September 5, 2023
Joe SalemiAfter a spring and summer hiatus, Landscape Ontario’s Provincial Board of Directors recently met to discuss our strategic priorities for 2024 and beyond. Much like the visionaries that formed this organization in 1973, and the board that made the decision in 1994 to purchase the property we’re still on today, the current Board are making long-term strategic decisions that will see Landscape Ontario continue down the path of local and international success. Every day I come into the office, I’m greeted by the many faces of Landscape Ontario’s past presidents that adorn our main entrance. It reminds me of the rich history of this organization and how important it is to remember the work of those who came before us — and that we bring the same care and commitment to the work we are doing to usher Landscape Ontario into the future.

We have a lot to be excited about. Registration for next year’s Landscape Ontario’s Congress Trade Show and Conference is now open. Earlier this year, the 50th anniversary Congress saw record sales and attendance. The founding members would be proud of how much this event has developed over the years (and in fact I know many continue to be involved to this day). It’s still where relationships are formed, where friendships are forged and where business partnerships are born. It’s just all happening on a much larger scale and on a much bigger stage.

The visionary Board of Directors from the early to mid-90s who led the purchase of our property in Milton, Ont., would hardly recognize the grounds and the facility today. Our property has never looked better. David Turnbull, Landscape Ontario’s Property Manager, University of Guelph Trial Garden Manager Rodger Tchanz and his team, along with the recruits in Landscape Ontario’s GROW program and retired City of Toronto grower Stanley Roszak have all come together to make the gardens extra special this year as we celebrate our 50th anniversary. If you are ever in the Milton area, please stop by and check out our beautiful gardens. This facility is owned by you, the members — and the coffee is always on!

Our main focus this year has been on workforce development (closing the labour gap), and government advocacy on the issues affecting you most. Our workforce development efforts are being driven by our strategic plan, which laid out our vision for Landscape Ontario to be the hiring hub for the industry in the province. While there is always work to do, we are well on our way to making that a reality. Through the Skills Development Fund from the Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training, and Skills Development, we have been able to accelerate that vision. We are now in year four of recruiting people, training them, and finding them employment with Landscape Ontario member companies. We are upskilling people already in the industry, and helping owners become better employers.

None of this would be possible without our member volunteers. At a recent Landscape Ontario event, I spoke with a passionate member who wanted to see change for the better within one of the sector groups — so I invited him to volunteer some of his time and be the catalyst for change that he wanted to see. Lucky for all of us, he’s done just that. I know there are more members out there who want to see positive change, so here is my personal invitation to you. Please come and join a sector group, chapter board or committee. We need each and every one of you willing to be the change you want to see and work in partnership with us to make great things happen.

Our work is driven by you as a member of Landscape Ontario. We need your voice at the table. Send me an email and I’ll get you connected to the committee, chapter, or sector group where you can make a difference.

Joe Salemi CAE
LO Executive Director