Total seats: 4
Seats available: 2
Salam Al-Durra (Candidate Statement)
J. William Birdsell (Candidate Statement)
Giulio Bruno (Candidate Statement)
G. Laurence Cudlip (Candidate Statement)
Ellie Cyrus Withdrawn
Richard Webb Dabrus (Candidate Statement)
Allison Gonsalves (Candidate Statement)
John V. Hrovat (Candidate Statement)
Anwar Ktecha (Candidate Statement)
Mohammad Reza Moghaddam Nik (Candidate Statement)
Deo Paquette (Candidate Statement)
Dinko Sakanovic (Candidate Statement)
Jelena Savic-Brkic (Candidate Statement)
Sanskriti Singh (Candidate Statement)
Fei Wei (Candidate Statement)
CANDIDATE QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
Q1. Will you support the development of a national architecture policy for Canada and what specifically will you do, at the council level, to support awareness of the architecture policy initiative and, more broadly, do to raise awareness about the importance of architecture to society as a whole?
Q2. Geographic representation is important in the governance of the association. This is why six electoral districts are established in Regulation 27. Voting is restricted so that one can only vote for the Province of Ontario district and their district of record. Given that Councilors do not, in fact, represent these electoral districts, do you think allowing all members to vote for all electoral districts would be beneficial to the association? (candidates would still need to have an address of record in the district to run)
Q3. Are there other ways to engage the membership to increase participation in elections and governance?
Salam Al-Durra (Answers not yet provided)
J. William Birdsell (Answers below)
A1. I strongly support the National Architecture Policy for Canada. I have embraced all the Policy information and have spoken widely about the initiative. It is important to promote architecture to all Canadians and engage with our government leaders to gain acceptance for this critical idea. A few years ago the Province rewrote the arts curriculum for Ontario's schools. Architecture vanished from the curriculum. I have spoken with MPP's at every opportunity including at the World Architecture events that the OAA hosts each year at Queen's Park. Each time I advocate for the Policy and for them to reverse their unfortunate, wrong headed decision regarding our children. It is important to stress architecture's role as a language that can speak to people everyday and elicit an emotional response just like any art. An appreciation of architecture may lead to valuing the work differently and may result in more quality based selection of architects as opposed to the usual bottom line cost decision. It may even result in architectural competitions that encourage an exploration of ideas shaping architecture and society's opinions.
A2. I feel that recognizing the diversity of location and the resulting difference of opinion is an important aspect of the makeup of OAA Council. It is important to be engaged with your locality and the Architects that practice in your community. I have travelled the Province and across Canada speaking with Architects about the issues that affect them and their view of the profession. I do that with the understanding that I must bring those ideas and concerns back to the council table where they can be shared and shape our direction as we discuss the matters on which the OAA must decide. I do this work with a deep understanding shaped by these discussions and those that I had as a past ProDemnity Chair all the while being proud of coming from Guelph.
A3. I act to encourage discussion about architecture each day through my writing in national and provincial publications and media. It is up to the OAA to promote its elections and the resulting action is political. I have always lived by the rule that all politics is local and best pursued one conversation at a time whether in person or more recently through social engagement.
Giulio Bruno (Answers below)
A1. One of the objects of our Association, as stated in the Ontario Architects Act, is “to promote public appreciation of architecture and the allied arts and sciences”, and both the OAA and the RAIC have always worked in this direction. There are also quite a few other institutions that contribute to spreading awareness about the importance of architects and architecture in our society. Nevertheless, the results are not as encouraging as we would like.
I think the OAA - in conjunction with the other provincial association, CALA, and RAIC - should work on obtaining the promulgation of an “Architecture Act” similar to the ones already existing in France (1977), Sweden (1998), Spain (2017), and Campania (2019), for example. It would be a great tool to effectively promote – in our profession - quality, sustainability, affordability, livability, education, research, competition, and social awareness about the real importance of our work.
It is an ambitious project but can be done. In the immediate, we could establish a specific super-committee to collect and coordinate information, determine objectives, build strategies, and propose concrete actions for the affirmation of a national architecture policy in our country. Absolutely.
A2.Our profession is not the same in the wide provincial territory and, therefore, it is a good idea to have local representatives that have more direct knowledge of the local conditions. Nevertheless, all representatives work for the same common goal, which is the wellbeing of our profession as a whole.
