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WestJet lands at airport Air carrier adds YCD to its international network

Hot crop Growers establish wasabi farm near Nanoose



An annual update on economic progress

Tourism strategy highlights Harbour City Supporting business, building amenities part of plan to attract tourists




Nanaimo News Bulletin Saturday, March 30, 2013


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Saturday, March 30, 2013

Nanaimo News Bulletin


Vision 2013 2 013

NANAIMO COVER STORY Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation charts the course to bring tourists to the Harbour City. Through a combination of promotion and support for local businesses, Tourism Nanaimo aims to make the city a destination for visitors.



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Hot crop – wasabi farm established on Island




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Nanaimo News Bulletin Saturday, March 30, 2013


WestJet lands at YCD Photos by Lance Sullivan

Air carrier introduces regional airline to connect smaller airports with its cross-country network Direct non-stop flight fl service between Nanaimo to Calgary is now prepared for takeoff. WestJet has announced a new service operated by its Encore fleet fl of 78-passenger aircraft that will see daily flights leaving Nanaimo and Calgary effective June 24. “We are so tickled, we’re just delighted with the outcome,” said Nanaimo Airport CEO Mike Hooper. “The full team on both sides – Nanaimo Airport Commission team and WestJet team – have worked for a number of months on [this] project.” The service was announced in February at YCD, where dozens of WestJet employees and management arrived via a Q400 aircraft for a special ceremony and were welcomed by a large group which included airport staff and local politicians. Nanaimo was one of two B.C. destinations chosen out of more than 30 by WestJet for the launch of its new regional service. Starting June 24, regional service will also extend to Fort St. John, from Vancouver and Calgary. Encore’s Nanaimo/Calgary service will run once a day from each location, leaving Calgary at 11 a.m., arriving in Nanaimo at 11:43 a.m.,

and then departing Nanaimo at 12:30 p.m. Introductory one-way rates, including taxes, fees and charges, start at $128 from Nanaimo to Calgary, and $141 from Calgary to Nanaimo. WestJet plans to begin regional service with its two Canadian-built Bombardier Q400 NextGen turboprop aircraft, then add five fi more by the end of year. A total of 20 Q400s have been confi firmed with the option of an additional 25 over the next six years. “The announcement of the first cities to be served by WestJet Encore is a historic moment for this new airline,” said Ferio Pugliese, vice-president of WestJet, in a news release. “We look forward to introducing our award-winning guest experience to Canadians in smaller communities while connecting to our network of 85 destinations.” For Hooper, the announcement is the culmination of nearly a decade of hard work bringing in the infrastructure to land air carriers like Air Canada and WestJet. “It’s the reason we did the extra work to put in the longer runway and the high intensity lighting systems, the lead-in system, the instrument landing system and the enlarged

Mayor John Ruttan, left, is presented with a model airplane during WestJet’s announcement at Nanaimo Airport.

terminal,” he said. Nanaimo Mayor John Ruttan called the announcement a ‘coming of age’ for the Harbour City. “Non-stop flights from Calgary to Nanaimo is something we’ve wanted and worked on for years,” he said. “Finally we have an airport that can and will accept longer distance flights.” In addition to providing better access to central Vancouver Island, the service will be invaluable to the increasing number of local residents currently working in Alberta, Ruttan said. “From an economic standpoint, it’s going to prove to be very valuable indeed. It’s a link that is going to pay off huge dividends, much like the WestJet service to Comox really

opened up the Comox Valley.” Providing a direct link from Nanaimo to Calgary will not only bode well for the local business community, but provide opportunities for tourism and real estate as well, said Sasha Angus, CEO, Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation. “The ability for folks in Calgary to look at Nanaimo as a place where they can come for the weekend or have a second home or recreational property becomes incredibly attractive,” he said. “We’re looking forward to June 24.” The NEDC is close to launching its strategic plan on tourism at the end of the month. One of the things it identifi fies, Angus said, is a way to increase accessibility between Alberta and Nanaimo. “Direct flights fl that way are real currency, where tourism is concerned,” he said. “We think it’s going to be a wonderful opportunity for our tourism operators.” Ruttan added that with another major air carrier on board at its airport, Nanaimo could see some spin-off benefits fi in the foreseeable future. “It may now be back on Air Canada to see what they want to do in the way of improved service or improved equipment, to compete,” he said. “We’re optimistic that this will be a catalyst that will start some other activities at the airport and get better utilization for Nanaimo and area.”


Saturday, March 30, 2013

Nanaimo News Bulletin


Cutting g edge State-of-the-art marble cutter provides products faster to local contractors


new granite cutting machine will give a Nanaimo business the edge in the industry. James MacIntyre, a certifi fied accountant who bought Pi Granite and sister company Studio Kitchens and Design in 2011, recently purchased a state-of-the-art machine from Minnesota-based Park Industries he said will increase business while reducing labour costs and the time it takes to produce countertops.

We’re just doing more jobs faster.

