December 12, 2018
Phil Dickie
“A lot of wise men and ladies — Paul Grobe, John Wright, and others — offered me a lot of insights.” Phil Dickie of Fast Forest, based in Kitchener, recently reflected on the benefits of LO membership, and characteristically turned the focus away from himself and toward others.

Dickie has devoted countless hours of service to the association and the Waterloo Chapter. He is particularly proud of his 10-year leadership on the Waterloo Trade and Equipment Show. Phil and Peter Hummel worked to expand the show, that eventually found a home at the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium. He named the show’s local focus, low cost and social aspect as success factors. Proceeds supported KidsAbility Centre for Child Development, another source of pride. Dickie also served on LO’s Branding Committee during the ambitious rebranding process of 2007.

Also gratifying to Dickie was his work on the Champion Tree Hunt, treehunt.ca. The effort raised awareness of legacy trees in the area and served as a template for other communities. Dickie, who called the effort a real pleasure, is quick to credit fellow volunteers Greg Templeman and Mike Hayes, and is grateful to LO executive director Tony DiGiovanni for his effort on the website.

When starting out, Dickie remembers joining lots of associations to get his name out, even one for cemeteries. In his experience, he finds LO and ISA are the strongest voices. He believes in strong lobbying to make governments listen, and sees people becoming more tuned into environmental issue. “Years ago, no one gave a thought to cutting down a tree. Today, we are matchmakers for trees, and even promote adoptions where we find new homes and move them.”

A memorable event for Dickie was an Arbour Week red oak planting at Queens Park with Premier David Peterson. At the time, activists were protesting logging in the Temagami area; they dogged the Premier’s appearances, drowning him out with recordings of chainsaws. “I remember feeling quite sorry for him and also somewhat perplexed, as here he was trying to promote the planting of trees with the sound of chainsaws in the background. I guess politicians sometimes can’t even win for trying!”

The always-positive Dickie appreciates his LO activities for the benefits he received in networking, friendships, fulfillment and self esteem. He also appreciates being part of the green profession: “How can you not love being in it? Everybody is smiling when you leave a site!”

Dickie is retiring from Fast Forest, and is grateful to hand over responsibility to 22-year veteran Lucan Allin. “Something clicked. I lost a few friends who worked their whole lives, and I wanted to enjoy retirement while I was still healthy.”

What is Phil Dickie’s favourite tree? “For coniferous, it would be the white pine, not just because it is Ontario’s official tree, but because I love its appearance even at maturity. And since fall is my favourite time of year, my choice for deciduous would be sugar maple for its multi-coloured foliage. Plus, I just realized these are native species, so I won’t get chastised by the ‘native species only’ people!”