OCAA News Jan-Feb 2011

You know, it has been 16 years since we officially started the Ontario Commercial Arborists Association. It all started with a few of us being drawn in by an idea that Harold Van Dyke had about uniting commercial arborists and arranging training for the smaller arboriculture companies at a cost effective price. In the early days, we would get together in Harold’s kitchen and talk about all sorts of ideas. By “we” I mean Harold Van Dyke, Lewis Arnold, Ross and Steve Price, Ken Lund, Owen Goltz and myself. All this happened in the early nineties and by 1994 we had our first constitution – if you want to call it that. In fact, at that time we were still a subcommittee of ISA Ontario but trying to move out on our own. 

Over time it became clear as we progressed and did more and more educational seminars that we could no longer work under the ISAO umbrella. On January 13, 2005, OCAA officially became its own corporation. Both Ken and I have served on the board of directors since the inception and have seen it grow from a mere five members sitting around a kitchen table to the current 55 member strong organization.  

When I look back at all that we have accomplished over the years, I can truly say that I am proud of OCAA’s accomplishments and that in my wildest dreams I had not thought this amount of success would ever have been possible. It is extremely rewarding to see people from all the various companies located throughout the province coming together year after year to work at our annual Day of Service. Our first one was held at the Newmarket’s Quaker Meeting House where 15 companies (our entire membership at the time) joined together to care for their trees in 1996. At the 2010 Day of Service, we had over 22 companies in attendance at L’Arch Daybreak in Richmond Hill. 

Our educational programs are also continuing to draw crowds. We have helped shape pesticide legislation, tree bylaws, and the Arborist Safe Work Practices, which originally transpired by OCAA approaching the Farm Safety Association asking them to unite on this important project. All of the aforementioned could not have been accomplished if it were not for a number of dedicated volunteers who dedicate a lot of their time and effort to the organization. 

I am no longer on the board, but that doesn’t mean I will be fading into the background. There is a lot of work still needing to be done on the Arborist Safe Work Practices. The past 16 years have been a lot of fun, but it is time for a break and other endeavours. I encourage each and every member of OCAA and ISAO to get involved with your association. You will meet a multitude of people, you will learn a tremendous amount, and as a bonus (and perhaps the greatest benefit), you will have a wonderful time making a difference in your industry. 

— Ruurd van de Ven 

Our mission is to enhance and promote the care and benefit of trees for present and future generations in Ontario through education, research and awareness.