Summer 2021 Business Examiner Peace Cariboo

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Summer 2021




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Peace Cariboo There is a lot to celebrate right now. Business is moving back to normal one step at a time, with the province sticking to its word - so far - on the phased re-opening plan. Certainly there are industries like tourism and hospitality that are not yet out of the woods, but I am optimistic that changes in regional travel restrictions will provide the first step towards recovery for these sectors. One bright spot in BC’s economy over this time is the construction sector’s wild ride. New projects, rising housing prices, skilled labour shortages, crazy demand, these are all symptoms of confidence in the future of the province and the stability that we have been blessed with. People and businesses want to be here, and they are proving it with their spending. This edition focuses on Women in Construction & Trades. This industry is growing, and it cannot reach its full potential without participation from everyone. We are so pleased to tell you the great stories of organizations with female leaders, and the positive effects it is having on the industry. Alongside this feature, we have great content featuring the CIMS, SMS Equipment, E.B. Horsman, and a whole lot more. Keeping battling, we are nearly there. John MacDonald, Director, Business Development Contact Us 25 Cavan Street Nanaimo, BC V9R 2T9 +1 866-758-2684 Office Hours Monday – Friday: 9:00am – 5:00 pm Saturday – Sunday: Closed Editor: Lise MacDonald ( Press Releases & Story Ideas: ( Sales: John MacDonald (





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BRITISH COLUMBIA - The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) reports that a total of 11,070 residential unit sales were recorded by the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) in June 2021, an increase of 34.7 per cent over June 2020. The average MLS residential price in BC was $910,445, a 22.2 per cent increase from $745,194 recorded in June 2020. Total sales dollar volume was $10.1 billion, a 64.6 per cent increase from last year. “As expected, housing market activity is calming to start the second half of 2021,” said BCREA Chief Economist Brendon Ogmundson. “That said, while down from record highs earlier this year, home sales across the province remain well above long-run average levels” Total active residential listings were down 23.4 per cent year-over-year in June and continued to fall on a monthly seasonally adjusted basis. Year-to-date, BC residential sales dollar volume was up 161.6 per cent to $64.7 billion, compared with the same period in 2020. Residential unit sales were up 114.3 per cent to 70,690 units, while the average MLS residential price was up 22.1 per cent to $915,563.

PRINCE RUPERT – In 1901, a trans-Pacific undersea telegraph cable was laid from Fanning Island (south of Hawaii) to Bamfield, a small town on the west coast of Vancouver Island. The telegraph station allowed for worldwide communications in a very short time span. Although the station was decommissioned in 1959, it now houses the Bamfield Marine Science Centre. And now, Prince Rupert’s CityWest is happy to be part of that telecommunications history with the purchase of West Island Cable, based in Bamfield, which will link up to the Connected Coast project. The Connected Coast project will bring new or improved high-speed internet accessibility to 139 rural and remote coastal communities, including 48 Indigenous communities – representing 44 First Nations – along the BC coast from north of Prince Rupert, to Haida Gwaii, south to Vancouver, and around Vancouver Island. The project is currently in the permitting stage, and will begin construction later in 2021. After its completion Bamfield will once again be part of a sprawling undersea network that will bring improved communication services to its residents, businesses, and government organizations. Summer 2021




FORT ST. JOHN - The Province is partnering with the Salvation Army on a proposal to build 42 new supportive homes that would be available to people in the community who do not have a place to live. Located on BC Housing-owned property at 9916 99th Ave., the project would include a four-storey building with 42 homes, office space, laundry facilities, a dining area and a commercial kitchen. Each unit would include a private bathroom, kitchenette and storage for residents. The Salvation Army, a non-profit organization with significant experience, would operate the building 24/7 and provide support services for each resident. A minimum of two staff would be on site at all times to provide daily meals, mentorship and skills building, and provide a connection to volunteer or employment opportunities. There is also a space in the building for residents to meet with social workers, address private health issues and hygiene care. The project does not require rezoning as the site is already zoned appropriately. However, BC Housing has submitted an application to the City of Fort St. John for a development variance permit. If the variance is approved, construction is anticipated to begin in August 2021 and residents will be able to move in by early 2022.

DAWSON CREEK - Nordic Vale Honey Farm was one of eight aspiring entrepreneurs across Canada to share in a total of $80,000 to kickstart their dream business. Nordic Vale is a northern family owned and operated apiary within the Dawson Creek area, providing an enriched family farm experience that produces local honey from farm-raised bees and other bee-related products. With a high yield honey production focus and diversifying products, Nordic Vale Honey Farm products could include honey, mead, crafts/candles, pollen, and equipment. Futurpreneur, Ca nada’s on ly nationa l, non-profit organization providing financing, mentorship and resources to aspiring entrepreneurs, announced the eight recipients of the RBC Rock My Business Start-Up Awards. Each award recipient will receive $10,000 to kickstart their dream business, rewarding their participation in Futurpreneur’s newly expanded, free digital Rock My Business workshop series. The annual awards, which saw over 160 applicants this year, aim to encourage a more diverse entrepreneurial ecosystem in Canada. The awards were provided to six recipients aged 18 to 29 for the Youth Entrepreneur Awards, one recipient for the Emerging Black Entrepreneur Award, and one recipient for the Emerging Entrepreneur Award for aspiring business owners aged 30 to 39.




