George gave a presentation entitled “Drifting Knowledge” at the AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science), 2018 Arctic Science Meeting, in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Below is the abstract.
Today’s Arctic settlements are under an increasing development pressure as both Inuit and non-Inuit
population is steadily growing. While in more southern regions the natural processes are perceived to
happen in the background of our lives, in the Arctic these processes are an integral part and cannot be
ignored. Over thousands of years of inhabiting the north, the Inuit have learned to adapt their way of
life and incorporate them into their living, building a wealth of arctic-living knowledge.
Initially modelled after southern principles of urban planning, current planning policies in Nunavut
shifted recently to incorporate local social priorities and environmental knowledge of wind, snow, and
re-vegetation, however, upon implementation, conflicting interests between policies call for hard design
decisions. The research of Drifting Knowledge narrates the challenges encountered by a large-scale
master-planning process in Iqaluit, Nunavut where the work revealed tensions in the planning policies
between natural processes, social and economic realities. Through the analysis of a real-life project, this
presentation explores the need for a holistic, site-specific, integrated planning process in the arctic that
incorporates traditional Inuit knowledge along with scientific evidence and reflects the social logic of the
George Harris was the Visionary and Lead Designer of the team for the Badlands Parkway in Grasslands National Park, which received the 2019 Brian Eckel Award in the Environmental Category. The road was designed on site by walking the entire length of the road and laying it out manually. The points were then surveyed in and the alignment verified. The plan included an approach to minimize the ecological impact while maximizing visitor’s experience, as the site is under an Environmental Protection Order due to the critical Sage Grouse habitat.
The project consists of a 10.4km scenic road using a single lane, dual direction configuration. The Badlands Parkway provides access to six viewpoints for visitors of varied mobility, increasing park visitation and protecting the grassland from off road environmental disturbance. Work was completed with minimal disturbance, avoiding critical habitat of native grassland wildlife species. The project team provided transportation engineering, landscape architecture and planning, geotechnical engineering, tendering services, construction inspection, surveying, aerial LiDAR, and remotely piloted aircraft systems to design a solution centered around the concept of minimalist design
In 2002 the Brian Eckel Awards, named in honour of the late Brian Eckel, P. Eng. were implimented to applaude and promote innovative projects of ACEC-SK member firms. Member project profiles highlight industry leading talent and the application of solutions that meet new requirements, technology or methods....
Continuing George Harris Collaborative Inc's extensive work in Canada's northern communities, the 2020-2030 Iqaluit Recreation Master Plan was recently finalized and presented to the Iqaluit City Council. Along with the firm, George collaborated with a diverse team of recreation planners, Inuit cultural advisors, and engagement specialists to develop a comprehensive recreation vision for the next decade. As well, extensive public engagement with Inuit elders, youth, business owners, and residents of Iqaluit was undertaken to develop a people-focused, culturally informed masterplan.
Iqaluit's unique climatic, cultural, and sociological conditions presented a unique planning challenge. The Canadian Arctic is experiencing profound change on a large scale environmentally, economically, and socially, and the City of Iqaluit must adapt in the coming years. The long, dark winters combined with the short summers intensely influence the recreation environment, making it distinct from its southern counterparts. Additionally, Inuit culture reflects a holistic and unique approach to recreation that further enriches the recreational landscape in Iqaluit. With these opportunities, George led the team to develop a masterplan rooted in local heritage that emphasizes Inuit recreational culture, supports a customer focus over facilities, and unites the community through recreation.
To accomplish these goals, the plan introduces an action-based community strategy based on five key strategies: improve communication, identify priority customers, deliver programs collaboratively, deliver facilities collaboratively, and reorganizing the business unit. These strategies are differentiated into specific actions that can be implemented according to the strategic implementation plan. Evaluation and development of these actions are facilitated by toolsets that consider social, physical, cultural, and economic determinants specific to Iqaluit.
The 2020-2030 Iqaluit Recreation Master Plan presents a vision of people-focused, inclusive, and adaptable year-round recreation that engages the whole community. This plan exemplifies the George Harris Collaborative Inc's commitment to cross-discipline collaboration, context-sensitive strategies and solutions, and furthering Canada's northern communities. Find out more about the firm's other arctic projects here....