway point between Hamilton and Toronto, it functioned as an independent town but was also a commuter suburb of Toronto first by rail, and later as a bedroom community or dormitory when the Queen Elizabeth Way was built in the 1930s (ODPD 1958b: 28). The Town promotes itself in the current planning process as an historic independent town, downplaying its suburban context within the larger metropolitan area. The history of top-down governance continued in the post-war years; it was a period of strong provincial intervention in land use planning and the position of the North Oakville landscape within the broad metropolitan vision of the province has maintained the area as countryside. How a local landscape fits into large-scale governance Within the Toronto area generally, the post-war period was one of great expansion. As with other large cities in North America, much of this growth took the form of decentralized suburban development. The settlement of Oakville, although the settlement of Dundas Street predated the harbour, did focus on the lake shore and development proceeded to the north. Over time, the historic town of Bronte, also a harbour village, to the west, was amalgamated with the Town of Oakville. The post-war suburban development represents the majority of the development of the town in bands, first from the lake shore north to the Queen Elizabeth Way, and then from the Queen Elizabeth Way north to Dundas. Within these bands of development, with the exception of Bronte, development began at the eastern edge of the Town, at the Mississauga border, and proceeded to the west. In the same year that Hazel Mathews published her Oakville history, a map of Trafalgar Township provides a snapshot of the development pattern at the time (Figure 6). The map identifies Oakville, Bronte, Palermo, and Trafalgar as distinct villages with a lot of rural land in between. Most of the lands south of the Queen Elizabeth Highway are zoned for urban uses and lands east of Sixteen Mile Creek and south of Dundas Street Landscape History 132

are zoned for suburban residential use but not built. The lands of the Ford plant are shown, having recently arrived in 1951. All other lands, including North Oakville are rural residential overlain by agricultural zoning (Filipowski 1979). The large extent of the residential zoning, at the time a piecemeal property by property process, reflects the development pressure at the time to bring land for new development on the market. Twenty years later, reflecting a changing planning context, a major report was prepared by consultants to the Town to study future development alternatives (Paterson 1973). The Town had been amalgamated from the old villages into its present size in 1962 and had recently been restructured as a lower-tier municipality within the new regional municipality of Halton. This report was prepared within the context of planning and development in the Toronto area generally characterized by provincially-led planning studies for the entire region. Design for Development: Toronto-Centred Region (Ontario 1970) was one of a series of studies undertaken by the province to plan for growth and related infrastructure needs in the Toronto area. Let me take a moment to discuss this new regional framework within which the 1973 study was carried out. The historic influence of British settlement administration continued in the postwar years through legislation and practice. These first large planning studies were apparently undertaken by Llewellyn Davies, a consulting firm based in London. Urban geographer Gilbert Stelter said the promotion of British-style planning was influenced by the involvement of Thomas Adams in the early 20th century. Adams, a prominent British planner who had been associated with the Garden City movement (Hodge 2003: 76) was instrumental in the adoption of planning legislation by the provinces which Stelter believes took away the autonomy of cities, so much so that few cities had professional planners on staff by the end of the Second World War. After 1945, Stelter said cities grew quickly and enormous new suburbs surrounded every major city. It seems that, in desperation [!], cities imported planners from Britain who eventually headed the planning departments of most cities (Stave 1980: 200-1). British-style planning is top-down and in

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this era in Ontario, the plan for the Toronto region was to be overseen by the province through the creation of regional municipalities. Five upper tier municipalities were created; together Halton, York, Peel, Durham and Metro Toronto covered the large geographic area around the City of Toronto. In a planning era characterized by the emergence of the conceptual idea of metropolitan areas and the urban field, big plans were made for the area centred on the Toronto central business district and connected to the city through economic activity (housing, transportation, manufacturing and goods movement). The purpose of the five regions of the Greater Toronto Area was to promote efficient planning and service delivery. The Regional Municipality of Halton is the westernmost region of the GTA. 12 As with its sister regions, Halton has delegated planning authority from the province and, in addition to long-range land use planning and development review, is responsible for police, water and sewer services, garbage collection, social service delivery, arterial roads and transit coordination. Oakville is a local municipality, one of five within Halton (the others are the City of Burlington, Town of Milton, Town of Halton Hills which includes Georgetown). The Region of Haltons first official plan took several years to prepare and was approved by Regional Council and the province in 1980. Although the province had been quite heavily involved in land use policy-making through approval of local comprehensive plans, it devolved its day-to-day involvement to the regional municipalities. The province does, however, require all plans and development proposals to be consistent with a set of policies for physical land use planning as set out in the Provincial Policy Statement (MAH 2005). The Ontario Municipal Board, a quasi-judicial board of provincially-appointed officials, rules on matters where there is disagreement with local decision-making and, in practice, has a great deal of influence on the planning process. Typically, however, land use decisions are made at the local level, within the two-tier municipal system. Decisions made by the lower-level, the Town of Oakville, must conform to the plans of the regional

Today, the newly-restructured City of Hamilton, replacing the Regional Municipality of Hamilton-Wentworth is arguably the westernmost region of the area now referred to as the Greater Golden Horseshoe.

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government. In other words the Region of Halton has an official plan for land use within its larger jurisdiction which includes four other local municipalities as well, and the Towns official plan sets out land use in keeping with the regional plan but with greater detail. One of the roles of a regional municipality is growth management. Unlike the United States, where the term growth management often has undertones of no growth or growth control (Stokes, Watson and Mastran 1997), in my experience in the Toronto area, growth management studies are undertaken to plan to accommodate growth with the aim of long-term coordination between land use controls and capital investment; they plan for infrastructure and other services in advance of development, and in the Ontario context, this includes all types of development, not just residential and not just single family housing. This is growth management at a truly regional scale, in contrast to the American model of local municipalities making very local decisions sometimes criticized as exclusionary (Levy 2000: 215-6). The context of Oakville within the larger Toronto region is important because Oakville is said to have to do its part in accommodating population and employment growth which is seen as necessary for the economic health of the region. The top-down planning regime in Ontario is premised on ensuring the sustained economic growth of this cityregion. Accordingly, as the province seeks to participate in the global economy, attracting capital to settle and invest here, Oakvilles landscape is required to change to accommodate the material manifestation of this capital and its labour market. Oakville has been very successful in attracting business, beginning with the Ford Motor Company; its Canadian headquarters and factory were built in 1951 on a 410-acre site and has had a major positive impact on Oakvilles economic health (McKeon and McKeon 1986: 94). Ford is a success story with ongoing investment in that company's Oakville head office (recently rebuilt) and auto plant with $10 million paid in annual property taxes (Blackburn 2006c). The other major employer is Sheridan College, a North American leader in digital animation (OEDA 2003b). While participating successfully on the employment side, Landscape History 135

Oakville has been less eager to do its part in making room for new residential development, as we shall see in the research description in the following chapters. Within this regional context, the story of Oakvilles suburban era of plan-making begins, and we are now back to the discussion of the 1973 plan. In the 1970 Design for Development plan the town on the lake is identified as a sub-centre within the broad region we now think of as the GTA (Figure 7). As part of the larger scheme to have lake-based communities separated by a parkway belt from second-tier communities to the north, North Oakville is shown as a future growth area (note that the current study area is generally south of the parkway belt in the Oakville sub-centre). Following from this identification of the town and its countryside in the Design for Development plan and its new status as part of a regional municipality, the Town undertook the 1973 study which concluded with a proposed land use plan and text for a new official plan for Oakville. The wording of the vision for the plan (a statement of direction prefaces all Ontario official plans) reads: The basis of the Plan is that Oakville must develop a full range of services and facilities as a regional sub-centre in the Toronto region. The community rejects urban growth as a goal in itself. Recognizing that urbanization in the Toronto-Hamilton corridor is inevitable, development should be directed into highly structured urban forms with a superior level of self-sufficiency and vitality (33; emphasis mine). In spite of this rejection of growth, the study concluded that all the lands within Oakville south of the Parkway Belt West Plan boundaries (a legacy of Design for Development) should be developed--although the lands in North Oakville would not see development until the turn of the century. The plan indicates that the Town would expand into the lands north of Dundas. Following Phase 1 of the Towns development focused on the historic town centre, the area north of Dundas and east of Sixteen Mile Creek would be Phase 2, with West Oak Trails (south of Dundas and west of Trafalgar Road) as Phase 3 (see inset in Figure 8). This rather logical assumption that the eastern portion of the Town closer to Toronto would develop first is actually different from the way that the Town has been planned; instead Phase 2 ended up including instead all the lands south of Landscape History 136

Dundas, and only now, in Phase 3, are the lands north of Dundas being planned for development. The major point of this planning history is to illustrate that even in 1973, the future build-out of the Town including the urbanization of North Oakville was anticipated (with similar foresight, the 1958 study of the Sixteen Mile Creek watershed predicted that most of the watershed would be removed from agricultural use for urban and industrial expansion, OPDP 1958b: 6), at the same time as the Towns resistance to this growth was declared. The Towns image of itself as a small town retreat from the city grew in response to the increasing organization of the area by the province to plan for future growth. The collision of these abstractions has continued to the present day. The Towns anti-growth sentiment is a major force and surfaced in my research as people struggled to articulate why they were against expansion. The consultants in 1973 wrote: The Town is seeking a desirable environment which may or may not involve continued urbanization (Paterson 1973: ii). I read this as consultant-type language through which the experts are indicating they believe Oakville must grow, while appeasing the client: town staff (on behalf of Council). The recommendations of the report must not have been adopted by Council, as an Ontario Municipal Board decision in 1978 determined the future development pattern for the Town (Berridge Lewinberg Greenberg 1987: 3) as a basis for the Towns first official plan. Confirmed by the new Regional Plan in 1980, development has proceeded ever since (Oakville 2002a: 7). The legacy of this forced urbanization has not gone away, for instance Oakvilles current official plan states: Urbanization of the area north of Dundas Street is anticipated in accordance with the policies of the Region of Halton Official Plan (Oakville 2002a: 7). The language here directs responsibility away from the Town onto the Region as the agent of growth, and this slippage has characterized the problems encountered during the political process to amend the official plan locally as will be discussed in the OPA 198 process described in the next chapter.

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Oakville today is part of the overall phenomenon of suburbanization of the Toronto area, and is interconnected with other communities within the GTA in terms of planning and service provision and daily life. Lands south of Dundas Street in Oakville are still building out with the final Phase 2 neighbourhoods currently under construction. Within the larger context of greenfields development in the GTA, Oakville is one of several municipalities immediately west of Toronto from which potential new home buyers can consider, along with Mississauga, Brampton and Burlington, plus areas further to the west and northwest outside of the GTA proper. North Oakville is considered to be one of the next frontiers of new housing, as Mississauga, the municipality of 600,000 people east of Oakville and closer to Toronto is expected to be built out within the next five years. Brampton, a city of 400,000 people just to the north of Mississauga is building at a rate of 5,000 to 6,000 homes per year and is having difficulty keeping up with its servicing (Hanes 2005). The Town of Milton is north of Oakville within the Region of Halton, and its new urban expansion area (also the result of the Regions Halton Urban Structure Plan to be discussed in the next section) is underway; Milton has a current estimated population of just under 60,000, almost double that of five years ago (Hemson 2003). Within the regional context of rapid growth, the Town of Oakville is seen as being one of many communities with countryside planned for urbanization.

Current landscape description

Earlier in this chapter I discussed the local social imagination where the town is at the front and the country the back. John Bentley Mays recently wrote in a journal created while he was on sojourn in Oakville that still today: The richest people in Oakville--commuters to Toronto, for the most part, who give the town its special air of anxious nouveau-riche conservatism--live east of the Creek, as close as possible to the shoreline of Lake OntarioThe very rich live closest to the shoreline, the less rich a little inland, and so on, up to the Queen Elizabeth Way, which is, to old Oakvillians, what the lagoon is to old Venetians I know: the boundary between civilization and absolute nothingness (Mays 2006). Landscape History 138

Indeed, the mainstreet of the Town, a heritage conservation district, runs east-west parallel to the lake shore and glimpses of the water to the south can be seen at each intersection. The mainstreet is Lake Shore Drive, the historic road connecting Toronto to Hamilton. Lake Shore Drive is famous for the estate homes on the south side, and wellto-do neighbourhoods of largely 50 to 60 foot frontage homes on the north. Trafalgar Road intersects with Lake Shore Drive and is the central route north, first following the curves of the Sixteen Mile Creek and lined with older homes, and then opening up as it dips under the railway tracks and cloverleafs with the Queen Elizabeth Way. Continuing over the expressway, Trafalgar Road, six lanes wide at this point, heads straight north, past the Town Hall, past the regional enclosed mall, past high rise apartments, past Sheridan College and through successive eras of suburban residential development. Closer to the QEW homes are traditional single family suburban in brown brick with prominent two car garages, further north the beginnings of the effects of new urbanism are felt as the garages are pushed back into the homes and then finally out the back door into laneways. The first new urbanist development was Morrison Common built in the late 1980s and followed by the rest of the River Oaks neighbourhood and the Uptown Core. These homes mimic the Toronto area vernacular with front doors and porches on the sidewalk, and they are more closely mixed with other residential housing types such as apartment walk-ups and townhomes. Trafalgar Road intersects with Dundas Street at the Uptown Core with retail power centres on either side (the LCBO store of my Chapter 2 introduction is on the southwest corner), the large-scale big box format in a sea of parking at odds with the fine grain design of the surrounding residential area. Trafalgar Road continues north into the countryside with the overpass of Highway 407 the terminus to the view a couple of kilometres distant (Figures 9, 10, 11, 12). Rounding out the picture of the town, one of the most desirable residential communities in the Golden Horseshoe (Oakville 2002a: 5), Statistics Canada gives a sense of the population. With a 2001 population of 145,000, it is growing at a faster rate than the Toronto metropolitan area (the current population of North Oakville is less than 1000 people). Almost forty-five per cent of Oakvilles residents have moved into the town Landscape History 139

within the past five years and thirty per cent are identified as immigrants to Canada; seventy-seven per cent are English-speaking only and thirteen per cent identify themselves as visible minorities. This compares to forty-four per cent immigrants and thirty-seven per cent visible minorities for the Toronto Census Metropolitan Area (CMA). It seems that of its ethnicity, a local writer was bang on when he wrote that Oakville was One of the last enduring haunts of the Anglo [in the Toronto area] (Scott 94). The average annual personal income for full time workers is reported by Statistics Canada to be $70,000 per year compared to the Toronto CMA at just over $50,000, but the Oakville Economic Development Alliance quotes instead the average annual family income as $97,440 in 2001 (OEDA 2003b); the average price of a dwelling was $306,000 and almost one quarter of the housing stock was built after 1991 (Statistics Canada). Oakville has relatively higher education levels at all ages and 65 percent of residents have a post secondary education (OEDA 2003b). Oakville is privileged in terms of its lakefront location, gentle history, and wealth and prosperity. Much will be said in the following chapters about the determination of the residents to hold on to this privilege even as the region around it continues to grow and change.

The reading of history and reflection on the historical narratives of the towns development gives us a view of the present that does not seem quite so fixed. This landscape was seen in the beginning of British colonial settlement as having value for its productive potential in furnishing timber and growing grain. A system of property and governance to facilitate the exploitation of these resources was overlain and was soon reflected in the built landscape. The creation of the countryside has been celebrated by local histories and valued for its pastoral image. But the current planning process will result in a radical change to the landscape again with one-third given over to the reestablishment of nature and the other to the city. Landscape History 140

It is important to see changes in landscape representation over time and to see how current views are embedded simultaneously in several discursive frameworks. This landscape is multi-dimensional, as Don Mitchell suggested (2000): it has been constructed within the perspective of planning for urban and economic growth within the larger metropolitan area at the same time as it has come to deeply embedded within the identity of the town. The role of the lands north of Dundas as serving the town in productive ways based on its agricultural resource use has given way to its amenity value supporting the self-image of the town as a place connected to nature, and a place where environmentalism is practiced in reaction to sprawl. The current landscape is a product of the material land and ideas about preferred landscape embedded within larger society. We live in a world of our own making and I find it deeply troubling through this case study that pristine nature can be created where it is not. This required a rejection of the history of the North Oakville area which had supported the town in its current success, but the residents were less interested in laying out the new urban area as they were in carving out an area congenial to restoring nature. In Oakville nature is evoked as an ideological and metaphorical schema for the interpretation of reality (Gandy 2006: 64) in this case discursively constructed as a small-town retreat from a modern metropolis embedded in a natural setting. The discourse and idealized readings of the physical environment of North Oakville are real, the actual physical environment (settled, agricultural) notwithstanding. It is into this history that the current urbanization process fits, inscribing landscape values to be read in policy, in contemporary stories, and in the landscape itself.

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Chapter 6

PLAN-MAKING The current era of the urbanization of Oakville has produced a discourse within which landscape representation has been negotiated. This chapter draws out the representations of landscape circulating in the planning discourse and looks at how they were politically contested. There are two separate planning processes to report on: the first is the designation as urban of these lands by the Town to bring its official plan into conformity with the Regions plan; and the second is the ongoing process to develop detailed secondary land use plans to guide future development. My research makes a significant contribution by making the invisible process of landscape-making visible in this case. Few laypeople understand how their neighbourhood or suburb was planned, and even those people involved in the process are often unaware of the process in its entirety and are familiar with just that part of the process with which they are intimately involved. Documenting the process in a narrative form chronicles the breadth of the process. Reporting on a planning process by an outside observer, to my knowledge, is seldom undertaken, and this type of reporting is important because most of us have little idea about the planning and development process. Most people are shocked to realize the time and resources that have gone into shaping the built landscape. In this chapter, I first describe the OPA 198 planning process from 1999 to 2003 which resulted in the designation as urban of these lands by the Town. Following, I discuss the current secondary planning process which has been underway since 2003. My interpretation of the events focuses on those moments where major choices were made about the future of the North Oakville landscape. As a review of material studies it seeks out those moments where landscape representations were created and mobilized. It sets the stage for the analysis in the following chapter of how representations were used politically. Producing a narrative of these two planning processes requires the reconstruction of past and current events based on document analysis and interviews with those involved. 143 Planned Change

Although it is largely a narrative of past events--a recent landscape history--the secondary planning process is ongoing and changes direction as I write. For instance, most recently in November 2006, municipal elections have resulted in the election of a new mayor for Oakville, unseating the long-term mayor. As well, negotiations overseen by the Ontario Municipal Board are still being held, refining land use policy as they resolve. This is twenty years of planning presented in a few pages. It is aimed at those readers unfamiliar with the process and with this case; it is a characterization of the process based on my piecing together of events. Drawing on my conceptual framework I have sought to describe the process in terms of the creation and negotiation of the various representations of the North Oakville landscape and the following chapter will focus on how the actors in the process used these representations in the discourse.

The decision to urbanize North Oakville

In this section, the first of the two planning processes in Oakville is portrayed. Beginning in 1999, the four-year process culminated with the amendment of the Town of Oakvilles official plan in September 2003 to redesignate from agriculture to urban the area referred to as North Oakville. This four year process is the focus of this section. The months leading up to this decision by Town Council were a period of intense debate and high emotion as a group of residents formed a charge against proposed urbanization here. But this four-year moment in the Towns planning history represents a step in an already lengthy process that had begun much earlier in the late 1980s with the review of the Regional official plan. Moments such as this--periods of short, intense, local decisionmaking represented by the official plan amendment process--are worth seeing in the broader expanse of time and place. The view of the landscape in these early days of the process was at a large-scale, removed from the local landscape. Planning for this area to expand to accommodate future population growth was a continuation of the historical appropriation of the landscape by the centre.


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Before I begin with the narrative, the actors in the process are introduced. These individuals within the process have been transformed through the process as they have participated in the transformation of this landscape. Who is planning Oakville? The extent to which some of the people in the process have been involved over the long term is noteworthy. Those who have a long association with the planning of this area include the Mayor and Regional Chair, both of whom were in power for the duration of the 1999-2003 process and the current secondary planning process up until the municipal elections in November 2006. The regional planner, responsible for special projects when I met with him but now retired, could be said to have had Haltons planning as his life work. Hemson, the company for whom I worked as a planning consultant, has had a long relationship with both Halton and Oakville and the individuals in that firm have worked on North Oakville for many years. The views of the long-timers are in contrast to those who have only recently become aware of the proposed urbanization in North Oakville. There is some discussion in cultural landscape studies of clashes between old-timers and newcomers (Lage 2005; Walker and Fortmann 2003), and David Wood asks whether there is an historic difference in attitude toward nature between people that live in town and those who live in the country (2000: 11). I have also noticed a tension between old timers and newcomers within the planning world (which includes the politicians, municipal staff and consultants), as well as a clash between new and old among residents, and between those who live in the urban area and those in the country, the site of the study. The residents who formed the residents group against urbanization and who became so politically active have relatively short term residencies and less lived experience with the planning process. The landowners created their own shadow planning process and prepared a land use plan for the lands east of Sixteen Mile Creek in opposition to the plan being prepared by the Town and Region. Many of these development interests have had a long term investment in property in North Oakville (Hanes 2005; Paterson 1973). 145 Planned Change

For my interviews, I focused on the people involved in the planning process at the local level (see the list of interviews in Appendix B). From the Town of Oakville I met with the Mayor as the leader of council and two councillors, both of whom had been involved in the inception of Oakvillegreen (the vociferous residents group) and who went on to become elected to council. I spoke to the then-current president of Oakvillegreen, as well as the presidents of two other local community groups, Residents Association North of Dundas and Clearview Oakville Community Association (representing ratepayers just south of Dundas), as well as two residents north of Dundas. I met with the Director of Planning Services and senior planner for the town who guided both processes (two of ten planners at the Town), 13 the former chief planner, and with both the consulting planner for the Strategic Land Use Options process on which OPA 198 is based and the consultant for the current secondary plan process. As well I spoke to the transportation consultant. I also interviewed the planning consultant for the largest developers group NOMI, and the representative of a major homebuilder, and finally the Regional Chair and the regional senior planning manager who has been involved in the process since the 1980s, as well as a senior staff member from the Conservation Authority. The debate over the future of the North Oakville landscape occupied these people and other actors in the process and many committed themselves to promoting a reading of this landscape that would result in policies to achieve their own end, whether it be nature conservation, development, or something in between. The outcome of this planning process affects not only these actors, but other Mayors, conservation authority staff, planners, and residents who are aware of this process and who are dealing with similar issues in their local area. The results of this discourse will have implications for other places. In addition to these central actors in the process, Andres Duany, the architect from Florida who managed the North Oakville Secondary Plan Charrette, is both at the centre and on the periphery of the process. His method is to fly into a community shortly before the start of a charrette and spend a day or two being intensively briefed by the planners involved in the process while being toured around the area. Then his firm

According to the journal Nov Res Urbis 2006.


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prepares a plan, hands it over to the local planners, and he is gone. In a document prepared for the North Oakville charrette, entitled Frequently asked questions the answer to Why was an American firm retained to deliver the charrette? was answered by commenting that there were only a few local area planning firms to choose from within the GTA: Due to the small size of Ontarios planning community, it was difficult to source an experienced firm that had NOT worked within the study area and did NOT have a vested interest in the lands north of Dundas (Oakville 2003b). This is a powerful statement about the scale of the North Oakville planning process within the GTA; the Town was indicating its view that all of the local firms that could be helping out already were (or were instead working for the development community). Watershed planning is overarching Turning now to the planning process, the narrative begins at the watershed level, directed by the conservation authority Halton Conservation. Halton Conservation predates the Region of Halton, and as I will reveal has been influential in the preparation of the current plans. As I have come to understand it, planning for North Oakville in some ways begins and ends with the watershed, in that the background information describing the current state of the watershed is used to prepare the watershed plan, and the secondary land use plans are designed and tested against the watershed plan which is in the end revised to reflect the planned future of the area. In other words, the policy structure guiding the process from the get-go is deliberately structured to put environmental issues first. The Halton Region Conservation Authority, now referred to as Conservation Halton, was established in 1963. The province initiated the creation of conservation authorities in the 1950s to address issues of flooding in communities along major rivers. Hurricane Hazel in October 14, 1954 (ODPD 1958a; Figure 13) devastated communities in floodprone areas and secured the mandate of the Authorities. In the study area, Conservation Halton originally included the Sixteen Mile Creek and Twelve Mile Creek watersheds (Guthrie 1998: 13) and today the conservation authority area includes 1,046 square 147 Planned Change

kilometres (400 square miles) and includes the Grindstone, Bronte and Sixteen Mile Creek watersheds. In several areas within the watershed, the conservation authority has taken over lands within the floodplain and these are managed for recreation as well as flood control; there are no such conservation lands historically in North Oakville. A watershed is the drainage basin or land area feeding overland water in a given river. From a planning perspective, issues are streamflow and water quality (both affecting wildlife habitat), and flood management (Marsh 1998: 108-9). The watershed is one geographic scale at which the North Oakville landscape has been considered in the planning process (see Figure 13). The policies which guide urbanization of the area are greatly influenced by the desire through engineering, to replicate existing predevelopment water flow over the area over the long term. A major reason is to prevent downstream flooding, especially in this case as these are the areas of Oakville which are already urbanized, but also because the water flows into Lake Ontario. Communities within the Lake Ontario basin draw their drinking water from the lake and ensuring that pollutants and sediments are limited in run-off is important. Also the rivers are areas of high habitat potential for both water based and terrestrial plants and animals because they have been less disturbed in recent years than the surrounding arable tableland. As discussed in the previous chapter, North Oakville is socially constructed as a planning area within political boundaries, but is imagined within the scale of the watershed as well. The Towns official plan states that subwatershed plans are the primary mechanism for identifying areas and systems of environmental or natural features prior to urban development (Oakville 2002a: 105). The major purpose of subwatershed planning is to identify the area from which a river (in this case the North Oakville area includes part of the Fourteen and Sixteen Mile Creeks, and Joshuas Creek watersheds) derives its water and then to manage the flow of rainfall or stormwater that falls on any given developed area and flows into streams on its way to the lake or through to groundwater. The intent is to minimize the adverse effects of urbanization on the downstream aquatic environment and adjacent areas (Oakville 2002a: 54). The developers consultants 148 Planned Change

prepare an Environmental Impact Statement to comment on the conformity of their proposed plan with the recommendations of the subwatershed plan for the area. The major watershed in the study area is that of the Sixteen Mile Creek. The policy direction for subwatershed planning is provided by the Provincial Policy Statement (MAH 2005) but in this particular case, a Planning Authorities Inter-Agency Review (known as the IAR) was created as a committee of staff members from the Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (to co-ordinate all input from the province, including the technical assistance of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources), the Region of Halton, and the Town of Oakville. Conservation Halton also participates, as well as consultants retained by the Town and the Region. The purpose is to pool resources and the effect is the creation of a united front against the development community with respect to the governments reading of the landscape as environmental system. Knowing that this technical information will be subject to opposition by the development community as it constrains their development rights and scrutinized in an Ontario Municipal Board hearing, this sense of us (the government acting in the public interest) versus them (the developers) permeated the committee. If all the environmental experts on the side of the government are organized to one approach, then they are better able to counterbalance the claims of the developers consultants. The purpose of the IAR for North Oakville is characterized in the following way: to develop options for a common policy framework with respect to the potential elements of the natural heritage/open space system which would be suitable for the urban context of North Oakville, and reflect provincial smart growth principles for input to the Subwatershed Study, which in turn will all be input to the Secondary Plan (IAR 2003a: 2). Their report indicates that there was consensus among the agencies that a single approach to the natural heritage system could be recommended, and this single approach was to be a core area and linkages or system approach. The core areas are those areas of significant habitat in which development would be prohibited with certain


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exceptions and linkages are areas that do just that, physically link together the core areas with non-developed, conserved land throughout the area. The role of watershed planning in this case study has been profound. The environmental science drawn into the process defends an unprecedented natural heritage system in size and scope within a municipal urban expansion area in the GTA and is considered to be leading edge, perhaps the most fully developed example of this concept (Howson 2006). Teamed with the efforts of the residents group to ensure that the dominant reading of the North Oakville landscape was nature, the environment first approach was enabled. The representation of the landscape by watershed planning, as part of an existing natural hydrogeological system supporting ecosystems within it is important. In the context of the intergovernmental approach to watershed management, land use planning proceeded first through the regional level and then the town. The Halton Urban Structure Plan set the stage for urbanization According to Hemson, planning consultants for the official plan amendment process, planning for North Oakville has been carried out in a series of steps beginning in 1986 with the Halton Urban Structure Review (see Figure 14), a major growth management exercise for the Region of Halton. As the Town planner wrote, the Halton urban structure plan was required to respond to a range of complex and challenging growth and planning pressures including Provincial population forecasts (Oakville 2004c: 5); the forecasts he refers to are the release of new population and employment forecasts prepared by the Office for the Greater Toronto Area in 1991 which came late in the process. After two phases of planning work, the Halton urban structure planning process resulted in 1994 in the Halton Urban Structure Plan. HUSP identified the location of new urban areas within the Region of Halton. The primary focus for growth was to be the Town of Milton, a few kilometres to the north of Oakville, and planning and development proceeded in this area soon after. North Oakville was identified as the


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second priority area (Hemson 2000: 3). The Regional official plan was amended (ROPA 8) to change the designations in these areas from rural to urban. 14 From a regional perspective, HUSP was a very long-term approach to urban growth in the region and focused on the creation of new settlement areas by expanding the existing communities of Milton and Oakville, and to a lesser extent Georgetown and Burlington. The Region of Halton identified an east-west swath of countryside (mostly in agriculture) which they designated as greenlands to be a permanent feature in the Region which would separate the urban areas of North Oakville and Milton. This area has since been incorporated into the Golden Horseshoe Greenbelt. Halton also includes part of the Niagara Escarpment and has had to deal with the provinces Niagara Escarpment Plan as a major policy area. The provinces Parkway Belt West Plan area, a legacy of the 1970s major planning initiatives, has been incorporated into the regional plan and includes Highways 403 and 407 but also areas of greenspace which the Region protected in their plan even when the province lost interest in supporting the Parkway Belt plan some time ago. ROPA 8 and regional planning Regional Official Plan Amendment No. 8 (ROPA 8) was adopted by Regional Council on June 2, 1999, and implemented the HUSP by designating the Milton-centred area and North Oakville as Urban Area replacing the predominantly Agricultural Rural Area designation. The amendment identified new urban boundaries for their official plan (which had been completely revised only five years earlier). Within this new urban area, the Sixteen Mile Creek Valley had already been designated in Haltons plan as an Environmentally Sensitive Area with Greenlands A and B designations for valleyassociated lands. In other words, the core areas of the future natural heritage system today proposed for North Oakville are based on much earlier work.


