Speakers & Topics

2024 Speakers

Get to know this years speakers and session topics! Grow24 has a fantastic line up of industry leaders ready to share their knowledge. A diverse blend of speakers will cover topics ranging from recruiting and training all the way to building a retaining wall – and everything in between!

Rosanna Pancotto President and Founder –Prairie Sky Immigration

My name is Rosanna Pancotto. I am a president and founder of Prairie Sky Immigration. I am licensed and professional Canadian Immigration consultant duly authorized to practice in the Immigration Field.

My session will discuss the main program that would benefit the Manitoba Employers which is the MBPNP (provincial Nominee program) Employer Direct. I will address International mobility program: hiring foreign nationals that are exempt from obtaining an LMIA/ NAFTA program they can use along with CETA etc. How to maximize recruitment through our international agreements. This benefits the employer and worker through a more streamlined approach to the Immigration system, further obtaining the employer certificate under employment standards for foreign recruitment and also I will touch on LMIA (processing foreign nationals who require a Labour market Assessment from Service Canada).

I will also discuss compliance on how employers can ensure liability is not overlooked directly nor indirectly.

Rick Durand

Plant Diversity in a Time of Climate Change with Rick Durand

Rick Durand, HBScF, a veteran plant breeder and plant explorer with over 45 years of R&D tree nursery experience, with a passion for urban tree diversity on the prairies. Plant diversity is absolutely critical to keep our urban forests diversified and healthy, especially in the face of unwanted tree infestations and climate change.


This presentation will provide practical ideas of how to diversify your urban forest:

  • A brief history of urban tree planting in Manitoba.
  • Tree infestations and monoculture plantings in the urban environment.
  • Western Nursery Growers Group tree trials that are located at six prairie sites.
  • Suggestions of urban tree cultivars for Manitoba, including a reliable list of suitable trees to plant in your community. Learn about new trees soon to be introduced.
  • Rick’s 40-year Dutch elm disease research project, the largest elm trial in Canada. The recent trials started with 7,000 seedlings, with inoculations in partnership with Manitoba Forestry Branch. Some of the results are surprising.

 Download the workshop handout.

Rick has made professional presentations in France, Iceland, Finland, United States and across Canada and is pleased to present at Grow24.


New Plant Introductions:

Tim Vanstone Vanstone Nurseries

New plant developments from Vanstone Nurseries

Tim will highlight new plants Vanstone Nurseries will be offering in 2024. Some are new plant developments and others are simply new to us.


Duayne Friesen Ball Seed Company

Duayne Friesen will highlight new varieties from Ball Seed Company, North Americas largest supplier of seed and young plants serving the Garden Centres and Greenhouses in Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario.



Matt Kellas Aubin Nurseries Ltd.

Matt was born and raised in Winnipeg.  He has been in the green industry for 10 years and graduated from the Greenspace Management Program at Red River College in 2013.

Matt began his professional career working as a Forest Health Protection Inspector at the City of Winnipeg.  He then moved to Thompson, MB to become the youngest Golf Course Superintendent in the Province. 3 years later, he started his first sales job as an Account Manager at Consolidated Supply – where he sold landscape/irrigation materials. Most recently he has found his true passion as the Sales Manager at Aubin Nurseries.

He recently served as the treasurer on the MBNLA board for two years.  Some of his interests include watching/playing sports and spending time with family and friends.

Matt will be presenting on behalf of Aubin Nurseries.  He will present various plant varieties: from new & exciting to underrated & reliable.  As well as discussing the product availability outlook for 2024 and beyond!

Andrew Ronald Jeffries Nurseries

Andrew Is a second generation member of the Ronald family growing quality plants for the prairies at Jeffries Nurseries.

His responsibilities are in field growing seedlings, liner trees and caliper trees at multiple field sites in the Portage area.

He has a Bachelors of Science in Horticulture and a Master of Science degree from the University of Manitoba.

Andrew and his wife Georgia and their family live in Elie.

Andrew Ronald will showcase new varieties from Jeffries Nurseries Northern Garden Collection and other hardy plants that should be on the shopping lists of garden centres, greenhouses, landscapers, growers and urban foresters.


Dennis Bergen Barkman Concrete

Dennis Bergen is the product development manager at Barkman Concrete. He studied architectural design at the university of Manitoba and now leads a team to develop new and innovative products for the landscape industry. Dennis’ main design focus is on pavers, slabs, and retaining walls for the central and western Canadian markets.

New product developments in the landscape industry

Dennis will speak about Product Development at Barkman Concrete, discuss how they develop and launch new products and discuss the new products Barkman will be launching in 2023.

David Kemel – BIL Security Services Canada Ltd.

David has been part of the security industry for over a decade now. During that time, he has seen so many changes within the industry as new technologies have emerged to provide better protection for your company and it’s assets. At BIL Security, David is the director of Dealer Development and manages 52 other security companies across the country that use BIL’s Video Monitoring services. As the largest independent security company in Western Canada, we like to think outside the box and stay ahead of the criminals.

Real-time Surveillance Security Options for Monitoring Remote Locations

In the session we will be discussing:

  • crime
  • police response
  • video monitoring
  • technology
  • asset management

Creating Cleaner, Healthier, Low-maintenance Ponds

Lynne Melvin Clean Water Pro

Lynne is recognized as a reputable advisor for Manitoba municipalities dealing with stagnant water bodies. Her approach to making recommendations is meticulous and comprehensive. Lynne and her team conduct thorough assessments, meticulously measuring both the physical and chemical components to accurately determine the stage of the water body.

The detailed assessment reports provided by Lynne offer comprehensive recommendations for remedial action. These recommendations outline specific outcomes, instilling confidence in the committees and public works officials she frequently collaborates with, guiding them on the best course of action.


