February 4, 2020
LO AGM reflects pride and strength
Landscape Ontario’s 2020 Provincial Board of Directors.
Held Jan. 8 at Congress, Landscape Ontario’s Annual General Meeting recognized accomplishments of an industry poised to take on future challenges. Outgoing president Warren Patterson announced the current Executive Board, chapter reps, and sector group reps, and recognized past presidents, who “guide us to our future,” as well as Honorary Lifetime Members, 25- and 10-year members and certified members.

As provincial board rep to the Canadian Nursery Landscape Association, LO past president Paul Brydges, gave a CNLA report on that association’s purchase of Communities in Bloom, recognized LO members in national leadership, and reported on plans for the Green Cities Foundation. CNLA will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2022.

Warren Patterson’s President’s report looked back on five priorities identified last year, and listed accomplishments toward those goals. LO secured a grant to hire an employment development consultant; with another $1.5 million in pending grant applications. A pilot program to employ new Canadians in Ottawa is underway. A workshare program will be presented to the Board in February. A new program will recognize Top 100 employers; the first of which will be announced soon. Digital education delivery plans are underway. Our tech audit is still under evaluation.

A committee of engaged younger members has been looking at ways to drive stronger participation through our membership structure. On behalf of the Membership Committee, Lindsey Ross presented recommendations to break active membership into four categories: introductory, member, professional member, and certified professional member. The top category is achieved when 10 per cent of staff members hold a certification. The plan was presented to attendees as a motion, which was carried.

In his Executive Director’s report, Tony DiGiovanni shared the LO staff word of the year: Opportunity. Regarding members’ challenges, he said, “Employee recruitment, retention and development is the number one issue by far, a barrier to future growth.” Profitability is next, with the need for members to charge more for services. There is also a liability insurance crisis for the snow sector. DiGiovanni gave a heartfelt tribute to Warren Patterson: “Warren takes careful action once he has examined all sides of an issue. He is a great listener with quiet wisdom; members trust him. Warren is a natural mentor. The association has prospered on his watch.” DiGiovanni continued by recognizing Paul Brydges on leaving the Provincial Board, saying, “Paul helped members see themselves through the lens of a profession rather than an industry. Paul bleeds integrity.” DiGiovanni looked forward to Dave Wright’s presidency, mentioning he has known Dave since age 17.

“We have done well financially. I am leaving my job in great shape,” noted outgoing Treasurer Ed Hansen in a brief and positive report.

Incoming President Dave Wright took the gavel and reflected on his new responsibility, thanking members for their trust. Wright chose Legacy for his theme, calling legacies, “Something bigger than we are. It’s up to us to carry them on and leave bigger ones. I encourage everybody to leave one. Make it bigger, make it better.”

Paul Brydges took the opportunity of announcing the Members-at-Large election, to thank Warren Patterson and welcomed him to the Past Presidents’ Club. Patterson responded with, “The older you get, the more emotional. We needed to focus on fund investment, controlled investment in facilities, and how to invest in members. We grew our capital by $2 million, and we are the centre of the landscape profession in Canada. Our strategic plan is the best I have been involved with; we are going in the right direction at appropriate speed. Thanks to the Executive and Provincial Boards and all staff. And thanks, Paul, for the amazing amount of time you put in. I admire you for commitment and energy.”

The new Provincial Board for 2020 includes: Dave Wright, President; Lindsay Drake Nightingale, First Vice President; Ed Hansen, Second Vice President; and Lindsey Ross, Treasurer. Blake Tubby and Jeff Olsen were acclaimed as Members-at-Large.

DiGiovanni closed the meeting with a tribute to retiring Membership and Public Relations Director, Denis Flanagan: “Your passion for our industry is unequalled.”