Steve McEachen elected as 2021 NCHCA president; association thrives despite pandemic

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Ottawa Construction News staff writer

Steve McEachen, general manager of Aecon Construction Ontario East Ltd., has taken the helm as the National Capital Heavy Construction Association (NCHCA)’s 2021 president.

The association’s new executive, directors and financial statements were approved at a virtual Annual General Meeting on April 6.

McEachen, the NCHCA’s 43th president, replaces Darrin Alberty.

He observed in his opening statement that the association has “a robust three-year business plan in place that identifies all of NCHCA’s objectives and the outcomes that we hope to achieve.”

“My focus during my presidency will be on advocacy in alignment with NCHCA’s first objective to advocate strong, clear positions and expectations to regarding issues that affect the heavy construction industry,” McEachen said.

“In particular, history shows that investment in infrastructure is not only the best way to stimulate the economy, it also creates immediate employment opportunities and improves the economic and environmental quality of life for all of us.

“I will advocate that the projects we deliver are essential. They provide transportation routes for people and goods, ensure safe drinking water, process waste, and protect our community against flooding and other natural disasters. This foundation enables our communities and local businesses to grow and ensures that we enjoy a high quality of life.

“It is in the best interest of Ottawa’s economy that the city maintain a robust capital budget for infrastructure construction and maintenance,” he said. “Relying on the construction sector to play a leading role in economic recovery is a time-tested and proven strategy and one that should be embraced as fundamental to recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“Ottawa will benefit from the economic stimulus created by thousands of working construction people as well as the multiple effect in terms of the economic activity generated throughout a broad and diverse materials and services supply chain. At the same time, infrastructure construction creates tangible new public assets that will support further economic development and growth in the longer term.

“Although the mandate of NCHCA is to lobby at the local level, in 2020 we also lobbied the federal and provincial governments regarding stimulus funding,” he said.

Other 2021 priorities include improving the recruitment and retention of workers in the heavy construction industry. “In 2020, NCHCA undertook a multi-year recruitment project with funding from the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development to address industry labour shortages in the Ottawa area,” McEachen said. “We will be calling on you, our members, to provide input and feedback as we develop recruitment strategies to help us all going forward.”

Treasurer Paul Lemire reported that the association fared well financially in the past year, despite fears that COVID-19 would result in a deficit of more than $65,000. In the end, the NCHCA ended up with a $45,408 surplus “due in large part to membership dues received in excess of what was anticipated and receipt of government wage subsidies.”

With the cancellation of events and the Ontario Sewer and Watermain Construction Association’s (OSWCA) regional funding program, revenues declined by approximately 20 per cent, Lemire said.

However, “our expenses decreased by approximately 40 per cent as we did not incur event-related expenses, cancelled our 2020 bursary program, and eliminated board-related costs such as board meetings and the Fall Board Retreat.”

“All things considered, the association’s finances continue to be strong with net assets of $249,896 and cash of $271,969 at the end of 2020,” he said

For the upcoming year, Lemire said the association is planning two golf tournaments but otherwise will not hold events. Membership dues have increased from $725 to $825, and the NCHCA expects a balanced budget this year.

In addition to McEachen, other executive members elected at the AGM include:

  • Past-president, Darrin Alberty, R.W. Tomlinson Ltd.
  • Past-past-president, Stephen Goodman, GEMTEC Consulting Engineers and Scientists Ltd.
  • First vice-president, Paul Lemire, C.A.C.E. Construction (1991) Ltd.
  • Second vice-president, Brian Lane, Taggart Construction Ltd.
  • Treasurer, John DeKroon, K.C.E. Construction Ltd.

Directors in alphabetical order are: Nick Bray, Louis W. Bray Construction Ltd.; Dale Downey, Thomas Cavanaugh Construction Ltd.; Brad Gooderham, Coco Paving Inc.; Chris Lesaux, Woseley Waterworks Group; Dave McClure, Toromont Cat; Dave Meikle, Ottawa D-Squared Construction Ltd.; Kyle Peori, Clean Water Works Inc.; Nick Regalbuto, LDC Precision Concrete Inc.; Sandro Ricci, ASL; Steve Turner, Ottawa Residential Consultants; and Bob Watson, Marathon Underground Constructors.

As well, non-voting board members include: Edson Donnelly, of Novatech Engineering who represents Consulting Engineers of Ontario; Jeff Mulcock of Taggart Construction representing the Ontario Sewer and Watermain Construction Association and Ivan Levac of R.W. Tomlinson representing the Ontario Road Builders Association.

NCHCA health and safety committee chair Michelle Richer presented the association’s annual safety award to Tim Laferriere and Marathon Underground Constructors Corp.

Laferriere reviewed locates noting that buried utility was to be exposed, Richer said. “Unable to find it, the crew refus(ed) to proceed with drilling despite the client’s insistence to proceed.”

The association awarded six monthly safety awards. Besides Laferriere, awards went to: Seb Aubin, Direct Bore Inc.; R.W. Tomlinson Ltd.’s paving and grading crew; crew from Taggart Construction Ltd.; Tim Russell, Direct Bore Inc. and Garrett Darbon, Christian Cantin and Mahmoud Meibel, Direct Bore Inc.

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