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FUNDING FOR INDIGENOUS TOURISM PROJECTS The Federal Government of Canada announced the investment of a minimum of $50M from the Tourism Relief Fund (TRF) in Indigenous tourism projects. The Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC) is very pleased with this renewed commitment from the government to support the recovery of the Indigenous tourism industry across the country. The aforementioned investment is part of a total commitment of $500M in the TRF to support the tourism industry overall, of which $485 million will be delivered by Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) directly to tourism businesses and organizations to help aid in the creation of new tourism experiences, or enhance existing ones. Of this $500 million, a minimum of 10% will be invested in Indigenous tourism projects ($50M). Additionally, $15M has been allocated in part to support national ITAC projects. Individual businesses and Provincial/Territorial Indigenous Tourism Organizations will need to apply for repayable or non-repayable funding directly through their respective RDAs. Contributions to Indigenous entities (not generating profits) will normally be non-repayable. Indigenous applicants are invited to apply through the process described below.: For communities in Western Canada: Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD) Full press release here Summer 2021


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WOMEN IN CONSTRUCTION ON THE RISE 35% INCREASE IN SECTOR PARTICIPATION, WITH PLENTY OF ROOM FOR MORE BRITISH COLUMBIA - The number of women working in construction trades in British Columbia has gone up a whopping 35 per cent over the past five years. Yet that represents only 6.2 per cent of the actual workforce, a percentage that will undoubtedly improve in the years to come as women avail themselves of opportunities within the burgeoning sector, statistics released by the British Columbia Construction Association reveal. The value of current construction projects in the province is $120 billion, with another $221 billion in proposed projects forthcoming. There are currently 25,784 construction companies in B.C., 92 per cent have less than 20 employees. That’s up five percent over five years, and along with that, there is expected to be 26,806


CHBA Central Okanagan President Cassidy deVeer




construction job openings in the province due to retirements and expansion, and 11,331 construction jobs are anticipated to be unfilled due to labour shortages by 2030. The average annual wage of construction employees is $63,168, and that number continues to climb, due to a combination of labour shortages and overtime opportunities resulting largely due to those labour shortages. Cassidy deVeer, President of 3rd Generation Homes and President of CHBA Central Okanagan, notes that the number of women in the industry continues to grow, in all areas. “Every time I step on site I see more and more females in all different roles,” deVeer states. “My engineer is female, and when we go visit most of our suppliers their stores are full of females, I have a female carpenter on staff, I have seen female

drywallers and isolators. It’s so exciting to see us achieving more balance in our industry. I think Kelowna is leading the way in this, as I don’t think it is this was across the province.” deVeer foresees more women choosing the industry as a career, adding “I think the more that younger women can see this industry as a viable career because other women are doing it, the more will enter it. “This industry provides so many great opportunities and is in such high demand,” deVeer continues. “That demand won’t be going away anytime soon as Canada is short 1.8 million homes compared to the rest of the G7 countries, which is not far off from the total number of homes we built this past decade.” Kathy Price, Construction Administrator of Knappett Projects Inc., Chair of the Vancouver

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Summer 2021


The average annual wage of construction employees is $63,168, up 8 per cent over 5 years

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Island Construction Association Victoria Women in Construction Committee, points out there is plenty of opportunity now, and in the future, for women in the sector. Things have changed, to the point where Price says “we’re not proving ourselves – we’re working. “Today, nobody cares whether you’re a woman or not, they are interested in if you can do the job,” she notes. “They aren’t questioning capability. That’s part of old assumptions and belief systems, and it’s been proven that we can do it now. I think that’s an important milestone.” Construction sector jobs are viable, and increasingly attractive, career opportunities. “Even at the entry level,” she states. “The provincial minimum wage was recently increased to $15.20 an hour, but minimum wage in the field

of construction is going to start at $18-$19 per hour. Who wouldn’t want those jobs? They can buy their cars, they can go to school, and there is funding to attend school is available for a woman that wants to go to trade school.” Price has been in the industry since 1999, when she began working with construction projects at Home Depot. “I remember back then it (women in the construction industry) was starting to be accepted, but now, when I tell people I work in construction, it’s only the most ignorant that ask: ‘Are you in reception?’ 5 or 10 years ago, if I told people I worked in construction, they thought I was the receptionist, as that was a female-dominated role. “I have seen the difference in the attitudes, perceptions and receptions now. People don’t blink an eye when a woman says ‘I’m a carpenter’.”

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Summer 2021


Kathy Price of Knappett Projects Inc. is Chair of the VICA Women in Construction Committee


Rachel Mayer, Office Manager of Island Aggregates, is a member of the VICA Nanaimo Women in Construction Committee, runs the scale house, dispatching trucks and weighing them in and out at their operation in south Nanaimo/Cassidy. She observes more women have joined the membership. “The first few years I was here, there weren’t too many members, but it definitely has grown a lot in the last few years, and the awareness that is wonderful,” she says. “The goal is to reach out to everybody, in any part of construction. “It’s definitely growing more and more as the years go by, and that’s great to see.” Price concurs, noting that VICA’s Women in Construction membership is not just for trades people. “We like to remind people that when we say we





There are about 219,500 people employed in the construction sector in BC, which is down 3 per cent over the past 5 years

✓ Experienced professionals ✓ Responsible development

want them to join us as a member, it’s all of them - the field engineer, the carpenter, the bookkeeper,” she adds. “We are all simply women working in the industry, and we stand together and work together to discuss all of the issues and reap the success.” Programs like Camosun College’s Women in Trades program have encouraged more women to get involved in the industry. “It is working, and that’s super,” she states, but adds that more women are also getting involved in engineering – civil, mechanical and electrical – as well. Opportunities abound. “We need more people,” she adds. April was BC Construction and Skilled Trades Month, and Knappett Safety Manager Cori Coutts and the Victoria office field staff were honoured with a Leadership Award from the BC

✓ Collaborative partnerships ✓ Practical solutions

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WOMEN IN CONSTRUCTION Construction Association and LNG Canada, which sponsored the awards. Coutts oversaw the field team’s creation, implantation and maintenance of safe job sites during the COVID-19 pandemic, and Knappett has had no COVID-19 cases on its sites to date. “For the first time in history, Knappett’s field staff were essential workers, and they were proud of it,” Price notes. BCCA President Chris Atchison stated: “Congratulations to these deserving winners for their achievements in protecting the construction workforce. These awards showcase just a few of the thousands of individuals that kept our industry going through the pandemic, workers who understand the importance of both mental and physical safety and have acted under extreme pressure with integrity and professionalism.”


