January 12, 2022
Peter Guinane gives back
Successful landscape business owner finds time to support industry initiatives
Peter Guinane is one of the most dedicated Landscape Ontario volunteers. He’s on the provincial board, the contractor’s Sector Group, as well as the COVID-19 Task Force. Guinane also finds time to volunteer with both the LO Garden Makeover campaign, and the Green Cities Foundation #GreenMyCity project at St. Matthew’s House in Hamilton, Ont. All this while running Oriole Landscaping, a successful Toronto-based landscape design/build company alongside his long time business partner George Urvari.
Guinane recently joined the Landscape Ontario Podcast to share why he gives back to LO and the GCF.
Scott Barber (SB): Why do you contribute to Landscape Ontario?Peter Guinane (PG): Tony DiGiovanni always talks about the meeting after the meeting. And that’s all the networking you do with other professionals at events. And I have always been happy to share what little knowledge I had, because for every gift you give somebody, some idea or improvement or experience that you’ve had, you always get twice as much back in return.
Participating at Landscape Ontario has become an insatiable learning experience. Being part of the LO Board and being on the landscape contractor’s commodity group, it puts me at the cutting edge of skill and product development, safety training, government policy, supplier networking. New products that come out are presented to us at LO. I’m getting to see that stuff first, which is a real benefit to my company.
SB: What has it been like being part of LO’s COVID-19 Task Force?PG: It’s been great, but when it started, it was terrifying. We had no idea where the pandemic was going to go. We had no idea what the health risks were. There were a lot of questions. The severe lockdowns came into effect and I had no idea if my business would survive; if my family would be safe. These were huge question marks, which bred a lot of anxiety both in me and our staff.
The best way to get information as quickly as possible was to be on the committee whose mandate was to get information.
It’s been more successful than I could have imagined. I have to give a shout out to Alan White who championed the creation of the task force, and Dave Wright, the President of Landscape Ontario, for their leadership. It has been a tremendous honour to be part of that group.
SB: Why are you a supporter and contributor to LO’s Garden Makeover campaign to give back to frontline heroes?PG: As a group, we wanted to do something to communicate our gratitude to the province. We talked about tribute gardens, and how we could demonstrate our value to society. Our profession was out working 100 per cent at that point. We had been given the opportunity to work as an industry, while much of the economy was still locked down. We wanted to demonstrate our gratitude to the Ontario government and the public, and we wanted to highlight the value of our industry by creating wellness spaces. Gardens support mental and physical wellness, and that’s something we wanted to demonstrate with this program. The gardens that we have been building have been fantastic.
SB: Tell us about your involvement with the Green Cities Foundation, including the project at St. Matthew’s House.PG: The Green Cities Foundation is an initiative from the Canadian Nursery Landscape Association which has a mandate to bring green spaces to communities. They have some corporate supporters including some big names who have donated to bring that message of horticulture to needy communities.
The project in downtown Hamilton for example, is in a resource deficient neighbourhood, when we talk about a lack of green spaces and parks. The area is particularly hard hit by issues around community health and poverty, and bringing this improvement to the community is immensely uplifting. I believe providing access to green space benefits the entire community, and it’s one of the most impactful things I can do.
This interview was adapted from an episode of the Landscape Ontario Podcast, published in November 2021. To listen to the podcast, visit landscapeontario.com/podcast, or search for it on your favourite podcast app.