This was the era in which I first became involved as a planning consultant and began to follow the issues of planning North Oakville. On the personal side, my husbands family lives in Oakville (then south of the QEW) and I was a frequent visitor to the Town for both personal and work-related reasons. As a planning consultant with Hemson, I was involved with the public consultation aspect of the planning study, including mail-outs, focus groups and public meetings.


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ROPA 8s other major contribution is setting the population and employment targets for the new urban area in Oakville. The Regions target of 55,000 people and 35,000 jobs (estimated to be 900 hectares of employment land) is referred to frequently throughout the North Oakville process. These are planning targets, determined through estimates of the available area of developable land and current and projected demographic and economic trends. Enshrined in policy in the early 1990s, and based on estimates from the late 1980s, it is no surprise that they were contested throughout the process in the early 2000s. One of the major issues of contention in the North Oakville process was the constant vigilance on the part of the Region to ensure that these targets were being met, even as the natural heritage system became larger and larger and the land available for development became smaller and smaller (Hemson 2004). As one form of landscape representation -- as a growth management area -- this was highly contested with the residents charging that the number was too high and inflexible (Burton 2006), and the developers group suggesting the number was possibly too low and fixed in the context of the huge growth to be accommodated in the Toronto area generally (Lowes 2006). At the end of the HUSP process there was a recession and the real estate market was very depressed. There was not a lot of pressure to bring these lands to market but in the late 1990s the market once again began to heat up (Mathew 2006). During the North Oakville secondary planning process, the market has remained robust with keen interest on the part of developers in getting their lands to market (Lowes 2006; Stewart 2006). As of 2006, the Region had a new Official Plan, dubbed the Durable Halton Plan. The durable elements are defined as both permanent and secondary landforms. Permanent landforms include: the Niagara Escarpment, streams and valley systems, wetlands and other sensitive natural areas, Lake Ontario and Burlington Bay shorelines, and source water (i.e. all those landscape elements already protected elsewhere under existing legislation). The secondary landforms are those whose permanence is neither already identified nor ensured including: farms, countryside, forested areas and other open space (Halton 2006). The Durable Halton Plan is intended to respond to the newly152 Planned Change

created Greenbelt (about 50 per cent of Haltons lands) and the Places to Grow provincial growth management plan (PIR 2006). Halton has matured in its role overseeing long-range planning for the region over the past two decades and the future of North Oakville was decided in this history. The centralized top-down approach to deciding matters of urban planning that started when Simcoe landed on the shore of Lake Ontario in the late 1700s continues to this day. As much as Oakville has tried to create an identity as a retreat from the city, its geography within the larger metropolitan area dictates its fate. There is a continued colonization of the countryside from the centre to the periphery. Amending the Towns Official Plan OPA 198: A controversial process In May 2002, the Town of Oakville adopted the amendment to its official plan which would bring the lands in North Oakville into the urban envelope (IAR 2003a: 16). The primary purpose of this amendment was to bring the Towns official plan into conformity with that of the Region of Halton. In Ontario, an amendment to approve urban expansion is a decision of local Council based on a comprehensive review of its official plan indicating the number of acres needed to accommodate a forecast future population for the next twenty years. Provincial policies require that municipalities provide a 10-year supply of land designated and available for new housing (and a threeyear supply zoned and serviced in draft approved subdivision plan) (MAH 2005: 8-9). The Town of Oakvilles existing official plan was amended to include North Oakville as an urbanized area. OPA 198 is just that: the 198th amendment to the plan since its first adoption in 1983. Oakvilles official plan identifies itself as the principal policy statement regarding the future development of the Town (2002: 1), a text and maps, intended to be read together. While I have spent my entire career as a planner in the Toronto area reading and interpreting official plans, I still find them to be bizarre documents. In spite of their impressive planning history based on the ideal of each community having a comprehensive plan (setting out its existing land uses and future goals and objectives for 153 Planned Change

its land area) they are policy documents of the worst sort, written in a strange quasi-legal language requiring expert interpretation (i.e. you are only willing to read them if you are being paid to do so!). Oakvilles official plan seems to me to be quite typical of most Ontario communities and provides the overall policy context for North Oakville urban designation. The duration of the plan (the planning horizon) is 20 years until 2011; every five years the plan is reviewed, looking ahead 20 years from that point. All by-laws, including and especially zoning, as well as public works projects, must be in conformity with the plan. The plan into which the amendment fits is a useful document to consider in the context of the description of the research in this chapter because it sets the tone for the communitys approach to long-term planning. In the following chapter on the negotiation of landscape representation in the planning process, I will discuss the policies of the official plan specifically as they guide planners in what to look for in the landscape in prepared plans and policy. The process to amend the Towns official plan began in 1999 and ended with Council adoption of the amendment in 2002 and, although Councils decision was appealed on one side by residents against any urbanization and on the other by developers against such a large natural conservation area, it was confirmed by the Ontario Municipal Board in September 2003. This designation as future urban is followed by the detailed secondary planning process (discussed in the next section) to decide upon the distribution of land uses across the area and the services required in support of that development and population. OPA 198, the official plan amendment, represents the decision by the Town to urbanize North Oakville and provides policies as to how planning for the area will proceed and how the major issues are to be dealt with. The area had been designated Agriculture and Parkway Belt in the Towns plan with the major woodland and valleyland features (i.e. the Sixteen Mile Creek valley) already designated as Natural Areas (LGL 1999: 4).


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Rarely in my experience have I heard of such a contentious process. This OPA 198 process is the first of the two processes on which I have focused my research. From the planners perspective, the purpose of the process was to create a generalized land use plan and development phasing plan for North Oakville (a very large area in planning terms, refer to footnote 2) so that the amendment to the Towns official plan would give some direction as to the layout of future uses in the area. However, the process was derailed by several residents from the outset who stood up and opposed the urbanization of this last area of countryside in the town. I should make it clear that the decision to urbanize had already been made. In my opinion, the Town Council could not at this point decide not to urbanize: that ship had already sailed (Howson 2006). During the regional planning process in the late 1980s and the early 1990s, the Town could possibly then have negotiated not to accommodate growth, but it did not, instead as far as I can gather it participated in the urban expansion policy decision. Several background studies supported the Towns amendment In anticipation of ROPA 8 in 1999 representing the upper-tier municipalitys decision to urbanize this area, a study of the environmental features was commissioned by the Town as input to the preparation of a conceptual land use plan (this is at the level of strategic options) for the North Oakville official plan amendment. It is worth noting that this was the Towns first step in reaction to the formal Regional decision. The natural environment had already been studied on a regional scale as background to the preparation of the HUSP (Hemson 1994), but this Town-led study would be more detailed and comprehensive as it was focused on the North Oakville landscape. The most controversial report by far through the entire process of urban expansion in North Oakville was this environmental study commissioned by the Town in 1998 and completed in May 1999 (and revised dated November 2000) which is now simply referred to as the LGL report. According to its website, LGL is an environmental consultancy with offices throughout North America. They teamed up with a local planning consultant and engineering firm to undertake the study. The controversy that 155 Planned Change

ensued concerned the depiction of the landscape by environmental science in this report and the implications of this representation. Although it was prepared as background to OPA 198, the environmental inventory was also used in the secondary planning stage, the discussion of which follows in the next major section. The purpose of the LGL study was to undertake a detailed environmental inventory of hydrogeology, wildlife and habitat, as input to the preparation of alternative land use plans in the OPA 198 process. In terms of the planning process, the environmental inventory fed into the Inter-Agency Review, and the IAR in turn was input to the subwatershed plan. From my research it was apparent that the report sparked a public relations nightmare based on the categorization of environmental sensitivity: the residents group Oakvillegreen thought that all identified features should be protected from development, the developers thought that only the most sensitive should be protected (these were already identified in the Region and Town official plans), and the IAR team created a natural heritage system to make a continuous area of protected land, giving up some of the smaller isolated features in return for enfolding areas of open country and cultural meadows into the conservation area. This systems approach was adopted by the subwatershed study and became the basis for its management regime. By the time of the approval of OPA 198, the idea of the natural heritage system was planted in the IARs Phase 1 report and confirmed in the language of the official plan amendment. In addition to the environmental study, the background reports for the OPA 198 process included transportation, servicing and finance. These were drawn together in the preparation of the Strategic Land Use Options Study and these other studies were overshadowed by the focus of the OPA 198 process on the environment. While issues of transportation have been drawn into the environmental debate (good urban planning suggests that urban form be supported by multiple smaller roadways that interconnect, disperse traffic, provide routes for localized transit close to peoples homes, and that in this scale-down form, are more pedestrian friendly) transportation has not been subject 156 Planned Change

to a great deal of air time in and of itself, contrary to my experience that because transportation planning is so tangible, it is typically a focus of public discussion. However, the designation of the Sixteen Mile Creek as the area of highest environmental sensitivity translated into a fight against any road crossings of the creek valley at all. The current compromise is a single major bridge crossing of the creek (totally at odds with good urbanism) (Iannuzziello 2006). The Strategic Land Use Options Study The process which I refer to as the OPA 198 process is really that of the Strategic Land Use Options Study, with the unwieldy acronym of SLUOS. Hemson carried out the SLUOS and the final recommended plan from that process was taken by Town staff and written up as a draft official plan amendment with policy text and maps. The final report of the SLOUS study restates the need for planning this area in anticipation of development pressure for employment lands and residential lands in the western part of the GTA. It identifies Highway 407 (still under construction at the time of the study) as encouraging growth along it. It tells of the filling up of Mississauga for housing and the need to expand urban areas to accommodate additional population. As directed by the Region through ROPA 8 and HUSP, the plan for North Oakville was designed for a population of 55,000 residents (Hemson 2000: 18). At this strategic level, choices were made about the future urban structure of the area generally. A conceptual map was prepared which, given the relatively large size of the study area, is a very general depiction of the future land use structure. Shown are the location of the natural heritage system, major roads, the central retail area centred on Trafalgar Road, and the location of residential and employment land (see Figure 15). Servicing for these areas was also planned although not shown on the map (infrastructure planning is an ongoing almost behind-the-scenes continual revision and refinement of capital planning primarily for the Region: infrastructure and community services include transportation, stormwater management, water and wastewater services, parks and recreation, fire stations, libraries, and schools). 157 Planned Change

The public consultation process is where the action was in this process. Although the format for the public consultation was fairly typical, what went on was not. In addition to the typical public meeting format, and periodic progress reports and presentations, the consultants brought together a Community Resource Group defined as: a group of stakeholders and interested parties selected by the study consultants with whom to discuss in detail the major issues of the Strategic Land Use Options Study. The group consisted of small and large landowners, interested members of the public and individuals with a particular planning interest such as environmental preservation or economic development. The group was not a decision-making body and was only a forum for the consulting team to receive detailed input in addition to the normal public participation process (Hemson 2000: 5). The final report was preceded by two working documents each of which was released in advance to encourage public discussion in the form of the studys steering committee, the Community Resource Group and a public meeting. The first working document reviewed the data inventoried for the area, especially the LGL report. The second document presented five land use options for discussion. The final document discussed the recommended plan. It was not until the end of the study that the public meetings were attended by huge numbers of residents who had apparently been drawn in by e-mail communication starting with the Oakvillegreen residents group. It is at this point that the clash of representations of the landscape in the current process really occurs. Up until now, a generalized regional discussion has mobilized very few people to contest the future urban vision. But the detailed description of existing wildlife and habitat presented in the LGL study juxtaposed against the pastel colours of proposed future residential and employment areas on the SLUOS map was tangible. The reaction was to see this area as a place of nature, as countryside amenity, and as a residential setting for a few exurbanites, but not as new suburban Oakville. Based on the LGL study, some residents sought to protect this last green space of the Town. A number of residents continued to express the desire to preserve as many of the environmental features in north Oakville as possible while members 158 Planned Change

of the development community suggested that this goal is unrealistic without compensation (Hemson 2000: 6). In this quote, the consultants lay out the poles of opinion with respect to North Oakville. The newly formed residents group (i.e. Oakvillegreen) is identified as requesting that all of the environmental lands in the LGL report be preserved (Hemson 2000: 7), especially due to the presence of a moraine in the area (for which we have a major precedent in southern Ontario of preserving). Smoothing over this entrenched position, the report states that the recommendations of the Strategic Land Use Options Study are based on a clear message from the public about the need to preserve environmental features (Hemson 2000: 12): in other words, not the whole thing, but a lot of it. The creation of the area that became the natural heritage system here is directly linked to the participation of the public. This study recommended four secondary plan areas, but Oakville proceeded with two. The lands east of Sixteen Mile Creek were to have approximately 70 percent of the residential population and the lands to the west were to be largely for employment (Hemson 2000: 41). Most of the rest of the planning process discussion has focused on these lands east of the creek. In spite of the opposition by residents of the idea of urbanization and their efforts in the SLUOS/OPA 198 process to stop it, the Town proceeded with preparation of secondary plans for future development of the area. This was a major decision point as the residents attempted to convince Council that the entire area should be conserved because of its natural significance. The representation of the landscape as natural was shared by many people. In the next chapter I will discuss these representations and their negotiation in some detail. But first the story of the process needs to be fully laid out. Few changes visible in the landscape While planning for North Oakville was carried out in the offices of the Region and the Town, the landscape of the study area itself experienced few changes in use with the major exception of the completion of the construction of Highway 407 across the 159 Planned Change

northern end of the study area including a major bridge over the Sixteen Mile Creek and the widening of Trafalgar Road and Neyagawa Boulevard. Highway 407, completed in 2001, forms the northern edge of the North Oakville study area of which Dundas Street is the south. The highway had been planned since the 1950s; the Province of Ontario designated and expropriated land for a future controlled-access highway within the Parkway Belt West Plan area in the early 1970s (Ecoplans 2000). Today the province has been left with surplus lands much of which they conferred to Conservation Halton (more on that later). South of Highway 407, the countryside has not visibly changed. The rural designation of this area in both the Regional and Town official plans has effectively prevented the incursion of new uses with a few exceptions. There is a new school built at Neyagawa and the Fourth Line, the Kings Collegiate, which has a very suburban appearance and seems to sit in anticipation of future urban change, with its sidewalks going nowhere (see Figure 16). There are also a great many black-on-white planning signs providing notice that an application for land use change has been submitted by the owner to the town (see Figure 17). Otherwise a visual image of this area as typical Ontario countryside remains unchanged.

Planning the transformation of North Oakvilles landscape from countryside to town

With the approval of OPA 198, planning for the future use of the landscape began with the reality that the area would be urbanized and the secondary planning process would concentrate on how. The secondary planning process is the second of the two planning processes researched. This process to prepare the detailed land use plans that will become part of the Towns official plan is still underway at the writing of this dissertation. Within the context of Oakvilles official plan for the town, the addition of a new urban area and generalized land use plan was accomplished by OPA 198. The process leading up to the official plan amendment was officially to prepare alternative land use plans for consideration by Council and in reality was a defence of the intent to urbanize these 160 Planned Change

lands. The switch from one debate--conserve versus urbanize--to how to urbanize was perhaps not an easy one. The language of those who had been lobbying for conservation had to change and became, if we have to urbanize, lets conserve as much green land as possible in the natural heritage system but the push has continued to be against urban development with the residents and environmental scientists on one side pushing against the developers on the other. Charrette begins process of detailed planning With the hope of putting the adversarial OPA 198 process behind them, the Town hosted a five-day charrette September 17 through 25, 2003 led by renowned architect Andres Duany to initiate the preparation of the secondary plans (Figure 18). Duany had become famous in planning and architectural circles in the late 1980s when he went on the lecture circuit to promote neotraditional planning or new urbanism to a profession weary of being criticized for the failure of homogenous auto-oriented contemporary suburbs. His design team had previously planned Markham Centre and the Cornell community in Markham (northeast of Toronto), as well as a mixed-use urban community in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Collaborating with local firms in a team led by local planning consultants Macaulay Shiomi Howson, Duany was front and centre at the charrette. His firm assimilated the background information available at that point (when the charrette was held, the process at the Town had been ongoing for three and a half years with more than 20 reports). During the charrette he led a series of presentations structured around identified stakeholders groups and his firm produced an urban design concept for North Oakville at the end of the charrette which has become the basis for the preparation of the secondary plans. Following the charrette, he went back to Florida and gave over the nitty gritty of the planning to the local firms. The charrette accomplished a great deal in a short timeframe, as is its purpose, requiring all those interested in planning North Oakville to concentrate on communicating their goals for the new urban area. I attended all the public events of the charrette and it marks the formal beginning of my research in the area. 161 Planned Change

The public consultation process on the preparation of the secondary plans was carried out over the months following the charrette, including: three large-format public meetings, seven focus groups, three workshops, Stakeholders Advisory Committee meetings, Technical Advisory Committee meetings, Landowners Committee meetings, Heritage Sub-committee meeting, a conference for the planning community sponsored by the Canadian Urban Institute, and various other meetings with interested groups (see Appendix C for a list of meetings). There were 3,448 hits on the secondary plan website as of November 2004 (Oakville 2004c) indicating a good deal of interest in the process. Following the Charrette in September 2003, the major moments in the secondary planning process have been the release for public comment of the preliminary draft secondary plans in February 2004 (one for east and one for west of Sixteen Mile Creek, see Figure 19) followed in November of that year by an issues response report which summarized the comments received. The secondary plans were accompanied by an array of specialized background reports building upon previous work undertaken for the Region in their HUSP preparation and in work undertaken for the OPA 198/SLUOS (see Appendix D for a list of studies). Also included were draft secondary official plan amendments which are the maps and text of the policies to guide future development. Typically, the secondary plan process would have proceeded soon after a comment period with a final or recommended secondary plans for approval by Council providing a generally agreed upon policy framework for this area, perhaps with a few minor appeals to the OMB for property-specific disputes not affecting the overall veracity of the plan (an example would be the Roman Catholic Dioceses property in the northwest which they had purchased for a cemetery yet Town staff strongly feel that it should be designated for employment uses given its high visibility at a major intersection). In the case of North Oakville however, at the same time as the Issues Response Report was released, several landowners appealed their own secondary plan to the OMB (which they had been working on in a shadow process) basically sidelining the public process and requiring that the efforts of the Town staff, consultants and Council be directed towards fighting the developers plan. 162 Planned Change

The landowners group, including several, but not all landowners east of the Sixteen Mile Creek and calling themselves NOMI for North Oakville Management Inc. submitted their secondary plan accompanied by the requisite battery of technical studies in March 2004 and then appealed their plan to the OMB in November 2004 (as is their right according to the Planning Act if the Town refuses their plan). The Towns plan in this strange twist of events became the alternative plan to the NOMI plan, its preparation no longer public but instead part of the privileged case preparation for the OMB. In early 2007, the case before the OMB is still pending, although several landowners have settled with the Town agreeing to follow the Towns secondary plan for east of Sixteen Mile Creek (Oakville 2007a). Several pre-hearing conferences have been held to narrow the issues to be discussed at the Board. The OMB offers mediation and uses the technique of refining and scoping issues in order to compel the parties to decide upon what exactly they are disagreeing. The language of the issues lists prepared by each of the parties though is broad and vague as they are public documents exchanged between opponents (and designed to keep the other parties guessing about the wiliness of your case). At the first pre-hearing conference, the length of time needed for the hearing was estimated to be one year, but the Board asked all parties to narrow it down. Just before the announcement of the first major settlement, the hearing was estimated to need nine months with a cost to the Town of $13 million (Blackburn 2006b), largely fees for lawyers and expert planning and biophysical science witnesses. The central issue at the OMB is the size and character of the landscape represented as the natural heritage system. There are still individual landowners issues outstanding about the distribution of land uses on their particular sites. The out of court settlements which occurred have included major land area donations and monies towards the natural heritage system, but details are pending. The Towns secondary plans had included a


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natural heritage system of 880 hectares (2,175 acres) (Hemson 2004: 3), one-third of the size of the North Oakville study area. 15 The redirection of focus in the Town from preparation of secondary plans through the public process to the preparation of plans for consideration at the OMB was a casualty of the planning process. No longer were the landowners in consultation with the Town over preparation of the Town-led secondary plans. The developers had actively participated in the creation of the Towns planning all the way through, for instance through their participation on the committees (there was a Landowners Committee in addition to a Stakeholders Advisory Committee and a Technical Advisory Committee). As I will discuss in the next chapter, this behind-the-scenes negotiation is at once a blessing (because the Town through OMB mediation is spared having to fight the developers in a lengthy hearing and can proceed with development sooner) and a curse (because the debate about the natural heritage system was no longer public and is being secured behind the scenes as a result of the settlements with major landowners who have agreed to proceed with the Towns plan). Depending on your view, it is either a blessing or a curse that another precedent has been set for the systems approach to environmental protection. The Natural Heritage System is the focus of the secondary planning process Notwithstanding the contribution of Andres Duany (who considers greenspace as a sort of blank negative area outside of his new urban areas) the focus of the preparation of detailed land use plans in the secondary planning process has been on the green areas on the map and not much else.

To offer some perspective, Oakvilles proposed natural heritage system is much smaller than the Rouge Park which is Canadas largest urban park, almost 5000 hectares (12,350 acres) according to its website. But it is two and one-half times the size of Central Park in New York City which is 340 hectares (843 acres) according to its website and five and one-half times the size of High Park in Toronto which is 160 hectares (400 acres) according to Torontos website.