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BC HYDRO AND SITE C CONTRACTORS LAUNCH CANADA’S FIRST BUILDERS CODE WORK SITE BC Hydro and seven of its largest contractors have adopted the Builders Code conduct standard across Site C and in doing so have set the bar high for other sites across the province. Over 200 contractors and owners have become Builders Code signatories, but Site C is the first multi-contractor, project–wide commitment. This recognition of shared responsibility for ensuring acceptable site behaviour comes as the project staffs up for the summer season and helps ensure that all workers have the freedom to work safely and to the best of their ability regardless of gender, race, age, or other demographic factors. The construction industry in BC has been designated as essential during pandemic, and the vast majority of its 242,000 employees have continued to work. With post-COVID 19


economic recovery leaning heavily on infrastructure investment, the industry continues to face a skilled workforce shortage. There is a growing imperative for industry culture to change in order to attract and retain talent. BC Hydro takes pride in the diversity of its trades workforce. On the Site C Project site, contractors are currently reporting that 12 per cent of the workforce is women and ten per cent self-declare as indigenous, which is much higher than the current industry norms of 6 per cent and 5 per cent respectively. The Site C contractors joining BC Hydro in the Builders Code signing are AFDE Partnership, Peace River Hydro Partners, ATCO Two Rivers Lodging Group, Duz Cho Construction, Voith Group, Saulteau Safety and Security and Allteck Limited Partnership.




KITIMAT – Health and safety standards on job sites have risen steadily over the years, and women in key positions are making sure the bars that have been raised remain high. One of those individuals is Jacylyn Gordychuk, Northwest Regional Health and Safety Manager for CIMS Limited Partnership, which from its Kitimat head office covers the area including Terrace, Prince Rupert, the Queen Charlotte Islands, Hazelton, Houston, Smithers and also up the Nass River. CIMS services covers residential, commercial and heavy industrial sites, specializing in plumbing, pipefitting, HVAC, metals, structural steel fabricating and roofing. Jacylyn manages 71 employees in her division. “When I first started in health and safety 17 years ago, most of the folks I worked with were male,” she recalls of her tenure, which included working for 101 Industries, which was purchased by CIMS in 2020. “When I was hired at 101 Industries, most of our clients had male health and safety managers in their divisions. Throughout the years I would meet other women who were in health and safety, and when our division was purchased by CIMS it was a pleasant surprise to see that there were other females in health and safety as well.” Jacylyn has worked with many significant industrial clients over the years, including Bectel, Rio Tinto (formerly Alcan), Chevron and Shell LNG, and before they shut down, Methanex and Eurocan Pulp & Paper. “These companies have set the bar really high for safety standards, so we really did have an advantage to offer them for health and safety in the workplace,” she notes. CIMS, with its head office based in Port

Jacylyn Gordychuk

Coquitlam, provides services for large plant shutdowns and complex industrial projects in the oil and gas, pulp and paper, mining and smelting, power generation, and chemical sectors throughout North America. Jacylyn notes that her division focuses on safety training programs, training workers, assessing worksites and developing health and safety plans specific for each project. Their workload has increased consistently, the recent COVID pandemic included. “When we were purchased by CIMS, COVID hit a few months after that, and CIMS took it very seriously,” she states. “They formed a COVID committee and help line and implemented that plan immediately. While some divisions were put to a stop, with our division, we were deemed an essential service because we serve residential, commercial and industrial clients, and we never stopped.”

Summer 2021


E.B. Horsman women at a recent annual general meeting

E.B. HORSMAN & SON: EVERYONE BUILDS HORSMAN Electrical supply company E.B. Horsman & Son, one of Canada’s Best Managed Companies, has a phrase that embodies their values, while being a play on in their name EBH: Everyone Builds Horsman. Founded in Saskatchewan in 1900, E.B. Horsman has 21 locations and 330+ employee owners across Western Canada - an increasing number of which are women. Renee Lytle, CFO, recalls when she started 24 years ago that the occasional branch would have a female and rarely in the warehouse. Now almost every branch has multiple women in every position. It’s a trend that continues in the traditionally male-dominated construction sector, and a key component to the company’s current and future growth. “Women are extremely important to our business,” notes Sereeta Khara, Human Resources Manager, at E.B. Horsman & Son’s head office in Surrey. “The construction industry has been leading by example by attracting and recognizing the women in their industry.” Externally, EBH is making a difference through initiatives such as sponsoring the BCEA Anti Racism Action Plan and participating in the EFC (Electro Federation Canada) and the BCEA (BC Electrical Association) Women’s Network with our very own Laura Dempsey as Chair. Internally EBH champions women and other URM (underrepresented minorities) through their Inclusion and Diversity Committee. Sereeta states the WWW.BUSINESSEX AMINER.CA

more diversity in our companies and our industry, the better for everyone. “Diversity is at the core of our values and our success. Diversity of thought brings new ideas and energy into this fast paced world,” she adds. “Plus, it expands the recruiting pool by 50 per cent. We love seeing women in all positions from working the tools to management roles.” E.B. Horsman includes a staff-led Giving Back Committee to decide which worthy community organizations and causes to support. Various staff incentives include birthdays off, and maintaining a goal of providing 40 hours of training per year to each employee. “We want women to know we are here and there is a great career with us,” she says. “We have open communication in our company, and want to engage women and involve them in the evolution of this industry.” The company operates as one of Canada’s largest ESOPS and is majority owned by President and CEO Tim Horsman, a fifth generation Horsman, and the firm stays close to its small-town Western Canadian roots. “Historically our business strategy was to be in smaller communities to be close to our customers,” Sereeta observes. “Today, regardless of the size of the city our branch is in, we want deep roots in the community with our employees, customers, suppliers and giving back strategies.”





