September 15, 2019
The new Landscape Ontario
The LO Building Committee recently met at the newly-renovated home office for a tour and to discuss the landscaping plan for the site.
Tony DiGiovanniAfter spending a year in temporary offices, the Landscape Ontario staff are finally back home. Our completely renovated building looks great from Highway 401 and the members that have visited are extremely proud and impressed by the inside. Our theme of “renewal” this year is a very fitting one.

Our new building belongs to you — our members. It is meant to reflect your values and your professionalism. It is kind of like a church/synagogue/temple. It belongs to no individual and paradoxically, to all. It is a place where everyone will experience the culture of “mutual improvement and benefit” that is at the core of why we exist. It symbolizes competency, character and trust — all the attributes we want to reflect as a profession.

Every time members and potential members visit, we hope they come away enriched. It is a place for learning, training, listening, growth, debate, social interaction, prosperity and legacy. We want it to communicate the feeling of family, unity and purpose. Our purpose is to advance the landscape and horticultural profession. Our vision is to grow a prosperous, professional, ethical, recognized, valued and contribution-oriented industry. Every activity in the new LO will align with this purpose and vision.

It has been quite a journey to get to where we are. We are thankful for the hard work and vision of our pioneers who laid the strong foundation that has made Landscape Ontario one of the largest, most active and engaged horticultural associations in the world.

Nearly 30 years ago, the association executive developed its first strategic plan. I still remember the process. The board of directors at the time asked the past presidents to review every aspect of the association. That activity was led by chair Casey van Maris. The office was located in an industrial strip mall on Matheson Rd. in Mississauga, Ont. It was a typical office condominium with a few offices and an unfinished storage area.

It was worth about $180,000. Sitting around tables in the storage area, surrounded by stacks of boxes, the past presidents began to envision the future.

Here are some of the ideas written into that first strategic plan: The association’s home office of the future would include a 50-acre site, located within 30 minutes of the airport. It would become a hub for all related  associations. There would be professional development courses offered, including practical programs. It would include demonstration gardens and a school. It would even be a place for research.

About four years after the strategic plan was approved, John Van Wissen of Van Wissen Garden Centre dropped by the office. He had read the strategic plan and suggested that the association purchase the 50-acre Shemin Nurseries property in Milton. It had just gone on the market for $1.23 million. I told John we could not afford it, to which he promptly responded, “Then what is the use of a strategic plan?” There is a lot more to the story which I will elaborate on in future articles, but suffice it to say that John’s prompting made the Milton home office purchase a reality. It also highlights the huge importance of setting goals.

After all these years, we continue our important habits of envisioning the future and setting goals, but we also work hard on maintaining our core values and principles. Although the “New LO” is exciting, we must continue to respect our founding principles and values in order to continue our success. At heart, we are a family that cares for each other and the community we serve. We are a community for mutual benefit and mutual improvement. We are in the business of enhancing and enriching lives.

We are planning to hold an Open House in late October for everyone to celebrate the new Milton office. Watch for your invitation soon. We look forward to celebrating the new LO with you.
Tony DiGiovanni CHT
LO Executive Director