A3. The OAA regularly publishes an interesting Bulletin about ongoing activities and is present on socials like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. We can work with our Communications Committee to improve the use of these tools and ask our associates to provide suggestions about that. We also have a lot of active committees, and they are great places to directly participate in the life of our association. We should work to improve their visibility and better communicate what they actually do. It would be interesting to have meeting sessions open to all the associates willing to attend. Finally, we have a “Digital Suggestion Box” to give feedback and suggestions, and we could make it more visible on our web site.
G. Laurence Cudlip (Answers below)
A1. Yes I will support this notion of a national architecture policy for Canada. Engaging with colleagues in other provincial associations and the RAIC to create consensus and a framework to develop the policy would by my first major goal. Awareness should be established in the form of regular email newsletter to all members on the development of that as a whole. In the broader context, raising awareness could include more public exposure with events aimed at showing the public how key design is. Establishing architecture week each year around the time of the OAA annual convention with high profile public events is one idea I would like to promote.
A2. I think a more open form of voting is a beneficial thing.
A3. Engagement is always a challenge. Having an in-person meet the candidates type of scenario (post COVID) might be a good way to help with participation as one idea. A canned video presentation by each candidate could also help with the engagement. Regular Town Halls during the tenure would also be a great way to help engage the architectural community regarding governance.
Ellie Cyrus Withdrawn
Richard Webb Dabrus (Answers below)
A1. The question seems to about advocacy, as from a regulatory perspective all professions are licensed by the province or jurisdiction, the licensing is not a federal matter. On advocacy, the RAIC is the most likely candidate for a national perspective, however it's funding is limited. At present in Ontario, a major portion of our annual fees are used for advocacy. If these funds were redirected to the RAIC, that body may be able to provide a broader national perspective, and approach to advocacy.
A2. Regional representation is more than reasonable, and only local representation should be allowed for each district. Once on Council, everyone's voice and vote counts.
Simply establishing an address would be in violation of the Architects Act, and would be in violation of the intention of the Act.
Allison Gonsalves (Answers below)
A1. I appreciate the thoughtful question, however, I cannot comment on my support for a policy that I am unaware of. I would, however, support a unifying national architectural standards if it respect the needs and goals of each province. Architecture has a tremendous role to play in society and as a person, I encourage members to get involved with their municipalities and connect with their city councillors to bring awareness of the impact that architecture has on a community and to our country.
A2. I respect the way that the system has been established, as I am sure there are deliberate reasons why Councillors and electoral districts are set up in its current state. If chosen as a Councillor, I would need to educate myself on these reasons before developing an opinion.
A3. Yes, there are always ways to further engage members to participate in elections. I believe social media has a huge role to play in many architectural firms, and using this tool and the various social platforms could be a way to promote elections. Webinars could also be established regarding the importance of a governing body and the Architectural Council.
John V. Hrovat (Answers not yet provided)
A1. I would be in support of the development of a national architectural policy that encourages well-designed environments that enhance the triple bottom line of Social, Environmental and Economic well-being. At the council level I would support awareness of the initiative by promoting a dialogue with governing agencies and allied professionals toward a holistic understanding of what “best value” in architecture means and not simply lowest bid. At the level of society as a whole, this needs to be nurtured in collaboration and coordination with local societies that form the grass roots of the OAA.
A2. I agree that geographic representation is very important in the governance of the association. In my opinion the representation on Council in the capacity of the Province of Ontario district is less about regional representation and more about having the right team in place focused on advancing the status, competency and value of the profession and its members to the public at large.
A3. I have always believed participation is very much a personal desire to engage. That said it also holds that people look to issues that speak to them and encourage their involvement. To that end, inclusive conversations in person or virtual such as round tables, townhalls, etc. about compelling issues that impact the association can only help those that have the desire to engage and those that are open to it find a path to participate on important issues at hand.
Anwar Ktecha (Answers not yet provided)
Mohammad Reza Moghaddam Nik (Answers below)
A1. I definitely support a national architecture policy for canada and as a councilor I will focus on getting the word out on the provincial level and extending to a federal level with the help of other provincial associations and the RAIC. I believe most architects are still unclear about what it is, and what it can do for the profession. I have been advocating for the importance of architecture as long as I've been involved in it, I truly believe that a better means of communication is needed in order to bring more focus on the larger implications of what we do and what we can do. I will make sure to bring these important conversations to the council and develop improved strategies to raise awareness. Architecture is important, and at the moment not many non-architects are convinced that it is.
