As I travel through our vast country I am continually impressed with the abundance of living green infrastructure that we are fortunate enough to have in each of our communities. Every village, town and city is complimented in some way with parks, forests, gardens and beautifully landscaped areas. The value of this green infrastructure is measured not only by its beauty, but by the contribution it makes to cleaning the air we breathe, cooling our urban centers, controlling water run-off and flooding, providing shade, and acting as a source of building materials, as well as providing a natural habitat for birds and many other animals and insects.
Although we understand and appreciate the many attributes of our green infrastructure, we may not realize the tremendous amount of employment and money that is generated by the astounding number of professionals that care for our green infrastructure. In the 2009 “Impact of ornamental horticulture on Canada’s economy” report, Deloitte noted that the ornamental horticulture sector contributes $14.48 billion to Canada’s economy annually. In addition to generating a significant amount of income, this sector also has a substantial impact on employment across the country, with a direct sector employment level of 110,750 full-time equivalent positions. Add in the indirect employment generated by the sector and the number of jobs increases to 132,776. Then of course there are the seasonal staff that are employed each year, making the actual number of workers in this sector much higher. The combination of all of these jobs results in 3.8 billion dollars being generated in employment income, with another 850 million in end user taxes across Canada. With over 10,000 landscape and horticulture companies operating in Ontario alone, you can now begin to see the scope of influence and service that you, our green infrastructure professionals, are having on our communities.
The parks and landscape business that we are a part of is continuing to thrive and grow every year. Children learn some of the very basics of nature in the parks and natural environments in which we maintain. As these children become youth they participate in more active recreation on our trails, sportsfields and in our parks. As these same children become adults, they begin to have their own children and they come back to the very places they first learned to run, skate, swim, bike and play. As seniors, the cycle of learning continues as they then come to our parks and green spaces with their grandchildren. Generations of Canadians are able to spend quality time in our green living spaces because they are conveniently located near their homes, they are quite often free, and they are safe, natural and well maintained.
As I leave you to enjoy another busy and productive season, please remember just how important your efforts are to every community in Canada, as you continue to provide quality, safe and friendly professional services to the parks and landscape sector. You are making our communities healthier, more beautiful places in which to live, work and play. To all you green infrastructure professionals, on behalf of the Ontario Parks Association, thank you.
by Paul Ronan
Executive Director, Ontario Parks Association