February 15, 2012
Special night recognizes Awards of Excellence recipients
Accepting the Casey van Maris Award are from left, Michael McMartin and James Dale, both of Earth Incorporated of Toronto, Monica van Maris, Kennedy McRae, also of Earth Incorporated and Casey van Maris’ grandson, Rob Brubacher.
Each year the LO Awards of Excellence ceremony is becoming more and more sophisticated, while at the same time adding increasing amounts of glitz.

This year the presentation included cheerleaders, politicians, a TV sports personality, bright lights, music and an evening filled with excited award recipients. Under the leadership of MC Haig Seferian CLD, the impressive production created an exciting atmosphere for all the presentations.

Over 600 industry leaders gathered to recognize the achievement of their professional colleagues at the ceremony held on Jan. 10 in the Doubletree by Hilton Toronto Airport Hotel.

“Our awards program provides a marketing tool for the membership as well as a source of pride for member company employees. Is the ceremony long? Yes. Is it worth the wait? Absolutely! The moment in the spotlight for employees is worth its weight in gold, and gives them a sense of accomplishment and something to be proud of starting their season,” says Kristen McIntyre CLT, awards coordinator.

“Winners portray a competitive spirit, strive for continuous improvement and offer services distinctly different from the competition,” says Denis Flanagan, Landscape Ontario’s director of membership services and public relations. “Award entries are judged on originality, effectiveness, harmony of design elements, and integration of plants and landscape materials.”

To view images of some award-winning landscapes and the complete list of construction and maintenance winners, see pages 15 to 18 in this issue.

Special presentations

A number of special presentations took place at this year’s event. The 2012 Chapter Achievement Award went to Landscape Ontario’s London Chapter for its work on the Veterans Memorial Highway. The Chapter worked to provide 8,000 trees as a living honour guard along the parkway in the City of London. On hand to accept the award were project leaders Grant Harrison CLT, Chapter president, and Michael Martins, Chapter member, and Barry Sandler, of the Area Special Projects Committee for Scouts Canada of the London Chapter.  

It was a proud time for everyone in the room when the 2012 Association Achievement Award was presented to Kyle Tobin, Alan White, Peter Guinane, Pat Lamanna and Brad Vanderwoude, for the St. James Park renovation project, which garnered huge positive media attention toward both the industry and Landscape Ontario.  

Making the St. James presentation special was a surprise appearance by Toronto mayor Rob Ford. He congratulated all the volunteers and companies who donated time and material. “I am here to extend thanks on behalf of myself, city councillors, staff and citizens of the Toronto,” said the mayor.

He went on to say, “You are true leaders not only in your industry, but in your community. Your work will long be remembered.” The mayor then announced that special scrolls would be given to each company that was involved in the project.

Sports theme

“This year’s event theme was sports, so we had some fun with centrepieces. We had 16 by 16 inch slabs of beautiful sod (courtesy of Brad Vanderwoude Sod Farms) adorned with several different locate flags. It was extremely entertaining listening to the guests quiz each other on which colour represented which service,” stated McIntyre.

Part of that sports theme saw TSN announcer Jay Onrait  add his special brand of humour to the evening. Onrait has won a Gemini Award for Best Sportscaster/Anchor.

Past president of LO, Bob Adams of Barrie was presented the Landscape Ontario Special Alumni Award by president Tom Intven. This designation is given to members of the association who have retired. It provides special association status, assuring recipients there will always be a place for them in the community which they helped build.

Canada Blooms, represented by Charlie Dobbin, director of feature gardens and horticulture, handed out a number of awards during the evening. The soft landscaping supplier of year was Braun Nursery of Mount Hope, represented by Dave Braun, while the hard landscaping supplier of the year was the Permacon Group. The volunteer of the year went to Peter Guinane, of Oriole Landscaping, Toronto.

