2008 The David Thompson Bicentennials
The sputtering of the oil and gas economy continued in 2008 despite record high oil prices. In late 2007, the provincial government introduced a new royalty regime, which coupled with increasing labour costs, was blamed for a slowdown in exploration in Alberta. Housing starts remained strong but the frenzy of activity that had been seen over the last couple of years cooled off.
The Association continued to see a decline a post sales – a decline which started early the previous year. It began to have an impact on the Association’s financial outlook and, for the first time in a number of years, the Association ended up in a deficit position by the end of fiscal 2008. Council spent more time keeping an eye on the Association’s finances than it had to over the last number of years. This concern over Association finances led to a number of fee increases in the bylaws to be voted on by the membership at the 2008 AGM. While the membership did eventually approve the bylaw changes, there seemed to be a general consensus that the Association should not over-react to the slowdown in the economy (seen as temporary by many) but use the reserves that had been built-up during the good times.
2008 turned out to be an interesting political year for the province and the ALSA. The Association’s former public member, Ed Stelmach, swept to victory in the March 3 election. Alberta Land Surveyor Ken Allred was elected in the riding of St. Albert for the Progressive Conservatives. Mr. Allred became the first provincial politician elected to the legislature since Jean Cote.
The Alberta Land Surveyors' Association and the Association of British Columbia Land Surveyors held a number of meetings in 2007-2008 to discuss a labour mobility agreement for the profession under the governments’ Trade Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA). Both associations decided to require a candidate from the other to pass one jurisdiction-specific exam. The exam would be available on demand. No more project reports or oral qualifying exams. The agreement was signed in a formal ceremony at the ALSA AGM. It was one of the first TILMA agreements signed by a profession.
The land surveyors’ TILMA agreement wasn’t the only agreement signed at the 2008 AGM. The Alberta Land Surveyors’ Association and the Alberta Society of Surveying & Mapping Technologies signed a memorandum of understanding. The MOU was the result of the work of the Future of the Association Ad Hoc Committee done the previous year. The goals of the agreement, according to the MOU, are “provide a broad overview and model of a future partnership between ALSA and ASSMT which will formalize both organizations’ commitment to developing a cooperative relationship and provide the framework whereby committees from both organizations can begin formalizing procedures and working details of such an agreement.”
The Systematic Practice Review program continued to undergo a number of changes. The Practice Review Board was already in the midst of conducting a poll of the membership and looking at the future of the program when Fred Cheng departed as director of practice review. Don George stepped in as acting director of practice review until April 30, 2008 when he was elected vice-president of the Association.
“The North American David Thompson Bicentennials (2007 to 2011) recognizes the anniversaries of some of the explorer's greatest achievements.” A number of event and celebrations were planned. In May 2008, a group of intrepid paddlers launched a series of canoes in Rocky Mountain House to recreate the voyage of David Thompson. The Alberta Land Surveyors’ Association sponsored one canoe filled with land surveyors from Alberta, British Columbia and Washington State. They paddled the North Saskatchewan River until Prince Albert and the full brigade made their way to Old Fort William near Thunder Bay some 63 days later.