Positive Winnipeg Free Press Story: Manitoba landscape architects push labour mobility at national conference

THE Manitoba Association of Landscape Architects
has enough standing in the professional community to
host the Canadian Society of Landscape Architects
conference this week in Winnipeg, with about 300
attendees from across the country.
But while the local association (with its 200-plus
members) adheres to the most rigorous standards for
accreditation across the country, unlike its Ontario,
Alberta and British Columbia peers, MALA is not a
recognized professional body in the province.
Bob Somers, a principal at Scatliff+ Miller+Murray in
Winnipeg and outgoing president of the CSLA, said it
is nagging issue MALA has been working on for the
entirety of its existence.
“One of our biggest challenges is labour mobility,” he
said Friday. “Those other three big provinces have it
and so they have reciprocal agreements. We are falling
While Somers said MALA membership requirements
are just as thorough as those provinces that have
licensure, the reality is professionals from other
provinces have no problem working in Manitoba, but
the reverse is not true.
For example, Glenn Manning, a principal at HTFC
Planning & Design in Winnipeg, said while his firm is
doing work in Yellowknife and Halifax, it cannot work
in B.C., nor can it bid on jobs in the U.S., because
MALA does not have a name act that allows it to be
registered as a professional association.
“We have exactly the same rigorous requirements (as
other jurisdictions),” he said. “The only thing we are
missing is the name act.”
What MALA is looking for is no different, for
example, than what the Law Society of Manitoba does
for lawyers and Doctors Manitoba does for physicians:
they hold the rights to say who and who is not a lawyer
or doctor.
However, Somers and others believe the stars may be
aligning to finally secure the provincial legislation
MALA needs.

Not only has the NDP government signalled a
supportive attitude, even the previous Progressive
Conservative government went so far as to draft
legislation, but then did not get the chance to table it.
“We made some headway with the previous
government and we’ve had some great conversations
with the current one,” said Somers.
MALA also has support from allied professional
groups, including engineers and architects.
“We recognize we’re not a huge organization, but it
feels like it should be an easy win,” Somers said,
noting the department of landscape architecture at the
University of Manitoba is the oldest school in the
country for the profession.
“The timing is right,” said Somers. “We should be just
doing it.”
Tracy Schmidt, provincial minister of environment and
climate change, spoke at the CSLA conference Friday.
While name legislation would not be her department’s
responsibility, she said her government is supportive
of what MALA is looking for.
“We appreciate, value and respect the work that
landscape architects do in Manitoba and we understand
they have been advocating for such recognition for
some time,” Schmidt said.
“I can assure you our government is happy to continue
the dialogue and we will try to find the best path
‘We recognize we’re not a huge organization, but it
feels like it should be an easy win’
— Bob Somers, on MALA efforts to become a
recognized professional body