HOUSTON – SMS Equipment Inc. is known for selling, renting and providing full-service support for the most advanced earthmoving equipment in the mining, construction, road construction, and forestry industries. The company is also recognized for its diversity within their skilled trades employees, as an increasing number of their workers are women. For example, Kerry Earp, a Parts Technician in its Houston, BC branch, is a Red Seal Parts Journeyperson. Clients rely on her knowledge and prompt service to help them get what they need, when they need it.“ Kerry started as a yard/shop helper in shipping and receiving for our branch. When the opportunity arose, she was hired as a Warehouse Technician and then went on to challenge her Parts Ticket. “There was no doubt that once a position was available, she would be a great fit and was awarded the position,” says Bart Crossan, Parts Manager, Northern BC for SMS Equipment. “She is a key contributor to our branch, and we are grateful for skills, knowledge, and expertise she demonstrates each day. Her resolve and efforts have not gone unnoticed within our operations.” Kerry became a Parts Technician in 2008, “looking up parts for customers, answering calls from the people in the field, and getting them the parts they need is exciting to me. I did some warehousing as well which includes, pulling parts off the shelves and ordering what is needed.” In 2012, she decided to challenge the Red Seal exam and earned her ticket. “I love this job and enjoy coming to work every day,” she says. “It’s a learning experience, and there’s something new every day. We’re always learning new skills that makes this job exciting and pushes us to keep growing.” Kerry believes SMS Equipment’s focus on

people is the key to t he company’s success. “The people I work with a re g reat, and the support I receive f rom t hem is wonderf u l ,” s h e notes. “SMS Equipment i s a n awesome company to work for. T he management team I Kerry Earp is a Parts Technician in the work w ith, Houston branch of SMS Equipment either in our branch or regional office, always helps along the way. The entire company works as a team. It’s a key feature here; we do it for each other.” SMS Equipment Inc. features a full fleet of service trucks, crew trucks welding trucks, and the ability to support customer site projects with mobile support service trailers across Canada, Alaska, and Mongolia. SMS Equipment partners with Komatsu, Bomag, Takeuchi, Cemen Tech, NPK, Genesis and other manufacturers to deliver premier equipment, advanced digital technologies, and product support solutions, making SMS Equipment the premier one-stop equipment solution provider. They have parts stocked locally in the branch, with most other parts available within a day’s delivery. They also have a fully enabled welding and fabrication shop that operates seven days a week. Summer 2021


GOLD PROJECT RECEIVES APPROVAL FROM PROVINCE PRINCE GEORGE – The Province has approved a Mines Act permit that allows for early works at Artemis Gold Ltd.’s Blackwater Gold project in Central British Columbia. The approval of the early works permit is the first step required for mine construction, allowing for the necessary site preparation and land-clearing work to begin. The Blackwater Gold mine is estimated to be the largest mine development project in the Cariboo region of BC in the last decade, supporting regional employment over 25 years, including the construction period, with a potential life of mine extension through further exploration. Blackwater Gold is to be connected to the BC Hydro grid, which is powered by hydroelectricity, providing it with a sustainable source of low-carbon power, with the potential to produce gold and silver with one of the lowest greenhouse gas emissions from an open pit in the world. An economic impact study completed by KPMG on the Blackwater Project in November 2020 forecast the project will create 457 direct fulltime jobs per year over the 23-year operating life of the mine, with 825 direct full-time jobs per year created during the construction/expansion phases of mine development. Additionally, the mine is expected to contribute $13.2 billion to the provincial economy over its lifetime,


including $2.3 billion to provincial revenues. The Province signed an economic and community development agreement with the Lhoosk’uz Dené and Ulkatcho First Nations to share mineral tax revenue in 2020. Prior to that, an impact benefits agreement was signed in 2019 with the mine’s owners and the Lhoosk’uz Dené and Ulkatcho First Nations for the Blackwater Project. Since acquiring the project in 2020, Artemis has continued to develop relationships with Indigenous partners, notably by signing an impact benefits agreement with the Nazko First Nation in May 2021 and ongoing negotiations with the Carrier Sekani First Nations on an impact benefits agreement. The development of the Blackwater project has the potential to provide long-term economic benefits, and Artemis is working with these Nations to bring training, business development and employment opportunities to each of these Nations’ communities while also advancing Indigenous reconciliation. Mineral Exploration is a critical precursor to mine development and operation. Last year, approximately $422 million were invested in B.C. by exploration companies seeking to find the next Blackwater Gold – the highest investment in the last decade. This bodes well for the future of mining in B.C.