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The natural heritage system was identified through the environmental science of the LGL report in 1999, the IAR process (Phase I report in September 2003), and the subwatershed studies (Characterization Reports for east in October 2002 and west in September 2003), and the analysis and draft management strategy for the subwatersheds in February 2004. From a biophysical science standpoint, the natural heritage system is intended to prevent flooding, to maintain the rate and quality of groundwater recharge, regulate water temperature to encourage fisheries, and provide tree cover to moderate water temperature and to improve air quality. The approach is not based on the protection of individual natural features but on the creation of a natural system linking those features in a contiguous system (Axon 2006; Howson 2006). Politically, the natural heritage system was used by Oakvillegreen to reduce the amount of land to be developed, their aim was to have the largest acreage possible in conservation. A local residents group who called themselves the Citizens Environmental Advisory Committee, chaired by Wendy Burton, who has been very active in local community politics and who is the spouse of the new Mayor Rob Burton, wrote a briefing statement to the charrette recommending that the natural heritage system should be as large as possible and outlines their suggested approach to environment first (Citizens 2003). The debate over the importance of the natural heritage system is no better way expressed than the fact that its size increased by nearly 75 per cent through the secondary plan process from its original size identified by OPA 198 (Hemson 2004). In my experience, urban expansion plans in the GTA are typically mired in debates over the redesignation of employment lands (hard to develop in the short term presently) to residential lands (easily taken up by the market). Few landowners want to be designated for employment use as their return on investment tends not to be as immediate. In spite of the widespread practice of groups of developers getting together to share costs and to distribute the burden of less attractive land uses (employment lands, schools, parks, major roads) the designated location of these uses is still hotly debated. In contrast, the focus of the North Oakville secondary plan process has been on the natural heritage system almost as a numbers game with respect to how much of the total planning area is devoted 165 Planned Change

to land that will not be developed (Burton 2006). The employment lands issue does exist in North Oakville but limited to the extent that much of the area that was to have been designated for employment west of Sixteen Mile Creek (which everyone was happy about because those lands west of the Creek are not in the first phases of development) is owned by the province who has now announced that the majority of this area will remain natural and under the management of the conservation authority (Oakvillegreen 2006). The provision of land to meet employment targets remains an outstanding issue. Provincially-owned lands provide an example of natural area politics In November 2004, the province announced the protection of lands known as part of the Oakville Land Assembly just west of Sixteen Mile Creek. Linking with lands to the north within the Golden Horseshoe Greenbelt, these 300 hectares (650 acres) will be set aside for conservation (Eligh 2004: 3; Oakvillegreen 2006). This is substantial, as it equals ten percent of the entire North Oakville area, and is in addition to the lands identified for the natural heritage system. With the provinces lands, plus parks within the urban areas to be determined in the secondary plans, at least one-third of the land area in North Oakville will ultimately be green on the map (Figure 20). The example of the Oakville Land Assembly lands being declared for environmental protection is an extreme example of how lands not designated as environmentally significant by science (only a part of the original land assembly is in the Sixteen Mile Creek Valley) were nonetheless designated as such by the province. Much to the chagrin of some who would have instead liked the province to use these lands as leverage to secure in public ownership the truly environmentally significant lands, the province went ahead with the area that they already owned. There had been a promise that this land be characterized as being free from development, apparently by former Town councillor Kevin Flynn in his election platform to become Minister of Provincial Parliament for Oakville. This promise was cited by Hank Rodenburg, then director of Oakvillegreen (Eligh 2004: 3; Figure 21).


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Conclusion to plan-making In this chapter I have summarized the planning that has taken place to expand the Town of Oakville to include the landscape of North Oakville in its urban area. Beginning over twenty years ago as a rather abstract regional exercise in population and employment forecasting, the landscape in North Oakville will soon be physically transformed from countryside to urban. The idea of the Town of Oakville, beginning with the colonial settlement survey and with the harbour plan, has evolved over time from a town on the lake served by a long-settled and productive back-country, to a contiguous urban place defined by fixed borders abutting Burlington to the west, Mississauga to the east, and Highway 407 and Milton to the north. Within these borders, as I will discuss in the following chapter, residents come to retreat to a life that defines itself in part by its relationship within nature. Notwithstanding the obvious part that the province has played in creating the physical town through amalgamation and defining it within the larger metropolitan region, the identity of the town is blind to this artificial construction and has absorbed the natural landscapes remnant in the town into its identity. As the last remnant, North Oakville is of great interest as the town continues to negotiate this identity.


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Chapter 7

NEGOTIATING LANDSCAPE REPRESENTATION: THE PRODUCTION OF NATURE IN THE PLANNING PROCESS According to the Ontario Greenbelt Alliance, an environmental lobby group, the North Oakville area is one of ten hotspots in the Toronto area under threat from development: using the Trafalgar Moraine to give the area charisma, the North Oakville study area is now a celebrity landscape. After one of my interviews, I was leaving the house of a North Oakville resident and standing on her front step she gestured to a slight undulation in the farmers field across the road and said, Theres your Moraine! Only one of several ways that the landscape was represented as off limits to development, the Moraine is an example of a contested representation: is a moraine the headwaters for local creeks? or is it a landform that gives the area a little topographical character? Following from the narrative description of the urban designation and secondary planning processes in the previous chapter, this chapter provides a more detailed analysis of the negotiation of landscape representations. If the previous chapter provides a narrative of the breadth of the process and the work of all those involved in the debate over urban expansion, this chapter tackles the politics of the representation of the landscape. A discourse analysis of urbanizing the fringe landscape is compelling because competing ideas about transforming the existing form and rural character of the landscape into a future urban place are shown to be at the heart of the public planning process. These competing ideas reveal, as Raymond Williams (1973) observed, cultural ideas about competition for space by different groups in society that are not otherwise easily understood. How are ideas about the countryside and nature represented in the face of urbanization, why, and with what effect on the material landscape? The representation of the North Oakville landscape as natural heritage was politically successful. In my analysis of the planning documents and interviews, I sought to understand how the countryside at the edge of the city is represented in the planning process--both the bounded area identified for future change and the geographically 169 Negotiating Landscape

imagined area that is non-city. While I began with the idea that the pastoral view would be in evidence, it soon became apparent that although pastoral ideals may be behind the valuation of this landscape, representations of this landscape by biophysical science dominated. The results of this research confirm that the country versus the city continues to be one of the deep paradoxes of Western culture. Following Raymond Williams (1973), as a result of my study of this fringe landscape, I conclude that ideas of the country are still persistently produced against the city and that the nature seen to exist in the countryside is valorized over new city places, no matter how well-designed or intentioned the new urban areas are. In the case of North Oakville, an attempt is being made to design and build the best new urban place that we know how through an urban structure and policy framework promoting high density, transit-supportive, pedestrian-oriented communities with fine new homes, schools, parks and other services. Notwithstanding the goals for urbanism that the plans for North Oakville represent, some of the existing residents went to extreme lengths to prevent urban expansion at all, demanding the protection of the countryside. The result of their demand for conservation (both at the local and the provincial level) in tandem with the environmental experts evolution in thinking about sustainability is a sizable natural heritage system. Because the dominant reading of the North Oakville landscape is its representation as a natural landscape, nature will persist here. Some people see this as a victory and others as a sham. Drawing on the conceptual framework of cultural geography discussed in Chapter 2, in my analysis I interrogate how landscape ideas are represented and discussed in the planning process. [I]nterpretation is a political practice with material consequences (Duncan and Duncan 1988: 125) and the interpretation of the North Oakville landscape as a place of nature to be preserved is a discursive formation that will dominate its future development. Within the discourse framed by the process to amend the Towns official plan and subsequently to prepare detailed secondary land use plans, varied representations of this landscape -- both material and symbolic -- were contested, but the 170 Negotiating Landscape

stress in the discourse on nature and environmental significance has been at the expense of a robust public dialogue of other issues, such as housing and social services. This chapter employs the idea of interpretive communities (Duncan and Duncan 1988: 120) as an approach to analyzing the representations of landscape by the different groups including: local town residents active in civil society in general and this process in particular; politicians; environmental experts within government; developers; and the media. As can be expected, this is not a perfect categorization; some voices fit into more than one group, for example professional planners occupy many roles within the process, as planners on staff at the Town, Region or one of the provincial ministries involved, consultants to the Region and the Town, and consultants to the developers, and as part of the consulting teams undertaking the environmental inventory and analysis. There are also voices missing, such as groups within the silent majority of residents from whom opinions are not heard. Also the voices of the farmers, exurbanites and other residents currently living in North Oakville I found to be curiously absent, with a few exceptions. With these interpretive communities in mind, in this chapter I address my research question which asks how ideas about the countryside are caught up in the politics of urbanization. The view of one group, Oakvillegreen dominated the process. Their view is of this area as a place of environmental significance. The IAR--the province and conservation authority--through environmental science also represented this landscape as environmentally significant. The local media although somewhat neutral, gave voice to the issues at stake. The confluence of these three--Oakvillegreen, the IAR, and the media-leveraged considerable political weight. The views of other groups included the accepted future urban view of the planners generally, and of course the developers. The view of residents within North Oakville also saw this area as future urban, but with a more intimate knowledge of the landscape and personalized concerns. Under-represented is the historic view presented in Chapter 5 demonstrating both changing attitudes towards countryside and nature generally, and changing attitudes specifically in reference to this landscape. 171 Negotiating Landscape

Oakvilles self-portrait is of a place where residents connect with nature

While I described Oakville as an historic town that has grown into a wealthy suburb within the Toronto metropolitan area, it was a surprise to me to find how local depictions of life in the town explicitly refer to present day Oakville as a retreat from the hectic life of the city in nature, mostly because the town is a collection of fairly typical upscale suburban neighbourhoods. In newspapers, advertisements and coffee table books, the identity of Oakville is expressed through its perception of its connection to nature. Although the towns natural setting is characterized through the pastoral, nature in the planning process was defined and contested through environmental science. It is perhaps not surprising that in an area where the effects of rapid urban growth are strongly felt that a community would push back against the growth agenda of the larger socioeconomic and political context. Instead of a focus on urban design that a typical secondary planning process might have, the focus was on the size of the natural heritage system. The Town of Oakvilles portrayal of itself embodies the ideas of countryside and of nature. Depicted in recent popular books and brochures, the long heritage of Oakville as an escape from the urban context of Toronto (Citizens 2003: 9) is at the foundation of the Towns identity. While ideas about nature figure into the towns identity as a place where people retreat from working in the city, the built suburban landscape is hardly represented at all. It would seem that to be a resident of Oakville is to adopt the ideology of nature. The loss of the countryside of North Oakville could be seen as a threat to the communitys identity. In order to combat this loss, the residents objected to the planned expansion but instead of mounting an opposition based on cultural aesthetic or experiential reasons, they quite successfully represented the landscape as environmentally significant.


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Community identity in Oakville is expressed through this connection to nature Oakville considers itself to be a unique community within the Toronto region. As discussed in Chapter 5, it is a wealthy town with historic roots, even once seeing itself in competition with Toronto (York) as a port on Lake Ontario. To get a sense of how the people of Oakville represent themselves to themselves and to others, I reviewed local pictorial histories, a survey done by the Town, tourist brochures, local magazines and newspapers. Local historian Hazel Mathews wrote: Oakville, from the time of its founding, has also been considered exceptional for its charm and beauty (1953: 3), and this idea of town persists today. The cover of Our Oakville: A Communitys Self-Portrait (2000) is of two children walking on a forest path through golden leaves. It is a millennium project, the photos the result of a local contest and edited by resident and spouse of the new Mayor, Wendy Burton. Ms. Burton describes the book in a speech during her term as president of the local community activist group Clear the Air Coalition to members of the Golden Horseshoe Greenbelt Task Force in June 2004. She says, A few years ago, I edited a book about Oakville called Our Oakville: A Communitys Self-Portrait. For that book I ran a photo contest asking people to submit pictures of their favourite places in Oakville. Overwhelmingly, they submitted pictures of trails, waterfront and farms. There were no pictures submitted of industrial parks, high-rise apartment buildings or parking lots. Nor I would add, does the book include pictures of their homes or neighbourhoods. The photographs are of people enjoying activities in natural settings, especially along the lake front, or of sublime nature without human intrusion. The photographs are of wild nature--pockets of wildness, refuge from a crazy world, images of sanctuary and serenity, time out from civilization (Burton 2000: 1-2)--with only two pictures of pastoral countryside depicting the barns in Bronte Creek Provincial Park (2000: 95). There is not one photograph of a house or a neighbourhood as a setting for where people live, with the exception of one house blurred in black-and-white as the setting for a movie shoot. 173 Negotiating Landscape

I was surprised that the residential environment is not represented in these books as Oakvilles homes are, by suburban standards, fine homes, and much of the development in the past few years has been of an aesthetically-pleasing new urbanist style. I began to look for examples of homes in photos, and with the exception of the historic homes discussed in terms of their heritage importance (Ahern 1981; McKeon and McKeon 1986) but there are none. In the tourist brochure, there was one photo of an older home in the Royal LePage real estate ad. Living in Oakville means buying into the idea of a community in nature. Burtons book includes testimonials from local celebrities including a local artist, originally from Japan: she found [in Oakville] a place that gave her a bit of the nature she had expected to enjoy in Canada (2000: 19). Lawrence Hill, a local novelist, enjoys the linear forest systems, which allow him to run 10 to 12 miles with only rarely having to cross a street. He says he also enjoys the downtown area, where majestic trees overhang quiet streets (2000: 31). Similarly, the Towns website promotes its small-town ambiance and boasts: Ideally located in a beautiful natural setting, Oakville offers first-rate facilities and amenities (Oakville 2006c). In its current tourist brochure, an advertisement for a local furniture store reads, Remember why you moved to Oakville? To escape the city and above all else--relax (Oakville Tourism 2005: 63). Oakville is halfway between Toronto and Hamiltonclose enough to the big cities to enjoy their pleasures and economies but far enough away to promote a separate identity according to Burtons book (2000: 106). Oakville is part of Torontos commutershed, but does not see itself as a suburb in the way that Rosedale or Forest Hill in Toronto are suburbs now enveloped by the city. This identity as a town away is interesting, and because of the attempt to sustain an identity that is not suburban, portraits of the town are blind to representations of the suburban residential landscape. Referring specifically to North Oakville, Burton writes, defending this identity often means that development issues are the ones that get residents excitedwhether a green belt should be maintained across the north end of town (2000: 107). 174 Negotiating Landscape

The ideology of nature and ideas about residential choice are caught up in ideas about family values. One reason so many Oakville residents care about these issues is that so many of them moved here seeking a good place to raise their families (Burton 2000: 106-7). The assumption that access to nature is a prerequisite for good family life is a deeply held cultural belief. But conserving a place for nature apart from daily life as sought through this process is confusing as it further separates the town from nature, rather than trying to bring nature into the town through good design. This refusal to see itself as suburban may be related to the historical relationship between Oakville and Toronto. Toronto in scholarly urban histories is identified as the colonial centre and is a heroic reading of conquering the wilderness and the creation of a capital city with many economic successes (eg. Arthur 1964; Spelt 1955). While founding father William Chisholm tried to give Toronto (then York) a run for its money as a competing port, he was not successful. Oakville was, and still is, a community on the way from Toronto to Hamilton or Niagara, rather than a destination in and of itself (Mathews 1953). Oakville has tried to stand apart from the metropolitan centre, even as it has been engulfed by it over the years. Another local portrait is a 1998 guidebook to the Halton watershed by the Conservation Halton Foundation. Halton: rising, wild, and beckoning has a foreword by Robert Bateman, a famous Canadian wildlife artist. He writes of his time living in Halton, All my life I dreamed of living in the country, close to nature but near enough to an urban centre so that I could partake of museums, concerts and theatre (Guthrie 1998: 9). Robert Bateman is something of a local hero, he lived in Halton some years ago and recently has had a high school in Burlington named after him. In 2006, he was awarded the Canadian Environment Award Ideas of Life Award (Canadian Geographic et al. 2006). His words preface a book depicting Haltons countryside with photographs of long views of the farmed countryside. The use of a wildlife artist to set the tone for a local book draws on the idea that Halton is a place of nature.


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This book includes many photographs of the productive agricultural landscape as well as wild areas. Note that the subject of this book is the entire region of Halton, of which Oakville is one part. The contrast between the pastoral countryside depicted in this book and the absence of it in Our Oakville is striking. The book depicts this countryside in the classic image discussed in the literature (e.g. Bunce 1994). The Halton book ends with a checklist of 67 ways to connect with and enjoy nature as part of everyday life (Guthrie 1998: 143). The checklist is discussed in the following way: By communing with nature you will create lasting family memories and experience greater personal fulfillmentnature is possibly the best antidote for the stress that is epidemic in our highly technological society (Guthrie 1998: 143). The retreat from the city offered by this landscape is available largely to those who can afford it. The stories that the community tells itself about the creation of a place away from the city are telling and this attitude pervaded the planning process. It is interesting to see how the Town negotiates a fine line between promoting this identity while encouraging new development. In reaction to the spectre of the natural heritage system requirements and the targeted residential population, the Oakville Economic Development Alliance (public/private not-for-profit corporation) made a presentation at the charrette (2003a) and distributed information about the need for employment lands in North Oakville. One slide identifies Oakvilles sense of community as including the following things: a walk to the harbour, a hike on a heritage trail, a park by the lake, a paddler on the creek, a camper in Bronte Creek Provincial Park, a job in Oakville and a commute to Toronto on the GO Train. In this way, they agree with the nature-based vision for the Town, but fold in the employment aspect. Note that the economic development office did not represent the built suburban form in their publications either. Given this evidence of local self-promotion, residents of the town, many of whom have recently settled here, have chosen Oakville because of the way that it promotes itself and they in turn adopt and defend this perspective. This imagination of


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the town inspired some residents to participate in the planning process and this special identity was expressed in my interviews. Good evidence for the characterization of Oakville as a town in nature threatened by urbanization is provided by two public opinion surveys, one commissioned by the Town and one by the Region. In 2001, at the beginning of the OPA 198 planning process to redesignate North Oakville as urban, the Town commissioned a telephone survey by Environics to canvass residents opinions about their quality of life as well as satisfaction with municipal government and services. Of the 801 residents surveyed, in an open-ended question 16, half said that they like Oakvilles small community/quiet/heritage and 36 per cent identified the Towns green spaces/parks/recreation. People most disliked traffic/congestion (31 per cent) and rapid development/growth (22 per cent). Environics concluded that the largest proportion of residents place a high value on having a sense of small-town community and heritage and that they are concerned about the impact that growth is having--and will have--on their ability to enjoy the peace and quiet of life in Oakville (2001: 7). Eighty-six percent say Oakvilles generally considered to be a better place to live than most areas of Greater Toronto (2001: 8): it outranks all other areas in the Greater Toronto Area (2001: 22). A report by Ipsos-Reid of the results of a townhall workshop in support of the Region of Haltons strategic plan (a corporate vision document to guide Regional Councils strategic priorities generally) carried out in 2004 at the beginning of Councils three year term, concluded that Haltons quality of life (most valued regional attribute) is defined by the regions family-friendly community lifestyle with a small-town or country feel and big-city proximity. Halton is a large region and Oakville south of Highway 407 is removed from the areas of the Niagara Escarpment and associated countryside to the

The question was: Thinking about the whole community of Oakville, what are the two or three things you like the most? (Environics 2001: 7)


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north but it arguably still belongs to the region and shares many of the same sentiments. Halton is considered the friendlier, safer, cleaner, cheaper, quieter, calmer, and greener alternative to Toronto. A rural and environmentally-based aesthetic is central to Haltons quality of life. The report goes on to say that Maintaining this lifestyle--which is increasingly perceived to be eroding and under threat-- is the primary driver behind participants priorities and decisions (2004: 9). Quality of life for Halton is grounded in the environmental aesthetic and rural character according to Ipsos-Reid. Our beautiful farmlands are a key element of this aesthetic. Workshop participants said that they wanted the Region to Stop out-ofcontrol housing development that is eating up our countryside; We came here because we didnt want to feel boxed-in and compacted (Ipsos-Reid 2004: 10, 12). Through these two surveys, Oakvilles identity as a town away from it all is seen as being under threat. On the regional scale, issues of loss of farmland and the countryside were explicit. As I discussed in the previous chapter, the Region renamed its official plan Durable Halton to emphasize the commitment to securing permanent greenlands, including the agricultural countryside. In my interview with Regional staff, he said that one of their key challenges is to conserve this landscape as agricultural in spite of broader restructuring within the economy that is a disincentive to local farming. However, this commitment is for lands north of my case study area and the Region has stood by its decision that the North Oakville lands be for future urban expansion. The representation of the town through its own official plan is also as a place in a natural setting. This is important because the policy framework for land use emphasizes conservation over growth. Although official plans across the province do tend to be quite templated, Oakvilles identity as a town in a natural setting comes through. The official plan sets out two goals for the Towns municipal structure: 1. to preserve the identity, character, and environment of Oakville and 2. to adopt an ecosystem approach to urban and rural land use (Oakville 2002a: 8). The first goal strikes me as 178 Negotiating Landscape

unique among official plans because it is defensive and not very forward-looking in terms of the Towns approach to development. The second policy is at the direction of the province, all official plans say something about an ecosystem approach, or environment first approach to their planned structure. Due to this policy approach, studies of the natural environment precede the other studies. This is a situation where the practice has remained the same, but the imagination behind it has changed: basic site planning requires that you begin any development project with a landscape assessment to determine the sites opportunities and constraints to development. Kevin Lynchs Site Planning, first published in 1962 and in its third edition (1984) had always been the bible of site planning in this vein. However, as the view has shifted towards an environment first approach, landscape assessment is seen as being for the purposes of identifying how the landscape is to be protected from development, and the bible is now perhaps Landscape Planning by William Marsh (first published in 1983 and now in its third edition, 1988), a textbook beginning with a depiction of the contemporary environmental crisis and the need for sustainability. The policy of the official plan to proceed with an environment first approach today carries a great deal of weight behind it. Similarly, in the official plan the objective for the municipal structure is To protect the natural environment and to promote a visual appearance in the built environment in sympathy with the natural landscape (Oakville 2002a: 8). In other words, the overall policy of the Town is to protect its natural environment. I do not read this as a growth agenda, and seems almost to be a subversive restatement of its historical anti-growth platform that surfaced during the 1960s. Further, the creation of Oakvilles greenlands system--to which the natural heritage system in North Oakville will be a major addition--is written into its policies. There are more goals for the greenlands system and environmental management in the plan than there are for all other areas (municipal structure, population and housing, employment, phasing, finance, urban aesthetics, heritage resource conservation, social development, transportation, agriculture, and community improvement) combined. 179 Negotiating Landscape

This policy framework provided by the official plan, into which OPA 198 was inserted and into which the secondary plans will be folded, is clearly one in which the environment is intended to be paramount. Areas are designated through policies requiring that they enhance natural ecosystems and maintain biological diversity (Oakville 2002a) as demonstrated through scientific study and not through studies of visual aesthetic assessment of scenic beauty or landscape character. Loss of last countryside an affront to community identity In the imagination of residents there lies an image of the non-urbanized areas in the Region and Town of pastoral countryside and wild nature. The question is how does this image transfer to the planning process? In other words if the Town is represented generally through images of the wild and pastoral landscape, then how were these ideas represented in the discourse within the planning process? I have made a case for the towns identity being discursively represented through its connection to nature, but one of the key contributions of my research is in how subdued these symbolic landscape ideals were in the politics of the process compared to biophysical representations of nature. There is a disconnect between the cultural valuation of the landscape motivating political activism and the ways in which the landscape is discursively constructed within the discourse of the planning process. A profound example is the text of the Strategic Land Use Options Study prepared to support the recommendation of the preferred urban structure of North Oakville and upon which the urban expansion amendment OPA 198 was based. In spite of the tumultuous experience of the consultants through the process (Mathews 2006) and evidence that it was the contested ideology of nature that was the core issue, there is no discussion of countryside or nature valuation in the final document. This writing out of what many would have seen as the core issue is perhaps a moment where some of the residents took great insult. In my interview with a town resident who later became a councillor said at the time, they [the consultants] were getting too far removed from what people feel in


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the town (Elgar 2006). The outside consultants recommending a plan for the towns future had failed to reflect or acknowledge their towns identity, adding fuel to the fire. In the next section I will discuss how the landscape is represented as environmentally significant as the way to represent nature to the planning process in which scientific explanations, rather than cultural ones are seen to succeed.

North Oakville landscape represented as environmentally significant in the planning process

Through my research, I discovered that the reading of this landscape as pastoral did not dominate the discourse of the planning process. There were indeed instances where the romantic countryside or Arcadian views of nature surfaced, but these were far outweighed by the representation of the landscape as having environmental significance from a biophysical science perspective. The residents who fought to conserve this landscape brought forward as evidence for landscape protection the scientific analysis by the Towns environmental consultants. The government agencies drew upon the same analysis as rationale for the systems approach to environmental management. Oakvillegreen, the citizens group at the centre of the process, seized on the consultants report and its biophysical inventory of the site and promoted this landscape representation as the reading of the landscape with which they wished to move forward. The Town had commissioned the LGL study as their environment first step towards detailed planning of this area anticipating the preparation of the subwatershed study. While the details were hotly debated, especially in terms of the relative valuation of certain features (e.g. the button bush swamp and the Trafalgar Moraine, as well as certain woodlots), the presence of natural heritage here was not debated; the discourse analysis of the process shows that what to do with the nature represented here was the focus of the debate, and not opposing representations. Although this area has also been imagined as an exurban residential amenity landscape, as a future urban area with roads, homes, stores, schools and other services to be constructed, sold, occupied, and maintained, these have taken a back seat to the imagination of current and future nature here. 181 Negotiating Landscape

Representation of the landscape as environmentally significant by Oakvillegreen dominated the process In this section, I will discuss how some of the residents, organized together in the community group Oakvillegreen, represented this landscape as natural and focused on issues of environmental significance from a biophysical science approach. First I will discuss why the influence of this group was important, especially in the OPA 198 process to redesignate these lands from agricultural to urban. Then I will illustrate their position through excerpts from their website and from interviews with some of their members and others involved in the planning process. The Oakvillegreen Conservation Association is self-described as a non-profit organization working to ensure that Oakville remains a beautiful and healthy place to live according to their website. Their webpages are a wealth of information (albeit biased) on the future of the North Oakville lands. 17 The group formed as a direct result of the planning process for North Oakville (Elgar 2006; Sandalowsky 2006). According to their website, their main challenge is to protect the natural environment, focusing on the North Oakville natural heritage system. Reaction to North Oakvilles urban expansion heralded a new era of civil society in Oakville. On June 25, 2001, a public hearing was held by Oakville Council to receive public comment on the proposed OPA 198, the amendment to the official plan based on the results of the Strategic Land Use Options Study. A huge number of people attended and packed themselves into the Council chamber, exceeding capacity and requiring that the meeting be postponed to the next day. The meeting continued over six nights (June 26, 28, July 5, 12, 17, Sep 26) whereupon the Council decided that they were not able to hear any more deputations. Although there was not an official count, more than 500 people attended that first meeting, and subsequently the Council chamber was filled (capacity 250) and an overflow room was hooked up to televise the proceedings. The


Note that has recently been replaced by reflecting its maturity as an established environmental group.


