June 15, 2020
The coronavirus outbreak of 2020 forced many events to be postponed, cancelled, or reinvented. Limits on non-essential travel, combined with a majority of people working from home, kids not in schools, and public health officials restricting the number of people that can gather in a group, have all made a major impact on the way we learn, stay connected, and do business.

Below is a guide to the current status of many upcoming Landscape Ontario and partner events. Please continue to visit HortTrades.com and read LO’s weekly e-news for the latest updates, as the situation and details will likely change.

Chapter and Sector Group meetings

Landscape Ontario’s nine regional chapters usually take a break during the hectic summer season, typically holding monthly chapter meetings from around September through to May. This spring, some chapters held meetings virtually via video conference. The Toronto and Georgian Lakelands Chapters also held “Shop Talk” events online, with Ottawa planning one as well.

LO’s Membership and Chapter Coordinator Myscha Stafford expects most chapters will continue to meet online this fall in a webinar-style format that will usher in an exciting, new era for chapter communications and networking.

Some LO sector groups have also met via video conference this spring in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Groups will continue to meet virtually throughout the rest of 2020. In addition, specific Facebook networking pages have been created for the Garden Centre, Grower and Irrigation sector group members to share information, ideas and to connect with one another.

Sector Group events

The LO Growers Sector Group’s Industry Auction, typically held in summer, has been postponed until 2021. An integral part of the event sees the submission, judging and announcement of winners in the LO Growers Awards of Excellence program. Plans are being made to hold the grower awards in some other format. Details will be made available at IndustryAuction.ca.

The Growers Sector Group has cancelled plans for a summer tour this year.

The Growers Fall Dinner Meeting on Nov. 24 will go ahead. Plans are being made to hold the usual dinner event, which could change to an online town hall format if necessary. The format decision should be made sometime in September.

The Growers Short Course is scheduled for Feb. 3, 2021.

The annual Contractor Lecture has been cancelled. Many chapters are in the process of organizing virtual “Shop Talk” events that will bring a similar format with a local relevance.


The annual gathering of snow and ice professionals typically held at the LO site in Milton, Ont., will become a virtual event this year. Scheduled for July 28, organizers are looking to provide a great lineup of educational sessions, and a virtual trade show featuring many products and demos. Details will be released at Snowposium.ca.

Green Streets Challenge

Last year saw a record number of communities take up the Green Streets Challenge. Held across the province, the hugely-popular event had LO members lay down sod to create temporary parks on prominent streets. Together with Come Alive Outside, the events celebrate the importance of outdoor unstructured play.

With heavy hearts and public safety in mind, organizers have postponed the Green Streets Challenge this year. However, outdoor play is more important than ever. A summer passport program full of outdoor activities that call be completed while physical distancing has been created for kids. Download a copy at ComeAliveOutside.com/passports.

Plans are also underway to hold the Come Alive Outside Design Challenge in a virtual format this fall.

Awards of Excellence Program and Ceremony

Landscape Ontario’s annual awards competition recognizes the top professionals and projects in the province via three separate programs: construction, maintenance and design; growers; and garden centres. All three programs, including the nomination and recognition of individual awards, will still go ahead this year.

Online entries can be submitted online at LOawards.com starting July 1 for the construction, maintenance and design program. Entries will be judged this fall and several ideas are currently being explored for the annual awards ceremony in January if it can not be held due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Scholarship Program

Students enrolled in secondary and post-secondary scholarship programs now have until July 31 to apply for scholarships awarded by the Ontario Horticultural Trades Foundation, which includes the Cullen Family Scholarship Program. Details on the many scholarships available can be found at OHTF.ca.

Scholarship recipients are recognized each year in the November issue of Landscape Ontario magazine, and at the LO Awards of Excellence ceremony in January.

Professional Development Seminar Series

Landscape Ontario’s popular professional development series that offers over 120 seminars from November to April was abruptly cut short in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some titles were held, and in the weeks that followed, organizers were able to offer an association first — a selection of online professional development webinars led by the same well-known and knowledgeable instructors from the series.

LO’s professional development offerings are typically released mid-Oct each year. Currently, planning is underway on the 2021 schedule, which will continue to offer essential hands-on learning and in-class opportunities to help support and advance the skills development of participants.

Building upon this spring’s successful Pro Dev webinars, participants can expect to see more offerings as part of next season’s program.

Congress 2021

Landscape Ontario’s trade show and events team has been busy forging ahead with plans for Congress 2021 — the largest gathering of green industry professionals in Canada. Two versions of Congress are being planned: the face-to-face version the profession is accustomed to, and a virtual trade show and conference in the event that public health officials still recommend against large gatherings.

Organizers are confident that whatever form Congress takes for 2021, it will provide a level of networking, education, sharing, and buying on a digital level that has not yet been experienced by the profession.

The decision on whether Congress 2021 is held virtually or face-to-face will be made sometime in September.

For the latest news on all association activities and events, visit HortTrades.com.