Council of Ontario Construction Associations report

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BCA Report staff writer

            The Council of Ontario Construction Associations (COCA) is pleased to provide you with this review as an update on the activities and successes of your provincial association for the past several months.

COCA president Ian Cunningham notes there has been a change in the board of COCA, with Gary van Bolderen stepping in as the new chair. “Gary has a keen interest in COCA and in building our membership. He has begun his efforts in this area by meeting with and learning about our member’s needs.”

Van Bolderen has been a COCA member for many years, as a representative of the Canadian Farm Builders Association (CFBA). His company, Dutch Masters Design and Construction Services, is also a BCA member. “Coming from a niche industry I have always been aware of how welcoming COCA, and the BCA, have been.”

He says one of COCA’s strengths, and one he wants to become more knowledgeable about, is that it is a rare organization that isn’t a special interest group. “COCA’s members represent the whole spectrum of the industry. We may all come with our own interests but the end result of anything we support, of any initiatives we undertake, will be sound and benefit us all.”

To better understand COCA’s diverse membership, Van Bolderen is meeting with members, one-by-one at their own functions or offices. He says the meetings will give him a better perspective and understanding of members’ views and positions.

He believes the attention to individual members may reflect his experience with the smaller CFBA.  He says the approach has been well received.

Construction Lien Act

Cunningham says COCA will continue to focus on several key public policy initiatives, including the Construction Lien Act led by Borden Ladner Gervais LLP partner Bruce Reynolds.

“He has released a highly technical discussion paper to help stakeholders understand the issue. COCA has assembled a task force of 10 highly knowledgeable participants to review the paper and provide us with feedback.”

Cunningham says this effort is a significant undertaking and, as it has been a top priority over the past four years, represents an important initiative in advancing the association’s and its members’ views.

WSIB Rate Framework Reform

Cunningham says COCA is also working actively with the WSIB on its Rate Framework Reform which includes a comprehensive overhaul of the classification and rating system.

“This is an important public policy initiative which has already resulted in a number of discussion papers. COCA has had several meetings to date with WSIB officers and we’ll continue to follow this and work with our members and WSIB.”

Health and safety

COCA is also working with the Ministry of Labour and its chief prevention officer to ensure Ontario workplaces are as safe as possible.  “Despite the implementation of new working at heights training, there continue to be disappointing incidents and falls,” Cunningham says. “Once the programs are fully implemented we hope things will improve but in the meantime heights continue to be a significant hazard.”

Cunningham says workers, employers and associations must continue to be diligent and always think about safety.

Van Bolderen says each of COCA’s key initiatives is important to the industry and the association’s members, regardless of which sector, region or niche they represent.

“People need to understand that we have to have an influence and affect change before legislation happens, otherwise it is too late. And, as they say, if you don’t participate, you can’t complain once it’s too late.”

While he says many people consider participation and meeting attendance as chores, they are missing an important opportunity by not being involved. He says participating, to whatever degree, helps members influence efforts in their own sector and the industry as a whole.

Anita Stacey represents BCA at COCA

Cowden Woods Design Builders Ltd.’s owner Anita Stacey represents the BCA at COCA and serves as vice-chair on the association’s executive committee. She says she is proud to represent the BCA and to help its members obtain a stronger voice by being connected to the larger association. “The fact that COCA is Ontario-based and dealing with Ontario issues is important and allows BCA members a real chance to be heard in matters that impact them.”

She says in her roles within COCA she is able to speak for the BCA and learn from COCA members who share similar challenges and concerns. She is also able to bring back information to members. “It is nice to be part of an organization that takes up the fight on our behalf, to know what is going on and to be able to proactive in helping make change.”

Stacey says COCA and local associations such as the BCA provide synergy for smaller companies to connect and to get the information and resources they need.

Membership is growing

COCA is pleased to report that its membership is growing, offering new insights and partnerships supporting members and the industry. In the past year, Cunningham says the association has welcomed the return of the London and District Construction Association (LDCA).

COCA has also welcomed two new associate members, environmental, engineering and health and safety consulting firm Pinchin Ltd. and human resources management firm Two Grey Suits. Cunningham says the partnership with Two Grey Suits is interesting as it will provide access, for those members who are interested, to a full range of online and hotline resources for human resources issues. “For our smaller members who may not have their own human resources departments, this could be a valuable tool.”

Cunningham says it is important for an association to include a diverse membership because it brings a higher degree of expertise and knowledge, and also because it allows different industries to get to know its members, and their needs, so they can be better served.

Professional development

COCA continues to offer Chief Operating Officer (COO) forums, which provide professional development opportunities for member associations five times a year. “Through these we hope to increase expertise and capacity within our member associations to help make them stronger,” says Cunningham.

The forums, which he says makes COCA stronger as well, include topics such as management, public relations and communications. One of this year’s sessions helped attendees develop a framework for a member value proposition.

COCA’s strength

Cunningham says COCA is stronger than ever. “We have an engaged membership and a strong board. We continue to be the most diverse and representative association in Ontario.”

“It is also important to note the very positive relationship that exists between the BCA and COCA, the active engagement of the BCA in the affairs of COCA and the important value that the BCA brings to our provincial federation of construction associations,” he said. “COCA representatives are always welcomed warmly at BCA events like the Members’ BBQ, the AGM, the Base Borden run or the golf tournament. COCA values highly this strong relationship.”