The Titan Fab Centre, which MacIntyre said cost about the price of a house in Nanaimo and is the only one west of Saskatoon in Canada, can both cut the stone and do the edging work. “It is the only machine made that has two heads,” he said. “Most shops

either don’t have a machine or have a machine that can do one thing or the other. This is so brand new, it’s probably unit No. 12.” MacIntyre expects the machine will help him pick up business because he can have countertops ready in a much shorter time frame – a week or so as opposed to the industry standard of 4-8 weeks. He said developers sometimes decide not to use granite in new houses because of the extra time it takes. A countertop is the last thing to go in a kitchen or bathroom, as exact measurements are not possible until walls and cabinets are complete, but waiting a month or so means the company is incurring more interest charges than if another product is used that can be installed much quicker. With the Titan, measurements are plugged into the computer with a laser imaging template system and then the computer guides the machine while the human operator stands behind a safety rope. “We’re just doing more jobs faster,” said MacIntyre, adding that because business has already gone up, he is

James MacIntyre, owner of Pi Granite, shows off the Titan Fab Centre, a stateof-the-art machine he recently bought that can cut and edge stone, allowing the business to produce counters much faster than if the work were done by hand or with the help of a machine that does either one job or the other.

hiring more installers at Pi. He hopes the machine will help with sustainability of the business in light of the looming skills shortage – with fewer skilled employees needed for the cutting side of the business, he can hire more general labourers. Training to operate the Titan takes two weeks. Another advantage of the new

technology is that it was made in the U.S. – most cutting machines come from Italy and when things break, the language barrier presents a major challenge when trying to communicate the problem that needs fixing, said MacIntyre. Pi Granite is located off Northfi field Road. For more information, please visit, or call 250758-7731.



Nanaimo News Bulletin Saturday, March 30, 2013


Nanaimo Seniors Village offers campus of care Nanaimo Seniors Village is a full campus of care. Our campus is home to people who are completely independent, those requiring some assistance or seniors requiring 24-hour nursing care to fulfill their complex needs. Because of this unique feature, our residents can “age in place,” knowing that as their health needs change, they do not need to move away from the village. For couples, this means that they do not have to be separated should each person’s care requirements become different. Highgate is the newest addition to Nanaimo Seniors Village. An independent, luxurious lifestyle is what Highgate offers, with 56 spacious suites, featuring a full kitchen, six appliances (including

washer and dryer), large windows, air conditioning and secured underground parking. The convenience of one meal per day is included at Highgate and access to the bistro, as well as weekly housekeeping and a 24-hour emergency response system, giving the residents the security they require day and night. If a person requires a bit more support, our assisted/independent living building is the hub of our community, providing our residents with two meals per day in our elegant dining room. Also included are refreshments in the morning and afternoon, served in the bistro, weekly housekeeping (including a flat linen service) and a large selection of activities. In this community, although

Residents receive the care they require by professionally trained nursing staff.

residents maintain their independence, supportive services are available to those that require assistance with the activities of daily living, in addition to 24-hour emergency response. Residential care is available for residents that require 24 hour nursing care. Our 150-bed, multi-level care facility offers one of the highest levels of care in the Nanaimo and

surrounding area. Here residents receive the care they require by professionally trained nursing staff. Continuing education programs ensure our staff keep their knowledge and skills up-to-date and appropriate to the complex and specialized needs of the residents. At Nanaimo Seniors Village, we have many extra amenities on site, such as a hair salon, banking service, corner store, craft room, billiards table, computers with internet, library, outdoor gardens, walking paths, exercise room and many more. Our wheelchair accessible bus transports residents to organized outings and special events. And, we are pet friendly. If you are interested in a tour, please contact Kat at 250-760-2325.



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Saturday, March 30, 2013

Nanaimo News Bulletin


Building boom Construction continues despite uncertain economy m


onstruction trends swing like a pendulum in Nanaimo. Building will bow toward residential properties for a few years, then see-saw toward commercial projects for a period. Commercial construction is on the upswing since 2010 with most new projects filling niches in town rather than push new development out to the city’s boundaries and beyond. “What we’re seeing generally in the last couple of years in Nanaimo is a fairly strong commercial market with single family residential being relatively flat,” fl said Dale Lindsay, city manager of building inspections. Lindsay, who has observed the Nanaimo construction market for 18 years, said the situation is not unusual. “Historically Nanaimo has these pendulum swings where residential’s really hot and commercial’s


cool, then commercial heats up and residential slows down,” Lindsay said. The value of commercial property building permits taken out in 2012 topped $46 million, nearly double the fi figure for 2010 – one of the highest years for annual commercial building permits on record. Permits for single- and multiplefamily units still make up the bulk of construction applications, but there have been few big subdivision projects in recent years. “It’s not like in the early ’90s where you’d have subdivisions with 200 lots,” Lindsay said. “Our subdivisions now are closer to six to 15 lots, but we’re still seeing a lot of growth in south Nanaimo. Certainly we’ve seen a focus on the south end. We’re also seeing a lot of in-fill fi projects.” Looking around town, one can’t help but notice plenty of signs advertising commercial space for rent or lease. With so much space already available why build more?

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Nanaimo News Bulletin Saturday, March 30, 2013

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Chris Erb, owner of SupErb Construction, chairman of the Vancouver Island Construction Association and the former president of Canadian Home Builders Association of B.C. and CHBA Central Vancouver Island, said a big driver of commercial construction is low mortgage interest rates, but developers aren’t just building and hoping for buyers. “Most is site specific fi and most of it being built is for somebody,” Erb said. “There’s no stuff, in my opinion, being built on spec. It’s all owner-built.” Existing lease space on the other hand remains unattractive because of high commercial property taxes. “If you look at a bare piece of property and what you’re paying for property taxes per month, it’s obscene,” Erb said. Erb said his company recently looked at the investment potential of a 930 square metre lease property, but decided property taxes, $3,000 per month, were too high. “In a lot of these cases when you’re dealing with that, that’s a huge component,” he said.