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legendary attendance was the direct result of the efforts of a couple of individuals who formed a community group called Oakvillegreen. Oakvillegreen became the residents group who opposed the urbanization of North Oakville throughout the OPA 198 process and who continue to be very involved in the planning of the area. Although not previously active in politics in town, Oakvillegreen soon became a force to be reckoned with. According to Rob Burton (now Mayor and former president of another group, Clear the Air Coalition, which had been formed earlier around another local planning issue), the four or five people up in Glen Abbey that I mentioned who saw what was going on with the LGL report they formed a group and they called it Oakvillegreen. The first president is a man who is now a councillor, Alan Elgar. There was also the McGee sisters, Iris and Linda, and Renee Sandalowsky, also a councillor now, they were the original core that founded it (Burton 2006). Councillor Elgar reminisced that his first interest in the North Oakville process began one day when he went to a meeting instead of his spouse, who was the one who typically followed local politics. He said that he could not believe what he was hearing with respect to planning for the area and met that night with Sandalowsky and the next day initiated the website (Elgar 2006). Directly involved in the politics of planning for the area then, this group of individuals had as their agenda blocking the expansion of the town and protecting as environmentally significant the lands in North Oakville. Oakvillegreen as well as the local Oakville Beaver newspaper are where residents acquired most of their information according to my questions in the interviews. Oakvillegreens website is extensive and was updated throughout the months that the planning process was being undertaken. According to Councillor Elgar, the website got more hits than the Towns own website. Oakvillegreen took it upon themselves to be the clearinghouse where people in the community could go for information. I made use of both websites extensively throughout my research. Drawing on the discourse about the town identity generally, Oakvillegreens website in the summer of 2006 faded in with: 183 Negotiating Landscape

May the beauty of nature fill your heart with peace and joy. Enjoy this view of the Niagara Escarpment over the fields looking north west of Dundas-while we still have itthe future of nature in North Oakville. North Oakville is represented as being a place of natural habitat and the website makes use of natural images of nature from many sources. There is a presentation on the birds of North Oakville, one is endangered and several are declining and vulnerable. The presentation talks about nesting and the care of young with the tone of imminent loss. The Redside Dace, a fish identified as vulnerable by Environment Canada and on whose behalf much of the subwatershed study management measures are focused, is talked about poetically As it leaps to catch a meal in its [sic] mouth, the Redside Dace hangs in mid-air for a second and hangs like a jewel. In the noon-day sun, its sides shimmer with the colour of an iridescent rainbow (Oakvillegreen). The North Oakville landscape is represented as habitat to wild species with the intent that the area be protected as habitat from development. Oakvillegreens position is perhaps most clearly stated in the following excerpt posted February 20, 2002 (Oakvillegreen 2002b): Based on new reports and scientific evidence, Oakvillegreen wants a total freeze on development. We want to preserve all 7600 acres of greenspace north of Dundas. We want the lands left rural. The reasons are as follows: From some of the studies just beginning now, we are learning that the natural features in north Oakville are way more environmentally significant than even the town's environmental consultants (LGL) ever realized. From the new scientific information that came to light after the Oak Ridges Moraine fight, and talking with Glenn De Baeremaeker, we've learned that buffers and corridors must be way wider than we had ever thought. In fact, the standard for wildlife corridors is 2 km!!! It just so happens that the northsouth distance of the north Oakville area is approximately 2 km, so if we want to make sure that our natural areas are protected and that our wildlife continues to flourish, we need to preserve and protect ALL of it.


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If we dont preserve it all-- say we just preserved the 1250 acres that LGL pointed out as "environmentally significant,"--without the proper buffers and corridors, those areas will die!!! After a number of years, the forests, wetlands, and wildlife will die. They cannot survive development without huge buffers and corridors. So what's the point of trying to preserve 1250 acres of land to find out that it will not survive? Right, there is no point. We're going to save it all, so that our grandchildren will be able to see the now endangered acadian flycatcher, red-shouldered hawk, red-headed woodpecker, cerulean warbler, yellow breasted chat, caspian tern, redside dace (just to name a few) flourish! and you know what would be really really neat? Let's connect the Niagara Escarpment to Oakville's 7600 acres of farmland all the way down the creeks to the lake--can you imagine one continuous corridor from Lake Ontario to the Niagara Escarpment? and then we know the Escarpment connects to the Oak Ridges Moraine, which goes to Algonquin Park in the north and the Adirondacks in the south. and then one day, maybe we can even have a cross country connection to the Yukon and then down to Yosemite (you know, the Y2Y thing?) What do you think of that? Please note [following OPA 198 approvals]: Oakvillegreen's policy has NOT changed. We are not against development in general. Our policy is, has been and always will be that the environment needs protection and that any development which may cause concern for that environment needs to be avoided. That happens to be, by the way, consistent with our provincial policy. Based on all the evidence presented to us to date we therefore are now of the opinion that development in this area North of Dundas can not be allowed as it causes concern for the environment. The issue is how much concern and based on the latest information given to us we believe that the concern now is great enough to warrant this change in direction. This statement states clearly the store by which Oakvillegreen places on environmental science. From the time that the LGL report was first released in 2000, the group followed in detail the environmental analysis, always pushing for more and better, politicallyneutral science in an attempt to prove that these lands should not be developed. They described OPA 198 as follows (Oakvillegreen 2003a).


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OPA 198 is the plan that will urbanize a staggering 7,600 acres of countryside north of Dundas Street OPA 198 is the plan that drew hundreds of you out to town hall, night after night to voice your concerns about traffic, air, water and quality of life, to name a few. Its the plan that threatens The Trafalgar Wetland Complex, the Trafalgar Moraine (head waters of six of Oakvilles major creeks), prime agricultural land, forests, streams, meadows, and all the wildlife that depends on these features in order to live. Its the plan that was passed before the environmental studies were even completed. Its the plan that was passed without a single air quality study commissioned. Its the plan that didnt look at alternatives to the cancer-like spread of urban sprawl and gridlock. These quotes from the website illustrate the conflation of many ideas about nature, countryside, and urban growth that are balled up together in a rejection of new development. The threat to this landscape draws on the metaphor of cancer: the healthy landscape will die if consumed by sprawl. In addition to photos and commentary about the importance of nature, the website makes heavy use of this type of rhetoric around sprawl and conservation. To be against sprawl and for conservation are put forward as being self-evident truths. Here are statements from their About us webpage: Oakvillegreen believes it is essential for the health and quality of life of our community that sprawl is curbed and the last remaining natural areas protected from development. Now is the time to act if you care about bio-diversity in Oakville. Sprawl is urban development, sprawl is bad and ergo urban development is bad and should not occur in North Oakville. I will discuss in a moment where the influences of this view are drawn from in larger societal discourse. Regarding the support within the general Oakville community that Oakvillegreen has, it is difficult to tell. However, Councillor Elgar is quoted as saying in March 2002 that he had received hundreds of e-mails and calls all asking that the OPA not be accepted -- a clear message for more preservation that he agreed with. (Oakvillegreen 2002a). The new president of Oakvillegreen calls the organization this communitys premier environmental watchdog (Benneian 2006). The wording of her letter in 2006 indicates a strong future with a reorganization of the committees and a new website (.org instead of 186 Negotiating Landscape

.com which will be retained as an archive). The activism of the group is seen through its organization of the premiere of the Smart Communities campaign of the Federation of Ontario Naturalists in November 2002 and an education night in March 2002 (IER 2005: Appendix B). Oakvillegreen is a member of the Ontario Greenbelt Alliance, and it was listed in the Environmental Commissioners annual report (ECO 2005). The Sierra Club of Canada produced a report for Ontario entitled Sprawl Hurts Us All! summarizing the litany of problems caused by urban development--albeit without the accompanying discussion of other issues of social justice and affordability (Neill, Bonser and Pelley 2003). In it Oakville is discussed directly under the title Oakville sprawl means more death and taxes: Current plans for development in Ontario reveal that we will continue to lose our rural land. In May of 2002, Oakville town council voted to pass an Official Plan Amendment (OPA 198) that places Oakvilles last remaining rural lands (approximately 3,075 acres) into the urban envelope. The amendment effectively eliminates a growth boundary in a town that is already 80% urban, and guarantees a continuation of sprawl. Oakvillegreen, a local grassroots group, realizing that Oakvilles unbridled sprawl has already resulted in unacceptable costs to human health, the environment, and to taxpayers pocketbooks, is undertaking various political initiatives in order to maintain Oakvilles previous urban boundary, thereby containing growth within the existing urban area. The use of this type of language is reflected in much of the Oakvillegreen website, and in comments that I heard throughout the research process, exemplified by this one from Rob Burton in 2004: "In one massive stroke, we are eating up Oakville's last green spaces for urban sprawl (Foulds 2004). The bulk of the discussion originating from Oakvillegreen, however, is in support of the representation of this landscape as environmentally significant. Developing this area would: cause more air pollution through increased traffic and reducing tree cover; it would increase water pollution by affecting the overland water flow with downstream impacts, especially Lake Ontario; it would mean the destruction of the Trafalgar Moraine landform (which although it is a headwater for local creeks is not pervious like the Oak Ridges Moraine and development is much less at risk of affecting water quality); it would 187 Negotiating Landscape

eradicate existing wildlife. In my interviews, the percentage of tree cover was quoted, chlorophyll mapping was discussed, water temperature as habitat was discussed, and the failure of features-based environmental protection that now required a systems-based approach with buffers and linkages. Navigating the environmental science requires a great deal of effort on the part of those involved in the process with the residents themselves becoming experts in order to draw upon or refute evidence. The skills and training required to make a difference in the process creates a bias towards the highly-educated, well-to-do and retired (Rodenburg 2006). Local newspaper also represented the process as a contest over the environment The local newspaper, The Oakville Beaver played an important role in the debate over the future of North Oakville. In the Halton Townhall workshop, according to Ipsos-Reid, most participants felt that they would not likely access the regional government for information about their concerns, but rather: The media will look at it for us (IpsosReid 2004: 18). Joanne Burgess chapter in Anderson and Gayles Inventing Places (1992) collection on cultural geography is a study of the role of the media in the politics of an international firms process to locate within a conservation area. She concluded that newspapers are not held to the burden of scientific proof and could often say things that others in the process cannot. The emotional appeal--the intrinsic value of the marshes to the environmentalists, which is often masked by a scientific rationale--was more direct (Burgess 1992: 248). While I expected that reporting on the process in the Beaver would be biased towards Oakvillegreens position, I found that the articles were generally low on rhetoric and provided an overview of the event at hand. The exception was in the Toronto Star, the GTAs daily newspaper. While North Oakville was barely discussed in the larger newspapers, this column by Royson James is a notable exception (James 2000): A Toronto region that has tied its future to unbridled growth now reaps the bitter harvest. It's a witches' brew of sprawl, congestion, smog, loss of prime farmland and haphazard development that cripples the prospect for public transit. A special section in today's Saturday Star brings home with 188 Negotiating Landscape

frightening clarity the impact of unchecked sprawl, one of the most damaging urban phenomena in the life and death - of cities. He goes on to identify North Oakville as one of the areas of sprawl with which he takes such exception. Locally, however, although the language was toned down in the Oakville Beaver the process was discussed as a conflict between residents, the town staff, town council and developers (Burgess 1992: 246), for example, At dispute is the amount and location of green space. The Town envisions a natural heritage system while developers favour less green space to allow less dense residential development (Blackburn 2006a). The newspaper in its review of the planning process walks a fine line in representing the town to the readers in ways in which they will accept. One of the historical roles of newspapers in boosterism for new towns and villages is pointed out by Michael Doucet in his review of the literature on urban land development in the 19th century; Once laid out, he writes, new urban land had to be promoted and sold (1982: 312). Then as now, developers and builders advertised their new communities in the newspaper. The newspaper cannot afford to offend its advertisers either. Perhaps because of their inability to rely on The Oakville Beaver, the Town took an aggressive approach to printing and disseminating their own materials about the process. Blueprint Oakville is the name of the media effort within the Town of Oakville used to sell the planning programme for North Oakville. With a consistent logo and idea to seek public input, this program is recognizable to those who have an interest in the process. Through Blueprint Oakville, information dispersion and public input were co-ordinated, which would normally be the sole responsibility of the planning department counter staff. For example, a package of materials was distributed at the charrette including a newspaper flyer including several articles about the Town, about the architectural firm Duany Plater-Zyberk and about charrettes in general. One article entitled Learning from the pastplanning for the future relates the history of the lakefront town and while it does not talk about the environment per say (except with reference to the large size of 189 Negotiating Landscape

the natural heritage system), it reads, The name Oakville was chosen to symbolize the abundance of oak trees in the area (Town of Oakville 2003: 7), always tying the towns identity back to nature. Other representations subdued With the focus on the debate about the environmental significance of the natural features in North Oakville, other representations of the landscape were overshadowed. Ideas about the rural idyll, the sense of place of this area, the farmed landscape, and, perhaps most significantly the representation of this landscape as a future urban growth area, were not given space in the debate to have the fullest discussion. Donald Meinigs The Interpretation of Ordinary Landscapes (1979) discussed in Chapter 2, identifies ten views of the same scene. In describing the dominant and alternative views in my research, I find his lenses a useful reminder of the ways in which the same landscape can be viewed by those with different interests. As discussed in Chapter 3, the countryside is often romanticized as pastoral. The rural idyll is based on ideas about communing with nature and a notion that life is better within a natural setting. The towns identity is represented in these terms, as I have discussed, but it seldom was in the process. The intent of conservation of the North Oakville lands was skewed towards its conservation value for natures sake, a wild nature, not a greenway for human use and recreation. People would be able to access the conserved areas in limited ways on marked trails or through interpretive centres. As much as science is the foundation upon which Oakvillegreen built its argument, at times the ideology of nature comes through. The quote above about the redside dace leaping in the sun is a good example of the mixing of the scientific and romantic views. The dace is a small minnow according to Environment Canada and while it is unexceptional as a fish, its presence as a vulnerable species has driven many of the management strategies of the subwatershed study. The poetic description draws a picture of the beauty of nature that would otherwise be destroyed by development in this place if it were not for ecological restoration offered by conservation science. 190 Negotiating Landscape

The idyllic view is put forward by Wendy Burton, who has drawn upon a great deal of the science in her active role in the communitys politics. In her remarks to Andres Duany during the charrette, she said part of our [Oakville residents] heritage is rural with farm kids getting rides to school on the back of milk trucks, turkey vultures flying over Sixteen Mile CreekWeve already lost a lot. This is a classic idyllic nostalgic view. And again, in concluding her remarks to the Greenbelt Task Force said, Just a week ago, as I was walking my dog in the peaceful early morning after a stormy night, I was enchanted to see two herons and a loon along the waterfront trail. I felt blessed. Let us try to share this blessing that Mother Nature has given us by making sure we leave room for nature in our neighbourhoods as we build our communities (2004). The language of experience and emotional attachment to nature and place do not have much purchase in the planning process in Ontario at the present time. The language of the process requires a focus on issues of planning and their description based on scientific proof. The planning process values standardized knowledge over experiencebased knowledge and Knowledge has also usually been considered most authoritative when presented in terms of numbers (Bocking 2004: 17). Standardized knowledge is that information gathered and represented in a standardized way that is applicable everywhere, the planning process uses words like defensible and reliable to describe useful information. Experience-based knowledge, of the kind used to describe a sense of place, is seen as anecdotal in spite of the opportunities offered by qualitative research methods. Sense of place within the Town not well articulated in the planning process Related to the idea of the rural idyll is sense of place. The sense of place of North Oakville study area was not represented in the process. As discussed in Chapter 2, sense of place comes from a personal sense of embeddedness within a landscape. The sense of place or character of an area is often described as the goal of an early step in a planning process where the communitys imagination of itself is drawn out to be reflected in policies for new development. While Duanys team in the charrette drew upon images of 191 Negotiating Landscape

Old Oakville, there was no discussion that I could find of the image of Trafalgar Township, or of these lands north of Dundas to draw forward into the plan. The sense of place of the rest of the Town is to be drawn over this land through urbanization. For the people who do live in the area, represented by the residents group RAND, their concerns focused on how they were going to individually fit into the denser residential environment proposed by the secondary plans (Knowlton 2006; Oakville 2004c: 23). Their area is identified by the Secondary Plan as transitional and their desire is to preserve the existing main east-west road (Burnamthorpe Road and its streetscape) as a two-lane character road (Oakville 2004c: 68). This required the relocation to the north of the main east-west road within the new urban area, to a major regional arterial (a new Burnamthorpe Road) and with an associated bridge over the Sixteen Mile Creek valley. The lived sense of place of residents was overshadowed by the debate about the environment and science, it was only perhaps at the charrette where there was public exchange about the local experience of the landscape. Negotiations between RAND and the Town were in committee meetings and between individuals. Local experience represented in the charrette, however, was largely discredited by Duany as he treated most of the people who spoke as NIMBY-exurbanites, unwilling to share their piece of paradise with the rest of society. Rather than drawing on the local experience of North Oakville residents or of this countryside, Duany saw his task as continuing the process of making urban Oakville using precedents of old town Oakville to design the new urbanity. The interest I have in this is due not merely because of my heritage studies background (and I do feel some frustration at the neglect of the heritage aspect and the perfunctory heritage study that was done; see Untermann McPhail 2004), but my bewilderment that the conservation of this landscape was so important to the urban residents of the Town, and to perhaps the newly arrived exurbanites in the study area, but not the long term residents whose opinion was expressed as follows: we cant have what we had, so we have to see what we can live with (Knowlton 2006). Similarly, one woman at the 2001 192 Negotiating Landscape

OPA 198 public hearing was frustrated with the impending loss of the rural setting for her dream home in North Oakville, but she did not spend time characterizing how she felt and instead demanded reparations from the Town for misleading her when she made inquiries about future planned change after purchasing her property (Oakville 2001a: [June 28]32). At the very least, the idea of a lived landscape did not dominate the process. North Oakville was not reported as having unique physical characteristics or imageability (Pacione 2001; Lynch 1981), other than the Sixteen Mile Creek valley, nor was there evidence of topophilia (Tuan 1974) discussed in the process. Neither does it have a strong sense of place as defined by the people I interviewed who do not live in the area, who may have been expected to visit or at least drive through the area. Based on my interviews, and readings of the transcripts of the process, I did not get a feeling that the townspeople or members of Oakvillegreen have personal experience of the place to which they are attached, and which they would be defending through the process (one gentleman at the 2001 public hearing did say that he took visitors from out of town for a drive in the country [Oakville 2001a: [June 28]46]). This is evidence that the symbolic quality of this landscape is what is mobilized in this process, not a tangible attachment to the land. Instead, the representation of North Oakville as the towns countryside, as a place of nature within the town, has meaning for people. Farmed landscape not represented The productive agricultural landscape was not front and centre of the valuation of this citys countryside as might be expected from the literature. With very few exceptions, the demise of farming as a result of development, and as a result of the proposed environmental management practices which would bring this landscape back to some imagined natural state, were not raised in protest. The evidence of this line of thought did surface during the OPA 198 public hearing in 2001 where the gentleman representing the Oakville Community Centre for Peace, Ecology and Human Rights talked about local food as a reason to prevent development of this land (Oakville 2001a: [June 28, July 5]). 193 Negotiating Landscape

In contrast, Burtons Our Oakville (2000) includes a profile of Norman Biggar, whose farm has been in his family for six generations since the first British settlement. He is quoted as saying, Its certainly with mixed emotions that I see the end of farming in OakvilleIt was what this community was built on. But the land is worth more now for development than for farming (2000: 96). One of the problems is the conflation of farmland and nature which I discussed in Chapter 3. A good friend of mine, a landscape architect, is fond of saying that just because its coloured green on the map, it doesnt mean its all the same thing, and I think she is right; there is a tendency to roll the productive landscape in with the natural un-built landscape. In his opening presentation to the charrette, Andres Duany showed a slide, saturated with the colour green, with a tree-shaded meandering river and farmed fields, calling the whole thing natural. While otherwise so careful with his representations with respect to the built environment, he never corrected himself for his conflation of farmland with natural areas. The productive agricultural landscape which I see as a dominant feature in the existing landscape is not described nor defended in the process. Environmental debate upstages growth agenda The dominance of the environment in the discourse of this case study has kept the growth agenda hidden from view (Sandberg 2006). Developers are talked about disparagingly while ecological research often seems apolitical and neutral as though the capital accumulation process is going on around the environmental experts and they do not see their role as complicit in making stable places for urban growth. The environmental science industry has grown around mediating development. North Oakville has been intended for urban development for years with the policy framework of the Region setting expectations of the development community. In spite of the protests by the local citizens groups, there was no question that this area would urbanize, it was a question of how. Yet the growth of the city in which the members of 194 Negotiating Landscape

the community had been so successful, the growth and opportunity that had indeed brought them here, was rejected. The representation of the landscape by land economics In the planning process, the group of people and companies involved in the development and construction of new homes and communities are vilified and this case study is no different. Rather than being seen in a heroic way as those who risk everything to build good quality homes and communities for Canadians, developers are seen as greedy speculators. To represent this landscape as valuable in economic terms from the point of view of the development community (Oakville 2004c: 26) is heresy: developmentsacrifices environmental values and common sense on the altar of developer greed according to the Sierra Club (Neill, Bonser and Pelley 2003) and from an Oakville resident, As a taxpayer, I balk at this [Regional capital expenditures planning for North Oakville]. If developers were to contribute to these costs it would concern me as I can only imagine the staggering amount of money they would expect to make in return. The greed in their eyes as they speak of development is frightening to behold (Oakville: 2002b[Feb 27]). The palpable tension between the residents, especially Oakvillegreen, and the developers was evident at many points in the process. Oakvillegreen, for example, refers to developers as ready with their bulldozers (Rodenburg 2005). In the 2001 OPA 198 public hearing, there was distrust of the process because some developers rose in support of the proposed amendment, obvious evidence that the policy must be flawed (Oakville 2001a). In my interview with David Stewart from Mattamy Homes, he spoke of his reluctance to be interviewed because of how his words can be misconstrued (Stewart 2006). Developers can be silver-tongued (James 2000) and live up to their oppositions cynicism about their claims with respect to the landscape especially as they seek to maximize the area of developable land on their property. In the process, they systematically questioned the environmental inventory and science behind protection and 195 Negotiating Landscape

restoration pointing out that areas identified are just farmland (Duany 2003). Lands are sterilized by aggressive environmental protection (Oakville 2004c: 26). Paul Lowes, planner for NOMI, discussed the pressure that developers and builders are under to get those pro formas to work. He said, the developers have a machine that has to pump out [units]they have staff and they have builders and they have to meet it. And theyll do whatever they can to meet it, and with the price of land going sky high, and the price of housing going sky high, they can do it, they can make [it] work. And the bigger you are, the more you have to pump out. There is no question that there is a lot of money at stake in the process and pressure from the developers to advance decision-making. The view of the landscape as natural does come in handy to the developer, however, after development permissions have been granted. No longer is nature something to be denied, but something to be celebrated. In my experience the developers in the planning process will fight to maximize the amount of developable land at every turn, denying readings as natural or valuable of existing landscapes, yet in the post-development stage, the marketing will turn promote the natural features, and the company will donate to local causes to be seen as part of the community. For instance, Monarch Homes in the new Bronte Community of Oakville set up a heritage fund after developing the community (Winkler and Holland 2006). The developers are commonly, in my experience, assigned responsibility for sprawl. Wendy Burtons comments to the Greenbelt Task Force earlier in this chapter explicitly say this (2004) and this is the result of the homogenizing tendencies of the modern world (P. Jackson 1989: 15). In the planning process, the development industry is ascribed a culture that is homogenizing and vilifying. There is little recognition of the great deal of discussion, research and thought, and deliberate action on their part. Developers are still people who are making decisions about future settlement. In practice, though, the development process is seen by many people as a black box where countryside goes in one side and houses are spewed out the other. This lack of recognition (until one is actively involved in such a process) of the social dynamics that 196 Negotiating Landscape

are involved further mystifies the process and induces apathy rather than participation in the human agency in the myriad of choices creating urban expansion that are made everyday. The consultants for the developers and the consultants for the Town spend a great deal of time combing through each others work and looking for ways to undermine the others conclusions. Especially in the realm of environmental science, the discussions become somewhat ridiculous as the Towns consultants are trying to create (restore) an ecological function where, in some cases, one barely exists, and the developers consultants are at the same time basing their analysis on the need for the most minimal protection of the natural features that do visibly exist with technical measures to mitigate development incursions into those. These two approaches are fundamentally at odds (see for example Section 5.1 of the Issues Response Report 2004). For the preparation of the Strategic Land Use Options Study, several background studies were undertaken to analyze the landscape. The LGL environmental study was one of several including transportation, finance and servicing. Following the Towns official plan amendment to designate the area as urban, and as input to the preparation of secondary plans, a great many additional studies were carried out (see Appendix D). The silos of the different disciplines in providing information for use in the preparation of the secondary plans is recognized by the Town planners in their report accompanying the release of the preliminary draft plans: The planners ultimately synthesize the work of environmental scientists, transportation engineers and the urban designers to start to determine the shape of new communities. This is the foundation of good planning (Oakville 2004a: 1). Balance is the keyword for the work of planners, although there was great debate on whether or not this was achieved. In her interview, the consultant for the Towns secondary plan said:


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a planner is a generalist, my role is to try to find the public interest, that amorphous thing, or the balance, the right balance, that will best serve the public. You achieve that in my mind by doing your background research, you look at your options and you select the one that has the least problems, but obviously when youre doing something like North Oakville, it becomes incredibly complex and the planner for NOMI agreed: Obviously we need to consider the environment, the PPS requires us to do it, the Towns OP requires us to do it, the Halton OP requires us to do it, but there is a balance, frankly, I think the people responsible at the public authorities did not show that balance. Earlier on in the SLUOS, in reading through the presentations of the choices made, the inability to make the trade-offs between disciplines is quite obvious. For instance, the transportation options (2000: 34) do not include discussions of impacts to environmental features or of existing built features, such as the streetscape of Burnamthorpe Road. Similarly, the rationale for identifying environmental features to preserve is based on ecological science and ratings of environmental significance, and not on the scenic quality with respect to future residents, or potential future road alignments, views or visual relief. In my experience, when transportation consultants proceed with their Environmental Assessments of potential options for a given roadway, for instance in this case the crossing of the Sixteen Mile Creek, the options are between various road configurations and engineering feats and costs, and social impact is given lip service. Plan for future road alignments or widenings should take into account the urban design impacts of larger roadways and discuss the trade-offs between fewer big roads versus more smaller roads on the future community, not just environmental impact on the creek valley. The type of residential community is not explicitly part of the early process -- choices are based on residential densities which can take many forms -- but which of course affect the broader urban structure considerations. Other than the natural heritage system, other issues did include: the density of the new residential areas and their fit with the existing character of Oakville; the Trafalgar urban core area having to do with height and density; the development of Dundas 198 Negotiating Landscape