PRINCE GEORGE – The woman’s touch is making a big difference at Portal Installations Ltd. Portal, specializing in selling and servicing doors, has several women in key positions within the company. President Davor Drazenovic’s wife, Brenda, handles bookkeeping and financial aspects of the business, while Chaley Festerling and Niki Wiebe are in key administrative positions, responsible for organizing stock and sending staff to serve customers. “The women keep things moving here,” says Chaley. “We’ve been integrating the male and female roles in the company, and I think it’s a pretty cohesive environment – although we would like to see an increase in women installers.” To that end, Chaley notes that the male installers have been bringing female staff members out on jobs to show them how installations are being done. “Niki has been an integral part of the company for the past 11 years, and she gets the guys out on the job sites,” Chaley notes. “She’s been Davor’s right hand person and works really closely with the guys. She also does a lot of the back room organization.” Chaley has been with Portal for the past three years. “We have a really big area to cover, so we have a lot of things to organize, with our workers and our customers,” she says, adding they have 12 employees and 6 vehicles on the road. For over 48 years, Portal Installations has been helping residential, business and industrial site owners in Prince George, Smithers, the Bulkley Valley, Terrace, Quesnel, Mackenzie and the surrounding area make their garages complete with beautiful garage doors. With a combined installation experience of over 87 years, they combine the best garage doors with fast, friendly service.

From left: Chaley Festerling, Brenda Drazenovic and Niki Wiebe

A Canadian-owned company, Portal Installations Ltd. offers a wide variety of Canadian-made products featuring brands that are tried and true, including garage doors from Steel Craft Door Products Ltd., Finn Door and general application rubber doors for industrial sites from TNR Doors. “At Portal Installations, we know that one solution doesn’t fit every problem,” says Davor. “Various garage door types and materials exist, including steel, wood, and rubber, as well as different kinds of openers to consider such as belt or chain drive models and commercial operators. We’re equipped to help no matter what style of door is needed.” Portal features a showroom at its new location at 1030-2 Avenue and offers all major brands of door panels, springs and parts, and stock garage doors. It is a fully bonded and insured company, and is a member of the British Columbia Construction Association and a Better Business Bureau accredited business with an A-plus rating. Portal is also a contributor to a number of worthy causes in the community, including the Prince George Hospice Society, MS Walk, Wheelin’ Warriors and sports groups and organizations. Summer 2021


NORTHERN BC: 2ND QUARTER REPORT SHOWS RECORD SALES FOR MAY The BC Northern Real Estate Board (BCNREB) reports 3565 properties sold through the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) in the first six months of 2021, up from the 1786 sales reported in the first half of 2020. The value of these properties was $1.2 billion compared with $538.6 million in 2020. At the end of June, there were 3042 properties of all types available for purchase through the MLS of BCNREB, down from 3489 at the same time last year. With roughly 70 per cent of BC’s population having received a first vaccine dose, BC is currently experiencing only a handful of new COVID-19 cases each day. As a result, the steep pandemic-induced recession of 2020-21 is waning rapidly across the province. BC is expected to reach an economic growth rate of 6 per cent in 2021, a 25-year high, followed by 4 per cent growth in 2022. Moreover, employment in BC is now only 1 per cent below its pre-crisis levels. Growth is partly being driven by strong non-residential construction across the province and particularly in Northern BC. LNG Canada’s export terminal in Kitimat and the corresponding Coastal Gaslink Pipeline, worth a combined total of $46 billion, are now employing thousands of direct workers. Thousands of additional workers have returned to work at the Site C Dam near Fort St. John, at Rio Tinto’s tunnel-boring project near Kitimat, and at the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project. This employment and spending continues WWW.BUSINESSEX AMINER.CA

to boost employment growth and housing demand in the North of the province. Home sales across the north are continuing at a very strong pace. Sales in Q2 of 2021 are down 7 per cent on a seasonally adjusted basis from Q1 but remain near record highs. Total MLS unit sales in the region covered by the BC Northern Real Estate Board surged 101 per cent compared to this time last year when the onset of the pandemic depressed market activity. In terms of unadjusted residential unit sales, May of 2021 was the largest ever recorded at 655. The level of active listings finished the second quarter down 16 per cent year-over-year and is roughly unchanged on a seasonally-adjusted basis from Q1. The combination of record sales and near record low inventory is driving continued price growth. Average sale price rose 5.5 per cent from Q1 to $382,489 in Q2. Year-overyear, average sale price was up 16.5 per cent in Q2. Finally, average days on market declined slightly from 57 to 55 on a seasonally adjusted basis from Q1 to Q2. It is down from 74 days in the same quarter last year. Forecasting the remaining half of the year, the British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) anticipates that MLS sales in 2021 will surpass the previous record of 5,564 units sold in 2006. With extremely low inventory of available homes and continued heightened demand, prices are likely to continue rising throughout the year. As a result, BCREA forecasts that home prices will rise by close to 20 per cent in 2021.





BRITISH COLUMBIA – A fleet of 65 heavy-duty trucks will be able to make the switch from diesel to hydrogen in northeastern BC with support from the Province’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS). Hydra Energy will receive LCFS credits worth a current market value of $1.9 million to build a hydrogen fuelling station in northeastern BC Trucks that rely on conventional diesel will be retrofitted to allow them to transition to low-carbon byproduct hydrogen that will be captured at a local sodium-chlorate facility. These retrofits will allow the trucks to use 40 per cent hydrogen fuel and will result in reducing emissions by 67 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per truck per year. Hydra anticipates the facility will be operational by early 2023. H y d r a E n e r g y w a s t h e f i r s t c o m p any to provide the technology for and fuel

Photo courtesy of

commercial co-combustion trucks in British Columbia. These trucks have driven over 200,000 kilometres. “Hydra is proud to be in British Columbia, an ideal jurisdiction for the development of low-carbon hydrogen,” said Jessica Verhagen, CEO, Hydra Energy. “We hope to see BC’s approach replicated in Canada’s forthcoming clean fuel standard.” The forthcoming BC hydrogen strategy will provide a roadmap for how the province can be a world leader in the production, use and export of renewable and low-carbon hydrogen. Shifting away from fossil fuels is critical for achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. Hydrogen is the only practical solution to decrease emissions in hard-to-decarbonize sectors, like medium- and heavy-duty transportation. The Province is supporting this project with BC Low Carbon Fuel Standard credits. The BC LCFS offers credits to fuel suppliers undertaking actions to increase the use of low-carbon fuels that would not occur otherwise. The program is an important part of achieving the targets set out under CleanBC. The LCFS requires fuel suppliers to reduce the carbon intensity of gasoline and diesel by 20 per cent by 2030.