A2. No, I don't believe that allowing all members to vote for all electoral districts would be beneficial. This is a question of who knows what's best for their district, and the presumptions that someone who isn't familiar with their district could potentially be making decisions on the residents' behalf isn't something I would advocate for. We need to reach out local voices to help with making decisions that potentially affect us all within the province.
A3. Yes, I believe that more outreach with other organizations, institutions, and community-based groups would help in understanding the role of the OAA council and architects at large. At the moment, I know most architects don't really know what the implications of these elections are and whether it really matters for them to vote or not. We need more boots on the ground and more representation from our colleagues, our students and those who love architecture. We need to show the power of architecture - even though advocacy is meant to be the role of the RAIC, it doesn't mean that the OAA and anyone involved in the profession can't advocate for the betterment of all. I will make sure that we form meaningful partnerships with fresh energy and I am sure we will increase the participation. We need to if we want to do the things we all desire so deeply as architects and city-builders.
Deo Paquette (Answers not yet provided)
Dinko Sakanovic (Answers below)
A1. I am not opposed to the idea of a Canadian national architecture policy in principle, and would certainly support developing one under the right circumstances, although developing a provincial policy first may prove a more controllable, less lofty goal, and could serve as a stepping stone towards an eventual national policy. At the moment, however, I am of the opinion that in order for any policy of that sort to be effective in a significant way, it would probably have to be somewhat enforceable, otherwise it will in all likelihood end up another obscure document that few people would ever be compelled to reference. In order to pave the way for an effective provincial or national policy that would be taken seriously by our architects, prospective clients, and government officials at various levels, we may first have to consider re-assessing (and possibly addressing), a number of smaller, but cumulatively significant legislated conditions currently in force, which may be standing in the way to some extent. If I am elected to the council, I intend to raise such issues for discussion, and hopefully, if there is substantial agreement among other council members, subsequent appropriate action could follow.
A2. If I understand correctly, the Councillors do not represent the electoral districts, but they do represent issues and concerns that may be more prominent in their particular districts, compared to the rest of the province. As any rule, policy, or regulation applies equally to the entirety of the province once adopted, it is important that all views and objections, coming from any part of the province, are fully considered by the Council before adoption is finalized. The members living and working in a given district are inherently more qualified to amongst themselves elect a candidate they believe would best represent their unique concerns. Allowing all members to vote for all electoral districts will add nothing to result in "better" candidates (whatever that means) being elected to the Council, but would have the potential to generate unintended incentives that could over time homogenize the type of issues being brought to the Council's attention, likely leading to some parts of the province having their unique needs neglected during policy shaping. What's unacceptable for a part of the province is unacceptable for the entire province. Therefore, I am not convinced that such a proposition would be beneficial to the association in the long run, and would not support its implementation.
A3. Yes, I believe that the association needs to shore up its advocacy efforts in order to encourage more participation among those Members with fresh new ideas, but reluctant to do so due to some degree of learned helplessness, or perhaps cynicism towards bureaucracy. This could be done in a number of different ways, one of which would be to inject more advocacy-minded argumentation directly into the Council. I would propose that at least three Councillors be randomly assigned and tasked, for a period of, let's say, one year each at some point during their three-year tenure on the Council, to focus their contributions to the various policy discussions exclusively on representing the interests of the profession and its members alone, in a "devil's advocate" manner (i.e. without regard to the interests of the public - balancing that out would be the job of the rest of the Council, as it is currently). Such an approach would give any given prospective Councillor a high chance of having their ideas properly heard and discussed, which could go a long way to encourage more critical and creative thinkers to put their names forward.
Jelena Savic-Brkic (Answers below)
A1. It is crucial to continue building on the foundations laid by CALA, CCUSA and RAIC.
I often get a question of why buildings in Europe are better designed? Many European countries adopted national architecture policies in '90 that enabled professionals to achieve design excellence and public appreciation. A national policy would help cultivate Canadian public interest in designing a built environment, promoting our Canadian architecture.
