York University’s Field-Trip to Guelph

World Town Planning Day was founded in 1949 by University of Buenos Aires Professor Carlos Maria Della Paolera to celebrate and increase planning interest and awareness. It is now celebrated in over 30 countries on four continents. In celebration of World Town Planning Day 2013, OPPI student representatives from York and Guelph University teamed up, and with the support of the York Planning Alumni Committee (MYPAC), put together a day that won’t be soon forgotten by students.


37 York University planning students boarded a bus and headed West on the 407. Following a stop in Oakville to observe the New Urbanist community located along Trafalgar Road and Glenashton Drive, the bus pulled in to the University of Guelph. Students were then treated to lunch and by the Guelph faculty and OPPI student representatives. In keeping with the World Town Planning Day 2013 theme, The Fluid Challenge: Water and Planning; a panel discussed water issues pertinent to the Greater Golden Horseshoe region. Issues discussed included water as a resource influencing population management and growth, policy surrounding location and composition of  dumping fill created by development, the effects of sewers on urban aquifers, Line 9 and it’s potential impact on aquifers, and water bottling by private companies in the region.  The panel facilitating this discussion featured:

  • Dr. John FitzGibbon – Professor, Guelph School of Environmental Design and Rural Development

  • James Johnstone  - PhD Candidate, Rural Studies, Guelph

  • Stan Denhoed, P. Eng., M.Sc.  - President and Senior Hydrogeologist at Harden Environmental Services, Ltd.

  • Paul Kraehling – PhD Candidate, Rural Studies, former policy planner with the City of Guelph for over 20 years

  • Dr. Laura Taylor  - Associate Professor and Planning Program Coordinator, York University

After a breakout session facilitated by Guelph OPPI student representatives to discuss these issues in greater detail, students hopped back on the bus, joined by their counterparts from Guelph, and headed downtown where they enjoyed a 90-minute walking tour of the historic planned city focused on the original planning principles and the deviations from it following the arrival of the railroad and then the automobile. Although this walking tour may have corresponded with the unexpected beginning of Southern Ontario’s winter weather, it was incredibly interesting and informative, and the quiet streets of Guelph were a welcome change from the hustle of the city.wtpd group

Guelph will be making the trip to York next year, and this marks the beginning of what will hopefully be a long-term relationship between the schools.

A huge thanks to MYPAC, Anthony Dionigi, George Liu, Laura Taylor, Shelby Leigh White, Monika Rau, the University of Guelph’s School of Environmental Design and Rural Development, all of the panelists, and everyone else who made the day such an amazing success!

- By Anthony Taylor

Featured in the March-April 2014 edition of the Ontario Professional Planners Institute (OPPI) Journal