Street as an urban core area; the cemetery proposed on recently purchased lands by the Roman Catholic Diocese at a major intersection in the proposed employment area; transit; as well as other land use issues specific to the respective landowners. Representations of this area as a future community were also overshadowed The charrette was an attempt to reorient the public to the actual planning of the urban area of North Oakville and was held at the end of the OPA 198 process (coinciding with the OMBs approval of the amendment) launching the secondary planning process. The preservation of natural areas is outside of the purview of new urbanism which strives for great urban spaces. Andres Duany attempted to direct participants attention toward how the new communities would be laid out within the new urban structure. During the charrette, he railed against what he referred to as the green crowd and said that he would like to move away from the discussion of more open space just for the sake of open space to which comments from the audience kept returning. In a clash of landscape representation, fresh from his tour of North Oakville he referred to the existing berm along the south side of Dundas Street as a wasteland when in fact the management approach to this particular landscape, constructed to shield noise and sight of traffic from the new homes to the south, was of a naturalized grassy meadow. He asked: why preserve more open space that you cant maintain? He invoked William Cronons The Trouble with Wilderness essay (1996) to refute the idea that everything has to be preserved. The landscape of North Oakville is farmland, he said, it is neither wilderness or is it any more making a living. Its not wilderness, its a farm! Its a stubble field, its not environmental (Duany 2003). Duanys comments were refreshing to me because he dared to confront the subtexts behind the natural heritage valuation. He went on to remark that environmental areas are virtually unassailable, everyone salutes and does it. Further, environmental issues in the competition for space for land uses are above the fray, they have a higher morality than urban uses. The result, he said, is there is little land leftover for development. He said that a lot of the green on the map is just farmland with very few creatures there except what farmers trample 199 Negotiating Landscape

everyday. This comment was met with tsk-tsking from a disapproving audience who imagine the wildlife to have a special purpose or status in the area. There was a discussion between Duany and the audience about permitted land uses in the environmentally sensitive areas and whether it was appropriate to allow areas for active use by residents, such as soccer fields, to which the audience replied that they are incompatible. Duany said he believed that the environmentalists in this case had convinced planners to create connected conservation areas when we have not given that same right to kids to walk from home to locally-accessible parks or soccer fields. He declared, the kids have a geographic right which we are giving to possums! He was trying mightily to bridge the desire for natural areas with the need to create liveable communities for future residents but the public in the audience were not buying his arguments. A member of the audience said that the Canadian Shield is just to the north of us and were going to lose our farmland, were going to have sprawl. Duany replied that he thought the urban fabric should be contiguous but the environmental features are spreading it out. The interspersed development erases farmland; its a hybrid that doesnt work. Either develop it fully and save farmland elsewhere, or group it together and save it here. Duany wanted to talk about urbanism for North Oakville and the absence of a discussion of good urbanism here is odd, since Oakville has made great strides in planning for new urbanism in the past. Oakville has one of the first new urbanist projects in Canada, Morrison Common in the River Oaks neighbourhood. Duany referred to the Uptown Core (he termed it the later stuff) as very good indeed: walkable, compact, transitfriendly, mixed use, pedestrian friendly. He said that the Uptown Core was as good as New Urbanism gets anywhere. (Both areas were inspired by Duany and the Congress of New Urbanism, but neither designed by his firm, see Berridge Lewinberg Greenberg 1987 and Chidley 1997). 200 Negotiating Landscape

John Bentley Mays, an urbanist and columnist for The Globe and Mail, a national newspaper, wrote a series of articles on North Oakville for Site Scope (Mays 2003). In reference to the charrette, he confirmed my experience with Duanys famous evangelical zeal and conviction in his presentations and brilliant illustrated analysis of whats right and whats wrong with contemporary cities. In this case he saw the ideology of nature as undermining city-building. For being blunt about trade-offs made in the urbanization process, I do not think anyone does it better than Duany, and his role at the beginning of the secondary plan process was to focus on building the town. The process throughout the OPA 198 process had been to defend urban expansion and the secondary plan process was endangered by its focus on the non-built area of town. In spite of Duanys efforts, the focus of the charrette at the end of the day was on the size of the natural heritage system and he produced several sketches depicting future plans for the area which differed according to the size of the natural area (Figures 22, 23, 24, 25). The need to focus on city building was represented by the Town through its economic department. The representation of North Oakville as a place of future economic growth was portrayed in several brochures promoting the Town for business investment and tourism (OEDA 2003b; Oakville Tourism 2005). A newspaper supplement about the town (also with cooperation from the OEDA) touts the secondary planning process by calling it one of the largest, most impressive secondary planning initiatives in North America and called the draft secondary plan a one-of-a-kind design that incorporates extensive green areas and an environmentally-conscious road layout (Tucker 2006). The Mayor is quoted as saying, Oakville is positioned to set a new bench mark for public open space (Tucker 2006). I point to this article because I see it as another example of the slip that occurs between the planning process and the building process: in the planning process, the focus is on preserving lands through environmental science, but in the future, the science is no longer front and centre, but the utility of the greenspace appropriated as a setting for homes and communities, not just habitat. The Mayor refers to the natural heritage system as public open space inviting it to be part of the community, where if the documents from the planning process were to be believed, the 201 Negotiating Landscape

emphasis is on environment first with human recreation and lifestyle second. In an interesting juxtaposition in the newspaper supplement, the next article promotes a new community in the western part of Oakville and is entitled The Bronte Creek Community builds on Oakvilles History and Natural Surroundings: Exclusive Enclave includes Homes Backing onto Bronte Creek Provincial Park (Winkler and Holland 2006). The article begins, Imagine living amongst ravines, rolling hills, Carolinian forests, preserved wetlands and 640 hectares of hiking, biking and cross-country ski trailsWhile each home offers an exceptional design and beautiful finishes, equal care is taken to preserve and protect the surrounding woodlands and ravines for families to enjoy generation after generationthe natural beauty of the area is seamlessly blended into the community. Serene pockets of woodlands, ravines, and a beautifully landscaped creek, are widely dispersed throughout the neighbourhood and marked with stone pillars and wooden benches. This blending of new housing with the natural environment, which also includes the protected old forests of Bronte Creek Provincial Park, adds additional allure and beauty to the undulating landscape (Winkler and Holland 2006). The article says that Bronte Creek will be home to over 1,600 families, so this example is on a much smaller scale than that of North Oakville. The article is followed by an ad for the community with 46-foot and 56-foot executive singles from $536,990. Oakvillegreens approach criticized Other groups identities are against Oakvillegreens. While Oakvillegreens approach to representing this landscape as environmentally significant dominated the process, their approach was criticized by others. In my interviews, Oakvillegreen was sometimes seen as unpopular because they represented one central view of environment first, rather than other views as I have just discussed in the previous sections. Others were opposed to their approach because Oakvillegreens objections lengthened the planning process, costing the Town money. Others thought that development of North Oakville was inevitable, and the focus all along should have been on how, instead of trying to block it altogether. Still others thought that it was a power grab on the part of certain individuals in Oakvillegreen. 202 Negotiating Landscape

The Strategic Land Use Options Study did not adopt Oakvillegreens position that the entire North Oakville area should be conserved. Following from the Regions official plan amendment, the SLUOS was initiated to amend the Towns official plan to be in conformity with the Regions. This growth management plan for the Town was sold as the need to prepare a locally controlled plan. The SLUOS report reads, If Oakville and Burlington were to maintain an agricultural designation for north Oakville in an effort to prevent urban development in north Oakville, a large number of appeals to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) would likely resultit is unlikely that a no development position put forward by either Oakville or Burlington would be upheld by the Board (Hemson 2000: 3). This statement is in direct response to the vociferous objection to the urbanization of these lands that was put forward by the local residents. A number of residents continued to express the desire to preserve as many of the environmental features in north Oakville as possible while members of the development community suggested that this goal is unrealistic without compensation (Hemson 2000: 6). In this quote, the consultants lay out the fundamental rift between one side and the other. The newly formed residents group (i.e. Oakvillegreen) is identified as requesting that all of the environmental lands in the LGL report be preserved (Hemson 2000: 7). This passage also indicates how the planning process is in tone dismissive of the highly emotional exchange that occurred during the process. The report intentionally (and I used to write them) writes over the emotion and reports only on the issues at hand. In reports, there is also a great attempt not to personalize comments or to attribute specific comments to any one person or group to protect them perhaps, and also not to be seen to point fingers. Extreme actions are dealt with by the political process and those who witness and participate in it. This is not to say that the level of emotion does not enter into the process, because the planners and residents I interviewed were still, years later, deeply affected by the interchanges that had occurred. This strategic process was intended to produce and compare alternative development options for the area, and in spite of opposition from Oakvillegreen, it did. The discussion 203 Negotiating Landscape

of normative values was exorcised from the report and planning issues were discussed only. It is refreshing for me to be on the outside of a process, as I can see how this brief recognition of the public sentiment encapsulates what must have been a frustrating experience for the planners. It has been a source of continual speculation by those that I interviewed how such an adversarial process occurred. One planner interviewed mused as to whether it was the fault of the planners that the process was designed in such a fashion as to allow a forum for this kind of negative and unproductive public input. Given that the decision had already been made by the Region to urbanize this area, spending time defending that decision was not productive, whereas getting on with the issues of urbanization would have been. But what this shows to me is that there was nowhere in the larger process for the public to present its concerns. The decision at the Region was too remote in scale, or too vague, or too removed in time to have real meaning for the local residents. Such protests, as far as the planning process was concerned, should have occurred back before the HUSP was approved in 1987, not in 1999 at the first SLUOS meeting. Decisions about growth are made at the large scale but participation by the public in governance at this level is difficult. But by the time the process begins to deal with issues at a local level, the big decisions have already been made. Biophysical science provided by government agencies and consultants For this planning process, various governments were required to describe the landscape as input to the planning process. In Chapter 2, I discussed the variety of ways in which the material landscape is described using geographic methods to present current and future activity patterns, and facilities. It is these objective approaches to representing the material landscape which are predominantly used by the process. How cultural values influence environmental science and how science is used to speak for cultural values is of interest to my research. I discussed Oakvillegreens willingness to represent the landscape as environmental, and they depended to a great degree on the work of the Towns environmental consultant 204 Negotiating Landscape

LGL, and the reports on the subwatershed study, and the Conservation Authority and the Provincial ministries through their participation in the Inter-Agency Review. The representation of the landscape as natural by the experts is worth exploring. First I will discuss how the landscape was represented and then I will discuss the rationale for doing so. The first study undertaken for the area, even in advance of its formal designation as a future urban area, was the LGL environmental study. It is accepted practice to undertake a review of the site first (Lynch and Hack 1984) but the focus of contemporary environmental studies in Ontario is not only to indicate lands which are not suitable for development because they are hazards (due to steep slopes, soil instability and potential for erosion or potential for flooding which was put in place after WWII and hastened after Hurricane Hazel), but to identify natural areas and natural features that warrant protection from urban development. Because of issues of flooding, most features associated with water movement across the land come under the purview of the Conservation Authorities Act, and great strides have been made in the protection of watercourses, not just major ones, but the movement of water through the watershed from rainfall to rivers. In the OPA 198 process, the first representation of the area was through the environmental inventory of the LGL study. It is interesting that this first description of the approximately 3,100 hectares (7,660 acres) North Oakville study area by LGL was as predominantly agricultural in character with 475 hectares (1,175 acres) of valleyland and 325 hectares (800 acres) of tableland forest (together about 25 per cent) (1999: 1). In the LGL report, in addition to the water features, stands of trees were identified as natural features, even though clearly these trees are at least second growth following the period of first settlement. As discussed in the history section, this area was completely cut


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over in the early to mid-1800s. Tree stands today are assumed to be areas that were previously farmed or used for lumber. 18 Where it gets complicated is in the identification of potential for restoration. The approach to biophysical study is carried out in the face of development. It is important to remember that an environmental inventory was undertaken because of initiation of the urbanization process. Natural features included: wetlands; woodlands; hedgerows; existing and potential candidate Areas of Natural and Scientific Interest; cultural thickets, meadows and savannahs; and rivers, streams and associated valleys. The identification of thickets, meadows and oak savannahs had not previously in my experience been identified as natural features but are part of an evolving approach to environmental protection within urban areas (Axon 2006; Howson 2006; Varga et al. 2006). The LGL report was input to the Strategic Land Use Options Study, the IAR, and the subwatershed plan. The SLUOS used the general approach to natural feature identification to propose an east-west greenspace across the study area that would conserve a great deal of the identified features as well as drawing in other features to produce a separation between the proposed employment lands to the north and residential areas to the south of it. This was largely a planning decision (Mathew 2006), not an environmental one. However, this land use separator soon took on the life of a natural conservation area defined through biophysical science. In the Draft Management Strategy Report for the subwatershed study (included as an Appendix in Oakville 2004a) the language of ecological carrying capacity is discussed as the management strategy approach: the determination of carrying capacity requires determining the number of people and types of land uses that can be supported or managed without degrading the current ecological processes and system health indicators, such as water quality, aesthetics, plant and animal populations and general quality of life

It would be very interesting to have the landscape histories of the individual woodlots identified for retention by the environmental study. In my reading of the LGL report, the IAR report and the subwatershed study, the analysis of individual woodlots did not contain evidence of trees predating British settlement nor were they robust in their present state.


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(Oakville 2004a(A): 1). Carrying capacity is an approach that is commonly used in land evaluation (Marsh 1998) but which is difficult to conceptualize in the face of urbanization as the ecological processes will of course be drastically affected. In addition to the idea of carrying capacity, the use of a systems approach to environmental protection is introduced and is put forward as the approach to environmental conservation that is not feature-based, but system-based, and gives rise to the proposed Nature Heritage System. This approach is not defended in the documents on North Oakville, except as a an emerging, innovative approach to natural heritage preservation (Oakville 2004c: 21), but it follows the strategy behind the creation of the Greater Golden Horseshoe Greenbelt, the provincial governments initiative, and the Greenbelt approach is defined as follows: The natural heritage system for the Golden Horseshoe Greenbelt is based on an approach to natural heritage management that has been both an accepted and evolving science for many years. This approach has been utilized in a number of jurisdictions including the United States and Canada. A natural heritage system is a system made up of natural heritage features and areas linked by natural corridors necessary to maintain biological and geological diversity, natural functions, viable populations of indigenous species, and ecosystems. These systems include lands that have been restored and areas with the potential to be restored to a natural state (MAH 2006a). The provinces use of the natural heritage system approach is entrenched in the Provincial Policy Statement and was notably used in preparation of the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan which was incorporated into the Greenbelt (MAH 2006a). The North Oakville natural heritage system is the first major plan to be undertaken following the process for protection of the Oak Ridges Moraine Plan and the Greenbelt and is informed by these successes in creating defensible protection policy (McCleary 2006). The following quote is taken from the Council motion to refer the draft OPA 198 back to staff for more work: That Staff develop policies for the protection of natural features and maintenance and creation of natural linkages that are modelled on the best 207 Negotiating Landscape

available science and with due regard for scientific work such as that used for the policies of Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan (Oakvillegreen 2002c; emphasis mine). The precedent set by the Oak Ridges Moraine plan and the subsequent Greenbelt encouraged the thinking that the better the science, the larger the conservation area. In a similar way, the quest for good science was embedded in the structural approach of the Planning Authorities Inter-Agency Review, termed innovative as it brought together various experts on natural heritage systems, to ensure that these planning efforts benefit from the best information available (Oakville 2004a: 2). In my experience, it has been the responsibility of individual consultants to draw upon the province ministries and the Conservation Authorities to obtain background information as required to prepare planning reports. The IAR is an attempt to have staff from each of the agencies to come together and bring the information with them to provide to the consultants. The result was, according to the planner for NOMI (Lowes 2006), The agencies came up with a system that I dont think the public that had any knowledge of land development had ever dreamed of or could have ever reasonably [expected]. The natural heritage system was produced through a complete and other process led by bureaucrats. The North Oakville landscape was represented by the environmental experts as having environmental significance, and as having environmental potential with the proper management. The residents helped to mobilize this scientific representation in the political process. All of this is not to say that the LGL report was accepted uncritically by Oakvillegreen. The citizens have been vigilant in their review of the experts findings and have openly opposed some of their detailed conclusions. Citizens are increasingly unwilling to uncritically accept the judgements of experts, and this has become one of the primary political dynamics of environmental decision-making (Bocking 2004: 4). The inventory itself (several local residents referred to themselves as naturalists and felt they new the landscape better than the experts, see Oakville 2001a and 2002b) and the relative environmental significance afforded to the features were up for debate. Oakvillegreen 208 Negotiating Landscape

was also frustrated throughout the process by the lack of support by the experts in identifying the Trafalgar Moraine as worthy of environmental conservation in the same way as the much larger Oak Ridges Moraine had been identified in a highly-political provincial move. Rob Burton called it Trafalgar Moraine denial (2006) and only recently has the provincial Ministry of Natural Resources identified the moraine as an area of natural and scientific interest (OMNR 2006) as a result of additional field research completed in the spring of 2003 to address concerns (IAR 2003a: 4). It is the provinces mandate that local municipalities plan to accommodate population and employment growth, yet it is the same province who is providing the rationale for conserving otherwise developable land. The province is advocating growth while at the same time taking care to protect the environment, yet they are not providing the leadership when at the local level when decisions have to be made about the balance between these two competing views. Keil and Graham (1998) argue that urban growth is being aided in contemporary times by natural heritage protection as policies regarding the environment underlie planning policy but are used to develop rather than conserve. Yet I believe that this case study shows the environmental policy is being used against growth and has the potential to inhibit local area urban expansion in other areas. The culture of science is rarely in evidence In Chapter 2, I discussed the culture of science article prepared by Sarah Franklin (1995) in which the notion that science is extracultural is raised. In keeping with much of my thesis, she sees the differences between natural facts and social facts as based in the culture-nature opposition. As this case study demonstrates, environmental science is a privileged site of representation (Duncan and Ley 1993: 7). The study methodology of the subwatershed studies and the habitat inventories were unchallenged, the results in some cases were, but the methodologies were not. The authority of science in its role as presenting the landscape in a certain way was beyond the reach of the planning process to question, in spite of the central place it had in policy making and landscape production.


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In studying the discourse in North Oakville, I found that the privileging of scientific description overshadowed the pastoral experience of nature. I wondered if this was part of a larger discourse about nature and I found a description of contemporary environmentalism by Peter Hay (2002) to be useful. He begins with an acknowledgment of the many environmentalisms that exist (indigenous, non-Western) but focuses on the schism between the Romantic view from which the countryside literature draws to theorize the rural idyll and the scientific view currently holding sway in cultural politics. While Romantic perceptions of the natural world are perhaps best appreciated through the writings of William Wordsworth, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, and represent their appalled reaction to the Industrial Revolution, they were antirationalist and questioned the Enlightenment trust in technology and progress. But Hay writes that contemporary environmentalism, beginning with Rachel Carsons Silent Spring in 1962, is a scientifically inspired movement politicized in response to the threat suggested by scientific assessments of pollution and population problems. He demonstrates how contemporary environmentalism has a base in a portentous ecosystemic science rather than a nature study aesthetics and while there is a place for intuition in science, the demands of the scientific method place rationality firmly in the driving seat (2002: 3-17). The rural idyll of earlier romanticism as an explanatory framework for the human experience of nature has given way to the scientific theorizing of the environmental impact of the human ecological footprint. The discourse in the case study is evidence of the rejection of any view of this countryside but as nature. Hay quotes, the claim that a given feature is natural is a way of refusing to consider the possibility of different ways of doing, thinking or being (2002: 23, quoting Phelan, 1993: 45). The use of technical and scientific language reduces opportunities for discussion. For instance, the core and linkages approach is based on current biophysical approaches. The LGL report began with using the feature approach and identification of core areas, and then looked to tie them together as part of a larger natural system (1999: 79-80). This systems approach to natural landscape study is not conceptually up for debate in the process. 210 Negotiating Landscape

Core natural features identified by IAR have ecological benefits (which are characterized differently from the hydrogeologic benefits of systems identified through the subwatershed study although at times they overlap). The IAR report indicates the criteria for core features as those which are diverse in terms of habitats or species (especially those with identified significance), large in size, contiguous with other areas, easily connected to other areas (in North Oakvilles case most valley features run north-south following drainage patterns yet the woodlots run east-west, perhaps affected by the settlement survey). These core areas together with the linkages will be a viable, functioning sustainable system (IAR 2003a: 7) in spite of its future urban context. The purpose of the LGL study was to undertake a detailed environmental inventory as input to the preparation of alternative land use plans in the OPA 198 process. From the interviews, it was apparent that the report sparked a public relations nightmare based on incongruities seen by the public with the report and what was seen on the ground. Robert Burton identified the problem with such inventories as: although they are intended to be value-free, they are not, and perceived manipulation of the rankings of the features was seen to be politically motivated, rather than just trying to get the science right. The LGL report captures and describes the landscape according to the ideas about natural habitat and the environmental science, and this trumps the other ways of knowing this place. The work of the LGL report was to represent the landscape through what Duncan and Ley call memesis or an effort to make an accurate copy of that landscape (1993: 2). But while the report was presented as an inventory, its findings were taken up by the IAR and subwatershed study to create an image of future nature. As Town staff explained: Components of the NHS exist, however, the NHS does not currently exist in its entirety, in the sense that one could walk through it at the present time and see and experience the system on the ground. It is a system which will have to be developed and then maintained and managed over time. It is for this reason that it is particularly important that the lands in the system be in public ownership. The more land there is in public ownership, the better the chance that the NHS can be established and properly managed in a sustainable manner (Oakville 2004c: 30). 211 Negotiating Landscape

Is the justification for the natural heritage/open space system (NHS) supportable? (Oakville 2004c: 25). This wording identifies one of the major issues of the secondary plan process identified by Town staff and asks a very specific question of the underlying unease with stretching the science past its previous boundaries (Cheatley 2004). Nancy Mather from the company Stantec Engineering, on behalf of her client NOMI in her comments to Duany at the charrette, said We do not agree with the extent of the core areas and we do not believe they can be justified by science (Mather 2003). What is meant by justified and other words like valid? The science with respect to the identification of the core areas is questioned by some of the developers without sound scientific explanation (Oakville 2004c: 25). Whose science can be trusted? Stephen Bocking argues in his review of the conservation of the Oak Ridges Moraine that there is a preference for public over private science and the science used by developers is tainted by economic interest, because consultants hired by developers were prepared to provide whatever results their employers required (2005: 619, 623). Critical appraisals of the systems approach are presented by Miriam Diamond et al. (2002) in their report on the use of restoration ecology in the case of the Oak Ridges Moraine, and provide an excellent review of the development of the science behind the core-linkage approach to natural heritage system also adopted in Oakville. There is recognition in the approach about the lack of guidance provided by policy with respect to balancing ecological priorities with other planning issues, especially the economics of urban development, they write: the constant struggle to achieve a balance (which is altogether undefined in either time or scale) between competing policies (Diamond et al. 2002: 9). Another critical debate is presented in a recent issue of Conservation Biologist (2005, Volume 19, Issue 1). The concerns of conservation biologists with respect to their role in representing landscapes through science are debated and the central purpose of biologists is agreed by the authors to concern the following: how nature functions collectively in a given space over time; the [non-human] species that inhabit that space; the aesthetic 212 Negotiating Landscape

appearance of nature (Lutz Newton and Freyfogle 2005). But where was the aesthetic discussion in North Oakville? I could found a reference in the IAR report which indicated that only those features which are not part of the core and linkage system because of their relatively small size or outlying location within the study area are said to have minor environmental value and only then is the aesthetic-- i.e. non-scientific -value recognized as a criteria for possible future protection within development areas (IAR 2003a: 9). And while the language of science pervades the discussion of the natural heritage system focusing on preservation and restoration of the features in the subwatershed study (Oakville 2004a(A)) the management strategy indicates that aesthetics is at work as well as quality of life, but these ideas are not defined much less studied with respect to this landscape. The places in North Oakville with greatest aesthetic value are not identified except by the urban design study for which I did not see one reference in the negotiations. Ideas about preferred cultural attributes of landscape surface in the text, for instance in the experts desire to create oak savannahs where no hard evidence exists to prove their pre-colonial location or extent in landscape. In the LGL report, under the subtitle original vegetation patterns, the description of the presettlement vegetation is drawn from the field books of the original land surveyors, and the consultants note that surveyors descriptions tall pine and oak are limited and provide a coarse view. Discussion of what types of vegetation may have been in this otherwise current inventory identifies oak savannah and prairie plants (1999: 23) which seems unusual in its speculation, with no discussion of why these particular vegetative communities important, until later when we realize that these descriptions are in support of the cultural meadows and open country conservation and restoration approach as part of the natural heritage system. The importance of the oak tree in the imagination of the local Oakville community is obvious, and was recently demonstrated in a successful community effort to raise funds to preserve a single magnificent tree on the property of the Halton Regional offices (see the website Halton 2006d). The community raised almost $350,000, prepared a limited edition print of the tree, and compiled a biography of 213 Negotiating Landscape

the trees life beginning three hundred years ago (Figure 26). Denevan (1992) in his article about the imagination of pre-settlement ecology provides an excellent discussion to contextualize how some may wish to recreate a natural setting the way it was before colonization. The scientists could only be expected to acknowledge at some point their complicity in having their science used to defend normative valuations of the landscape. A resident at the charrette said to Duany, I think much of what we talk about with respect to Sixteen Mile Creek is aesthetic, not scientific or objective. Woodlots have very strong aesthetic values, but no environmental ones. (Resident B 2003). Science is drawn into the current societal valuation of trees. Cutting trees even on private property is against the law in Oakville with their new tree by-law. Science supports the creation and improvement of vegetative canopies over streams, the use of trees to mitigate the effects of air pollution, and the retention of woodlots as habitat. The Town recently completed a study of their urban forest to give scientific evidence of the ecological benefit of the towns trees, especially the large stature trees (Arnott 2006). In support of the trees, the LGL report asks: can tableland woodlots sustain potential direct and indirect disturbances arising from urban development within them or adjacent to them without causing significant tree decline and mortality? (LGL 1999: 31). The change from a private woodlot in the countryside to a publicly-accessible woodlot in the city is nature reimagined. Further, forest management recommendations are intended to help ensure the long-term preservation and maintenance of healthy, productive woodlands that are capable of providing local residents with various amenity values (LGL 1999: 35) but the focus of these recommendations is on maintaining and enhancing the oak component of woodlots where it is still feasible to do so with a reasonable level of effort (LGL 1999: 35). [H]igh value trees should be encouraged, especially oak of all types, and this will require logging and management interventions, including sowing acorns, and no native species should be eradicated from any woodlot (LGL 1999: 36). The embedded cultural value of the oak tree in an environmental analysis characterized as technical input providing sound technical judgement to 214 Negotiating Landscape

clearly define areas where development can occur (1999: 2) brings into question the validity of the underlying science. With a similar leap of faith as with the trees, the redside dace is identified in the original LGL inventory as the most sensitive species. It is a minnow-like fish and while lacking the charisma of pandas or polar bears, it is temperature sensitive and support of its habitat requires active intervention (i.e. planting plans) to improve the vegetative cover of streams. Since this is a provincially threatened species and a species of conservation concern nationally it is imperative that those streams that support redside dace maintain a thermal regime conducive to the species (Oakville 2004a(A): 10). A late afternoon summer water temperature in the Fourteen Mile and Morrison Creeks should be equal to or less than 18 degrees Celsius (65o F) (Oakville 2004a(A): 12), quite a challenge in southern Ontarios summer heat. In terms of the ideology of nature supporting the science, one resident said at the charrette in defence of the approach to valuing the environmentally significant areas that there is only one species represented at this meeting, yet there are 100 out there (Resident C 2003). Duany replied, this is so misanthropic! Im a human and I object! He railed against those in attendance (at the Saturday morning environmental session) as to how we as a society have gotten to a place where Any human in nature is a problem (Duany 2003). The division between culture and nature is widening, given the evidence in this case study, as suspected by the theoretical discussions of Braun and Castree (1998). How we have come to this moment where we are willing to accept science to make the case for things that are cultural? Turning to Foucault is useful to think about the culture of science. The belief system of the scientists is hidden by the language and structure of the assessment process. Consider the following quotation by Hoy regarding Foucault: His project owes an acknowledgement to Hegel, who criticizes Kant for looking only at the explicit moral rules instead of at the underlying ethical substance that allows the moral code to function. For Hegel and Foucault the ethical substance includes the background of shared understanding of 215 Negotiating Landscape

what it is to belong to a particular community and to aspire in practice to being a good person there (Hoy 1986: 16). While I realize Foucault was interested in madness, criminal behaviour and sexual deviance, I see his approach as also making sense for environmental science. What is considered to be a self-evident truth, for example saving large trees and small fish, is not up for discussion. For example, within the North Oakville process, it was assumed that certain bird species and their habitats would be found here, and the LGL report provided a list of species that the North Oakville area may be expected to support (LGL 1999: 44; emphasis mine) indicating that they do not even know for sure, where and in what quantity certain species are found in this area. The large size of the study area was seen as an impediment by LGL, an area just under thirteen kilometres (eight miles) long and two and one-half kilometres (one and one-half miles) wide. Only 38 days in the field were spent by five wildlife consultants and 22 days in the field for the vegetation scientist in the summer of 1998, a year that was considered to be was a record dry season for southern Ontario (LGL 1999: 42; 61). [T]he poorly defined character (both topographically and vegetatively) of the majority of watercourses is listed as a challenge to the creation of the natural heritage system. This means that standing there in the farmers field, you cant see anything (Duany 2003). Although the report states that it provides a sound ecological foundation based on scientific principles and professional judgement (1999: 80), it would seem that the emperor has no clothes: few birds were seen and there was a drought when the hydrogeologists did their work! Traditionally, planning has concerned itself with the built environment, and greenlands are defaulted to parks, open space and non-developable lands. Through recent initiatives at the federal, provincial and regional levels, natural heritage features and areas have become a fundamental component of the planning process. Balancing environmental objectives with other social, economic and development objectives is recognized as essential for both ecosystem function and survival, as well as for sustaining valuable resources upon which many local economies depend, and investments are made. Planning for the protection and restoration of natural heritage features and areas and their ecological functions within rapidly urbanizing areas of the GTA is an important means to preserve the quality of life for existing and future residents of the Town of Oakville (LGL 1999: 80). 216 Negotiating Landscape