Summer 2021



MARK MACDONALD With inflammatory rhetoric, divisive discourse and policies that pit one sector of society against another – with no apparent middle ground – what is happening in North America? Let’s start with this country. Canadians have now elected a Trudeau as Prime Minister six times, which will most likely be seven if and when the next federal election is called. It is clear that the Trudeau family has a vision of Canada that, while successful in its goal of gaining government, ostracizes and minimizes those outside of Ontario and Quebec. The Liberal brain trust correctly recognizes that all a political party needs to gain power is win those two provinces. Thus their concentration on policies that ensure that dominance and centralization remains.


Pierre Trudeau‘s National Energy Policy immediately doomed Alberta’s economy starting in 1980, stifling that province’s economy with unprecedented limitations that middle-aged Albertans recall bitterly to this day. The reduction of Alberta’s economic clout, while ensuring central Canadian dominance, also became a rallying cry, encapsulated with “The West Wants In” that prepared the way for the Reform/Canadian Alliance/ Conservative wave that resulted in a decade of Stephen Harper. Canadians rejected more Harper for Justin Trudeau‘s “sunny ways”, and the west was “rewarded” by more policies that cripple western Canada’s economy. Punitive legislation restricts pipelines east, south and west, although they begrudgingly, eventually gave the go ahead to the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion. The impact of every major energy policy decision this Trudeau has made mirrors that of his father. Little wonder that Albertans’ distrust, even hatred, of Trudeau grows, and the flames of separatism continue to be fanned. What does Alberta get out of remaining in Canada except restrictions to its right to extract and export its resources? What does Alberta get in comparison to what it contributes financially, in terms of equalization payments – compared to Quebec, for example? There yet remains enough cooler heads in Alberta to tamper down calls for separatism. Premier Jason Kenney, who some believe looked at success in rejuvenating that province as a springboard to




head back to Ottawa and lead the Conservatives, has been loath to engage in that conversation. Perhaps only personal ambition stands in the way of heightening separatist dialogue – but Kenney’s unpopularity isn’t enhancing any possible future national goals. Will that change? At what point does Alberta say “enough”, and states it wants out of Canada? And what does it mean to Alberta that Trudeau proclaims that Quebec has the right to declare itself a nation. If Quebec, then why not Alberta? Or others? The Trudeau “vision” of Canada seems to be embodied in weaker east and west. The Maritimes hopelessly cycle back and forth between hoping for federal government handouts from Ottawa. They are true dependants. Western Canada? Its great economic strength is resources, and Ottawa clamps down on that. Look

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at Ottawa’s handling of fish farming. One decision, and instantly, 1,500 jobs evaporate off the BC coast. To be replaced by what? Again we ask: If Trudeau says Quebec can become its own nation, then why not Alberta? Or even all of Western Canada? Meanwhile, south of the 49th, our neighbors are split right down the middle: Democrat/Republican; left/right. That chasm continues to expand, with bitter, divisive words from both sides. Fervent Democrats/Republicans view their opponents as enemies of the United States, and there is no voice, or apparent appetite, to douse that dialogue. The only enemy, it seems, is compromise. Can the United States keep United? There are increasing discussions about states seceding from the Union to pursue the fiscal and moral path of their own choosing. Both sides are at fault, but is there a willingness to meet in the middle, somewhere, to calm the storms of verbal civil war before it becomes another call to arms? Government-forming parties in both countries – and provinces - must be willing to compromise with those they’ve defeated, and determine to serve all constituents – not just the ones who got them elected. That includes introducing policies that work for everyone, while calming the conversation and eliminating war-mongering words that cast their opponents as evildoers. Without that, how can Canada and the U.S. remain as functioning, unified countries? Maybe that’s what this is all about – tearing down both countries from within, just like Ancient Rome. That’s something we can learn from history, if we dare to learn from it and purpose to not repeat it.

Summer 2021


MOVERS & SHAKERS Announcements, business changes, celebrations and other hidden gems from around Central/North Vancouver Island. Curated just for you.

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PRINCE GEORGE Congratulations to MEDIchair North BC, which has opened a new website and online store for its products and services. Owner and General Manager Chris Gobbi, who purchased the medical and accessibility store with Heather Hawes in 2015, notes they will continue to operate their two physical locations in Prince George and Quesnel. The website is: Dr. Vince Budac and Emily Budac have opened True North Optometry in the old Doucette Realty building on 5th Avenue. MLA Shirley Bond and Mayor Lyn Hall were in attendance at the official grand opening of the new optometry clinic. Some new faces have joined the board of the Prince George Chamber of Commerce, led this year by President Kiel Giddens, Public Affairs Manager for TC Energy. Newly elected directors are Donna Flood of Prince George Hospice Society, Jessica Brown of Pine Centre Mall (Morguard), and Elisha Brown of Digital Umbrella Creative.


