06/28/2013 01:52 EDT | Updated 08/28/2013 05:12 EDT

The Prince's Efforts to Build Communities in Canada

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 27: Prince Charles, Prince of Wales takes a royal salute after presenting Operational service medals to the servicemen of the Royal Dragoon Guards at Clarence House on June 27, 2013 in London, England. (Photo by Tim P. Whitby - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

The motto of the Prince's Charities is "Transforming Lives, Building Communities". In previous posts we've looked at how efforts in the areas of education, supporting youth and responsible business are transforming lives both in Canada and the United Kingdom. There is no doubt that changing people's lives for the better results in stronger communities, but what about the communities themselves?

How does the layout of communities help us to live longer?

How do architectural features and building materials contribute to a sense of place?

How can protecting our past pave the way for a brighter future?

For decades, HRH The Prince of Wales has spoken out about the need to re-center the building of the places we live around individual human needs. In his speeches and writings like the landmark "A Vision for Britain", The Prince stresses that the needs of the people who inhabit a place should define its form and layout, not the other way around.

In his latest op-ed for The Huffington Post UK, His Royal Highness discusses his desire to create communities where people feel welcome and included. Places that will stand the test of time. Part of creating those communities also includes preserving historical buildings and repurposing them for modern uses.

In the UK, the Prince has three charities covering the built environment including The Prince's Foundation for Building Community (PFBC), The Prince's Regeneration Trust (PRT) and Dumfries House.

In Canada PFBC has an office in Vancouver and an established relationship with Simon Fraser University. The Foundation recently held its first professional symposium in Toronto in partnership with Prince's Charities Canada (PCC), the Prince's Canadian charitable office. At the event architects, planners, designers and developers came together to learn more about the Prince's vision and how those ideas might be further expanded in a Canadian context. The event included a public lecture at the Daniels Spectrum.

The preservation of heritage is another important part of the Prince's vision and in Canada efforts to recognize towns and cities that do a good job in this area are rewarded with The Prince of Wales Prize for Municipal Heritage Leadership. The award came about during an official Royal Tour of New Brunswick in the 1990s where the Prince toured a beautifully restored 18th century home. After meeting with local heritage representatives, the decision was made to create a prize to reward communities who have successfully preserved their built environment. The Heritage Canada Foundation (The National Trust for Canada) administers the prize, which has been given to deserving communities every year since 1999.

At the Heritage Canada Foundation's recent national conference in Montreal, Ros Kerslake, the CEO of the Prince's Regeneration Trust spoke about their efforts to put heritage preservation at the heart of a broader strategy of economic regeneration for an area. The main example cited was the Trust's project at Middleport, the last working Victorian pottery in the United Kingdom.

In the coming years, issues of place and community building will only grow in importance for urbanized countries like Canada. Ensuring that development respects the past while building a more humane and sustainable future remains one the driving forces behind the Prince of Wales's charitable work in this country.

To learn more about the Prince of Wales's Canadian charitable work:

Amanda Sherrington (Prince's Charities Canada), Mr. Galen Weston, The Hon. Hilary Weston, The Hon. David Onley (Lieutenant Governor of Ontario), Mrs. Ruth Anne Onley, Elisa Campbell (Prince's Foundation for Building Community - Canada), Hank Dittmar (PFBC) at the Opening Reception for PFBC's first Canadian symposium at Queen's Park, Toronto in May of 2013