This passage is an example of a typical passage in a planning report which says everything as it says nothing. The rationale for this approach is not defined, but assumed in the language, for example Balancing environmental objectives with other social, economic and development objectives is recognized as essential for both ecosystem function and survival, as well as for sustaining valuable resources upon which many local economies depend, and investments are made means balancing is essential which is meaningless. In translation, the wording means that the natural environment has historically been ignored, and now steps are being made to put it on a more equal footing with other demands on the landscape. Similarly, preserving the quality of life is an empty statement, although the presence of greenlands are an unstated component (Environics 2001). The preservation of ecological features, such as the Sixteen Mile Creek, in ways that will restrict human use will preserve the quality of life for those future residents how? What work will this socially constructed nature do? To sum up the approach to the environmental approach in the process, Peter Cheatley, Planning Director, made the following points in a presentation to a planning conference (Cheatley 2004). He said, the core areas approach to environmental preservation is new, and basically untried identifying lands for preservation that traditionally have been developable. But, he says, the natural heritage system is an improvement over the identification of scattered features, that may not survive urbanizationIt identifies lands for preservation that traditionally have been developable (Cheatley 2004). The management of the natural heritage system will be such that nature will be the dominant future reading. Yi-Fu Tuan encapsulates the question of this section: We can approach the preservation of wetlands, for instance, as scientists and lay aside the question of why people want them preserved and what our own attitude to preservation might be. But is this possible? (Tuan 2004: 730).


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Environmentalism within society provide epistemological space for the dominant reading The discourse of environmentalism has been drawn into the planning process in support of the conservation of the natural heritage system and against urban growth. Environmentalism is a social movement dedicated to the protection of the environment according to Hay in his review of environmental thought (2002). Due to increased recreational contact with nature, increased affluence, and the widespread availability of literature on environmental problems, people have been spurred into mobilizing politically (Hay 2002: 248). We now have thirty years of good data on changes in the physical and biological characteristics of the urban fringe--on agricultural and open space land conversions, biodiversity loss, and the health of major watersheds (Press 2002: 7). In Ontario, with the conservation authority studies, it is even longer, for instance the Sixteen Mile Creek was studied as early as fifty years ago in anticipation of the creation of Halton Conservation (Ontario Department of Planning and Development 1956). The lands closest to urban centres where protection for habitat preservation and recreation are most needed (2002: 7) are the focus of the open space preservation movement in the United States, according to Press (2002: 7). He provides a familiar perspective on the costs of rapid urban growth from the environmentalists point of view of the impact of urban growth: loss of farmland; traffic congestion and distance traveled; air quality; cost of growth to existing taxpayers; loss of species habitat; and watershed decline (Press 2002: 10). As an example of the difficulty for the planning process of defining urban growth impacts so broadly, that at its worst uses the label sprawl and prevents discussion, this typical environmental approach is too all-encompassing resulting in the either you preserve it or you dont attitude that Oakvillegreen adopted. The reliance on environmental science in the case of North Oakville to substantiate the ideals of environmentalism was problematic.


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In Ontario, according to a recent Sierra Club report, it is becoming increasingly apparent that current patterns of sprawl development are unsustainable. This report has illustrated that low density uncontrolled sprawl development is economically, socially and environmentally more costly than high-density smart growth development (Neill, Bonser and Pelley 2003). As I have shown in this dissertation, North Oakville has been anything but uncontrolled yet it is characterized in this document as sprawl. Oakvillegreen wants to stop it, as it sees all urban growth as sprawl, and yet for the planners in involved in the process, this is really as good as it gets for planning today. The Sierra Club is perhaps unintentionally suggesting a moratorium on any new greenfields development and is discounting the attempts through this process to develop a high density, transit supportive, environmentally sustainable community. In the planning process, Hemson takes direct aim at this type of thinking in their Strategic Land Use Options Report. The report responds to criticisms that urban sprawl should not be condoned by the Town in the form of development on the lands north of Dundas. Urban sprawl generally means unplanned, scattered low density development. The main achievement of the HUSP was the establishment of areas for new compact communities contiguous with the existing Oakville and Milton communities, while maintaining a significant agricultural and open space separation between Oakville and Milton. In a regional context, north Oakville is well-managed growth; the opposite of urban sprawl (Hemson 2000: Appendix 1, p. 5). Influences of environmentalism in North Oakville The Oakvillegreen website quotes many sources for its inspiration and information. The two councillors interviewed who began as members of Oakvillegreen also quoted many sources in support of their claims about the need to conserve North Oakville and stop sprawl. Examples include David Gurin, environmentalist of the Suzuki Foundation, the Foundation itself, and the Environmental Commissioner for Ontario, the Physicians of Ontario, and the Pembina Institute. Broader societal discourse on the need for affordable housing, equality of access to good housing by income and race, community-based health 219 Negotiating Landscape

care, support of the arts community, and other issues that have to do with the built environment were not explicitly discussed. David Gurin had been retained by consultants to the town In order to test the key directions in the [secondary] Plan with respect to concerns with urban sprawl and impacts on the environment. Gurin was author of Understanding Sprawl: A Citizens Guide prepared for the Suzuki Foundation. He concludes that the plan exemplifies sensitivity both to the natural environment and to many of the requirements for building a sustainable town (Oakville 2004a: 13). Drawing upon the social capital of the Suzuki Foundation is an interesting move by consultants to the Town to engage the planning for North Oakville with the broader dialogue about urbanization taking place in the Toronto area. Perhaps a stronger media intervention would have been required to counterbalance the discussion of sprawl and natural heritage destruction that flooded the internet by Oakvillegreen. David Suzuki is a famous Canadian environmentalist, a widely recognized Canadian figure. He received the Order of Canada and navigates between television, lecturing and writing. The kind of information ordinary Canadians would see who are interested in environmental issues would likely come in part through Suzuki. He is listed as an Indigo trusted advisor according to an advertising flyer I received from one of my bookstores in the mail (Suzuki 2006). In the flyer he lists suburban sprawl as one of a litany of problems faced by our society and sprawl is up there with global warming and species extinction. He states his purpose to raise awareness about the collision course I see between our society and the natural world upon which we depend. He asks the reader to demand answers from politicians and do not accept the status quo. This language is nothing less than a call to arms by a respected naturalist and journalist. The outcome of the North Oakville planning process is affected by local reaction to statements such as his. The fight against sprawl in Oakvilles back yard was in the name of global environmentalism.


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The Environmental Commissioner for Ontario provides a good example of the influence of broader environmental discourse. The release of his 2004-5 annual report is quoted on the Oakvillegreen website. In the report he says, The ECO has noted the growing development pressures in southern Ontario, and we have expressed concern about the long-term ecological soundness and sustainability of current sprawling development patterns (ECO 2005: 35). I point to this particular example because it is this kind of broad statement that is co-opted by residents and interpreted to mean that sprawl must be stopped. While I realize that an environment commissioner is purposefully singleminded, the result in terms of information dissemination fails to discuss the trade-offs that need to be made. One of the underlying difficulties faced in planning for North Oakville is a deep-seated distrust by some people in the process of the need to grow (the growth agenda). The ECO says in his statement at the beginning of the report, Why must the population grow at this rate in parts of southern Ontario? There are those that argue that such expansion is essential to support our consumptive economy. It is necessary to create jobs and a future for our young people. Growth is needed to protect our tax base and the infrastructure it supports. But is this true? (ECO 2005: 5). This type of statement, quoted on the Oakvillegreen website (2007a), gives the impression that whether to grow or not at the local level is a local choice. The ECO is right when he says further that the planning models we use may just be too simple to cope with the complexities of the times (ECO 2005: 5) because leaving such large decisions to be addressed at the local level is absurd. If, as he suggests, the level and pace of growth that we are experiencing in southern Ontario is unsustainable from an environmental perspective, then what would have to change? Our federal immigration policy would have to be limited from current levels, our economy would have to change so that economic performance was no longer predicated only on growth or perhaps the number of housing starts should be deleted from GDP measures. But these are not discussions to be held in the Town of Oakvilles Council Chamber, surely, they should be held also in the House of Commons where the choice can actually be made (at least until the next election). At the local planning level in the current political and economic climate, accommodating growth is a fact. 221 Negotiating Landscape

The report of the Physicians of Ontario is another report that was referred to by Oakvillegreen and has been widely reported on the local news. This report describes sprawl and current development patterns as causing some current health problems (Abelsohn et al. 2005). This medical analysis supports planning of communities with increased densities which are less car-dependent. Oakvillegreen brandished this report as an argument against urbanization, rather than in support of the new urbanist style of development being proposed. The Pembina Institute is a not-for-profit environmental policy research organization. Their 2003 report entitled, Building Sustainable Urban Communities in Ontario: Overcoming the Barriers is an example of more information about the negative effects of sprawl and the need for communities in Ontario to do something about it: The continuation of the current patterns of urban development in southern Ontario presents serious threats to the provinces environmental and economic health. The consequences of remaining on a business-as-usual path in terms of lost farmland and greenspace, growing congestion, worsening air quality and unsustainable infrastructure costs are well understood and accepted (Winfield 2003: 46). There is no lack of information on the environmentally destructive effects of sprawl. The internet encourages the dissemination of information by groups such as Oakvillegreen. The evidence against sprawl from the environmental view is overwhelming and enlarges the case against urbanization. Focus on environmental science a metanarrative for things left unsaid Preserving nature in the face of imminent destruction is the preoccupation of the planning process in this case study. I have presented the view that environmental science is left to do much of the work of producing the value of conservation in the context of the planning process. But it remains to be seen what is behind the effort to conserve this land? What do proponents hope to gain through the conservation of this countryside and the nature imagined to be there? 222 Negotiating Landscape

Anti-growth sentiment, race, and last settler syndrome, or fear of change, are the motivations for political involvement in the process and ideas for which the environmental significance of the landscape stands in. These are rarely explicitly discussed in typical planning processes, and only by Duany in this particular case study. Environmental protection is a self-evident benefit that need not be defended in principle. However, in my interviews there was a great deal said about the motivations of those who did not want urbanization. Anti-growth sentiment Rob Burton, now Mayor of Oakville, said in his interview, I think theres a pervasive sense throughout Oakville that growth and development over the last 30 years has been too rapid, too intense, and too expensive, and because this area is the last remaining undeveloped area of Oakville, all across Town people believed that this was Custers last stand to try to turn [things] around (Burton 2006). In this case study where the city is being planned to expand into the countryside, these sentiments are expressed as antiurban (what people do not want), rather than in terms of what they do want in a new urban area. Duany called urbanization trading down. He said that there was a huge trading down from the existing rural landscape to a typical suburban landscape. He showed a slide with a meandering river, farmed fields, saturated with green and compared it to the conventional suburbia that is typically built. In a brief position statement distributed at the charrette, Duany stated At one point in time, the word growth held positive connotations; better jobs, better shops, better education, a better quality of life. Mention the word today, and opinions about traffic congestion, inflated taxes, crowded schools, and paving-over the landscape can be heard in every direction (Duany and PlaterZyberk n/d). His opinion is echoed by Liz Howson, lead planning consultant for the preparation of the secondary plans. She said it was no surprise that there is resistance to growth in the community as most of what is built is schlock (Howson 2006).


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Wealth becomes important not because it buys consumer goods but because it buys quiet, solitude, clean air, or access to relatively unspoiled nature (Levy 2000: 222). There has been a criticism mounted, especially by the planners involved in the process that the residents are seeking to defend their privilege (Levy 2000: 222). Oakville is known in the GTA as a place where wealthy people live. According to Mathews history, this was perhaps always the case. She described the settlers as being more than one-third associated with the Church of England which was identified with the upper class colonial society (Mathews 1953: 106). She concludes It would therefore seem that the Toryism and set class distinctions, so characteristic of Oakville at a later date [she means, I think, at the time of her writing the book in the 1940s] which segregated it from the surrounding district, existing almost from the beginning (Mathews 1953: 106). If this is true, then Oakvilles identity has been self-fulfilling and this process is yet another moment in embedding this view in ways in which future residents will continue to see Oakville as privileged. In 2004, Alec Scott, a writer who grew up in Oakville, wrote a piece about the Town for Toronto Life, a Toronto area magazine. His article is entitled, Pleasantville recalling the movie with the title of the same name, Quaint, picturesque and at a safe remove from big-city ills, Oak Oakville is the perfect place to grow up. Meeting the towns expectations, however, is another matter, reads the sub-heading. He focuses on Old Oakville that historical square mile of the downtown focused on its mainstreet Lake Shore Boulevard. He writes that although Oakville became a suburb of Toronto, it has kept its small-town mentality. What interests me about the article is the focus on the symbolic centre of the Town, with its heritage homes and heroic history and on the mansions lining the lake: when people talk about Oakville, its usually Old Oakville to which they are referring. He writes, Gone is the English circumspection about consumption; Oakville now gleefully participates in the American-led consumerist orgy (Scott 2004: 94, 96, 100).


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In terms of anti-growth sentiment, the debate about the population and employment target that were set for North Oakville of 55,000 people and 900 hectares of employment land is worth discussing. In planning, such targets are used to give a range of size to use to plan for service provision. The target is based on early estimates of the available developable area of the actual landscape, and in this case these were done early on in the HUSP process in the early 1990s. Burton took issue with the way in which the target population of 55,000 people was reached. He believes that the Mayor misled people by saying that the province ordered the town to grow and instead saw it as a process of negotiation with the province, the region and all four towns as to the allocation of growth to each. Burton felt that it was in these early times that the Town dealt away its future not fear of losing local control at the OMB. In Canada, there is a perception that as the worlds second largest country by geographical area and with such a relatively small population, that sprawl is a bit of a joke. People already living in the Toronto area wonder why everyone else has to live here too. Burton said that Canada is a big country and there are a lot of places to accommodate population growth, If you do not set up a spot for them to come here then they can go elsewhere (2006). Even the Environmental Commissioner hints that it is wrong for the countryside around the Toronto area to be under so much growth pressure, when communities in northern Ontario are declining (ECO 2005). No matter what the dominant representation of this landscape is, the residents were opposed to growth. Some people in the process were truly concerned with the natural habitat found there, others perhaps using it as a tool to stop the growth of the town, but whether it is a verifiable fact scientifically, or an abstract idea, both have political weight that can be mobilized against urban growth. At the very least, this lengthens the process, puts a focus of resources (monetary; the time of certain experts and consultants versus others; what can be discussed reasonably with the time allotted).


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Race Issues of race are difficult to discuss at the best of times, and the planning process is no exception. In my interview with Mayor Ann Mulvale, she said that she believed that the opposition to development in North Oakville had a lot to do with the fear of who the new residents might be. The Mayor is a long-time resident of the Town and she felt that the reaction to growth is in large part a NIMBY reaction to racial diversity. The lack of racial diversity in Oakville causes the town to stick out like a sore thumb next to the cultural diversity that is everywhere else but here in the Toronto area according to IpsosReid (2004: 11). Even with the Mayors assertion, and she was Mayor for eighteen years (Blackburn 2006c), it is difficult to provide evidence to substantiate a claim that the representation of this landscape as environmental is in fact motivated by exclusionary ideas. Duncan and Ley (1993) wrote, In practice it is usually a white, male, elite, Eurocentric observer who orders the world he looks upon, one whose observations and classifications provide the rules of representation, of inclusion and exclusion, of precedent and antecedent, of inferior and superior (Duncan and Ley 1993: 2; also Rose 1993). As I have discussed, the expert gaze of the biophysical scientists was one removed from the scene but in an interesting twist, the expert gaze was abetted by the equally problematic gaze of a privileged citizens group. The following quote from Burgess (1992: 236) encapsulates the point that I am trying to make in this section, which perhaps rather than just race should be expanded to consider gender and class. Burgess writes of the definition of cultural politics as: different groups representing sectional interests are locked in struggles over the meanings and values of plants, animals and landscapes threatened by development. The crucial point is that these groups are differentially empowered, depending, for example on whether or not they have access to political elites, whether they are able to draw upon finance to support their proposals, whether they are able to mobilise the mass media to promote their particular ways of seeing, classifying and explaining actions and events. 226 Negotiating Landscape

In an elite town, Oakvillegreen was able to wield power, including the newspaper and including the political process. In my experience with my family in Oakville, as well as in stores and coffee shops during the three years of my research it is obvious that most people in the community are white. Some of the new neighbourhoods appear to be slightly more diverse, based on the schoolchildren that I saw and on realtors on real estate signs. In terms of participation in the planning process, the people with whom I came into contact during my research rarely included visible minorities. Every one of the people I interviewed appeared to be white. During the charrette, I made note of the audience, and over the course of the fiveday event identified only two or three people of colour. Will there be class and education differences between the new residents and existing residents of town? As my review of the Statistics Canada data showed at the end of Chapter 5, Oakville is becoming more diverse over time. How newcomers involvement or non-involvement in the future planning of North Oakville will affect the development of the town remains to be seen. In the planning process, longer-term residents are typically seen to have greater legitimacy to their involvement; most delegates identify themselves by name and length of residency before Council (Oakville 2001a). There is an assumption to a more authentic right to property with long time inhabitation that also arises as an issue in participation (Rampen 2006). It was Mike Davis who illustrated how in the Los Angeles area, residents of the communities with the highest natural amenities used environmental science to stop growth in their area (1990). We provide different amenities form the city, and chief among those is green space. This is not a case of selfishness or NIMBY-ism. This is recognition that variety is the spice of life (Citizens 2003: 9). But green space is not just green space with no other social cost, the reification of nature is a mechanism of exclusion (Duncan and Duncan 2001: 389), whether unwitting or not because natural area preservation reduces the amount of development land for other uses such as affordable housing (Duncan and Duncan 2001: 389). The desire for green space without 227 Negotiating Landscape

critically examining the social cost is a symptom of the problems human beings have with each other as much as it is a concern over environmental degradation. The absence of a theoretical debate in environmentalism is this unwillingness to unpack the larger social context (Hay 2002: 69). Last settler syndrome One issue that arises as part of the planning for growth is the last settler syndrome. In my experience, it is not unusual at public meetings for residents of new homes to state that they had moved to a particular community because it was away from the city, overlooking the countryside, and they are shocked to discover news of the next phase of development. The person who has made such a move would in many cases want to be the last person who does so--thus the Im on board, now pull up the ladder syndrome. No one who is active in suburban planning can long remain unaware of such motivation (Levy 2000: 216). People choose their homes and communities based on what they see; many do not research the proposed changes before they decide to buy a home. One resident of North Oakville described her frustration in buying their dream home only to witness the subsequent construction of Highway 407 and plans for future urban development around them (Oakville 2001a). Russell Mathew related a similar story of a recently-arrived resident living south of Dundas protesting the development of his view to the north (Mathew 2006). Fear of change is at the heart of peoples reaction to proposals for change, especially on such a massive scale as the urban expansion of the Town into North Oakville. From a lifestyle standpoint, most people do not like change. More people would tend to indicate more traffic, more students, more people in line at the supermarket. Indeed, the Environics report stated that Oakville residents want their town to remain unchanged with 87 per cent reporting that in ten years they would like the town to stay the same. They are very concerned about threats to their communitys ambiance, especially rapid development (2001: 22).


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The representation of the landscape as natural dominated politically, in the end In this chapter, I have presented an analysis of the discourse within the planning process that demonstrates the representation of this landscape was the focus of this process and that landscape values are deeply political. Use of environmental science silences debate about other landscape and social values. The political effect of this representation was an attempt to block growth altogether, and when that decision was made anyway, an attempt was made to ensure that the protected greenspace within the new urban area was as large as possible. This in itself is a clear message that nature is valued over the built environment here. New development is seen to mean the influx of different people, an increased tax burden, increased burden on social services and roads; in total, a reduction in the perceived quality of life for existing residents. Although I have stated that the representation by environmental science dominated, I am not the only one to think so. In a world where it is typically thought the real estate view of land dominates, many see North Oakvilles natural heritage system produced against this dominant view as a victory. Nevertheless, the issue of the size of the natural heritage system was questioned and debated throughout the process. Discussed in terms of the notion of balance, the issue as to whether too much emphasis was being placed on the environment in planning for the future urban area was raised in this process. The issue of balance was identified in the release of the preliminary draft secondary plans in February 2004 where Town staff commented that not one of the four plans prepared through the charrette completely and successfully struck a balance between protecting the natural environment, enhancing economic competitiveness (i.e. meeting the 900hectare target for employment lands) and fostering a healthy, equitable society (Oakville 2004: 12), and the proposed secondary plans tried to address this. The senior planner who authored the report writes,


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Planning, as many of the contributors note, is a matter of balance. The appropriate balance for a particular area is arrived at through a review and analysis of all the available information and after detailed public review. The preliminary draft secondary plans reflect an initial step in the process required to determine the appropriate balance, but the process for achieving that balance is not yet complete. The preliminary draft Secondary Plans reflect a first attempt at putting together a comprehensive plan for North Oakville. Individual pieces of information (e.g. suggested parkland requirements, proposed natural heritage system, proposed transportation system), which had been put forward without detailed consideration of each other, can now be examined in a comprehensive manner [the role of the planner]. This change in context has identified issues which now must be reviewed, and which will lead to changes in the plans (Oakville 2004c: 19-20, emphasis mine). Here, he acknowledges that the environmental science has proceeded without regard for other community-building issues, and states that it is up to the planners to bring forward for examination the balancing of the different values. But was it too late by this point because of raised expectations with respect to the environment? Later, in November 2004, the Preliminary Draft North Oakville East and West Secondary Plans, Issues Response Report commented on the public reaction to the proposed plans and still balance is identified as the central issue. On one hand, the report questions whether the natural heritage system is too big, There is a perception that the environmental and public facilities are just too big and too costly, and that the remaining developable lands will therefore be developed at a density which is too high for Oakville (Oakville 2004c: 20). On the other hand, the notion of any development in North Oakville was still seen as a failure by Oakvillegreen. The Towns Stakeholders Advisory Committee in their comments on the Preliminary Draft Secondary Plans, show some hesitation in the size of the natural heritage system; they ask if the Town has gone too far in creating a natural heritage system that includes a number of features that are not environmentally significant (Oakville 2004c: 19). They ask the question: At what cost are we willing to protect the environment? with the costs identified as the overall communitys design and whether it would be in character with that the Towns, as well as the loss of potential future employment lands and 230 Negotiating Landscape

associated tax base. These comments represent one faction of the committee, while another is clearly in support of the environment first direction that the plans have taken (Oakville 2004c: 19). The dominant representation of the North Oakville landscape as environmentally significant has resulted in a large natural heritage system. As much as one-third of this future urban area will be set aside for nature conservation and restoration. Influenced by broader societal discourse of the negative impacts on nature and society of urban sprawl, some residents mobilized politically to end sprawl and protect nature in their own backyard, and reinforce the local sense of place of the town as a retreat from the city in a natural setting. The politics of the representation of the landscape through biophysical science are important because, in this case, science was given the job of representing not just the inventory of natural features, such as woodlots, wetlands and other habitat, but was made to represent cultural ideas that denigrate city life and reify nature as its opposite. Societys relationship with nature is problematic and William Cronon (1996b), Carolyn Merchant (1996), Nik Heynen and Eric Swyndegouw (2006), among others, have illustrated how this problematic guilt-ridden relationship is entrenched by this kind of dualistic thinking instead of getting closer to finding a way for us to live in nature. Duany expresses the political nature of nature: in his comments to a resident at the charrette, Duany replied [to Resident B] that planning and environmentalism has scientific and social implications but it is really political. Planners for about 30 years have totally disgraced themselves by working both sides. Environmental science is already disgracing themselves, it is becoming a political slugfest. And then he added, This process should never have happened in an election year (Duany 2003).

