November 15, 2017
Paul Brydges
LO President

Paul BrydgesAfter recently returning from the annual Great Lakes Conference in Indianapolis, Ind., along with Dave Wright and Tony DiGiovanni, we were pleased to see almost all of the Great Lakes horticultural trade associations have rebounded from the downturn of 2009. As expected, topics at the conference ranged from Millennials to the value of staff as our number one asset. The number one recurring theme was the shortage of staff. Many different tactics were discussed and have been implemented by our colleagues in the U.S. for recruiting new, young staff. Unfortunately, there did not seem to be one thing that was guaranteed to fill the void we are all seeing in North America. As LO’s second vice president, this was the first of potentially five Great Lakes Conferences for Dave Wright to attend. Over the next couple of years, my hope is for the group to provide us with a solid answer to attracting young workers.

Our ongoing discussions with the Ontario Association of Landscape Architects (OALA) have us all several steps closer to the Name Act and Practice Act legislation we have been pursuing for a couple of years. OALA has draft wording working its way through the political system in hopes it will pass before the next election. With constant work and ongoing discussions, we as landscape designers are continuing to work towards our own Name Act.

Our latest and most pressing concern is the new minimum wage legislation that is quickly barrelling down on us. There are several other side issues running along with this, but it seems to be the main concern for our members. I led an open forum discussion at the Waterloo Chapter meeting in October, and asked the question of whether or not we should try to keep the landscape gardener exemption which allows us to not have to pay overtime. After a rousing discussion with many insightful comments, we put the question to a vote. It was virtually unanimous that LO should fight to keep our profession from having to pay overtime. One great idea came out of the discussion that may be a good alternative: to have the time extended to which overtime must be paid. Perhaps if the recording period could be over four weeks instead of two.

I have been discussing the issue with as many members as I can. I equate this new challenge to when we faced the implementation of HST. There will be several months of pain and suffering until we all get used to whatever new policies are put in place and then we will figure out how to deal with the impacts of the system. I do know that we are going to have to raise prices across the board; so will everyone else. The provincial government has promised some relief in the form of tax incentives. I feel this will be a very tough test for all us to work through together.

Here’s hoping for a long, dry fall to make up for the wettest year ever recorded — and a soft winter.
Paul Brydges may be reached at