Technical Corner

Fred Horvath – From the Frontlines to National Chair

May 2022

Past OAA and ORFA President, Fred Horvath is another example of rising through the rank’s success story. In a previous Technical Corner, I ranted about one of the problems in our industry as being too much education and not enough practical experience. It’s almost like the pendulum has swung completely to the other side of the recreational management metronome and it's a problem that needs to be rebalanced. It is great that senior management recognizes the complexities associated with our industry however, the reliance on a post-secondary education as the underpinning of an individuals competency to manage a recreation facility operation is flawed. Finding the right balance of education and actual practical experience is key.

Fred has been a fixture, the “back beat” of the ORFA since it changed from the Ontario Arenas Association (OAA) in 1992 . Holding many portfolios, he has helped shape not only the Association but industry as a whole through leadership and volunteerism.  Rising to Director of Operations for the Municipality of Clarington until his recent retirement. Fred is a natural with a microphone and any topic. I suspect that his time as lead organizer and drummer of his other passion, Rainstone, where he, Bruce, and Claudio pound out their favourite 50’s to 80’s songs built the confidence and entertainment approach he brought to the classroom. Towering over most all other members, it was always easy to find Fred in a group. He could lead a conversation or listen with genuine interest and or concern. Always ready to learn and share what he knew.

Although Fred may have held the title of Director, he was, and is a recreation practitioner at heart. As a young recreationist, Fred was hungry for knowledge. He absorbed the experiences of Jada Dahmer, Bud Stanley and many other veterans of our industry and was able to apply what they shared and build on it. He, Tony Brenner, and Bill Vass were the nucleus of the early ORFA days. They were frontline in wrestling the mantle away from past boards who did not have a crystal ball for the future. These three visionaries could see the growth in the industry and that we were becoming much more than ice and supported the need for change. There is no doubt that many others were involved with this change but these three did much of the heavy lifting to move the Association forward. Past President, Bill Vass was first to assume the leadership role post OAA transition, but Fred was the ORFA President that assumed a leadership role on moving the Association forward. Fred watched as Tony used the lectern to present a vision of the future of the Association and moved these goals forward. 

Fred has had many accomplishments throughout his career, but I am confident that being the Chair of the Canadian Recreation Facilities Council (CRFC) that brought together all provincial and territorial facility organizations to share experiences, challenges and successes was memorable. Fred represented the ORFA as an industry leader at this national level. His ability to control the energy and passion in this group was a masterful skill. Part of his contribution includes when he and Tony Brenner, two frontline practitioners that rose through the ranks to take on SOCAN legal beagles to have the tariffs for playing music in our facilities changed to be more manageable – and won. Something that is rarely accomplished with SOCAN as they were entrenched in their ways of conducting business. The argument was if SOCAN would structure tariffs that impacted our business at a flat rate with an ease of administration, we could attract more facilities to become compliant with SOCAN tariffs. 

Comments and/or Questions may be directed to Terry Piche, CRFP, CIT and Technical Director, Ontario Recreation Facilities Association

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