With a poignant nod to its past and the unveiling of a focused, driven plan for its future, the Canadian Construction Association (CCA) recently celebrated its 100-year anniversary through two key events in Ottawa.
The first of those events was a Parliament Hill day on Nov. 27 in which 100 CCA members met with key federal decision-makers about the important role construction plays in the lives of Canadians. On the evening of the hill day, the association gathered at the Chateau Laurier for its centennial dinner with its fall board meeting scheduled for the next day.
CCA’s founding meeting and conference was held at the exact same location from Nov. 26 to 28 in 1918. At the time the association was initially called the Association of Canadian Building and Construction Industries.
The objectives of the association 100 years ago are essentially “the same today as they were back then,” explained Zey Emir, current CCA chair, in her 100th anniversary dinner address. Those objectives were to promote better relations with all members in the construction and design industry, establish and maintain standard practices, acquire and share useful information, expand the construction market and increase the efficiency and usefulness of the industry.
“Over its 100-year history CCA has remained true to those tasks and continues to make significant strides in each of those areas,” said Emir. “The founding purpose and objectives of the association 100 years ago very much continue to shape CCA’s purpose and priorities today and its course for the future.”
CCA has remained “a key player” in driving home the importance of infrastructure investment as an economic driver, noted Emir. The association has also been, “a principle catalyst regarding the development and promotion of standard information, forms, documents and best practices.”
She said the association’s past is “replete with examples” of how it has “moved the bar in each of those areas.”
With the hallway and early dinner reception area (near the centennial dinner’s dining room) lined with historical association group photos and photographs of past CCA chairs, Emir shared the association’s vision for its future. It will adopt innovation and technology, attract a diverse and qualified workforce to the industry and improve CCA membership value.
As an industry, the sum is greater than its parts, now is the time to recommit to a unified industry
— Zey Emir
Canadian Construction Association
“CCA will not do this alone,” Emir said. “Our intention is to work more collaboratively with our partner associations, members and the government. We also will be seeking out new partnerships and models of working together to amplify our influence and service to our members.”
What will success look like?
“Canadian construction firms will be competing effectively in the domestic and world markets by adopting technology and innovating, productivity will improve, generating the capacity to do more.”
Construction will become the employer of choice and there will be increased representation of underrepresented groups in its workforce, said Emir. It will create a rewarding legacy for generations of “building a connected, environmentally friendly Canada for the future.
“As an industry, the sum is greater than its parts, now is the time to recommit to a unified industry,” Emir added.
Mary Van Buren, CCA president, became leader of the association in November 2017. Her first year at the association’s helm has provided her an interesting opportunity to both learn and reflect on the past and begin its preparations to help chart the future.
“What I have learned during the year is that a lot of people do not understand the contributions of the industry, not just in terms of the infrastructure being built to advance Canada but also the good work in the community it does,” she said. “It’s a humble industry who is doing great work and truly cares about its communities and connecting these communities through better infrastructure and a better quality of life.”
This thread of the connection created by construction projects and their surrounding communities is one Francois-Philippe Champagne, Canada’s infrastructure and communities minister, also shared in his keynote address at the centennial dinner.
“When we look at projects, it’s the people behind those projects that really matter,” he said.
To build the Canada of the next century, government and industry “need to do things differently. We need to think outside the box,” he said.
Canadians expect future infrastructure to be “modern, resilient and green” while embracing new technologies, materials and innovation.
“Seize the moment. There’s never been a better time to be in the construction industry in our country,” Champagne said. “Be ambitious, think big, smart and how we can put innovation and technology to the service of our communities.”