|(John D. Gamble, CET, P.Eng., President &
Chief Executive Officer, ACEC-Canada)
This annual report to the members covers yet another extraordinary year. While change is constant, nevertheless we have seen profound and lasting impacts on the economy and society since 2020. However, this past year has seen some return to (a version of) normalcy and the return of optimism. It has been a transitional year for the economy, the industry and our association. Our industry has been largely viewed as being critical to maintaining the economy and to a long-term recovery. This is in part because of our members’ success in delivering projects under difficult circumstances and in part because of ACEC’s advocacy. No other profession or industry is more important to our social, economic and environmental quality of life. Perhaps this is even more true than ever.
We have all made difficult decisions and found ways to do business differently – and in some cases better. Through all of this ACEC is strongly committed to providing value to its members and ensuring continuous improvement. Our focussed strategic plan, augmented by healthy reserves, prudent management of resources and diversification of revenue allowed ACEC to enter the pandemic with a strong surplus and healthy reserves. The theme of the 2021-2022 budget proposed by the ACEC team and approved by our board of directors was agility. Consequently, ACEC had a strong year financially as illustrated by the audited financial statements in the annual report.
I also refer you to the Year in Review portion of this annual report on the many activities undertaken by the association and successes achieved. ACEC continues to be one of the most effective voices in support of long-term infrastructure investment. ACEC is continuing to advocate for public policy important to the consulting engineering sector. ACEC continues to be at the table with key stakeholders as an unapologetic advocate for public policy that supports our industry and recognizes the critical contributions that ACEC members make to the quality of life of Canadians.
The ACEC team and board of directors has successfully utilized virtual meetings to manage the association and deliver ACEC programs during the pandemic. And now that we are beginning to return to in-person meetings and events alongside side virtual events, we have used this opportunity to re-evaluate how we deliver programs and events effectively and efficiently. It is clear that in-person versus virtual is not an either-or proposition. Rather, we now have a broader range of tools and approaches at our disposal that can assist us with increased agility with which to conduct association business.
For example, continuing to hold our annual general meetings virtually will make it accessible to more members, allowing them to participate in the association’s governance without the need to travel or pay a conference registration. Similarly, the return of the ACEC national leadership conference as a hybrid event provides more options to members’ participation and hopefully lead to a broader audience. And the strong financial position of the association will allow us to ensure that in-person components of the conference and the Canadian Consulting Engineering Awards are first-class productions and provide a positive experience for the participants.
Another example that applies to many organizations is office space. As we reported last year, ACEC’s office lease had expired at the height of the pandemic and rather than financially committing the association to a new long-term lease, the ACEC team made a seamless transition to remote working. It became clear that we could reconsider our past assumptions around ACEC’s working environment and adopt a more open-ended and agile approach to our office requirements. At this time, the team continues to largely work remotely, but utilizing “hoteling” to book office space on an as-needed basis. This will likely continue as most of ACEC’s key stakeholders – the federal government in particular – continue to work and engage remotely. We will continue to keep our longer-term options open and remain agile as the post-pandemic environment slowly becomes more clear. In any event, our office needs of the future will certainly be more cost-effective than the pre-pandemic paradigm.
ACEC has positioned itself well over the past few years to be able to adapt to these extraordinary times. Prudent decisions and sharpened focus allowed ACEC to remain committed to its mission of creating a business and regulatory climate that will allow our members to be successful and offer a high level of quality and value to their clients.
I wish to acknowledge the provincial and territorial Member Organizations across the country who are key to our successes across the country. Not only are they effectively advocating at the provincial, territorial and municipal levels of government they are especially effective at engaging with our members and stakeholders at the local level. Our Chair David Murray and I have enjoyed the opportunities to engage with a number of our Member Organizations in person. Incoming Chair Tim Stanley and I hope to see and hear from even more of you in the coming year.
The past year’s successes would also not have been possible without the hard work of ACEC volunteers and staff. Volunteers, led by our Board, freely offer valuable advice and expertise through participation on ACEC committees and task forces. We recognize many of ACEC’s volunteers in this report. ACEC is supported by a diverse and talented staff in Ottawa. I want to thank Martine Proulx, Michael Courtright, Martin Savard, Julie Jacquard and Leanne Plamondon for their hard work, creativity and commitment to the association.
In closing, I wish to thank past-chair Anthony Karakatsanis, chair David Murray and the Board of Directors for their support and strategic leadership. Always moving forward, they hold the association and themselves to a high standard of professionalism and accountability. Their leadership has left the association in a strong position as we face the profound and unprecedented challenges facing our association, our industry and our country. And of course, we look forward to working with Tim Stanley and the 2022-2023 Board.
John D. Gamble, CET, P.Eng.
President and Chief Executive Officer