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ACR sister organization celebrates 20 years of Best Practices conferences

Although the connection between the Alberta Chamber of Resources and the Construction Owners Association of Alberta seems natural to many of those who work regularly to support the purpose and objectives of each, the truth is, the link was formed not that long ago. On its own, the COAA was incorporated as a not-for-profit company in Edmonton in January 1973, almost exactly 37 years after the founding of the ACR.

According to Association documents, the COAA originally came together with the ACR to improve efficiencies. Among its key objectives it would: “Encourage and promote by all lawful means a responsible and equitable relationship among owners of projects and works, the various segments and factions comprising the construction industry, all levels of government, and the general public.” The earliest members included Esso Resources Canada Limited, Syncrude Canada Ltd., and TransAlta Utilities Corporation. By 1976, the COAA had 22 corporate members including electrical utility companies, oil companies, chemical and petrochemical companies, and commercial developers.

Over its first dozen years, the COAA engaged in a variety of activities and commissioned a number of studies and research reports. They included “Construction Productivity Standards,” a study of the major factors that affect productivity in the construction industry in Alberta. Among other things, it was found that urban projects are more productive than rural projects and motivation probably “has the greatest influence on productivity and it is a burden upon management to ensure that motivators exist on a project and, conversely, that demotivators are obviated.”

A Construction Safety Committee consisting of 15 construction managers and safety managers from member companies was struck and submissions were made over the ensuing years on various labour legislation issues, employment standards, WCB operations, and many other matters.

Twenty years after incorporation the COAA was ready to launch its flagship initiative: The Best Practices Conference. Best Practices I was held on May 12, 1993 at the Edmonton Inn. Paying $25 admission each, 81 delegates attended.

Best Practices conferences have served as a kind of rallying point. During their early years, delegates would take home a combination of whatever they’d learned over the day along with COAA booklets like “The Owner’s Role in Construction Safety: It Really Pays” published in 1991. By 1997, the conferences had spawned the beginnings of a printed library of best practices that could be referenced and used all year long.

The COAA Best Practices are developed by committees composed of owners, construction contractors, engineering firms, labour providers, government, other industry associations, and other vested stakeholders including universities and research groups that may be involved in pilot work. While there are standing committees for each of the four strategic best practice areas (safety, workforce development, construction productivity, and contracts) and for best practices like the Supply-Demand Forecast which produce deliverables each year, the majority are formed based on an agreed objective and set of deliverables. There are now more than two dozen Best Practices developed by the COAA committees.

For more information about the COAA and Best Practices please visit


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