Joining Giddens on the Executive are past president Lorna Wendling of MNP LLP, Vice President of Finance Ray Noonan of Scotiabank, and Vice Presidents Cathy Mackay of EDI Environmental Dynamics Inc. and Peter Sia of Northland Nissan and Hyundai. Re-elected directors are Matt Hutcheon of TaxWerx Canada, Kara Biles of Canfor, and Jordan Thorne of HSJ Lawyers LLP. Returning directors are Kristine Newell of Team Powerhouse, Kevin Gemmell of Pattison Media and Kevin Botham of Integris. Todd Corrigall remains as CEO. The Executive of the Prince George Downtown Business Improvement Association was returned to continue on for 2021-2022 at the June 9 Annual General Meeting, with the organization again to be led by President Eoin Foley of Nancy O’s, Betulla Burning, and the Birch & Boar Charcuterie & Provisions. Joining Eoin are Vice President Bob Fillier of Trinity United Church, Treasurer Derek Dougherty of KMPG LLP Canada, and Secretary Valierie Eberherr of MNP LLP. There are four new board members: Shirley Tiller


MOVERS AND SHAKERS of the Ramada Hotel, Shonda Shaw of F. Hausot Holdings Ltd., Kim Hayhurst of The Makerie and Jessica Righi of Integris Credit Union. They join returning directors Kirk Gable, Darren Low of City Furniture and Ashley HomeStore, Martin Krell of PG Farmer’s Market and Dominion Lending, and John Kason of Fieldhouse Capital Management Inc. Two long-standing board members were thanked for their service as they stepped away: Rod Holmes and David Hillhouse of Majestic Management. Katherine Anderson has been hired as Operations Coordinator to oversee the Downtown Clean Team Programs with DART and the PG Brain Injury Group.


Dr. Wenbo Zheng, an Engineering Assistant Professor at the University of Northern BC, has received a $142,500 Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council Discovery Grant to continue his research into resource extraction from the deep earth, including making geothermal energy extraction and shale gas more efficient and safer. Dr. Zheng is collaborating with experts at Monash University in Australia, the China University of Geosciences and with AGAT Laboratories in Calgary to work with provincial oil and gas regulators and industrial partners. The new grant will support graduate and undergraduate researchers in Dr. Zheng’s lab. Northern BC businesses have been boosted with $50,000 in E-Gift card purchases by customers, which have helped them get through the pandemic. That total includes 349 gift cards totaling $16,390 in Prince George (an average of $46), with Smithers selling $11,055 (average $37) and Prince Rupert $10,788 (average $27). The 2021 version of the Prince George Hospice Society Dream Home has been valued at $800,000. The 3,000 square foot, five-bedroom house is at 4047 Brink Drive and is now open for viewing. It

will be fully furnished for the winner for the first time. Partially funded by Northern Health, the dream home lottery program is the largest fundraiser for the Society. Tickets are $100, and the draw will be held December 17, preceded by four early bird draws. Masich Place Stadium has been awarded the Bill Woycik Outstanding Facility Award by the Recreation Facilities Association of British Columbia for its recent installation of a new synthetic turf field and facilities. The renovation also included new LED lighting and upgrades brought the facility to meet FIFA, CFL, NFL and IAAF standards. Downtown Prince George Executive Director Colleen Van Mook is pleased to note that Downtown Summerfest is returning to the streets of Prince George on Saturdays in July. 3 rd Avenue will be closed between Quebec and Dominion Streets from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. for Summerfest. In addition the Downtown PG Farmer’s Market will be held each Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. As part of its $13 billion investment in infrastructure and operations across BC through 2024, TELUS will be investing $61 million in Prince George in infrastructure and operations upgrades. That includes building new wireless infrastructure, connecting more households and businesses to the TELUS PureFibre network, and brining 5G network speeds of up to 1.7 Gbps to Prince George. Darren Entwistle, President and CEO of TELUS, states: “TELUS is proud to make this generational investment in Prince George providing the technology to connect citizens to loved ones, as well as vital resources and information as we continue to navigate the global pandemic.” Ian Sims’ creation of “MagneMasque” has been attracting interest from across North America. Sims’ masks use magnets to keep toques Summer 2021

MOVERS AND SHAKERS connected to hard hats, something that construction workers in colder climates find very beneficial. MagneMasques are manufactured in Prince George and 90 per cent of the materials used are from Canada. Sims recently filled out an order for a customer in Arizona, and he has customers in Surrey and Kamloops as well. BC Hemp has announced up to $15 billion in investment in the pharmaceutical and industrial hemp industry in northern BC that could create 15,000 direct jobs, notes President Remi Balaj. BC Hemp has purchased the 300-acre West Coast Olefins site in Prince George, which is expected to become an ethanol refinery using hemp grown in the region. Waste heat from the operation would be used to generate electricity and heat greenhouses. The complex could cost upwards of $2 billion and create 2,000 direct jobs between the greenhouses and refinery, Balaj states. In the past several months, BC Hemp announced plans for a $350 million industrial hemp facility at the corner of the Old Cariboo Highway and Johnson Road, plus a 100-acre test farm and hemp research facility, as well as a medical clinic and pharmacy in College Heights. BC Hemp is also looking for locations where they could produce plastic pellets from hemp oils, and a facility for using hemp seeds to produce biofuels for vehicles. Catherine Wishart has been elected as the new Chair of the Board for the University of Northern BC. Catherine, now a public sector, First Nations and non-profit consultant, was previously a Regional ManCatherine Wishart ager – Nechako with the College of New Caledonia. Wishart replaces Aaron Ekman. The Tourism Prince George Visitor Information Centre has opened again, after a five-month plus closure due to reduced activity from tourists WWW.BUSINESSEX AMINER.CA

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MOVERS AND SHAKERS during the COVID pandemic. The Centre will be open from Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and it has been announced that Tourism Prince George will be sending a mobile team to popular attractions throughout the area during the summer.

