October 15, 2011
Finance minister Flaherty addresses Landscape Ontario board
LO executive director Tony DiGiovanni and members of the LO board greet Canada’s Minister of Finance Jim Flaherty.
By Robert Ellidge
Web editor

Landscape Ontario’s provincial board of directors had the rare opportunity to meet with Canada’s federal Minister of Finance, Jim Flaherty at a special event on Sept. 14, held at the of Parkwood Estate national historic site in Oshawa.

To commemorate the inaugural National Tree Day (Sept. 21), Minister Flaherty participated in the ceremonial planting of a sugar maple tree, donated by the Maple Leaves Forever Foundation. Many special guests and media were on hand to mark the occasion, hosted by Parkwood board chair, Dr. Richard Marceau. Dignitaries also included Kew Jewett, founder of Maple Leaves Forever, and Chuck Geale, past president of Tree Canada, who spoke briefly about the many benefits of trees.

After the tree planting, LO president Tom Intven, executive director Tony DiGiovanni and Durham Chapter representative on the LO board Mark Humphries of Humphries Landscape Services, Oshawa, took the opportunity over lunch to educate the finance minister on the benefits, issues and challenges facing the landscape industry.

Flaherty spoke for about 20 minutes, noting the many contributions of the landscape industry to the Canadian economy, as well as the environmental and social benefits of the sector.

“This is the original green industry in Canada,” Flaherty said. “This is an industry with definitely quantifiable environmental and economic benefits.” The minister recognized and applauded the hard work and dedication of the many entrepreneurs around the room, who have successfully built their passion of horticulture into profitable companies that provide jobs and wages to many Canadian families.

Flaherty’s words resonated with LO president Tom Intven, who reflected, “It was fantastic to have the Finance Minister bring recognition to ‘the original green industry,’ and to hear Mr. Flaherty speak at length about the importance of our industry, our ability to create jobs, and the significance of the economic impact our industry has right across Canada, as well as our importance in greening our planet. The whole day was a highlight for our industry!”

In his address to the audience, Flaherty later said he was interested to learn about the benefits of trees on lowering home energy costs during his lunchtime conversation with the LO executive — something he was unaware of before the event.

Flaherty continued to speak about some of the government’s recent environmental projects, including waterfront beautification and parkland developments that are just as important to Canadians as health care, education and social services.

Landscape Ontario thanks Mark Humphries for his coup in making the arrangements for the federal finance minister to attend the event, bringing much recognition to Landscape Ontario and National Tree Day. LO also extends thanks to the staff at Parkwood Estate, including executive director Brian Malcolm, for the incredible generosity and graciousness in hosting the entire LO board.

“Durham chapter was pleased to host the provincial board at Parkwood Estates. This 12-acre site is a treasure to be preserved,” stated Humphries. The spectacular gardens date back to 1917, and are some of the last formal gardens designed by Howard Dunington-Grubb.

“This site made a most fitting backdrop to the ceremonial planting of an indigenous maple by the Honorable Minister of Finance Jim Flaherty to recognize the first annual National Tree Day. Minister Flaherty graciously provided a keynote talk to the LO board at lunch. We would like to thank the board members and staff for taking extra time out of their busy schedules (in some cases two days) to visit Oshawa and tour the mansion. Parkwood board of directors is hopeful that LO, as an association, also appreciates the value of the gardens enough, to agree to an ongoing support and participation to the restoration, preservation and continued maintenance of them,” Humphries noted.