As I write this, recent Ontario Municipal Board settlements indicate the larger developers have agreed to use the Towns proposed secondary plan for East of the Sixteen Mile 231 Negotiating Landscape

Creek including the natural heritage system (Oakville 2007a). While there are issues still to be negotiated and a hearing will be required to settle all outstanding matters (scheduled for May 2, 2007), the policy framework for this area is cast. Oakvillegreen is wary of this positive move and they caution their membership to remain vigilant. Starting sometime within the next couple of years, the town of Oakville will expand into its countryside with a large residential area in the new urbanist style beginning in the south along Dundas Street, with its commercial centre at Trafalgar, and employment uses to the north along Highway 407. The natural heritage system will be about 880 hectares (2,175 acres) (Hemson 2004), a permanent area of natural habitat forming the edge of the new urban residential neighbourhoods. For new residents, the natural heritage system may become a cherished place of wild nature but it will be a place apart from their everyday lives. Oakvilles natural heritage system expresses the present ideology of nature: it will be the material result of contested values of nature and then, as a material landscape and place, will shape ideas in the future for the people who live there and who use or think about that space. Due to the enshrinement of the dominant reading of parts of the landscape as environmentally significant, these readings are turned into policy, and misreadings of this landscape in the future will be penalized (Smith 1993: 89).


Negotiating Landscape

Chapter 8

CONCLUSION Ideas about landscape are as important as existing material landscapes in planning for urbanization. The influence of landscapes of the mind has a huge influence on the planning process yet is understudied. The preference for the natural landscape as demonstrated by this case study could have far reaching impacts for growth management. The very qualities of landscape that are mobilized against urbanization are not studied within the planning process and considered at par alongside scientific and positivist representations of the material landscape. Qualitative research methods used in cultural geography to interrogate landscape meaning and applied in this case study draw out the discourse of environmentalism and anti-growth behind opposition to the urbanization of this place. The broader societal discourse over large-scale environmental problems fed the fear of urban growth at the local level and residents took a stand against the big picture: global environmental destruction wrought by sprawl. Through the process of planning for urbanization, an area of natural heritage was inscribed in the landscape. Landscape management through ecological conservation and restoration will produce future nature here in a long-inhabited place. While pastoral ideas may underlie the valuation of this landscape, representations by biophysical science were politically the most successful. The pastoral as an imagined retreat from modern life in the peace, quiet and seclusion of nature has been shown to be tied directly to the towns identity. That environmental science can be harnessed to give authenticity to this imagination through a seemingly uncontestable authoritative voice has profound implications. Post-modern thought allows us to see that quantitative study as is traditional in material representations of landscape in geographic study are limited because of their silence around ideological issues. But in spite of this, the use of science to give voice to ideology that has not been successful otherwise, i.e. through cultural heritage and aesthetic landscape appreciation here should give us pause. Some would say, who cares? As long as green space is being conserved, it is a victory. But this fabricated greenspace, imagined as wild nature to be restored in the vision of a pre-modern oak savannah, will 233 Conclusion

limit everyday human use and will further contribute to the problematic culture/nature dualism debated in theory. The naturalized good of natural heritage can also be seen as masking the pretence to prevent urban growth motivated by anti-growth, racist and lastsettler syndrome sentiments preventing broader social benefits of urbanization such as affordable housing, improved social services, and jobs close to the city.

Cultural politics and landscape representation in Oakville

This research demonstrates that symbolic ideas about countryside and nature are implicated in the production of real places. The value of this case study is the use of discourse analysis to illustrate how a landscape is discursively constructed from ideas about the country, city and nature drawn from the epistemological framework in a contemporary time and place. The production of space through the planning process struggles with these contested ideologies holding the past, present and future in a tension of the imagination. North Oakville in this research is a particular site of discourse at the intersection of various ways of representing the world, both of the immediate local material landscape and of culture at large. For the dissertation, I chose this case study where the urban boundary is shifting, where borders are staked out and lines are conceptualized. What fascinates me about the Toronto region is the constant renegotiation of the urban and rural in the landscape. The provincial Planning Act sets out municipal responsibilities that are intended to facilitate growth management. Growth is a taken-for-granted public good that is to be accommodated in the physical environment. Municipalities are required to designate sufficient serviced land to accommodate future population and job growth. Urban and rural designations and policies are not fixed: every five years, when official plans are reviewed at the local municipal level, or every time a development proposal is considered, the policies are re-evaluated through a public process, and then reaffirmed or amended reflecting any shift in cultural values that inform them.



Although open to new iterations and constant reinterpretation in this way, land use planning is limited in effecting societal change. It is best when it responds and directs social activity, not when it tries to bend it (Mathew 2006). The utility of cultural landscape studies is to make apparent cultural identities and norms in the process, so that planners may identify broader trends, such as the deepening valuation of nature, and ask questions about possible effects to land use decision-making. Planners might also then identify for decision-makers those cultural trends which, although outside of the Planning Act, greatly affect what is going on, thus indicating other policy areas which may need attention. Planners are so often blamed for the look of the city and the suburbs but in the struggle to accommodate the market and mitigate its negative effects, it is not the failure of planning per say, but the cumulative, visible effect of individual choices that propel growth and the decision-making context within which development is controlled. There is a shift in the planning literature from presenting planning as a rational comprehensive process to a collaborative one (Friedmann 1987; Healy 1997). This study demonstrates the clash of cultures where the rational comprehensive (quasiscientific) process is still in play (perhaps the only game in town) because of how entrenched it is in our planning regime in Ontario. Yet in spite of the evidence to the contrary in this case study, there is an expectation that the process be much more consultative and open to discussing the softer issues of experiential quality of life. The imperative to accommodate large numbers of immigrants to Canada dictated by national policy hits the ground in North Oakville. The multiple scales of governance is important in conceptualizing the future of this local landscape. One hundred thousand new people a year is an abstract idea, and so is sprawl, and these are imagined at a large scale. The very local is where the experience of these ideas is felt. The choices about landscape are made at quite a high level, at the level of broad policy like the provinces Places to Grow plan and the Greenbelt, and with symbolic political gestures (like the Ontario Realty Corporations donation of the Oakville Land Assembly to the conservation authority). The big ideas however are contested at the very local level within 235 Conclusion

a process that is not able to mediate those large-scale notions. The planning process is literally designed to determine, through a public decision-making process, for what purpose land in a certain place is to be used. Because the local government in Ontario is not at liberty to overturn a provincial/regional decision, the entire OPA 198 process in Oakville should not have occurred. The decision had been made that this area would urbanize and not remain countryside. That this discussion was held again at the local level was a waste of time. However, it is only at the local level when people seem to care and get interested in what is happening around them. The scale of planning is such that the major landscape-shaping decisions seem paradoxically far away and vague, and yet by the time the policy hits the field, it is too late to engage with the big picture. The adage think globally and act locally is an inversion of reality in this case study. The struggle over the future of nature in this process was the struggle for power, they were indivisible. In Oakville, the local political arena was shaped by reaction to the issue of the urban expansion of this area. Three members of Oakvillegreen were elected to Council. The Mayor-elect was also a resident active in planning issues in the town and the debate over the future of North Oakville arguably landed him in office. These people came together around the environment and civil society and the local power structure in Oakville is now dominated by an environmental agenda. Oakvillegreen began in the kitchen of a large suburban home in the upscale Glen Abbey neighbourhood, the mythical site of consumerism and resource consumption. Those who became actively involved in this process were often those with a short local residency and those with an American background were involved. How did they come together in groups around the environment, how did they organize (e.g. the use of the internet) and how were they locally invested in certain existing power structures? A study of how civil society views and values the natural environment and how this affects individual and local identity construction would be fascinating. Does becoming involved in civil society change peoples perceptions of their own subjectivity within their community, of their connection to nature, locally and globally? 236 Conclusion

For those involved in the fight to preserve open space and the natural environment, this case study of how open space preservation was advocated by a community group is powerful. Daniel Press (2002) in his book on capacity-building in open space preservation in America concludes that strong regional government is needed to prevent sprawl and contributes to preservation. In his book he talks about Californias home rule culture stating that zoning and land use are the sacred cows of local government resisting intervention by the state (6). What would he think of the successes and failures of this Canadian case where a strong top-down growth agenda was resisted? Looking closely at race, class and gender issues at play in the planning process in this case would reveal important commentary on the current state of participation in decisionmaking and concern for the environment. I observed that participants were largely visibly white, and there were many women were involved at all levels in the process. Class issues between the city and countryside, and perceptions of such differences, were conspicuous as the privileged view of the upper middle class town over its country dominated. Indeed, the appropriation and re-shaping of actual landscapes by this class (Bunce 2003) has been demonstrated by this study. The charrette process as a civil exercise generally deserves more critical scrutiny and the North Oakville visioning process would be a good place to start. The charrette is intended to be a very open approach to public participation, where the designers, the politicians, technical advisors and the public work together collaboratively. Instead, this charrette was misguided from the beginning as the mistrust between Oakvillegreen and the planners was difficult to surmount. Whereas the charrette was intended to draw the public into the design process, I am not convinced that it was a success. Were asking Oakville residents, businesses and community groups to come out and get involved. Community suggestions are an integral part of the North Oakville Secondary Plan Process. At this charrette, the community will have the opportunity to express their ideas on the future of our town, Peter Cheatley, Director of Planning Services is quoted as saying (Oakville 2003c), but his invitation must have fallen on the deaf ears of a public 237 Conclusion

stung by their recent loss. They had come out in huge numbers in strong opposition of the urbanization of the study area, they did express their ideas about the future of the town but they lost. The charrette played out to a grief-stricken, angry and sulking crowd. The study does not address the potential effects of the planning process on individuals currently living within North Oakville, in the planning area subject to change. Interviews with residents might probe their current relationship with their landscape, discuss how their ideas of landscape were used in a political way in the planning process, and ask questions about how future changes will be navigated. There are questions of social justice here, as I found that many living here are renters who will be displaced over the long term by new, and presumably more expensive, housing. This is a place where currently alternative lifestyles are possible outside of the physical structure of the city, and that will be designed out by the new urbanist settlement form proposed. But maybe this is the best of both worlds? Not only will a large area of countryside be set aside from urban development that, through environmental management will be allowed to regenerate over time, but the urban area itself is planned to be high density, transit supportive, and designed in keeping with new urbanist principles. A large employment area close by will provide the choice for live/work within the town itself. As I have mentioned, the voices of the people living in North Oakville were largely absent from the public record of the process, with few exceptions. This does not mean that they did not participate or access their town hall, but it leaves a question mark in the research. This silence could be excavated in future research projects to track the changes to a landscape over time. Interviews with a representative cross-section of residents now might provide a base line for future work, a longitudinal study of what really happens to people during urbanization and changing relationships with nature and the countryside. As a cultural geographical study, this research demonstrates that the readings of this ordinary landscape were taken up in local area politics. In keeping with the previous work 238 Conclusion

in cultural geography especially by the Don Mitchell, the Duncans and Jane M. Jacobs, I have shown that the symbolic and material are in constant tension in the landscape. Don Mitchell (1996) feared that the study of the material in cultural geography was in danger of being dismissed as all representational and ideological and discursive. In this empirical case study, I have argued that the abstraction of environmental significance over-writes the historical reality of the landscape itself. This long-inhabited landscape, its tangle of regrowth hiding previous traces of landscape occupation, is reimagined through the production of nature in the planning process. This case study has tested the conceptual framework of cultural geography within a contemporary planning process in a Canadian context where a landscape is undergoing change. The real question is now, what work will the natural heritage system do in the future of this area? It has been shown that landscapes are read, they are text, and they do circulate discursively as theorized by cultural geography. As Foucault contends, how we understand truth and what we consider true (such as statements of environmental significance) are historically contingent and changing (Baynes et. al. 1987). The truth about the imperative of preserving nature prevented wider discussions of values in settlement. The science of those experts involved in the planning process and the environmentalism of the civic groups are discursive fields within a larger cultural epistemological framework intersecting in North Oakville at this time. The impact of this way of thinking is important for landscape study because the end result is materially constituted in the landscape. As a material landscape it will influence the activities and life of the people who will inhabit the area in the future, and it will also provide them with a text to be read about the meaning of countryside and nature. Are places with larger areas of preserved nature better to live in? What are we giving up in order to have these places, what are we gaining, who is benefiting, who may not be? Through cultural geography, the discourses of environmentalism and urbanization can be 239 Conclusion

questioned and deconstructed. The nature as represented in this landscape through the cultural geographic analysis show how the various representations of nature and the countryside mask (or fail to make explicit) their normative baggage and hide the other benefits that go along with accepting this particular point-of-view. The taken-forgrantedness that nature should be preserved here, with the only argument seemingly where and how much, excludes alternative readings and interpretations of those same landscapes with no discussion of what is being given up (Luke 1995-6: 19). My intention was to disrupt the common sense of nature preservation or countryside conservation, and in the end I feel that we need to insert a discussion in the planning process of why they are important culturally (what kinds of landscapes are valued and should be protected over the long term) without resorting to claims of environmental science or the rhetoric of the need to end sprawl. North Oakville is a useful case study to add to the scholarship in cultural geography contrasting with current research of the contested histories of national parks (Olwig 1996), iconic rangeland in the American West (Hurley and Walker 2004; Walker and Fortmann 2003), and other culturally valued places (Hinrichs 1996); this landscape is different because it is ordinary. No matter how this landscape has been represented, it has not been documented as exceptionally significant historically or culturally or naturally and is undifferentiated from the general countryside that surrounds the built-up areas of the Toronto region. Whereas maps of the GTA continually highlight the Niagara Escarpment, the Oak Ridges Moraine, the lake front and larger wetlands and woodlands that are valued, North Oakville is not highlighted. Only the Sixteen Mile Creek valley is shown, but undifferentiated from the other valleys leading from the higher elevations down to Lake Ontario. Through the planning process, however, North Oakville has been put on the map. It is now has the Trafalgar Moraine, a candidate area of natural and scientific interest (MNR 2006) listed as one of the ten top environmental hotspots in the region. It is a huge natural heritage system, requiring resources to maintain. The Town of Oakville is a suburb caught in the hinterland of a large city and it has discursively created



itself as a retreat from the city, it has lassoed pro-environmental sentiment and has taken a stand against sprawl. A local victory for a global problem, but at what cost?

The production of nature in planning for urban expansion

The case study confirms that the culture/nature dualism as discussed by Braun and Castree (1998, 2001), Cronon (1996), Heynen, Kaika and Swyngedouw (2006) and Smith (1984, 1996) is at work but in a surprising way. In the culture/nature literature, the theoretical debate has not been as interested in the citys countryside, but the idea of a distant first nature of the Amazon rainforest, national parks, and polar ice, places that must be preserved from the touch of humans and their environmentally degrading processes. The nature at issue in this case study is the nature in the citys countryside, the inhabited edge. It is not a distant wilderness but a nature within a town discursively connected to a towns identity. I am not against preservation of nature or countryside preservation (I am very much for conservation) but a more thorough presentation of the issues is required. Where is the discussion of the need for unstructured open space for recreational use and spiritual contemplation, in addition to the need to preserve areas for the sake of retaining species and habitat so strongly supported by policy? My issue is with the way nature is reified to such an extent that its preservation can no longer be argued against, or appraised in combination with other societal values. Environmental science positions biophysical analysis outside of discussion with the other roles that a landscape must play. David Demeritt (2001) underscores my view, he writes: I advance the position that environmental historians and other green critics should end their search for foundational authority, be it in science or elsewhere, and appeal instead to diverse moral, political, and aesthetic criteria to arbitrate between particular representations of nature in particular situations. This situation does not rule out appropriations of ecological science or other fields of knowledge where they prove useful and convincing, because ultimately, environmental narratives are not legitimated in the lofty heights of foundational epistemology but in the more approachable and more contested realm of public discourse. 241 Conclusion

The emphasis on inventorying and representing the existing landscape in terms of its hydrogeological function and its ecological function far outweighed the discussion of the living area for humans being created there. The Draft Management Strategy Report of the subwatershed study (Oakville 2004aA) is 81 single-spaced pages with a substantial bibliography detailing the optimal riparian habitats to create and the optimal size and configuration of woodlots, meadow habitats, etc. to support bird and mammal life, about which very little was actually observed in this place by the scientists. While I am impressed at the ability of scientists to suggest how habitats can be restored to function sustainably into the long term future, I find it disconcerting that there is no equally detailed report on the understanding of human activities within new urban areas. Traffic studies report on movements and retail analyses report consumer behaviours, but the success of urban form as a human habitat is less well represented. The use of Duanys team has provided the corollary for the human side of the culture/nature divide and set out a new urbanist vision for development. While studies critiquing the success of Duanys communities around North America are accumulating (for the Toronto area see Skaburskis 2006), the empirical analysis would not seem to be in the order of magnitude of the effort spent on the ecological side. Given the presence of the potential case study available in Oakville south of Dundas Street, the imbalance of evidence put forward for possible alternative futures of North Oakville are remarkable. In contrast to this view of restoration ecology, in her chapter in Uncommon ground, Ann Winston Spirn describes the contribution of Frederick Law Olmsted, the landscape architect, to the understanding of the place of nature in the city (Spirn 1996; see also Rybczynski 1999). Olmsted spent his life in pursuit of bringing natural scenery to the urban public for societys improvement. His parks and contributions including Yosemite, Niagara Falls, the Fens in Boston and Central Park in New York City are based on his reinterpretation of existing natural areas and interventions to make them more scenic and accessible. The prominence of these places on which he has worked have had a profound affect on what is deemed natural today and Spirn contends that the natural appearance of these places have concealed their construction (1996: 108). In 242 Conclusion

a similar way, I see the natural heritage system being created in North Oakville as subject to the same fate; it is future nature. But the twist lies in the use of environmental science to inventory it now to form the basis for future restorative management; the production and construction of nature here may not be obvious. Why can we not use this landscape, in the way that Olmsted would have done to produce nature and habitat, but feel comfortable in our role as stewards to do so, and in doing so, create a place to support everyday human connection to nature, rather than a place of nature to which we are unwelcome visitors, intruders in our own backyards? Instead there is a suspension of imagination that the natural heritage system is a landscape being created by humans. Why can we not say that we want to create a landscape that looks and feels like wilderness within the city and then talk about what kind of a place we want? Would it be like Central Park? The Boston Fens? The newly-regenerated High Park in Toronto (Varga 1999)? Instead we are relinquishing the type of nature we want it to be to the scientific imagination of a pre-colonial landscape. Those with sympathies in deep ecology (anti-human; ecocentric see Hay 2002: 66-68) may consider this a triumph--finally!--of nature over sprawl. From this perspective, the island of countryside within which the Toronto-centred region sits hemmed in by the Great Lakes and the Canadian Shield should not all be urbanized and with the Niagara Escarpment, the Greenbelt and the success of conservation through this process, sprawl now is on the losing end. But I have shown here that the nature preserved in North Oakville is a construction of nature outside of and apart from, and in rejection of the city. I do not see this as a positive step in coming to terms with an increasingly urban future. My research question was how are ideas about the countryside caught up in the politics of urbanization and the conclusion is that the discursive emphasis on countryside as the site of the rural idyll has ceded to the countryside as the site of non-human nature. Preserving this nature in the face of imminent destruction by the city preoccupied the planning process. My question is now whether the cultural valuation of nature has widened and deepened to the extent that it has outpaced the ability of the planning process to deal with it. 243 Conclusion

In this particular case study, the valuation of the countryside from an aesthetic view was overwhelmed by ecological science. For the study of the citys countryside and the urban field, the discourse reveals a cultural shift in landscape value from an inhabited civilized nature to a place where nature has been degraded but is not beyond redemption.

The rise and fall of the countryside ideal

While in this case study the countryside was seen as a valued landscape, the reasons are not well articulated. The valuation of the countryside is the result of deeply held beliefs and the protection of the countryside from urbanization is taken for granted as desirable and worthy. In this case study, articulation of countryside value (such as that used successfully in England to designate areas of outstanding beauty see Landscape Institute 2002) is neither supplied nor desired. The values of open space are known-ground water storage, climate moderation, flood control, storm damage prevention, and air and water pollution abatement, enhancement value for adjacent property, production value for crops, lumber (Fausold & Lilieholm 1996) and amenity value for heritage and aesthetics. Environmental science using inventories and analysis is given weight in the planning process which conceives of itself as a scientific, rational process. Those values contributing to a sense of place or quality of life in the countryside are by comparison difficult to represent empirically and are very difficult to articulate and defend in ways that can be measured against future economic land value of urban uses. Environmental science has instead become the Trojan horse to protect valued landscapes (Cronon; Davis 1990 esp. Chapter 3; Franklin 1995; Rome 2001). But how important the countryside is! Here, in the idea of countryside, we have representation of a cluster of ideas having a profound impact on the material landscape. As Bunce (2003: 27) asserted, that while some people probably have no sense of and no interest in a rural idyllfor some it will translate into action and it will persuade some to engage in campaigns to protect the countryside from threats to its idyllic character. It is these latter people, those members of Oakvillegreen, upon whom I have focused my research. As a planner, I was taught the rational comprehensive process--to follow a 244 Conclusion

logical, traceable and reproducible process was the main goal. The private consulting firm I worked for does most of the population and employment forecasting for municipalities in southern and central Ontario and is responsible for a good proportion of growth management studies (directing the myriad of technical studies that are input to those processes). The work of land use planning is greatly influenced by normative ideas, such as the importance of the countryside or what kind of new society is to inhabit this new urban place. Listening to public voices through the process is intended to support the development of policy appropriate to that publics interest, but in this case the privileging of one kind of information over another through the process by planners and decisionmakers is not discussed. The pastoral setting of Oakville was threatened by the development of this last area of countryside and yet the process limited discussion of the experience of the pastoral and was overwhelmed by the discourse of science. Rurality is known through community, tradition, and landscape experience. Planning is based on rational thinking and cannot quantify the rural, and therefore (however inadvertently and regretfully) wipes it out. What is it about the planning process that is blind to rural qualities (the rural archive) and what kind of action could be taken to influence decision-makers to implement policies that preserve rural landscape qualities? Because of this failure to incorporate qualitative study alongside the material, spatial descriptions, we have the rise of the use of scientific environmentalism to preserve nature, when it may be the conservation of rural qualities that is at stake. The discourse produced through negotiation of the politics of urban expansion in North Oakville resulted in the writing of a new era of local history as a heroic attempt to save a natural area from being overwhelmed by urban development. Raymond Williams called this an intellectual projection: a version of history which succeeds in cancelling history (1973: 257). Williams is referring to the Georgian scholars who wandered the English countryside writing of their nostalgia for the changed countryside and whose literary legacy was a revised history of the country as a decline from a nostalgic golden age instead of as an improvement (as Williams family saw it). He goes on to state that in the 245 Conclusion

creation of this country-based fantasy, the Georgian version [of the countryside] used rural England as an image for its own internal feelings and ideas (1973: 257-8). The projection of emotion and social values onto the landscape, so that the very material landscape ends up competing with its own abstractions can be seen through the application of the conceptual framework of cultural geography. I see the same sleight of hand at work in North Oakville where the physical world of the actually-existing landscape is detached from its social and historical roots and its abstraction as vulnerable, threatened habitat keeps sprawl at bay. But why does nature need to be saved from the city? Carolyn Merchant (1996) contends that Western Christian culture is underlain by a story of the guilt of environmental destruction. In this tradition, nature with humans in it is a much poorer place; it is the Garden of Eden from which humans were justifiably expelled. Merchants historical narrative of colonial times is one where men sought through their labour to recreate the lost cultivated garden from the hideous wilderness and looked upon the countryside they had shaped with satisfaction. But today my research has shown that, as Merchant suspected, the Edenic pastoral countryside is no longer seen by the postmodern (feminist, environmentalist) gaze as perfect as the garden that is of natures own making; she writes, Sustainability is a new vision of the recovered gardenPreservationists and deep ecologists strive to save pristine nature as wilderness before it can be destroyed by development. Restoration ecologists wish to marshal human labor to restore an already degraded nature to an earlier, pristine state (1996: 156). The broad social narrative of growth and development has undergone a sea-change from seeing the technological benefits of mans ingenuity as progress to seeing boundaries of this progress being drawn to create fixed edges to modern urbanization. Evidence of the local manifestation of this questioning of progress, this fall from grace, was addressed at length by Rob Burton in my interview with him where he referred to the book Oakville and the Sixteen by historian Hazel Mathews. He said Mathews was very poignantly expressing a sense of regret at the severe damage and loss that the town 246 Conclusion

endured because of the clear-cutting of the oak trees by her great-great grandfather. At that point in my research, I had not yet read Mathews book and Wendy Burton procured their copy for him to read out loud. He said of Mathews that she draws on family records and vividly paints the landscape at every era, when there were trees, she paints an idyllic vision of what the Indians had, he said, theres no substitute [for what they had], theres no alternative but theres no substitute. He proceeded to quote at length from page 189: Some conception of the rapidity with which the land was being denuded of its trees may be gained from the following isolated example. In 1848 on Lot 2 which had joined on the east, Leachs farm in the third concession (where we are today [Burtons house]) 25 acres of fine pine timber, two million feet of pine boards can be cut off this lot and the rear is expected to yield 50 cords of hardwood per acre beech, maple, hickory, etc. Thomson Smith, lumber dealer secured this land and the trees felled by the timber-cutters axe were hauled off to one of his sawmills. John Alton engaged the escaped slave James Leslie Hill to remove the stumps and clear away the underbrush. Within a decade, the trees that stood on those 200 acres were mostly confined to a small woodlot. With the deforestation of the heavily wooded areas, the water in the streams began to diminish. The destruction of the trees by the axe and of the plant cover by the plough, allowed the water to drain off too rapidly, causing floods and soil erosion. Streams which had run clear, now ran red with irreplaceable topsoil and during the spring thaw or heavy rain, the Sixteen spread a muddy swath in the blue waters of Lake Ontario. By the 1850s there was not enough water during the dry season to turn the waterwheels and many saw mills resorted to steam during part of the year. The description by Mathews of this fall from grace, her description of how the streams ran red in a way similar to a description of the aftermath of a lamented battle scene, and reintroduced to me in 2006 by a man who would become Mayor of the town, speaks volumes of the attitude in the town of the formation of its identity. Burton described this passage as the backdrop of a sense of loss known: that was known by some [in the town] and waiting for these new people [Oakvillegreen] to discover as part. This inherited sense of loss, so readily adopted by newcomers looking for roots in this town, and so clearly expressed in the desire to restore the countryside to the oak savannah of pre-colonial times, is nowhere else so poignantly expressed as through the cultural 247 Conclusion

landscape. The culture of the science harnessed to bolster the case for this representation is unwilling to reveal its ambition in also restoring the garden one project at a time. So soundly has the city been rejected through this process and the promise of restored nature embraced that it is time for cultural geographers to take a close look at the implications for future plans for metropolitan growth. The promise of a middle landscape as imagined by Ebenezer Howards Garden City (1898) has been lost as a goal for the planning process as further planned settlement in the countryside in this case study was rejected. The new urban area is not discursively constructed as a future place in nature; it is what is left over after nature heritage has been protected. Spatial studies of the material landscape and the impact of urban growth have painted a dire picture of the problems associated with large urban centres with sprawl, traffic congestion, air and water pollution and social isolation. In this case study, I have argued that the residents group resisted sprawl portrayed as a global problem by David Suzuki and others and resisted it at their local level.