Erb said changes to the building code for 2013 will add higher costs to new construction and skewed 2012 building permit figures. “Everyone tried to get a building permit in for December, so they were actually grandfathered in for the old building code because the new building code is going to add a whole chunk of change,” Erb said. The need to stock the market for young, fi first-time buyers will also drive developers to continue building multiple family dwellings for the foreseeable future. “In order to get the younger population, you’ve got to get your cost per door down and the way you get your cost per door down is multi’s,” Erb said. One way to make money is to build as close as possible to the most customers. Canadian Tire is one retailer migrating toward high density populations. The company will open its largest store on the Island in Nanaimo North Town Centre in 2013. Several car dealerships on Bowen Road are renovating extensively, but staying put.

As we move into spring we’ll see more activity, for sure.

“There are a lot of large format retailers that have seen the north end is fairly well serviced - and there’s starting to be more services in the south end - but in central Nanaimo there was some opportunities there,” Lindsay said. Greenrock Industrial Business Park, where a new Country Grocer and TD Bank branch opened in 2012, formed a new commercial node on Bowen Road. The site serves an estimated 30,000 people living within a fi five kilometre radius. Port Place Shopping Centre downtown continues its transformation. The mall’s second phase of construction is underway and the concrete is being poured for a two-storey home for commercial retail outlets.

Pacifi fic Station, built by Westmark Construction, started offering its first fi units in December. The complex of strata offi fices for professionals and retailers is expected to eventually form a community business node on Norwell Drive. “What we’ve discovered during the past year is the majority of investors are looking past the current economic situation in the country and saying, ‘Look, central Vancouver Island has a great future ahead of it and it’s a good time for us to be buying and positioning ourselves in the market,’” said Bob Moss, managing broker for DTZ Nanaimo. He said a number of significant fi local land and revenue property sales in 2012 demonstrated investors are confident in the central Island’s future. fi He cites the project’s central location, proximity to the Nanaimo Parkway, high population density from the area it’s designed to serve and high visibility from the Island Highway among benefits fi that will draw buyers. “As we move into spring we’ll see more activity, for sure,” Moss said.

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Business accord welcomed Chamber of Commerce members across the province welcomed the unveiling of the Small Business Accord as a huge step forward for small businesses across the province. “Members across the province have continually told us that their dealings with government are a serious drain on their ability to do business,” said John Winter, president and CEO of the B.C. Chamber of Commerce. “The accord recognizes that and, more importantly, requires government across all ministries to use a small business lens.” The accord, unveiled by Naomi Yamamoto, minister of state for small business, at a B.C. Chamber Breakfast in March, contains a number of principles around critical issues for small business, including access to labour, streamlined regulations and opportunities for small

business through government procurement. “While small business will welcome the reduction in the paperwork and administration that will result from the accord, our members will be particularly pleased by the focus on growth and job creation the accord will present to small business,” Winter said. “Our members have been consistent – access to labour and accessing new business opportunities are where small business sees a real role for government to assist in their growth and their ability to create new jobs. “The accord goes a long way towards addressing these issues and will greatly enhance small businesses role as the economic drivers of the province.” For more information, please visit the B.C. Chamber of Commerce’s website at www.bc

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Nanaimo News Bulletin

VIU offers power engineering certificate A provincial grant has made Vancouver Island University the only institution on the Island where students can get a fourth-class power engineering certificate. There is a high demand for power engineers across Canada, but long wait lists at institutions that currently offer the program, said instructor Gilbert Requena, in a press release. “If you look at industry job sites, there are always openings for power engineers, so graduates of our program will be able to find interesting, well-paid work fairly easily,” he said. “Graduates can work at pulp mills, gas and oil refineries, hospitals and schools – basically any organization where there is highpressure equipment that needs to be managed or monitored.” The program, made possible by a $144,000 grant from the Ministry of

Advanced Education, Innovation and Technology, started March 25. The first three months are spent in the classroom, with work experience from June to August, then a return to the classroom for more theory work and graduation set for the first week in November. The university has received a commitment from local industry to provide practicum training placements for most of the first class and the program will include an introduction to gas processing certificate to give students an edge once they complete the program and start looking for work. For more information, please contact Carolyn Eveleigh, area secretary in the faculty of applied programs, trades and applied technology, at Carolyn.eveleigh@viu. ca or 250-740-6149 or visit www. powerengineering.asp.


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Nanaimo News Bulletin Saturday, March 30, 2013

Visitors welcome Tourism strategy aims to promote the region by supporting the efforts of local groups

T Tesla Watson, left, and Layton Pears, visiting from the Lower Mainland, learn a bit about Nanaimo’s nautical history at the waterfront.

he Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation’s new tourism strategic plan aims to grow the industry by supporting the efforts of local groups, bolstering community pride and collaborating with adjacent communities. The corporation’s Tourism Leadership Committee introduced the new plan earlier this month, the result of months of research and collaboration

with industry stakeholders and the community. “It’s the foundation for the next two or three years,” said Sasha Angus, economic development CEO. The plan, developed with help from Chemistry Consulting Group, lays out six strategic priorities and five underlying goals to achieve the fi group’s vision of making the area the destination of choice for visitors to enjoy a uniquely West Coast experience year-round.


