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The Faces of Landscape Architecture: Ecora

Ecora now has a boutique-style landscape architecture studio within its bigger engineering and resource group firm.

"It's essentially a business within a business," says landscape architecture lead Fiona Barton.

"Ecora is a series of smaller businesses that make up a one-stop shop. Ecora's landscape architecture offering has never been stronger because it's so comprehensive. If we're doing a landscape architecture and site design project and need a biologist or civil engineer, Ecora has the perfect one for the job."

Fiona earned her master's in landscape architecture at the Edinburgh College of Art/University of Edinburgh and came to Kelowna to co-found Outland Design in 1998, which became the only 100% woman-owned landscape architecture firm in BC.

Outland joined Ecora in November 2021 to form that aforementioned boutique within the larger firm.

"Landscape architecture isn't just about planting flowers and shrubs," says Fiona with a laugh.

"Landscape architects are really site planners who create comfortable public and people outdoor spaces. We figure out how humans fit into the environment and design that environment."

In fact, Fiona likens landscape architecture as the layout of exterior spaces, much the way architects layout interior spaces.

"If you walk down the street and feel good, or enjoy a plaza, park or even your own backyard, then a landscape architect probably had something to do with it," stresses Fiona.

"It all comes down to human comfort in site planning."

For instance, it was likely a landscape architect who decided to place that comfortable bench along a hiking trail facing the lake or mountain view with a shade tree over it.

Two recent projects Fiona’s team is proud of are the City Park Promenade and Laurel Square.

The promenade is not just the wider showpiece walkway along the lakeshore in Kelowna's most beautiful and popular park.

It's a pedestrian-and-family-friendly feature that gives back to the environment because it also includes a berm with mature trees and native plantings and V-log and shoreline stabilization to protect the beach and foreshore.

"It's a delicate balance between nature and a busy recreational corridor," says Fiona.

"It took a multidisciplinary team of landscape architects and engineers to achieve it."

Laurel Square is the park beside the Laurel Packinghouse that's also an outdoor space for school groups and families to learn about Kelowna's agricultural past and biodiversity.

Artifacts are artfully placed in the park, apple boxes double as playground pieces and an urban, native species garden provides milkweed for monarch butterflies and their caterpillars and flowers for pollinating bees.

Ecora has a diverse, talented team of 200 who excel in civil, geotechnical, hydrotechnical, structural and mechanical engineering; environmental assessments; landscape ecology; environmental remediation; geomatics and data management; landscape architecture; forestry; legal land survey; development servicing; project management and marketing.

With such an array of professionals and services, Ecora is involved in almost every development and infrastructure improvement project in the Okanagan in some capacity.

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