Local area planning and the global environmental imagination

Local municipal planning is not equipped to deal with global environmentalism. Decisions about land use respond to larger societal processes and cultural valuations and while modest change towards sustainability can be made locally, major change cannot. Oakvillegreen recently held a screening of the documentary The End of Suburbia: Oil Depletion and the Collapse of The American Dream (2004) in which sprawl is denigrated. Added to the messages from the Sierra Club, David Suzuki, the Ontario Physicians, the Pembina Institute, and the Environmental Commissioner for Ontario, the message has been received that wild nature is threatened and sprawl contributes to natural destruction. Oakvillegreen has mobilized against sprawl in their backyard by fighting urbanization. The influence of environmentalism on the local process was profound. The website of Oakvillegreen was thick with excerpts from reports, links and references to the larger 248 Conclusion

environmental community within the Toronto area and beyond. The desire to act locally to do something about the environment was played out in the desire to protect the study area -- the entire North Oakville countryside -- from sprawl. Being for the environment provides a moral high ground (see Brean 2007 on the religious nature of modern environmentalism). As much as there were allegations of racism and class-based attitudes towards urban growth, participation and action in the name of the environment is difficult to criticize. The need to preserve natural heritage is an irresistible truth (Anderson and Gale 1992: 3) as demonstrated in this case study. The moral stance taken by the residents group blocks a discussion of the implication of applying this view to this place. The Oakvillegreen Conservation Association adopted the tag line a voice for nature on their old .com website accompanied by the benediction, May the beauty of nature fill your heart with peace and joy. Environmental science was the way in which the residents chose to articulate their arguments and they were very successful. It is through the reification of nature that fight against sprawl is won: mobilizing environmental values is very effective. Adopting an official tone in more recent months, Oakvillegreen is now acronymized on their .org website as OCA and is Oakville's strongest voice for responsible planning -- planning that values, protects and enhances our natural heritage. Gone are the photos of native birds, sublime nature, and references to the Sixteen Mile Creek trail system as a naturalists heaven of the old website. The scientized OCA states: To accomplish our mission we advocate for sounder laws and bylaws; we create and encourage initiatives that move us towards sustainability and we safeguard and improve our environment for future generations. Our goals: To ensure the health of our environment is protected; To ensure that development is ecologically responsible; To ensure that the bio-diversity of our native flora and fauna is protected and enhanced; 249 Conclusion

To create a more powerful environmental voice in the Town, Region and Province; To raise public awareness about local environmental issues, and to encourage citizens to become involved. This is a list of ideas also held to be self-evident truths but within the epistemological space created by environmental science. The production of scientific truth as articulated by Foucault (Baynes et al. 1987) has within environmental science enabled the ecological conservation and restoration of this landscape. The truth of environmental science was accepted by the process and used to insert cultural values related to anti-urbanism: the ideology of science is not up for discussion and neither are the values and beliefs that piggyback on the scientific representation of landscape in the process. With respect to the science itself, in Chapter 7, I discussed the culture of science used here and have raised a reasonable doubt that perhaps the scientific basis for this level of conservation is not sufficiently robust. Hiding behind words like leading edge and state-of-art (Foulds, 2005) the method and rationale of the systems approach in conservation biology are untested and are perhaps questionable in light of the withdrawal of significant development rights from landowners. Issues of ownership and long-term maintenance loom over the secondary planning process as it is currently expected that lands designated for environmental protection are acquired by government. Planning trusted the science at the same time as it was unable to secure the future public ownership of lands identified for conservation. The use of land trusts and conservation easements (e.g. the Nature Conservancy, Ducks Unlimited) has been used in Ontario, but were not presented as part of the solution in this case. The planning process staggered under the sheer size of environmental protection area produced (Cheatley 2003). In the end, negotiation has secured land and funds to purchase more but this was outside of the established policy framework of the province, the region and town; those landowners who have obtained Ontario Municipal Board settlements with the Town have agreed to contribute millions of dollars to the purchase of the natural heritage system as well as donating their own designated natural heritage system lands (Oakville 2007a). 250 Conclusion

The Inter-Agency Review in this case study raises interesting questions about politics and science. At the same time as the IAR represented itself as being a sort of one window, technical input and review of the natural heritage system by the environmental experts on the government side (Town, Region, Conservation Authority and provincial Ministry of Natural Resources) being the provincial representatives in the process they had the ball. As the province, they have ultimate legislated power to accept (or not) a certain way of seeing this landscape. The secondary plans are ultimately to be approved by the Ontario Municipal Board, a provincially appointed board. In spite of the impartiality that the OMB is supposed to have, it is a provincial body upholding provincial policy and in reviewing the approach to environment here, ought to be internally consistent. This research has found out that the agencies involved in the planning process are largely responsible for much of the pressure put to bear on achieving the natural heritage system. They have an enormous impact because the work they do or supervise is the information that is put before the politicians. How the bureaucracy in this case has steered the process would be a great interest to those in geography who study the state. The provinces credibility was stretched with the announcement of the donation of the Oakville Land Assembly to Conservation Halton for environmental conservation. The area is just west of the Sixteen Mile Creek; it is for the most part farmed land and was not identified as having any environmental significance at all, whether from a habitat or a subwatershed standpoint. Yet the local Member of Provincial Parliament, a former Oakville councillor, had pledged that this area would not be developed, and so, as a regional conservation area, it will become naturalized over time, although hopefully with a great degree of public access (than the core areas of the natural heritage system) as is typical of other Conservation Halton lands. Setting aside the environment for a moment, local planning in the global imagination deals with the political economy writ large. Governance issues are brought into question as the top-down identification and phasing of areas for urbanization is resisted at the local level. The abstract formulas of allocating population and employment growth 251 Conclusion

throughout the Greater Toronto Area are produced through a negotiated, highly political process at the provincial level involving the regional and local municipalities, with some communities seeing growth as an opportunity and others as a constraint. When the decisions are made however, it is within the very local secondary planning process that the on-the-ground distribution of those people and workplaces must be worked out. Of course, the impact on the local landscape is highly contested. A study of the impact of scale within this planning process might reveal the ways in which the local is always also a national or an international space, or the way in which local identities are always also constituted through non local processes, or the way in which place-based identities are tied to the micropolitics of the home or the body (Fincher and Jacobs 1998: 21). The failure of older models of metropolitan form to explain, predict or adequately plan for future trends is raised through this case study. The continuous urbanization of the landscape in the Toronto region from the lake northward no longer seems to represent a practical, long term view. At a large scale, the Greater Golden Horseshoe Greenbelt has provided a huge area that will stay in some kind of rural or semi-rural character. The rural landscapes south and north of this area are not protected and in spite of the suggestion in the provincial growth plan Places to Grow that growth will be directed to specified settlement nodes, the fate of the lands in between the nodes is less clear, perhaps with a perception that the continuous urbanization of all other rural landscapes outside the Greenbelt is condoned by omission in the policy. The notion that growth in the Toronto area will be accommodated within (south of) the Greenbelt has been proven a myth with this case study. The ideology of nature at work in this process would seem to suggest that communities in the Toronto region will fight to keep whatever countryside is left. There does not seem to be adequate recognition in planning theory or practice of the continued dispersion of metropolitan areas despite efforts of urban containment to the contrary. This research has chronicled the extensive process that has occurred to create new urban areas. Oakvilles expansion is not uncontrolled sprawl, but a tightly controlled and debated landscape. The anti-city notions raised in this research have broader implications 252 Conclusion

for other places if all urban growth is discredited as sprawl. If we do not like the new areas created by the planning process, we need to discuss why. The creation of the natural heritage system arguably creates sprawl somewhere else. As one of my interviewees commented, the area could hold twice as many people and jobs if we chose to urbanize to accommodate as many people as possible in the area (Lowes 2006). The conservation of the natural heritage system results in green areas close in, to the detriment of the overall urban edge of the metropolitan area being pushed further out. In the planning process, the influence of symbolic representations of landscape was just as important, or maybe even more important, than the material landscape itself. Planning cannot continue to privilege knowledge from positivist, empiricist studies and this case study demonstrates the need to bring qualitative studies of landscape meaning into the planning process in order to negotiate with the issues that are of the most concern. In Oakvilles case, the process was protracted because landscape meaning was not discussed early on. The cost to the municipality, and the cost to landowner/developers is passed on to the public and the time spent by politicians and staff have directed attention away from other local social issues. Cultural landscape studies offer ways to discuss the material and the symbolic together and to possibly unblock contested ideas about growth and conservation. Oakvilles self-identification with nature should have been at the centre of discussion of possible urban futures for the town from the beginning, and draw creatively and productively into the planning process, not used in opposition to urbanization. In the meantime, this case study brings into question recent provincial planning policy in the Toronto area if every plan to concentrate new urban growth within the arc of the Greenbelt is dragged through this kind of process. * * * Raymond Williams (1973) wrote of the country versus. the city as one of the deep paradoxes of Western culture. Landscapes are expressions of dominant cultural values, circulating intertextually within broader societal discourses, alongside words (and images). Williams wrote: it is usefulto stop at certain points and take particular cross-sections: 253 Conclusion

to ask not only what is happening, in a period, to ideas of the country and the city, but also with what other ideas, in a more general structure, such ideas are associated (1973: 290). To this end, then, my dissertation is dedicated Ideas about the country are discussed in terms of ecology and natural heritage, as this case study has shown. Ideas about the city are shut out of the discourse as unwanted sprawl; goals for new urban area planning are not on the agenda of those with political power in the community. This elite community had the skills, wealth and social capital to influence the process and the fight against urbanization revolutionized local area politics. Other communities with fewer resources may not have the same success, continuing the greening of wealthy communities and concentrating urban growth in other areas of less resistance. Oakville has re-established its identity as an attractive community through the production of nature here.




1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26

Oakville is located on Lake Ontario and is part of the Greater Toronto Area The Town of Oakville is part of the Region of Halton North Oakville Study Area within the Town of Oakville Map of Lands north of Dundas First plan envisioning the Town of Oakville on the lake, 1835 Map of Trafalgar Township c.1953 Design for Development identifying future urbanized area Map of proposed official plan including the North Oakville area, 1973 Existing land use map east of Sixteen Mile Creek Landscape views east of Sixteen Mile Creek Landscape views west of Sixteen Mile Creek Landscape description photos Map of woodlands within the Sixteen Mile Creek watershed, 1958 North Oakville Process History Strategic Land Use Options Study concept plan on which OPA 198 is based Kings College photograph A sign of proposed change Andres Duany addressing the charrette Preliminary draft secondary plans Oakville Land Assembly Celebration of conservation of ORC Lands Duanys time capsule plan Clear the Air plan NOMI plan Birds eye view of proposed neighbourhoods Save the Tree


Figure 1: Town of Oakville in central Ontario (Oakville 2002a)



Figure 2: Regional Context: Oakvilles urban expansion area is shown under the label Oakville in white highlighted by pink dashes (note that for illustration purposes this is the old pre-ROPA 8 official plan) (



Figure 3: North Oakville Study Area within the Town of Oakville (note that the Parkway Belt West area is now designated Greenbelt) (



Figure 5: The first plan envisioning the Town of Oakville on the lake, 1835 (Mathews 1953)

Figure 4: Lands north of Dundas in context with Dundas Street and the built-up area of town to the south, Highway 407 and the Greenbelt to the north (note this illustration highlights proposed natural conservation areas in North Oakville as per the previously proposed NOMI plan) (NOMIwebsite)

n/a Figure 5: The first plan envisioning the Town of Oakville on the lake, 1835 (Mathews 1953)



Figure 6: c.1953 Map of Trafalgar Township (ODPD 1958a)



Figure 7: Design for Development identifying the study area as part of the future urbanized area (Ontario 1970) (note Highway 5 is Dundas Street and the study area is part of the sub-regional centre of the town to the south of the Parkway Belt and North Oakville is today the urban expansion area of Milton)

Figure 8: 1973 Proposed official plan including the North Oakville area east of Sixteen Mile Creek (Paterson 1973: 34) The inset proposed development phasing but today Phase 2 has included the areas south of Dundas and Phase 3 is North Oakville


Figure 9: Existing land use map (east of Sixteen Mile Creek) (



Figure 10: Landscape views east of Sixteen Mile Creek (Brook McIlroy 2003)



Figure 11: Landscape views west of Sixteen Mile Creek (Brook McIlroy 2003)



Looking north to Highway 407 from Burnamthorpe and Neyagawa (L. Taylor May 2006)

Equestrian centre north of Burnamthorpe (L. Taylor May 2006)

View A northeast along Burnamthorpe, Trafalgar Moraine to the north (L. Taylor May 2006) Figure 12: Landscape description, page 1 of 2

View B northeast along Burnamthorpe (L. Taylor May 2006)



View north of Highway 407 crossing Sixteen Mile Creek (L. Taylor Sep 2004)

View west of Dundas Street with Uptown Core and new urban neighbourhoods to the south, Sixteen Mile Creek to the west and the countryside of North Oakville (L. Taylor Sep 2004)

View south of Burnamthorpe (L. Taylor Sep 2003) Figure 12: Landscape description, page 2 of 2

View east on Burnamthorpe (L. Taylor Sep 2003)

Tractor on Burnamthorpe (L. Taylor May 2006)

View northwest of Oakville with Ford plant in the bottom left, new subdivisions in the centre south of the line of Dundas and the water tower of North Oakville in the top middle right (L. Taylor Sep 2005)



View northeast along Burnamthorpe (L. Taylor 2003)

View northeast from Burnamthorpe of Highway 407 overpass of Trafalgar Road (L. Taylor Sep 2003)



Figure 13: 1958 Map of woodlands within the Sixteen Mile Creek watershed (watershed divide boundaries identified by dashed lines). Note Trafalgar and Palermo villages along Dundas Street (ODPD 1958c)



1987 1991

Halton Urban Structure Review Office of the Greater Toronto Areas Population and Employment forecasts to 2031 Halton Urban Structure Plan begins Region adopts Halton Urban Structure Plan Region adopts ROPA 8 Town adopts of Strategic Land Use Options Study Final Report Town adopts OPA 198 (appealed to OMB) Secondary planning process begins Ontario Municipal Board approval of OPA 198 North Oakville charrette Preliminary draft secondary plans completed Issues response report OMB negotiations

1993 Mar 1994 Apr 1999 Jun 2000 Aug 2002 May 2002 Sep 2003 Sep 2003 Sep 2004 Feb 2004 Nov 2005 May to present 2006 June 15 2007 February 2007 May

Town settles with landowners Town settles with landowner OMB pre-hearing scheduled

Figure 14: North Oakville Process History



Figure 15: Strategic Land Use Options Study concept plan on which OPA 198 is based (Hemson 2000)



Figure 16: Kings College on Neyagawa Drive in North Oakville, waiting for a neighbourhood (L. Taylor)



Figure 17: A sign of proposed change, Application for official plan amendment sign Burnamthorpe Road (L. Taylor)



Figure 18 Andres Duany addressing the charrette (L. Taylor Sep 2003)



Figure 19: Preliminary draft secondary plans, February 2004 (



Figure 20: Oakville Land Assembly in the centre just west of Sixteen Mile Creek flowing south of Dundas Street into the built-up area of town. Note the Greenbelt in horizontal lines north of the wave of Highway 407 (OMNR)



Figure 21: Celebration of conservation of ORC Lands (Source: Oakvillegreen 2006) Councillors Rene Sandalowsky and Allan Elgar on either side of the mascot

Figure 22: Duanys time capsule plan representing his long-term vision for the area (





Figure 23: Oakvillegreen vision for the area (



Figure 24: NOMI vision plan (note the difference in the size of the east-west natural heritage system corridor)

Figure 25: Birds eye view looking south from proposed Natural Heritage System to neighbourhoods (Duany in Cheatley 2004)



Figure 26: Oak tree at Region of Halton municipal offices (L. Taylor 2006)



(Source: Halton 2006d)



APPENDIX A: INTERVIEW QUESTIONS Section A: Participation in planning process 1. Please describe your involvement in the planning process. 2. Why did you become involved? [How did you become involved?] 3. How long have you been involved? [If with an organization, probe nature of affiliation and length of association. If a resident, length of residence.] 4. Are you being compensated for your time? [Probe distinction between interested member of the public, recognized volunteer, paid staff or consultant.] Section B: Opinion(s) regarding urban expansion 5. What do you think are the most important planning issues in this area with respect to the proposed urban expansion? [Identify three.] (environment first?) 6. Looking at these one at a time: a. Why is it important to you? b. Who else do you think shares your views? c. Where have you been able to access information about this issue? [Where do you look for information?] d. Has this issue been adequately addressed by the municipality? Staff planners? Councillors? e. What do you think could have been done to approach this issue? 7. *With respect to actual changes to the landscape, what do you think will happen? [What are the implications of this change?] 8. I have said that I think the conservation of the countryside is an important issue, would you agree or disagree with this? [To be asked only if it is not raised by the respondent.] Why? 9. What do you think the key issues will be at the OMB? 10. Where do you get most of your information about these issues that interest you? What are you reading? Section C: Respondent profile 11. To wrap up the interview, I am going to ask for some general information and Ill remind you that you dont have to respond to any of these questions if you do not wish to do so. What is your age? 12. Gender? 13. What is your occupation? 14. What is your ethnic origin? 15. How long have you lived in the study area?


APPENDIX B: INTERVIEWS Brenda Axon, Conservation Halton Mayor-elect Rob Burton, Clear the Air Coalition and Mayoral Candidate 2003 Peter Cheatley, Director of Planning Services, Town of Oakville Allan Elgar, Ward 4 Town of Oakville and Region of Halton Councillor 2000-7, founding member of Oakvillegreen John Ghent, former Manager of Current Planning, Town of Oakville David Gurin, Consultant Elizabeth Howson, MacCaulay Shiomi Howson Planning Consultants, Project Manager, North Oakville Secondary Plans Study Angela Iannuzziello, President, Entra Consultants Laurie Knowlton, President, Residents Association North of Dundas Paul Lowes, Sorensen Gravely Lowes Planning Consultants Russell Mathew, Partner, Hemson Consulting Ltd. Laurie Mang, Clearview Oakville Community Association Mayor Ann Mulvale Betty Post, former North Oakville resident Sybil Rampen, 1086 Burnamthorpe Road E. 2 Appendices

Hank Rodenburg, President, Oakvillegreen Conservation Association Inc. Renee Sandelowsky, Town of Oakville Ward 4 Councillor 2003-7, founding member of Oakvillegreen Regional Chair Joyce Salvoline David Stewart, Mattamy Homes Rob Thun, Senior Planner, Town of Oakville James Ziegler, Novation Design Group


APPENDIX C: MEETINGS List of Meetings Held As part of research process, I began to compile a list of meetings held over the years of the process, as well as a list of studies which follows in Appendix D. For the sheer wonder of the work that goes in to planning I include these here. Although they are complete to the best of my ability from reviewing the documents and interviewing respondents, there will be errors and omissions, for instance meetings that may have been part of the process, but at which little headway was made may not have been highlighted as part of the record.
Year 1999 OPA 198 1999 Date June 2 Sep 13 Sep 30 Oct 14 Jan 28 Feb 17 Feb 24 May 4 May 17 May 18 May 29 Dec February 25-28 March 5 May 29 Sep Oct April 16 April 28 May May June 5 July 24 Meeting Regional Council adopts ROPA 8 Strategic Land Use Options Study Steering Committee SLUOS Community Resource Group SLUOS Public Meeting SLUOS Steering Committee SLUOS Community Resource Group SLUOS Public Meeting SLUOS Steering Committee SLUOS Community Resource Group SLUOS Public Meeting SLUOS Additional Presentations Council public hearings Council public hearings Town Council gives go-ahead for Subwatershed Plan Town Council public hearing on draft OPA 198 Town Council refers draft OPA 198 back to staff Town Council adoption of OPA 198 Council approves Secondary Plan Vision Implementation Strategy Subwatershed Study Open House - Phase I Preliminary Results (Characterization Report for east of Sixteen Mile Creek) Council approves final study designs for the North Oakville Secondary Plan and Town-wide Transportation Plan Council approves East Secondary Plan work program Technical Advisory Committee on the Secondary Plan (inaugural) Stakeholders Advisory Committee on the Secondary Plan (inaugural) Workshop to review North Oakville Secondary Planning study work program Initiation and overview of project: Town staff and consulting team to

2000 2001 2001 2002



Aug 27 Sep 4 Secondary Planning Process Sep

LOC, TAC and SAC Charrette Status and Review of East Background Report: Town staff and consulting team to LOC, TAC and SAC Subwatershed Study Open House - Phase II (Characterization Report for west of Sixteen Mile Creek) OMB approves OPA 198

Sep 8 Sep 1825 Oct 9 Oct 23 Oct 30 Nov 6 Nov 13 Nov 20 Dec 11 Dec 18

Council meeting to release East Background Study and IAR Phase I report Charrette Charrette Outcomes and East Background Report Comments: Town staff and consulting team to LOC, TAC and SAC Discussion on Evaluation Criteria and initiation of NOSP West Secondary Plan: Town staff and consulting team to LOC, TAC and SAC Stakeholders Advisory Committee (SAC) Stakeholders Advisory Committee (SAC) Stakeholders Advisory Committee (SAC) Stakeholders Advisory Committee (SAC) Review of NOSP West Background Reports and Preliminary Evaluation Criteria Results: Town staff and consulting team to SAC Review of NOSP West Background Reports and Preliminary Evaluation Criteria Results: Town staff and consulting team to LOC and TAC Public Information Meeting on North Oakville Vision, Secondary Plan and Implementation Study Canadian Urban Institute Conference, Sheridan College Subwatersheds Study Open House Focus Group Meetings (7) NOMI applies for OPA to create a secondary plan east of 16 Mi Ck Council meeting (received Subwatershed Strategy and draft Secondary Plans) East Secondary Plan Workshop West Secondary Plan Workshop RAND Workshop RAND meeting with Town staff RAND meeting with Town staff NOMI appeals their OPA to OMB Town Council meeting re: Preliminary Draft North Oakville East and West Secondary Plans, Issues Response Report, and consideration of NOMI plan OMB Pre-hearing conference (procedural) (decision June 9th) OMB Pre-hearing conference (issues lists) OMB Pre-hearing conference (detailed and comprehensive issues lists) OMB Pre-hearing conference OMB Pre-hearing conference Town settles with Trinison OMB Pre-hearing conference


Feb 24 Feb 25 Feb 26 Mar 1-4 Mar 5 Mar 9 Mar 10 Mar 11 Jun 3 Oct Nov Nov Dec 2

2005 2006

May Oct 3 Jan 9, 10 April 21 May 26 June 15 July 4



August 31 Oct 18 May 2

OMB Pre-hearing conference OMB Pre-hearing conference OMB Pre-hearing conference


APPENDIX D: STUDIES List of North Oakville Studies Appendix C identifies the meetings held and this chart identifies the studies undertaken during the planning processes. Again, although this list is complete to the best of my ability from reviewing the documents and interviewing respondents, there will undoubtedly be errors and omissions.
Date 1995 1997 1998 1998 May 1999 1999 May Summer 1999August 2000 2002 Feb 2002 Jan 2002 March 2004 Fall 2002 April 2002 Oct 2002 Dec 2003 Feb 2003 2003 June 2003 Sep 2003 April 2004 June Terms of Reference Council adoption Terms of Reference Council receipt Final Report PreQualification RFP Consultant retained Reports and maps Phase I Final Report Initiated Completed Purpose Study HUSP Water and Wastewater Servicing Plan Peel-Halton Inter-Regional Study Water and Wastewater Servicing HUSP Water and Wastewater Servicing Plan Review: Phase One LGL natural heritage inventory commissioned HUSP Water and Wastewater Servicing Plan Review: Stage One of Phase One LGL natural heritage inventory North Oakville Strategic Land Use Options Study

Town planning staff report on draft OPA 198 North Oakville Subwatershed Study: East of Sixteen Mile Creek North Oakville Subwatershed Study: West of Sixteen Mile Creek Final analysis report for both east and west Halton 2002 OPA Review Background Document #6 Rationale and determining significant woodlands North Oakville Vision, Secondary Plan and Implementation Study North Oakville Subwatershed Study - East of Sixteen Mile Creek North Oakville Vision, Secondary Plan and Implementation Study Region of Haltons Best Planning Estimates Ministry of Natural Resources series of reports and maps Planning Authorities Interagency Review (IAR) Region of Halton Transportation Master Plan Town of Oakville Transportation Master Plan [Class Environmental Assessment] Review


2004 Feb

2004 Feb 2004 May 12 2004 July 12 2004 Aug Oct Nov 17

consultation draft

major response to public consultation on preliminary draft

North Oakville (East and West): Planning Policy Context and Land Use North Oakville (East and West): Environmental Noise Considerations North Oakville (East and West): Air Quality: Odour North Oakville (East and West): Air Quality Measures North Oakville (East and West): Cultural Heritage Resource Assessment Report (East and West) North Oakville (East and West): Stage 1 Archaeological Assessment North Oakville (East and West): Public Facility and Indoor Recreation Facility Needs North Oakville Retail Commercial Space Needs North Oakville (East and West): Employment Lands Market Assessment North Oakville (East and West): Oakville Economic Development Strategy Update (2003) North Oakville (East and West): Active Parkland and Outdoor Recreation Facility Requirements North Oakville (East and West): Urban Design Background Report North Oakville (East and West): Transportation Background Report North Oakville (East and West): Preliminary Infrastructure Servicing Review Charrette Conceptual Options and Evaluation Preliminary Draft North Oakville Natural Heritage/Open Space System Official Plan Amendment and Preliminary Draft East and West Secondary Plans Memorandum of Population Employment Issues IAR Status Report (Phase II) NOMI Subwatershed study submitted to Town Preliminary Draft Financial Evaluation Preliminary Draft North Oakville East and West Secondary Plans, Issues Response Report

Servicing Master Plan Financial Impact Assessment Town of Oakville Parks, Recreation and Culture Master Plan (new, not a review) North Oakville Urban Design Study Growth Management and Phasing Assessment Town of Oakville Environmental Strategic Plan Refining linkages to Natural Heritage System Region of Halton: New Burnamthorpe Transportation Corridor Environmental Assessment


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