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Green jobs, innovation and greening the economy have become popular phrases in recent years. The Regional District of Nanaimo is quietly turning those words into actions with every ride on a bus, flush of a low-flow toilet, or bin of food waste collected in the region. The result is an emerging industry for alternative fuels, resource recovery and renewable energy in the mid-Island, creating opportunities for entrepreneurship, investment and economic development into the future. The RDN was selected for the initial rollout of B.C. Transit’s Compressed Natural Gas bus fleet. Twenty-five of the oldest diesel buses in the Regional Transit fleet will be replaced with new CNG buses by May 2014. While cleaner and quieter than those they replace, these new buses will also provide the seed for growth in a local service and trades industry focused on alternative fuels for transportation. Not only is natural gas a potentially plentiful resource in our province, it is also a resource that the regional district and its private sector partners have become skilled

at recovering from our communities’ wastes. In collaboration with the Suncurrent Group, the Nanaimo Bioenergy Centre at the Regional Landfill on Cedar Road is actively capturing methane gas produced at the landfill and generating electricity for sale into the grid. Opportunities to use landfill gas as an alternative vehicle fuel are also under consideration, further developing this emerging sector in the region. Similarly, biogas is currently being recovered at the Greater Nanaimo Pollution Control Centre for the generation of heat and power. Previously flared, this fuel is now powering a co-generation plant, assisting with the waste treatment process and contributing enough electricity for about 200 homes. The RDN is actively supporting initiatives through its new economic development service, which provides financial support to the Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation, whose mission is to develop a prosperous community through economic opportunity.

The strategies are: actively encouraging/supporting festivals and events; developing new or augmented tourism attractions; improving communication and collaboration with local tourism operators; collaborating with adjacent communities; focusing tourism marketing on the Island, Lower Mainland and other identified fi key markets; and enhancing resident awareness of and support for tourism through a variety of pride-of-place and communications initiatives. The plan looks at marketing an expanded geography – from Lantzville to south Cedar rather than simply the city itself – and calls for forming partnerships with other communities, said Jenn Houtby-Ferguson, media, marketing and communications specialist for the NEDC-run Tourism Nanaimo. “In the past, it’s really been this usand-them attitude,” she said. Houtby-Ferguson said a joint marketing campaign with Sooke and Tofi fino will launch shortly, aimed


Saturday, March 30, 2013

We’ve been seen as the drive-through destination and we’re going to work hard to counter that.

at tourists from Washington and Oregon states. Her presentation during the plan launch at the Coast Bastion Inn also emphasized the need for product development. “We’ve been seen as the drivethrough destination and we’re going to work hard to counter that,” said Houtby-Ferguson. Angus said the organization has set aside about $125,000 to look at how it can support community partners to develop new or augment existing tourism attractions. For example, Tourism Nanaimo could provide money for a feasibility

or marketing study, he said. “It really depends on what the needs of the project are,” said Angus. As for the community pride strategy, he said the idea is to encourage locals to do things here at home rather than travel elsewhere, as well as help market the area to friends and family and become ambassadors for the city. Tourism Nanaimo will work with stakeholders to develop a pride of place campaign, including establishing a “tourist in your own town” program. Dan Brady, Tourism Leadership Committee chairman, said the most

Nanaimo News Bulletin


important thing is that the strategy recognizes the destination needs to be developed. Right now, people come because they have to for business reasons or sporting events and hotel occupancy rates in the city have not increased in the past 15 years – the rate has actually decreased for the past eight, he said. “We need to give them a reason to want to come here,” said Brady. Mayor John Ruttan was impressed with the enthusiasm in the room at the strategic plan launch and likes the idea of getting citizens to become tourism ambassadors. “We haven’t been proactive enough in demonstrating or explaining or telling people all the things we have here,” he said. “The least expensive form of advertising … is word of mouth.” For more information on Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation and Tourism Nanaimo, please visit or call 250-591-1551.


Nanaimo News Bulletin Saturday, March 30, 2013



Blak ke A An nderson, grow ow wer with Vanc nc couve er Island Was assa ab bi, ch c hec e ks watter er usage e in one ne of tth he farm’s ’ss greenhou ouses ou ses in se Nanoosse.

Hot crop

Wasabi finds roots on Island

f you have a spare $160,000 kicking around you might consider investing in a cash crop taking root on Vancouver Island that’s the hottest thing since, well, California rolls. Vancouver Island Wasabi is coaxing its first fi crop out of three greenhouses set up on four hectares in Nanoose. It’s the first wasabi farm on the Island and if built out to its maximum capacity – plans call for up to 63 greenhouses on the site – will be the largest wasabi greenhouse growing site in the world. The plants are being grown under license from Pacifi fic Coast Wasabi, a research company with wasabi growing operations in Abbotsford. Unlike the flavoured horse radish mixtures added as an inexpensive condiment to sushi dishes, real wasabi is a plant which grows naturally in stream beds of mountain river valleys in Japan. The plant, grown for its root, which is used as a condiment that tastes like hot mustard, is a member of Brassicaceae family that includes cabbage, horseradish and mustard. The plant is also considered a remedy to alleviate symptoms of various illnesses. The traditional method for farming wasabi involves diverting portions of freshwater streams to artifi ficial water courses deeply shaded by tree canopies – wasabi doesn’t like a lot of light – where the plants are raised. The method is highly water intensive and any fertilizers used pollute the water. Governments are legislating against water course diversion for agriculture and further pressure on Japanese wasabi production came in 2011 when radiation contaminated farmland when one of the Fukushima nuclear reactors overheated after the facility was struck by tsunami waves that disabled its cooling system.

