The Utility Management Forum: A Homegrown Venue Connecting Ontario’s Utility Managers

Written by Weao



Photo Credit: Ian Smith

The WEAO Utility Management Forum is Ontario’s premier conference for utility professionals, and we’re proud to announce our third year!

This year the Forum will be hosted at Toronto’s Botanical Gardens. It’s an all-day event, so be sure to mark your calendars for October 24th and register now if you haven’t already.

It’s amazing how far we’ve come—in just a couple years, no less.

When the WEAO hosted its first Forum in King City, we were intent on providing managers and commissioners across the spectrum of utilities with an information-packed event. A place for professionals to discuss industry-specific challenges and share their creative solutions and initiatives.

Our ambition then was the same as it is today: to organize an event that grows the collective body of knowledge in Ontario’s utilities and sustains the high-quality, safe service offered by its professionals—across organizations, municipalities, and systems.

We’re glad to see it’s been such a huge success and we’re looking forward to continuing to offer a practical resource for our province’s industry leaders.

What makes the Utility Management Forum different?

The Utility Management Forum is organized by utility managers for utility managers.

It caters to Ontario professionals with content adapted to suit their specialized needs. Plus, it’s an essential networking opportunity, unique in that it gives attendees the chance to interact with a large number of utility pros they wouldn’t normally have access to.

In an interview with the WEAO on the Utility Management Forum, Cordell Samuels, former president of the Water Environment Federation (WEF), stressed the importance of a Forum consisting of Ontario content.

“When we first started out, the UMF emphasized plenty of non-Ontario content. This year, we’ve focused on adding more, and there’s a good mix of larger and smaller organizations being represented. The idea is to provide utility managers with the most relevant information we can to help them do their jobs more effectively.”


The program will consist of three keynotes and six breakout sessions, covering a broad range of topics, like asset management, environmental legislation, and future staffing issues.

And it will be especially useful to the WEAO’s YPs and students, too.

Samuels noted two talks that will be relevant to young professionals making inroads to the industry. The Stormwater Panel, where Matt Ries will be leading a discussion with some international flavor, sharing recent Water Environment Federation (WEF) studies, and providing great resources to attendees; and the Operations panel, which will focus on the big demographic shift in utilities.

We also have a little something special planned for attendees this year.

Each of our keynote speakers will introduce a “phrase that pays”. Attendees will be provided with cue cards and invited to write out a thought or term that comes to mind. At the end of the day, you’ll submit your responses and we’ll draw the winners.

You’ll be eligible to win prizes such as 2 premium tickets to Cirque de Soleil Volta, a foursome at Angus Glen for 2018, 2 Raptors tickets, wine tour vouchers, etc.

What the future has in store…

Right now, Ontario doesn’t have a regionally specific strategy to address succession planning in utilities.

In this year’s Forum we’ll be highlighting whitepapers on staffing done by The New York Water Environment Association (NYWEA), and the British Columbia Water and Wastewater Association (BCWWA). They’ll illuminate today’s staffing challenges in a broader context. But we also hope to build on them. To develop and explore an Ontario-based approach.

For more details on the Utility Management Forum or to register for the event, visit us here.

We’re looking forward to seeing you all there!



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