Given the current health circumstances, the uncertainty about the possibilities of traveling and
meeting in large numbers in the coming months, and finally the deadlines imposed on our Canadian
colleagues regarding the effective booking of convention halls, PIARC Executive Committee met
exceptionally by videoconference on January 29th to make a decision on how to hold, virtually or in
person, the XVIth World Congress on Winter Road Service and Road Resilience, jointly organized by
PIARC and Transport Canada from February 8th to 11th, 2022.
By a very large majority, the members of the Executive Committee, within the framework of the
mandate given by the Council of the Association (Council Resolution 2020-11/10), voted in favour of
the organisation of a virtual congress, which is therefore how this congress will be held, for the first
time in the PIARC history.
Many practical questions will of course arise, such as the duration of the congress and sessions,
questions of remote interpretation, time differences, poster sessions, exhibitions; in recent months
we have seen major professional events take place in this way, new technologies already provide us
with some answers, others will have to be invented together.
The Secretary General and I will keep you regularly informed of the decisions taken and, if necessary,
will ask the Council for advice on certain matters relating to the organisation of this major event.
Beyond the bother of not being able to meet physically around the convivial and technical moments
of this congress, I hope that we can transform this obstacle, through your mobilisation, into an
advantage for our road community. I can already foresee some possible benefits:
– Participation of more delegates from all over the world, including those from regions for which
travel would have been a deterrent;
– Reflection on the format of the sessions and how to interact with the delegates.
We have already decided to extend the deadline for submitting abstracts to 28 February.
We are counting on your commitment, your support, your advice, and the sharing of your recent
experience in virtual congresses to make this event, exceptional by the nature of things, a moment
that is also exceptional by its quality.
Finally, I would like to publicly express my gratitude to Natalie Bossé, Canada’s First Delegate, for the
way in which this delicate decision was taken, for her willingness to accept in advance whatever the
decision of the Executive Committee may have been, and to renew my confidence in her for the way
in which Transport Canada will, beyond doubt, be able to offer us effective, robust, and original
solutions if necessary.
As President of the Association, I would also like to thank all the members of the Executive Committee
for their interest in this important issue, for the quality of their contributions, for the way in which the
different opinions were expressed and for the serenity with which the final decision was made,
testifying, if need be, to PIARC’s maturity and the quality of our personal relationships, despite the
distance imposed by the video conference. The Executive Committee will naturally remain closely
associated with the preparation of the Congress and the decisions to come.
Claude Van Rooten