More than 100 Ontario leaders and decision makers joined the Ontario Road Builders’ Association (ORBA) in Toronto for its third Annual Queen’s Park Reception. Held May 1 at downtown’s iconic legislative building, the event brought together ORBA reps and government officials for an evening designed to raise ORBA’s profile and the voices of its members.
“This initiative is about getting in front of our politicians and talking to them about the importance of transportation infrastructure, as well as letting them know who we are and what we do,” said Geoff Wilkinson, ORBA’s chief operating officer. “This is also an opportunity to bring our contractors into the discussion because they’re the ones who have real world perspectives about how investments in infrastructure are working for them, their employees, and Ontarians.”
The reception was attended by politicians and Queen’s Park staff from all sides of the floor, including Steven Del Duca, Ontario’s Minister of Transportation; Michael Harris, MPP (Kitchener-Conestoga) and Taras Natyshak, MPP (Essex). It was led by ORBA president Geoffrey Stephens, who thanked attendees for their ongoing support and for contributing to what has fast become a popular industry gathering.
“We are very pleased to have everyone here this evening and really excited to host speakers from all three parties,” he said. “Our association is committed to government partnership with the utmost transparency and professionalism. We fully appreciate that when we work together in the interest of the taxpayer, that the best answers emerge for delivering true quality and value.”
If nothing else, Stephens added, “I hope you take home an understanding of our association and how we are working to improve our industry throughout the province.”
Del Duca took a few moments at the podium to return his appreciation, noting, “The relationship that exists between the Government of Ontario – in particular, the Ministry of Transportation – and ORBA is so important to the quality of life for the people we’re all very proud to represent, regardless of partisan stripe, and in making sure our economy continues to grow.”
MPPs Harris and Natyshak also shared a few words with the crowd. Harris congratulated ORBA on the success of its Site Unseen safety campaign, saying, “I know we all saw the commercials and it’s extra important that we continue to communicate how imperative it is to keep our workers safe.”
Natyshak agreed, saying, “Thank you for making that investment, for making our roads safer, and for the contributions you make. You’re a world-class model for other jurisdictions to follow and we look forward to continuing to work with you.”
2017 marked the third year for ORBA’s Queen’s Park Reception. The event was conceived in 2015 as a way to raise the association’s profile and bring attention to the issues and opportunities surrounding Ontario’s road building industry.
“We’ve always had meetings with government officials, but wanted to do something more,” recalled Ashley DeSouza, ORBA’s Director of Government Relations. “The amount of support we’ve received so far has been amazing, and to see people like Minister Del Duca become familiar faces at these receptions shows how much support we have from our government partners.”
While the event marked De Souza’s final reception with ORBA, he is confident the reception will only gain traction: “These events will be even more important as we push forward on our issues of importance. It’s become an annual staple and ORBA will continue to make it bigger.”