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Attempts to grow wasabi under artifi ficial conditions failed until research conducted over the last 20 years developed greenhouse farming methods that use little water and allow farmers to maintain an optimum growing environment. “No one’s been able to grow it in a controlled, closed environment before because everyone has been using the concept that you need running water,” said Michael Naprawa, company spokesman. Wasabi does need a fresh water supply to sustain the plants and prevent disease, but it turns out the plants aren’t fussy about wether it’s supplied by a stream or overhead sprinklers. “We use .06 of one per cent of the water in the traditional models of hydroponics,” Naprawa said. “What we put on the plants, 99 per cent is consumed by the plants. We control exactly what the plants need at any given time. Temperate increases, dryness – we can do it.” A separate set of overhead foggers maintain humidity levels in the greenhouses.


Wasabi likes high humidity levels in the 100 per cent range, which occur naturally where it is grown in Japan. The plants wouldn’t survive outdoors in the Island’s lower summertime humidity levels. The farm’s proximity to the ocean helps even out the temperature range year round. The greenhouse watering and heating equipment is computer controlled. “The plants like to be between 10 and 14 degrees (Celcius) year around,” said Blake Anderson, grower. “If they can have that year round they’re happy.” Wasabi also grows best under natural light, which means grow lights are unnecessary and neighbours won’t have to worry about light pollution. Anderson is installing shade cloth over the greenhouses for the summer months. “The plants are so efficient fi with photosynthesis they don’t need much sunlight,” Anderson said. The farm is growing Daruma and Mazuma wasabi, the two most com-

Saturday, March 30, 2013

No one’s been able to grow it in a controlled, closed environment before because everyone has been using the concept that you need running water.

monly cultivated varieties, in three 622-square metre greenhouses and about 4,900 plants are being raised in each greenhouse. The plants flower in tiny blue blossoms in February. The leaves and flowers fl are edible, taste hot and sweet and would make part of an interesting salad. Deer don’t like them. “Humans are the only ones that like it,” Anderson said. “No other animal does.”

Nanaimo News Bulletin


Wasabi retails for about $240/kg. Each greenhouse could produce up to 1,000 kg. “In the traditional method, it takes 18 to 24 months to grow it out,” Naprawa said. “We’re growing it out in 12 to 15 months, so we’ve cut our time by 50 to 70 per cent. That’s why it becomes commercially viable. To invest in infrastructure you need some advantages.” A Vancouver Island site was also chosen, Naprawa said, because of its clean air, lack of industrial pollution, the climate and the fact the Island is well known, which all make the product easier to brand and promote. Greenhouses will be added at the site as investors commit. “$160,000 gives you the greenhouse, the license and the first crop paid for to harvest,” Naprawa said. “That includes fertilizer, utilities, nutrients and the labour and everything to plant and harvest,” Anderson said. Production costs drop after the first harvest. For more information, fi please visit the company’s website at

LEADERS IN LIGHTING SINCE 1960 commercial. residential. ired. e insp b . s bilitie possi e h t plore m. ex o o r ow ur sh visit o

2520 BOWEN RD - NANAIMO 250.758.0138 3400 DOUGLAS ST - VICTORIA 250.475.2561


Nanaimo News Bulletin Saturday, March 30, 2013


Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce revamps business awards The Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce is making some major changes to its business awards program. The name will change from the Sterling Awards to the Business Achievement Awards. These changes also include a date change from May to October, new partnerships with Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation, Innovation Island and the Downtown Nanaimo Business Improvement Association along with a new set of criteria, judging, and awards. The Business Achievement Awards will take place during Small Business Week on Oct. 25 at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre. This event will bring together leaders from government, industry, media, and many other members of the community to celebrate outstanding individuals, organizations and businesses that contribute significantly fi to overall business excellence and the quality of life in our community. Each year, the chamber invites nominations for the various awards, undertakes an adjudication process and selects award recipients. The judging is done independently of the chamber and culminates in an exciting evening with all the glitz and glamour of the Oscars. The award categories will include: ◆ Business of the Year (under 10 employees); ◆ Business of the Year (over 10 employees); ◆ Customer Service Excellence; ◆ Tourism Impact; ◆ Youth Entrepreneur of the Year; ◆ Environmental Impact; ◆ Innovation; ◆ Excellence in Business (10 years or more); ◆ Spirit of Nanaimo – Community Impact; ◆ Exporter of the Year; ◆ Workplace Excellence; ◆ Emerging Business (5 years or less). Nomination packages will be available in May. For more information, please visit www.nanaimochamber. or call 250-756-1191.

Ferry report identifies options to reduce operating costs Coastal ferry users are braced for reduced sailings on some under-used routes, and many are open to cable ferries, barges, passenger-only vessels or even bridges where practical to contain rising costs. Transportation Minister Mary Polak released the government’s consultation report earlier this year on ways to save $26 million on operations by 2016. That was the target set by B.C. Ferry Commissioner Gord Macatee after he was appointed last year. About 4,000 people took part in the consultation, with more than half saying they agree with the need to reduce costs. When the government announced the service review last year, it added an extra $20 million to the subsidy for the service over four years, bringing the total taxpayer subsidy to about $180 million per year. Polak said specific fi service cuts won’t be made public until June 30 at the earliest, and the government may extend that deadline after reviewing the consultation results with B.C. Ferries. She denied that the timing was chosen to push the unpopular move past the May 14 election. “If the idea was to stay away from discussion of potential cuts during an election period, I daresay we would not have embarked on the consultation,” Polak said. “We were very up-front in putting out the utilization numbers so people can see where the challenges were and where there will likely be cuts.” Last year B.C. Ferries cut sailings on the

