September 8, 2021
Lee GouldHiring professionals, that is those that have the demonstrated knowledge, matters.

It matters for a variety of reasons, as hiring a professional typically means using specialized services to achieve a desired result. Hiring a professional often means a task is completed with more efficiency — both in terms of time and outcome, as well as mitigating risk.

A good example would be seeing a doctor for an illness or retaining a mechanic to fix a broken car. Common to both are persons who have specific skills and experiences gained through appropriate education and familiarity. Both professions make use of specialized tools that help to expedite the best outcomes, and in both cases, there is an ongoing requirement and need to keep informed of new thinking, knowledge and equipment through regular professional development.

There should be no debate that those we engage for winter maintenance should be professionals, but too often their contributions are minimized. Like physicians and others, winter maintenance professionals help  mitigate risk by providing expert services using specialized equipment. They help to achieve desired outcomes efficiently and effectively.

Our collective challenge is to continue to strive to change  dismissive and belittling mindsets surrounding those engaged in winter maintenance, to ensure they are appreciated for their professional contributions. As winter maintenance contractors gain the appreciation they deserve, recognition of their professionalism will translate to improved service and safety outcomes, better contracts, improved working conditions and pay.

Winter maintenance contractors can and must play an active role. To achieve professional recognition, winter maintenance contractors must conform to the commonly understood Best Management Practices (BMPs) for winter maintenance. As professionals, winter maintenance contractors must commit to continue to develop their knowledge to ensure they are providing optimal solutions to their clients and the public.

As a not-for-profit organization that was founded in the spirit of collaboration, the Smart About Salt Council (SASC) is actively working with others like Landscape Ontario to ensure winter maintenance contractors are identified as the professionals they are. For many years, the Smart About Salt Council has offered inexpensive training for winter maintenance contractors, facility owners and others, to support the knowledge and use of BMPs in winter maintenance. The training is available online and for groups through webinars and in-person lessons. It has also been expanded to provide a refresher that contractors are encouraged to access every three years. Later this year, training will expand again to provide advanced courses surrounding procurement and the use of liquids in winter maintenance.

Training is foundational and forms the basis and first requirement of certification, which for winter maintenance contractors equates to a Red Seal designation for a mechanic or a physician’s license to practice. Certification translates to an expression of professionalism, knowledge and commitment to the highest standards of practice.

Most of us are smart enough to hire the right person for the job: a trained and regulated dentist for our dental health or a journeyman plumber for our sanitation needs. Increasingly the same level of professionalism is being demanded of those engaged in the winter maintenance industry.

Those wishing to learn more about the unique programs and services offered by the Smart About Salt Council and how they support professionals in the winter maintenance industry, including contractors and facility owners/operators, are encouraged to visit
Lee Gould
Executive Director, Smart About Salt Council