The Waterloo Chapter was recognized with a presentation of the Community Leadership Award for its work to bring back the Waterloo Tree Hunt. The event proved highly popular with the community. On hand to accept the award were the three Waterloo Chapter members who began the program, Phil Dickie, Mike Hayes and Greg Templeman.

MP receives Environment Award

Following the federal government’s proclamation of National Tree Day, Landscape Ontario and the Canadian Nursery Landscape Association saw the work toward promoting the Sept. 21 event result in a national success. Both associations pointed toward the private member’s bill by MP Royal Galipeau. At the Award of Excellence presentation, Galipeau was on hand to accept the the Environmental Award.  

“With his successful initiative to establish an annual National Tree Day, Galipeau has helped raise awareness of how trees benefit the environment, improve quality of life and contribute to the economy,” said Tony DiGiovanni, executive director of Landscape Ontario.

LO members in the audience enjoyed seeing one of their own win the Garden Communicator of the Year Award. Dan Clost, Connon Nurseries, Trenton, is secretary and past president of the Upper Canada Chapter. Each year the award is given to a writer or broadcaster who consistently produces a high level of quality in the field of horticulture through his or her efforts in communication. Clost writes a newspaper column that serves the region with the Upper Canada area. 
This year’s Past President’s Awards went to Brian Lofgren, Horta-Craft, Strathroy, and Pat Lamanna, Draglam Salt (G&L Group), Concord. A committee of three past presidents of Landscape Ontario decides the recipients of this award, which goes to those who over many years have made outstanding contributions to the association. The award to Lofgren was presented by Congress show manager Paul Day, while awards judge, Alistair Johnston presented the award to Lamanna.

Jacki Hart CLP presented the Prosperity Partners Leadership Awards to Jason Gaw of Sycamore Landscape, Brampton, Sian Pritchard of The Cutting Garden, Grafton, Geneva Tubby of Arbordale Landscaping, Concord, Chaz Morenz of Gardens in the City, Toronto, and Brad Paton of Shades of Summer Landscaping, Hamilton.

The Water Conservation Award went to DJ Rain, North York. The award was accepted by Matt McCallum from Jeff McMann, awards program judge, and Tom Intven.

Project awards

The Casey van Maris Award honours the memory of one of Landscape Ontario’s most influential and respected members. The award is given to the project that achieves the highest marks for execution of unique and innovative design in landscaping. This year’s winner was Earth Incorporated of Toronto.  On hand to accept the award were Michael McMartin, James Dale and Kennedy McRae, from Monica van Maris, and her grandson Rob Brubacher.

Heritage Green Landscape Contractors of Hamilton was awarded the Don Salivan Award for Grounds Management. On hand to accept the trophy from Gregg Salivan, who presented the award in the memory of his father, were Mike McGrath CLT and Jeff Lowartz CLT.

The most prestigious symbol of achievement at the Awards of Excellence is the Dunington-Grubb Award given to the most outstanding and overall highest-scoring project in the construction category. This year, S. Rebelo Landscapes of Hamilton won the honour. Accepting the award from Michael Pascoe of Fanshawe College and Tom Intven was Steve Rebelo.


Scholarship recipients

John Wright, president of the Ontario Horticultural Trades Foundation, invited the 2011 scholarship recipients onto the stage.

Post Secondary Scholarship: Randi Brooks, Fanshawe College, Jakeob Daoust, Mohawk College, Nicole Hall, St. Clair College, Melissa Ozaruk, Fanshawe College, Jeffery Simpson, Fanshawe College, Jaclyn Van Der Deyden, Niagara Parks School of Horticulture;

Tony DiGiovanni Scholarship: Timothy Elliott, Fanshawe College;

High School Scholarship: Jeremy Sales, University of Guelph, Emily VanderDeen, Fanshawe College;

Apprenticeship Scholarship: Katharine Flohr, Humber College, Suzie Michaels, Humber College;

John and  Ruth Wright Scholarship: Kathleen Dodson, University of Guelph.