Duke Point-Nanaimo run, which was losing an average of $50 per vehicle carried. B.C. Ferries CEO Mike Corrigan said the corporation expected to cut at least 100 sailings on its major Vancouver Island routes, mostly low-ridership runs late in the evenings. NDP transportation critic Maurine Karagianis wouldn’t commit to increasing the taxpayer subsidy or any specific fi action, such as returning B.C. Ferries to Crown corporation status. “If we treat it like transportation infrastructure, the same as bridges, rail, roads, that’s a slightly different approach to the ferry system,” Karagianis said. “At the end of the day, we need to see some cost savings.” As expected, raising property taxes or fuel taxes in coastal communities to help pay for ferry service was an unpopular choice, endorsed by only 20 per cent of participants. Most called for ferries to be funded by all B.C. taxpayers or by the users themselves. A call for “innovative ideas” also produced few surprises. The top suggestion in consultation meetings and written feedback was to reduce fares to increase ridership, an experiment that B.C. Ferries has tried several times on major routes with no success. B.C. Ferries has found that ferry use is declining on B.C.’s free inland ferries and other jurisdictions such as Washington state, as people choose to travel less because of the cost of fuel and other factors.



Ron Cantelon MLA Parksville–Qualicum

CELEBRATING 21 Years in Business!

Proud to support the

• • • •

NANAIMO COMMUNITY Office: 100 East Jensen Ave. Email: Parksville, BC, V9P 2G9 Website: Phone: (250) 951–6018 Toll Free: 1 (866) 488–7041

Exotic Cheese & Chutneys Truffles, Olives & Pates Gourmet Oils & Vinegars British, European & South African Imported Food


Saturday, March 30, 2013

Nanaimo News Bulletin


ICBC invests in upgrades You’ve likely driven along Departure Bay Road between Rock City School and Newton Street and noticed the new sidewalk. This is one of 12 road improvements ICBC invested in last year to help make Nanaimo and area roads safer for everyone. ICBC launched the safer roads program in 1989, and since then, has invested more than $110 million in road improvement projects and safety studies across B.C. In 2012, ICBC invested approximately $930,000 on Vancouver Island and $8 million in projects and safety audits across the province. “Public safety is our top priority,” said Mary Polak, minister of transportation and infrastructure. “ICBC’s safer roads program works in partnership with our ministry and with communities to ensure safety is a priority in transportation infrastructure in communities across the province. This valuable program demonstrates our continued commitment to help keep everyone safe on our roads.”

All proposed road improvement projects are assessed based on their ability to make roads safer. The most recent evaluation of the program concluded that overall, for every dollar invested, ICBC and its customers see a return of five times the investment. The evaluation found that two years following a project’s implementation, there is, on average, a 20-per cent reduction in severe crashes and a 12-per cent reduction in property damage crashes. More importantly, the benefits fi of road improvements continue well beyond two years. ICBC also participates in engineering studies and assists communities in the planning of roadways and managing traffic. fi “Road improvements deliver real value to everyone on our roads, from drivers to pedestrians,” said John Dickinson, ICBC’s director of road safety. “We’ll continue to invest in road safety initiatives that help us reduce claims costs to keep rates as low as possible for our customers.”

Metral Drive and Doumont Road: Installation of crosswalk – $4,000. Area-wide at four intersections: Installation of pedestrian countdown timers – $6,000. Area-wide: Traffic signs upgrade – $12,500. Dover Road at McGirr Road: Pedestrian safety improvements, including curb extension and four-way stop – $6,000. Wallace Street and Bastion Street: Pedestrian safety improvements, including sidewalk

upgrade and curb ramp – $5,000. Howard Avenue and Fifth Street: Installation of crosswalk – $6,000. Norwell Drive and Island Highway: Installation of paved sidewalk – $10,000. Departure Bay Road and Rock City School: Installation of sidewalk for safer route to school – $10,000. Highway 19A and Northwest Bay Logging Road: Intersection improvements, including left-hand turn signal – $8,900.

As road improvements are implemented, it also requires drivers to adopt new driving behaviours, such as adjusting to traffi fic pattern changes and understanding the rules of the road. The majority of crashes are preventable and have more to do with driver error than road engineering. Drivers need to do their part by making smart driving decisions and avoiding

crashes. Over the last 23 years, ICBC’s safer roads program has evolved significantly fi – community investments and successful partnerships have led to award winning projects and the contributions have helped advance the knowledge of the road safety engineering industry in B.C. and across Canada. For more information, please visit

– source: ICBC

Real estate slow – but steady – in mid-Island Don’t look for wild departures from the real estate market’s trend of trading big volume swings for slow, but steady sales. February’s home sales fi figures for Nanaimo took a dive – at least percentage-wise – with a 33 per cent drop compared to the same month in 2012, representing the biggest decline in year to year monthly comparisons of major communities north of the Malahat. In real numbers 64 homes sold in Nanaimo in February compared to 96 in February 2012. Home sales were up from January’s 54 unit sales and prices rose one per cent overall compared to February 2012 to $350,000 on average. The Multiple Listing Service recorded 3,410 sales across B.C. in January – a 16 per cent decline from January 2012. That refl flects a continual overall downward trend in residential real estate sales since the recession slammed

the home sales market in 2008 – that showed some leveling off beginning in August. In a recent report, the B.C. Real Estate Association described home sales in the province as subdued, but stable. Landcor Data Corporation, based in New Westminster, reports sales are slowing across Canada and even former hot markets, such as Vancouver and Toronto, cooled down in 2012 under what appears to be the lingering fallout from 2008 – a real estate market that, five years down the road, continues to adjust itself to find fi the new norm. Any realtor who’s been in the business for the long haul will tell you getting cranky over a snapshot of month to month sales figures fi is like sweating over a one day dive in the stock market. Kathy Koch, a realtor with Realty Executives and a Nanaimo area director on the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board, is encouraged by the

