ALS News: From the President - At the Half-Way Point

Kevin Swabey, ALS

At the time of writing this article my term as ALSA president is already over fifty percent complete. The time is flying by and we are at that point of the year where Council is seeing recommendations come back from committees. There is much work in front of us over the next few months.

The last seven months have been busy with Executive Committee meetings, Council meetings, other ad hoc meetings, and the tour to the land surveyor association annual general meetings across the country. In May, my wife Paula and I had the pleasure of attending the Association of Canada Lands Surveyors AGM in Kanata, Ontario. Then, in June, we attended the Saskatchewan Land Surveyors Association AGM on the historical Whitecap Dakota First Nation. After a summer rest, there were two more AGMs. In September, we attended the AGM of the Association of Manitoba Land Surveyors in Winnipeg and, in October, the Association of Nova Scotia Land Surveyors in Halifax. I have found it to be very educational to attend the various AGMs.

At each AGM there is a presidents’ forum which is obviously attended by the visiting presidents, including the president (or a representative) from PSC, the incoming and outgoing host presidents, and the executive director (or chief administrative officer) of the host association. The presidents’ forum at each AGM has been a good venue to discuss some of the challenges that each of the associations are facing, what is working, and what is not. To date, a few of the recurring items of discussion have been the Alberta Professional Governance Act (PGA) and the role of the regulator, unauthorized practice, the demand for land surveyors and other technical staff, and the status of the educational institutions.

The introduction of the PGA (Bill 23) here in Alberta has been one of the larger items for discussion. British Columbia already has a PGA, however, in that province the ABCLS has not been included in the “umbrella” act. The BC PGA, like our own Bill 23, provides the minister with the powers to select certain professions who are currently governed by their own legislation to be brought under the PGA at any time. The ABCLS has been concerned with that possibility but have recently heard that they are currently not being considered for inclusion in the act by the minister. 

The topic of unauthorized practice has been brought up in the last few months. Most notably, the province of Québec has had an issue with a non-land surveyor signing plans as a land surveyor. The case is before the courts at this time, and we will watch to see how it turns out. However, for the most part, the discussion has revolved around ways to educate the public and municipalities on the profession of land surveying and when they are required to engage a land surveyor.

As the provinces have emerged from the pandemic, the economy across the country has been strong. This has in turn led to higher work volumes in the land surveying industry in all the provinces. Added to that, the land surveyor associations across the country are in various stages of generational transition and those that are seeing the most transition are seeing a significant need for new members and technical staff over the coming years. Unfortunately, enrollment levels at most geomatics programs throughout Canada have dropped, and the geomatics programs at both York University and Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson University) have recently been terminated. It appears that the land surveying firms across the country will see increased competition in recruiting professionals and technical staff. 

Over the remaining months of my term, I plan on attending the AGMs of the Association of New Brunswick Land Surveyors in January and the Association of Ontario Land Surveyors and Association of British Columbia Land Surveyors in March. At the upcoming presidents’ forums, I’m sure we will continue to discuss the role of the regulator, all the issues listed above and more, and how we can work together.

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The Alberta Land Surveyors' Association (ALSA) is a self-regulating professional association legislated under the Land Surveyors Act. The Association regulates the practice of land surveying for the protection of the public.