“When the Maple Leafs last won the Stanley Cup, I used to visit my grandfather at night and watch the hockey games and he would tell me stories about how he represented the OGCA in Ottawa during the second World War and how they pledged the efforts of the industry,” said Roy Timms, a grandson of Reg Timms and the 47th OGCA chair in 1985.
And, last month it all came full circle as the association celebrated 75 years in the industry.
The OGCA held the anniversary event May 31 at the Royal York Hotel in Toronto, the site of the association’s first ever meeting. The gala brought out past chairs who shared their experiences and the impact the association had on the industry.
“It’s always been a good guide of what was the ethical way of doing business, what was the most effective way of getting your voice through various levels of government,” added Timms.
Maple Reinders president and OGCA’s 74th chair in 2012, Mike Reinders, says the association brought together contractors to address common issues around legislation and safety.
“We pushed forward on fair bidding practices for contractors in Ontario. It continues to be an issue, new people come on the scene and it’s always a battle for us to have a level playing field for contractors,” he said “The OGCA continues to fight on behalf of contractors, continues to work on behalf of contractors, to the benefit of contractors and the benefit of the construction industry of Ontario.”
Bird Construction board of directors chair and the 62nd OGCA chair in 2000, Paul Charette, says the association fostered a culture that revolved around collaboration.
“It represented collaboration and best practices, and getting together with an incredible board,” he said “Whether it be safety, sharing information, contract documents, or trying to get general conditions that suit our industry.”
Charette was also involved with pushing for amendments on Bill 69 during his time as chair, that addressed competitiveness issues around unionized general contractors.
“It became pretty much a flash point for the OGCA, TCA (Toronto Construction Association)...it was very difficult, I have to admit, but we worked our way through it.”
The OGCA’s growing political involvement over the years has been noticed by 49th chair (1987) and past president, Don Cameron.
“It’s gotten a lot more political than when I was there, we were doing more interaction with other associations, including the architects and engineers and buyers of construction,” he said.
Roly Nicholls, the 30th chair in 1968 and 1969, says the association gave the industry a much larger voice to tackle issues.
“It defines the group of contractors as a legitimate group as opposed to small builders going around trying to offer their services and it sets some standards.” he said. “It gives the ability to gather a much better voice with a large group.”
Nichols says one of its biggest accomplishment during his time was introducing the concept of a construction technician, which had not existed. The association worked with what was then George Brown College to create a curriculum for students and offered jobs once they graduated from the program.
“I don’t know anywhere else in the world that had it,” he said. “Now it’s universal.”