real estate market performance over the past several months. “My take is we have started to level out and I’m hopeful we’ll see a leveling and maybe a slight increase as 2013 progresses,” Koch said. Koch said inventory levels are similar to what they were 2012 and mortgage rates continue at near record low borrowing rates. “Money is so cheap,” she said. “It just doesn’t get any better than that and it appears it’s going to be that way for a while.” If the lower cost of putting roofs over their heads is good news for potential first-time buyers, the news for sellers who purchased homes during the pricing bubble of 2007 might not be so bad either if they choose to test the waters of a lower cost market. “I can tell you, if you bought a house in the fall of 2007, odds are it’s worth the same if it’s in the same condition,” said Brian Godfrey of Re/ Max Nanaimo.

Unlike the bubble days when buyers lined up for purchases and even got into bidding wars over property, today’s market favours sellers to practice patience. Homes sell, just not quickly. Godfrey said he noted the amplitude of big saw tooth seasonal swings on month to month sales charts that started in 2009 continue to diminish so far in 2013. “It’s just sort of narrowing down into an unexciting, but steady market,” Godfrey said. “That’s the best way to describe it.” If the market is trading big volume swings for steady sales, where are those sales to be had? Koch and Godfrey agree the bulk of sales are for homes in the $200,000 to $350,000 range. “If you’d asked me a few years ago if you wanted to buy a house below $300,000 I would have said gee there’s not much out there I’d feel comfortable selling,” Godfrey said. “That’s not the case anymore.”


Nanaimo News Bulletin Saturday, March 30, 2013


Registered pension plan offers simplicity for small business The B.C. government is moving ahead with a new pension option for the two thirds of B.C. workers who don’t have access to a group pension plan through their employer. Finance Minister Mike de Jong introduced legislation in March to create Pooled Registered Pension Plans (PRPP), making B.C. the first fi province to sign on to a new federal program. The system would allow businesses or self-employed people to set up defi fined contribution pension plans administered by financial fi institutions. De Jong announced the program along with Ted Menzies, federal minister of state for finance, who hopes to have harmonized systems across the country so people can continue to build retirement income if they move. Menzies said the PRPP system offers greater simplicity for small

businesses that don’t have employee pension plans. The new approach is designed to close a gap in tax-deductible Registered Retirement Savings Plan room that Canadian workers are choosing not to use despite the tax advantages. Once an employer signs up, employees would be automatically enrolled. They have 60 days to opt out, after which time pension contributions would be deducted. Employers don’t need any financial fi expertise, and employees would have to “overcome the inertia of being involved in the plan” to get out of it, Menzies said. De Jong said B.C. decided to make employer contributions optional, after consulting with business organizations. Mike Klassen, B.C. director of the Canadian Federation of Independent


Business, said small business accounts for almost half of the private sector employment in B.C., the largest share of any province. “Working forever is not an option,” Klassen said.

Menzies said expanding the Canada Pension Plan would require two thirds support from all provinces, and that support was not offered at a recent meeting of provincial finance fi ministers. But there was unanimous support for the PRPP option. Wilf Scheuer, president of Courtenay-based Pro Star Mechanical Technologies Ltd., said he plans to use the new pension option and match employee contributions in order to retain skilled workers. Pro Star retrofi fits buildings with geothermal heat pumps, tankless hot water systems and other specialized equipment. Scheuer said he recently lost an engineer, hired away by a large Los Angeles-based company, a sign that his and other small firms fi are in a global competition for top talent.


City poised to become economic and cultural leader

Nanaimo is a place of infinite possibilities. We, as a community, are perfectly positioned to become an economic and cultural leader in the Pacific Northwest, and we are taking considerable steps to achieve that status. The Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation (NEDC) has a vision for Nanaimo that is not limited to a list of attractions or assets, but is a vision of a business community that empowers itself through meaningful and lasting relationships. This is the type of environment that other communities will envy and emulate, and that we can be proud to call ‘home.’ The mission of the Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation is to build a prosperous community through economic opportunity. Through various programs and initiatives, the NEDC focuses on business development through supporting the growth of local entrepreneurs and businesses, attracting new business, investment and visitors to the region, and working

We can see the economic prosperity of our community on the horizon, and it gets closer with each handshake.

with regional partners in the growth of key economic sectors. With our Business Investment and Attraction initiatives, the NEDC promotes Nanaimo as the clear choice for business location. We provide companies with information on the development of a business plan to invest in Nanaimo, as well as provide relocation and site selection services. Business retention and expansion is a key element of the economic development process. By listening to our business leaders’ individual challenges and opportunities, we provide customized solutions for businesses on a wide range of issues from expansion to relocation, as well as provide real estate and development solutions so that our local businesses can thrive.

