(Jan. 29) OTTAWA — After this year, the Canadian Produce Marketing Association annual convention and trade show will be in May, and in 2005, will take place in Toronto, CPMA officials said.

It’s a move outgoing chairman Leo Baribeau said has been discussed for about 20 years. He said cold weather in most parts of Canada during January and February played a major role in the decision.

Snow, ice or low temperatures have the potential to make transportation difficult in Toronto, Quebec, Montreal and Halifax, Nova Scotia, Baribeau said. In most parts of Canada, three to four months could mean the difference between frigid weather and temperatures in the 50s or 60s.

“If you’re a skier, it’s fine,” Baribeau said. “But, if you’re not, there can be issues.

“We want to make it as convenient as possible for the most people as possible to be able to attend.”

Baribeau said the date change would possibly increase attendance at the convention.

The final winter convention will take place Feb. 4-7 in Calgary, Alberta. The event’s 252 exhibitors are expected to attract a crowd of more than 3,000 at the Telus Convention Centre.

Baribeau said the CPMA plans to avoid conflicts with future industry events, such as United Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Association and Food Marketing Institute trade shows. The Washington, D.C.-based groups have joined to sponsor a 2004 show May 2-4 in Chicago.

“We believe that the May timing is as good as we can get without impacting too many people,” Baribeau said. “We don’t want to set up as competition for everybody.”

Aside from weather benefits, the change also might allow the convention’s attendees to tour fields or the facilities of Canadian companies, said Rick Wallis, the association’s second vice chairman.

Wallis said floral or hot house industry operations are usually in full production by May, and in Vancouver, British Columbia, early potatoes are produced.

Though it seems the move will offer a more flexible date for the convention, some might disagree with the decision, said Ron Turner, a CPMA director and sales manager at Nova Agri Associates Ltd., Centreville, Nova Scotia.

“Being involved, over the years, with different associations and conventions, it always seems like no matter when it is, it’s always inconvenient for someone,” he said.

Past trade shows have worked out well for Nova Agri, as its busy season doesn’t start until June, Turner said. Although May won’t be a problem, he said February was a good downtime to participate in the convention.

“It’s going to be good for some and bad for others,” he said.

The CPMA plans to sponsor its 2006 convention in Vancouver, Baribeau said. In the future, he said the show might take place in Winnipeg, Manitoba.