Many of our current policies and standards overlap on major issues national policy is intending to tackle. Social-cultural aspects, well-being, equity, resiliency and sustainable growth conversations are critical in pushing architecture forward, particularly towards meeting The 2030 Challenge.
If we have national and provincial building codes that set a basis for minimum enforceable technical standards, we should have a maximum or best achievable standard.
Architecture has evolved significantly with the ever-changing client landscape and stakeholder engagement norms. We are more than designers of the marvellous public realm, creators of iconic buildings and urban experiences. Subways, airports, hospitals, industrial and process facilities, shopping malls are also architecture. We should celebrate architects in all spheres of architecture, public and private sector, finance, development, design, and construction. We are not just a pretty face! We have a social responsibility to build a safe and healthy environment, to serve and protect the public interest while promoting architecture appreciation.
For those interested in 2030 Challenge, here is more info:
A2. There is always a good reason for our predecessors' work, how electoral districts are established and voting limitations imposed. Understanding more on this approach, having further input on the matter would be essential in providing a proper answer.
Analyzing the latest Covid survey data, it is evident that most members are located in the City of Toronto electoral boundaries (58%), and a solid 38% are located in the outskirts, suburbs or rural farmland. My interest as a member of the City of Toronto electorate was running for the Province of Ontario, understanding the bigger picture, and how electoral districts connect. If I get elected to the Council, I will investigate the subject of voting limitations and potential benefits to the association.
A3. Absolutely. We have the privilege to be self-regulated. The participation of volunteers and members of the profession to help meet the organization's mandate is paramount.
Members engagement is leading to more content leading to more activity.
My first passion wasn't architecture but tech. I am a witness to what data-driven user society we have become. We have to fight for our members' attention on various fronts: digital - diversity - inclusion.
We should continue building awareness utilizing all marketing platforms to make OAA #trending #approachable, shift advertising perspective, provide more data content, and advance social media use. Some platforms have a mass potential for cross-generational outreach and inclusion, such as LinkedIn. It is essential to balance ideas and experience, making all members feel welcomed.
Personally, running for council stem comes from the desire to contribute and continue to diversify our representation on Council, not only as a woman in the field but also as an outsider with foreign experience and credentials. Being voted on Council helps bring another layer of diversity and perhaps encourage other practitioners with similar backgrounds to feel accepted and engaged.
Finally, we must continue building the current OAA work on inclusion. Gender, race, age, accessibility are all part of social inclusivity and matters where our regulatory body has an opportunity to improve and serve in the best public interest.
Sanskriti Singh (Answers below)
A1. If elected on the Council, I will work towards the development and implementation of a national architecture policy with the aim of raising the standards for design quality and reinforcing the importance of architecture in achieving sustainable, accessible and inclusive society. This can be achieved through national design competitions, which will initiate a discussion on architecture and will raise the profile of architects / architectural professionals and their work. In addition, this can also be accomplished through public consultations on the design of buildings in the public realm through the engagement of Canadians in discussions about their built environment. Lastly, I will work towards strengthening investment in architecture and design of public buildings by lobbying public and private organisations.
A2. In my opinion, allowing all members to vote for all electoral districts will not be beneficial to the association. I believe that to effect change, members should have a right to have their voice heard at a provincial level and at a community level, where they are located. As such, I believe that for the electoral districts, both the candidates and the members voting for them should be located in the same electoral district to be able to bring community issues to the forefront in addition to participating in province level discussions relating to the future of architecture and the profession. This way, the councillors from electoral district will represent their electoral district and its membership, by whose vote they have received their mandate.
If elected to the Council, I will work towards engaging the membership and council with the aim of clarifying the role of councillors and their representation of the electoral district from which they have been elected.
A3. Critical to an efficiently functioning organisation/ association is an engaged and informed membership. In my opinion, to increase their participation in elections and in governance of the association, information sessions should be organised that provide an overview to governance structure of the association. New members could be encouraged to better understand the structure of the association through continued mentorship (after registration) by seasoned members. Lastly, to pique the interest of members, observers from amongst the membership can be appointed to the Council for a specified period in order to witness the decision-making process and to learn about the structure and governance of the association. Another way to engage the membership in governance is include volunteering in association activities and mentorship programs towards continuing education.
Fei Wei (Answers not yet provided)