By Erik Missio
From May 25 to May 29, design/construction professionals from across the country gathered in Halifax for the CSC Conference 2016, hosted by the Atlantic Chapter. The event was titled “Building on History”—a fitting expression illustrating not only the type of educational sessions and social activities available, but also the very nature of CSC as an association.
While CSC remains forward-looking in its bid to improve Canada’s design/construction community through quality education programs, publications, and services, the annual conference also gives it a chance to look back at accomplishments and enable networking, bringing together those new to the industry with established experts and mentors. The catchphrase may be “I am CSC,” but in reality, the multi-disciplinary organization’s strength lies in bringing together everyone to find solutions. (“We are CSC,” in other words.)
The Halifax conference was a great success, and really allowed attendees to experience the unique qualities of the Nova Scotian capital. Companion tours enabled people to see the sights and taste local flavours, while the event’s location—the Marriott Harbourfront Hotel—meant everyone was in the epicentre of the Haligonian scene. (Many a cry of “Sociable!” was heard as CSC delegates cheered glasses of local beers.)
The CGC-sponsored Fun Night was held at Pier 21—the seaport terminal through which more than a million immigrants came to Canada, and now an incredible museum. Pirates took the stage to explain the right (and wrong) ways to eat lobster, and were followed by musical performances by CSC member John-Nevan McCulloch (who covered both sea shanties and the Tragically Hip), local band Jesus Murphy, and a lot of partying in the Maritime tradition.
While there was much about the conference that was uniquely Halifax, other aspects remained the same from years past—building on the show’s history with regular hallmarks like committee meetings, member forums, and other opportunities to set the navigation coordinates of the CSC ship.
Another constant from previous conferences was the quality of keynote speakers, such as Colleen Jones, world champion curler, TV reporter, and author. Her talk, sponsored by Kingspan Insulated Panels, was inspiring and life-affirming, drawing on her own experiences bouncing back from sudden illness to her work with CBC, meeting older Canadians who continue to live their dreams.
As always, the technical sessions were as diverse and multi-disciplinary as the association’s membership, with topics ranging from social media and websites to sustainable design and local landmarks, from door hardware specifications to design-build contracts (and everything else in between).
Interspersed with these professional development talks were numerous opportunities to network, whether via ‘speed dates’ or chats amongst the booths at Connections Café—where CSC opens the doors to the local industry and meets the sponsors. The socializing began with the Alumicor-sponsored Welcome Reception and did not end until after the closing festivities of the Soprema-sponsored President’s Ball, where outgoing CSC President Peter Emmett arranged to have local singing superstar Heather Rankin perform.
As usual, some of the best networking took place in the evenings or during ‘free-time’ afternoons strolling along the boardwalk or on the golf course, as the nation’s community of design/construction professionals took full advantage of finally being reunited in one place. New friendships and contacts were made, while longer-standing ones were re-strengthened.