To ensure that Nanaimo remains regionally, nationally and internationally competitive, the NEDC works diligently on trade development for local businesses. Our programs support businesses with export development information and referrals. We provide in-region contacts, and assist clients in accessing markets through incoming and outgoing trade missions. Based on demographic trends, we can predict a major transition in our community as retirements will reach an unprecedented level. As such, it is our responsibility as an economic development office to prepare for such a shift by affecting workforce development. The NEDC supports Nanaimo businesses with best practices in

workforce retention and attraction, provides labour market information, and assists businesses with making connections to meet workforce needs. One of the key benefits to having an active economic development office in Nanaimo is the access to research and information. The NEDC represents a hugely valuable resource to local businesses, as we provide regional economic and industry information, access to business directories for sourcing products and services, and industry sector profiles for the retail, construction, infrastructure and tourism sectors, amongst others. Finally, we are proud to boast that Nanaimo continues to grow as a tourism destination, due to the tireless efforts of our tourism services division and local tourism based businesses. Tourism Nanaimo works to effectively position Nanaimo as a favourable destination for visitors. Nanaimo is a place of infinite possibilities. We can see the economic prosperity of our community on the horizon, and it gets closer with each handshake.


Saturday, March 30, 2013

Nanaimo News Bulletin



Downtown Nanaimo: It’s all here to discover As the tagline says – Discover Downtown Nanaimo: It’s All Here – downtown Nanaimo continues to gain momentum year by year as is evidenced by the increasing number of new and existing businesses, and the completion of projects that are helping to enhance the downtown experience. Downtown Nanaimo is a collection of culturally diverse areas, which house everything from fine dining to completely organic raw/vegan restaurants and everything in between. Arts and entertainment venues showcase local and world class entertainers, from the Port Theatre to numerous open stage nights at downtown cafes and nightclubs. Visitors can enjoy a tasty lunch patio-side, while watching the hustle and bustle of seaplanes unloading new and returning visitors at our scenic waterfront.

115 years

Stroll Commercial Street and visit restored heritage buildings housing original works of art, or search for vintage and eclectic items on the China Steps or shop chic clothing boutiques in the Old City Quarter. Downtown Nanaimo continues to improve with the expansion and updating of existing stores such as those in Port Place Mall. Watch for exciting new retail outlets and restaurants coming this summer. No need to head out of town for a day of pampering and relaxation – downtown offers high-end day spas and services for every taste and budget – many include free parking. The unique downtown experience is a direct result of the vision and passion of property and business owners that have volunteered thousands of hours and have been able to complete numerous projects

Downtown Nanaimo continues to improve with the expansion and updating of existing stores.

this year through their Downtown Nanaimo Business Improvement Association office, despite an uncertain economy. They have installed new bike racks, added tree lights and decorations to downtown streets, with still more to come. They have completed a Terminal Avenue/ Nicol Street Corridor Brownfield Study, which will increase development

opportunities in that area; educated people on the abundance of free and low cost parking downtown; and have created some of Nanaimo’s favourite events, like the two-day Bathtub Days Street Fair on Commercial Street and the Harvest Festival and Mulitcultural Festival in the Old City Quarter. The BIA membership includes more than 1,000 downtown property and business owners. The DNBIA continuously engages with, and supports, each of its members, old and new, in addition to strengthening ties with other community partners, all of whom have expanding visions not only for downtown, but all of Nanaimo. Working together we continue to build momentum and as a result, enjoy more and more amenities. Discover Downtown Nanaimo today – it really is all here.

the Honour 72 years

51 years

Roll 29 years

Merit Home Furniture Providing insurance for: Business • Home • Tenants • Condominiums • Travel • Construction • Boats & PWC • Autos • Campers • Trailers & Mobile Homes

T: 250-758-2484 101-3150 Island Highway, Nanaimo


250-754-5671 75 Nicol Street, Nanaimo

Turley’s is the local Florist that Nanaimo and the world has trusted and depended on for over 50 years.

60 Terminal Ave 250-754-6344

Vancouver Island’s choice for high-quality furniture and appliances. 3230 Norwell Drive, Nanaimo, BC

(250) 756-1153



Nanaimo News Bulletin Saturday, March 30, 2013

the Honour


Business longevity and sustainability are based on factors that range from management and leadership skills through to flexibility in servicing our rapidly changing marketplace. Today global sevices are not unique even in the smallest firms and creativity is essential in all companies, even the largest of corporations. Attracting and maintaining customers was once the greatest priority, now it partners with the need to attract and retain skilled and loyal employees. Join us in celebrating Nanaimo businesses who have stood the test of time. It takes determination and hard work to succeed in business.

28 years

“Creative edibles & drinkables at reasonable prices in a not-so-boring atmosphere!”

250-753-8311 199 Frazer Street, Nanaimo

13 years

21 years

“Vancouver Island’s Premier Cheese Shop & Specialty Foods Store”

20 years

Where new & old mingle together in the heart of the city Shop, Dine and Relax.

426 Fitzwilliam St. Nanaimo

Corner of Fifth Street & Bruce Avenue

w w w. o l d c i t y q u a r t e r. c o m


12 years

12 years

Proud to Serve Nanaimo


Leonard Krog M.L.A. 4-77 Victoria Cres. Nanaimo, B.C. V9R 5B9



The Spirit p off Vancouver Island

A10 Victoria Cres. Nanaimo

15 years

Hours: Mon. - Fri. 10 am to 12 pm 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Tel: 250.729.8225 5775 Turner Road

6089 Uplands Drive Nanaimo 250.760.2325

Telephone: 250-714-0630


Saturday, March 30, 2013

Nanaimo News Bulletin


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Nanaimo News Bulletin Saturday, March 30, 2013


Thinking of starting a new business, or expanding an existing business into new markets or facilities? We can help! Nanaimo Economic Development assists with business intelligence, retention, expansion and investment attraction information to help make your business a success.

March 30, 2013  

Section Z of the March 30, 2013 edition of the Nanaimo News Bulletin