Eric Melvin Clean Water Pro

Having grown up in rural Manitoba, Eric has always been passionate about the outdoors, especially when it comes to water. Attending the University of Manitoba environmental studies program, Eric is now the Senior Environmental Operations Manager at Clean Water Pro. Having been with the corporation since its conception in 2008, Eric has become an expert in pond design and management. Eric is highly experienced in the boots-on-the-ground work, providing maintenance and consultation for clients across Manitoba.

Our presentation aims to address common pond-related issues and effective management techniques. Our discussion will encompass design principles essential for establishing a successful pond setup.

Recognizing the individuality of each pond, we emphasize the necessity for a tailored approach to align with its unique requirements. With extensive experience in handling diverse projects, including both residential and commercial waterbodies, such as koi fish water gardens, farm dugouts and municipal storm retention ponds, we have gained invaluable insights that we share with you.

A primary objective shared by many of our clients is the transformation of their existing water garden or dugout from a less appealing sight to a captivating, thriving and healthy feature. Our expertise focuses on turning what might be considered unsightly into a beautiful and healthy asset that captures attention. Join us and explore the captivating realm of water remediation techniques and optimal pond construction practices for achieving success for your clients.

Positioning Your Business For Transition

Cindy Reid-Shelton & Scott Sherrett Intent Planning Group

Cindy and Scott be presenting on business transition readiness, the steps that business owners can be taking to have their business operating in the most efficient way, which is also the most appealing for a potential purchase, or wind up.

Kevin Wasylenko  Manitoba Métis Federation

Climate Change Initiatives Conducted by the Manitoba Métis Federation

Learn about the programs and initiatives the Manitoba Métis Federation – The National Government of the Red River Métis are leading to support rural and northern communities, promote environmental stewardship, and build a brighter future for Red River Métis citizens and all Manitobans.

Dr. Poonam Singh

Cattail Fibers as a Peat Substitute

The potential of cattail fibers (Typha spp.) as a partial substitute for peat within the growth medium, with the specific intention of investigating its impact on both the growth and developmental aspects of plants, will be presented.


Linda Dietrick

Stopping the Spread of Ornamental Invasive Plants in Manitoba

Did you know that purple loosestrife, common baby’s breath, dame’s rocket, Asian honeysuckle shrubs, Himalayan balsam, and many other invasive plants that are now a problem in our province were first introduced as landscape plants? They are a threat to our economy, environment, and health. To help prevent the future spread of problem plants, learn what not to plant and what to plant instead. 


Mike McGarry – Urban Lumber

Mike McGarry has spent the last decade immersed in various aspects of the forest industry. His journey began with forest fire fighting in northern Manitoba, where he dedicated his summers to fund his university degree in forest ecology at the University of Winnipeg. After graduating, Mike ventured into forestry operations on the west coast of BC, where he delved into managing experimental high elevation post-burn tree planting. However, he soon realized that his true passion lay in the prairies, prompting his return to Manitoba.

During his time in Northern Manitoba, Mike held a multifaceted role that involved traditional forestry work as well as aiding in the development of natural resource-based business with the local Opaskwayak First Nation. This experience further solidified his belief that Winnipeg’s urban trees have untapped potential, leading him to return to the city once again to pursue his true calling.

Driven by his vision, Mike founded Urban Lumber, Winnipeg’s sole full production sawmill facility that exclusively utilizes recycled urban trees. Through his business, he aims to educate people about the value of urban trees and promote their sustainable utilization, rather than resorting to chipping and landfilling.

Mike’s dedication to environmental conservation and his commitment to creating a positive impact in his community make him a true advocate for sustainable forestry practices.

Trees Aren’t Trash: Lumber production potential from City and municipal urban trees.

Did you know Manitoba landfills more hardwood than it imports from eastern provinces and the United States? Learn about the possibilities, the struggles and successes of using urban trees in place of traditional forest resources. Even small-scale operations can make a huge difference in wood waste reduction.


Martha Barwinsky, M.Sc., ISA Certified Arborist


Martha is City Forester for the City of Winnipeg. She has worked in arboriculture/urban forestry for over 25 years wearing a variety of hats as a researcher, instructor, practicing arborist, executive director of a non-profit urban forestry community organization, and urban forestry operations supervisor.  

Winnipeg Urban Forest Strategy

Winnipeg’s first comprehensive urban forest strategy was recently adopted by City Council and the work begins (or continues!) to grow Winnipeg’s tree canopy. This session will provide an overview of the canopy cover targets set in the strategy and how we can achieve the tree planting goals. This valuable work will require partnerships with and participation from the green industry, developers and builders, community groups and individual residents.


Frank Bourque – Frank Bourque Landscape & Hardscape Business Consulting

Stand out from the competition:
How to sell, upsell and create exceptional customer service

Get an exclusive inside look at unique qualities of some of the most outstanding hardscape companies in the industry and learn how they get potential clients to buy-in. This session focuses on what motivates people to buy and how people make buying decisions. It also gives strategies to develop your sales team and how to improve your closing rates in different markets, while providing exceptional and memorable customer service. This presentation will help you create a step-by-step approach for a winning sales process.

Crew leader training for team growth and production Efficiency
In this high impact session, Frank shares a 10-step process for helping crew leaders and field workers to plan and execute efficiently. In addition, this session offers many solutions to motivate, engage, onboard and train employees to help grow your teams.

Peter Guinane – Oriole Landscaping Business Consulting

Business Mistakes

Some mistakes are simply lack of awareness. Nobody intentionally interferes with their success, but sometimes problems are hiding in the data. Knowing what to measure and how to respond is the skill most business owners need help with.

Best HR Practices

Your staff are your biggest expense, and your biggest resource for taking your company to the next level. Learn how they can become ambassadors of your brand and win your sales goal challenge.