Walter Babicz


The City of Prince George has a new city manager/ Chief Administrative Officer, Walter Babicz. Walter has been promoted from within the City, serving as Corporate Officer and senior administrator, as well as acting city manager for the past nine months. Walter was raised in Fraser Lake.

100 MILE HOUSE 100 Mile House residents will have an opportunity to vote on a new recreation and culture service for the South Cariboo. The decision will be made based on a taxation limit of $3.75 million, which would support development of a South Cariboo major recreation facility that could be an aquatic centre. The referendum is also listing as possibilities supporting existing recreation facilities like baseball and soccer fields, Martin Exter Hall and the South Cariboo Recreation Centre. Zirnhelt Timber Frames of 150 Mile House has been named one of 21 state-of-the-art projects to receive monies from the Clean BC Building Innovation Fund. Zirnhelt Timber Frames will receive $350,000 to expand a pre-fabrication facility with a roof panel manufacturing, an energy-efficient floor and low-embodied-carbon modular timber buildings. WILLIAMS LAKE The recently opened Bob’s Footwear & Apparel Inc. store is a family affair. Opening the outlet are family members Tyler and Alyssa Ilnicki, Jorden Ilnicki and Kelsey Gatz.

Williams Lake needs more doctors, and they’ve requested a meeting at the Union of BC Municipalities Annual General Meeting in September with the provincial Health Minister to discuss how to bring more physicians to the community. Included in the discussion will be a asking the province to increase the number of medical student seats in BC universities. Congratulations to Monica Rawlek and Samuel Corbett upon receiving 2021 citizenship awards for outstanding leadership while at university. Monica is at Quest University of Canada in Squamish and Samuel is working towards a business in finance degree at the University of the Fraser Valley in Abbotsford. ANAHIM LAKE Congratulations to Lynda Price, mother of Carey Price, star goaltender for the National Hockey League’s Montreal Canadiens, upon her re-election as Chief of Ulkatcho First Nation. Linda is the first woman to be elected to the Union of BC Chiefs. QUESNEL No, there won’t be an upgrades to the Quesnel and District Arts and Recreation Centre Pool. An Upgrade Referendum asked voters to borrow up to $20 million to renovate the pool, but voters decided 1,001 against and 941 for. SMITHERS The Mullen Group has announced their acquisition of the Bandstra Group of Companies, Bandstra Transportation and Babine Trucking. The Greater Metro Hockey League’s (GMHL) proposal to add a Junior A hockey team in Smithers was rejected by council. Current user groups opposed the request due to the arena’s limited ice time. Pedicab’s business license has been accepted by council so they can operate. Summer 2021

MOVERS AND SHAKERS Jessica Meadows, owner of Albatross Café, was given a two-year contract for food service at the Smithers Airport. If all permits are in place, the cafe could open as early as Sept. 1. The Bulkley Valley Credit Union will be donating $80,000 for its 80th anniversary Legacy Project Program. Finalists from Smithers are the Bulkley Valley Hospital Foundation, Cycle 16 and the Witsuwit’en Language and Culture Society (WLCS). National Emergency Safety Services (NESS) has moved into the remodeled old Ranger Station in Telkwa. The new facility now offers WorkSafe OFA 1 First Aid Training and drug and alcohol testing. TERRACE Terrace could be the next market target for the San Group, the forestry company based in Langley that recently announced a further $100 million investment in Port Alberni, following their purchase of Coulson Forest Products operations in 2016. President Suki Sanghera and Vice President of Sales Operations John Langstroth visited Terrace in June to explore opportunities, and is considering building a sawmill to process wood that it already buys in the region and currently ships out for processing elsewhere. One of the site prospects is the Skeena Industrial Development Park south of the Northwest Regional Airport. Part of its investment in Port Alberni includes shipping product from the Vancouver Island deep sea port, and the San Group recognizes similar opportunities with the ports of Kitimat and Prince Rupert. Should the plan proceed, it could produce 50 to 60 million board feet of lumber per year, and to do so, 40-50 acres would be needed for the operation, which could cost $60 million to build. The San Group already does business with Kitwanga Forest Products. San Group has over 400 employees and exports its wood products to over 27 countries throughout the world. WWW.BUSINESSEX AMINER.CA

DAWSON CREEK Northeast British Columbia had a 3.9 percent unemployment rate in June. It’s the province’s lowest unemployment rate for the 12th consecutive month, following the restrictions brought by the COVID 19 pandemic. BC’s Ministry of Transportation will convene a stakeholder group for Taylor Bridge to provide technical input on industrial road use, municipal infrastructure plans, and utility services, and several other factors to take into account for the development of the bridge. Interested applicants to fill in the position in the stakeholder group will be accepted until July 30. For more information, visit The PRRD is rolling out a new recycling program to accumulate and repurpose baler twine and grain bags from local farmers at eight collection locations, including the Cecil Lake, Prespatou, Tomslake, Rolla, and Buick Creek Transfer Stations, as well as the Bessborough, Chetwynd, and North Peace Regional Landfills. FORT ST. JOHN According to the most recent BC Hydro figures, employment at the Site C dam increased by 279 jobs in May, making it near 5,000 in total job numbers. Chris Addison, a wildlife biologist, joined the Peace region’s board of directors of the Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program. Addison joins the board with 25 years of experience as a biologist, with his current work focusing on game and endangered species. The announcement was made on Monday by the FWCP. The City of Fort St. John is getting $100,000 to help bring their new RCMP detachment building to net-zero energy efficiency, and FPInnovations is getting $450,000 to buy a three-dimensional printer to test and certified 3D printed houses, to be made with low-embodied carbon residual fibre.