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ORBA convention looks to explore transportation of the future in Ontario

Angela Gismondi
ORBA convention looks to explore transportation of the future in Ontario

The Ontario Road Builders’ Association’s (ORBA) annual convention will focus on building the transportation of the future for the province.

The 96th annual convention and annual general meeting will be held Feb. 6 and 7 at the Fairmont Royal York in Toronto. This year’s theme is Building on Strong Foundations — Leading Ontario’s Transportation Future.

“This is our 96th AGM so the industry is closing in on 100 years. I think that’s where we really talk about building on strong foundations,” said John Provenzano, director of marketing and communications with ORBA.

“Even though we’re closing in on 100 years, we have to take a look at the future. The province of Ontario has earmarked billions of dollars for roadbuilding, bridges, Highway 413, the Bradford Bypass. All this transportation infrastructure is going to need the industry to work together and build for a better future. You take a look at the increase in immigration that we’re getting across Canada and you know that a lot of that immigration is going to be coming to Ontario and specifically the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, so not only do these people need homes but they’re going to need roads to get there.”

For the first time in two years, it will be an in-person event.

Evan Dickson, director of member services and events, said there is no substitute for a live event.

“I think there is a great desire to return to an in-person convention, certainly among the membership and also among the staff,” he said.

“The level of engagement you can get at an in-person event and the casual networking that’s available is not really possible to truly replicate online. The industry is going to be there. This is the event for Ontario’s roadbuilding industry to gather, to learn from one another, to make deals, to gain knowledge. There is no other opportunity to be among your industry peers in such great quality and quantity and at the same time have so much insightful content to absorb and to discuss and then bring back to your own company.”

Confirmed to speak at the two-day conference are Ontario Premier Doug Ford, Toronto Mayor John Tory, Minister of Infrastructure Kinga Surma and Minister of Transportation Caroline Mulroney.

Keynote speakers include Survivorman Les Stroud with a presentation titled Unlocking your success instinct, as well as gold medal hockey player and Hockey Night in Canada broadcaster Cassie Campbell-Pascall talking about consistent leadership.

“Leadership is a key theme of the two keynotes,” said Dickson. “Within that there are areas of priority for our members and for the industry: making sure that we have the workers, the skilled labourers that we need to do the job. There is content that touches on that. Also looking ahead in terms of environmental sustainability, we’ve got some very important sessions on that and also making steps in diversity, equity and inclusion and making sure our industry is inclusive to people from all backgrounds…Those are the areas we want to see and encourage leadership in.”

In terms of municipal sessions, there will be speakers from four different regions across Ontario: the City of Sudbury, London, Ottawa and for the GTA, the City of Mississauga and York Region.

“We want to find out what the municipalities are doing, what kind of jobs are coming through the pipeline,” said Provenzano. “That’s why we invite the MTO (Ministry of Transportation) to come out, we invite the minister and we have Phil Verster from Metrolinx. These are all our partners and we’re coming together in one place to advocate, to plan the future for our industry.”

In addition to roadbuilders, those attending the conference will include asphalt producers, municipal staff, provincial staff, suppliers, engineers, consultants and other stakeholders involved in roadbuilding and the heavy civil construction industry.

“These people are talking about ‘what are your barriers? Your barriers to getting something are my barriers,’” he explained.

“We’re talking about a steel index. We have an asphalt index, but we don’t have a steel index. We’re talking about inflation, supply chain issues. These people are talking about these kinds of things amongst themselves to see ‘how can we solve these issues? How we can get out in front, because my problems are your problems? You don’t see this head butting because ‘you’re my competition.’ This is an area where they are all coming together as one voice.”

Awards and scholarships will also be handed out at the convention.

For more information visit 2023-ORBA-Convention-Brochure-Dec22.pdf

Follow the author on Twitter @DCN_Angela

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