In 1997, the Ottawa chapters of the Ontario Professional Planners Institute (OPPI), the Ontario Association of Landscape Architects (OALA), the Ottawa Regional Society of Architects (ORSA) and the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) joined forces to present Urban Forum, a lecture series for their members as well as elected officials, students and the public at large in the Ottawa area. Four times per year, internationally known speakers and local experts address topics that reflect the challenges faced by the associations’ combined membership.
Since its inception, Urban Forum has hosted lectures on a wide variety of topics. Some lectures went on a road trip to other Cities such as Urban Diversity: Planning Multicultural Cities, What Makes Great Streets and Shaping Our Cities by Design. Given that Canadian cities face similar issues and can benefit from learning from each other, Urban Forum is taking a more national focus by partnering with its national counterparts to host lectures in major Canadian cities.
The objectives of the lecture series are to:
- Promote a dialogue between professional associations involved in development issues
- Create a public forum to debate new ideas
- Provide ongoing professional development opportunities; and
- Raise the profile of planners, architects, landscape architects and transportation engineers
The lecture series has been successful in encouraging an ongoing dialogue between professionals, engaging elected officials, government staffs and the public to discuss new ideas and raising the profile of the professional associations. The free public lectures bring together people from different background to discuss issues of community interest. The audience tends to change with topics. The sponsors also vary with the topics. Each lecture contributes to a community debate that generates incremental and positive changes.