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progress2011 report on business

Wednesday May, 4, 2011



Helping to build dreams for over

RESIDENTIAL, COMMERCIAL, NEW CONSTRUCTION OR RENOVATION, FOR ALL YOUR CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS. SIDNEY 2030 Malaview Ave. W. Sidney 250.656.1125 BUILDING COMPONENTS 1785 Mills Rd. N. Saanich 250.656.9255 ADMIRALS ROAD 1496 Admirals Rd.Victoria 250.388.5443 LANGFORD 2901 Sooke Rd. Victoria 250.478.5509 SALTSPRING 804 Fulford Ganges Rd. Saltspring 250.537.4978 NANAIMO 4950 Jordan Ave. Nanaimo 250.758.8329 LANTZVILLE 7187 Lantzville Rd. Lantzville 250.390.1207 TOFINO 661 Industrial Way Tofino 250.725.2538 COMOX 554 Anderton Rd. Comox 250.339.2207 CUMBERLAND 3217 Small Rd. Cumberland 250.336.8710




progress victoria



Group Publisher Penny Sakamoto Editorial Director Kevin Laird Advertising Sales Director Oliver Sommer Photo Editor Don Denton Production Manager Janice Marshall Progress Victoria is published once a year in Victoria, B.C. by Black Press Vancouver Island, and is distributed to select homes as a supplement in the Victoria News, Saanich News, Oak Bay News, Goldstream News Gazette and Peninsula News Review. Black Press has sole copyright over any written material or images in this publication. In the event of an error occurring in any advertisement, the liability of Black Press shall not exceed the charge of the space actually occupied by the item in question. Black Press Vancouver Island’s address is 818 Broughton St., Victoria, B.C.



With the worst of the recession likely behind us, the Greater Victoria economy begins to pick up speed.




Greater Victoria retailers are buoyed by optimism after they weather a tough year and look to a brighter 2011.

11 45

Builders throughout the region see glimmers of hope, but it could be a long way to recovery.

Colwood becomes a real-time classroom for Royal Roads University students.


Attracting and keeping the best talent is a challenge for the hightech industry moving forward in 2011.


Ken Adams, assistant dock master for Point Hope Maritime Shipyards, works pulling cables.



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Commuters may cry for highway lanes and overpasses, but region eyes transportation alternatives.




The University of B.C.’s Island Medical program helps prepare new doctors for rural communities.






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A Truly Canadian


Outdoor Living


Two brothers, John W. and Alfred J. Billes, with a combined savings of $1,800, buy Hamilton Tire and Garage Ltd. in Toronto.


Featuring tire values and a handy Ontario roadmap on the back


The main store moves to a vacant supermarket in Toronto with an innovation that delights generations of Toronto shoppers.


Customers receive coupons, later known as Canadian Tire ‘Money’


1980 – FIRST STORE IN BRITISH COLUMBIA 1999 – CANADIAN TIRE FOUNDATION FOR FAMILIES LAUNCHED Helping to ensure that basic needs of families are met

OPENING OF VICTORIA STORES 1982 DOUGLAS STREET 2959 Douglas Street 250.361.3152

2001 – WWW.CANADIANTIRE.CA Online shopping arrives


1982 GORDON HEAD 3993 Cedar Hill Road 250.721.1125

Joins the Canadian Tire family

2005 – CANADIAN TIRE JUMPSTART LAUNCHES To address the inactivity of children.


1983 ROYAL OAK 801 Royal Oak Drive 250.727.6561


1998 LANGFORD 855 Langford Parkway 250.474.2291

2006 – CANADIAN TIRE PARTNERSHIPS WITH NASCAR AND TSN 20 veterans travel to Holland to participate in the 65th anniversary celebrations of Holland’s liberation.

A Canadian family of retail, retail-related and financial services businesses that are inter-related and strengthened by the triangle… a great Canadian brand. “We exist to create Customers for Life.”



2002 VIEW ROYAL 1519 Admirals Road 250.381.5055

Sports & Rec


Thanks for your support over the past 89 years!

Kitchen & Bath


ECONOMY Wednesday, May 4, 2011

City, region poised for economic prosperity With the worst of the recession behind us, the local economy is starting to pick up the pace ERIN CARDONE BLACK PRESS


he region’s recovery was slow and steady; now it’s gaining speed. Economically, the outlook is bright for the Capital Region, with the pace projected to quicken through the end of 2011. “We’re expecting the rate (of recovery) to increase quite a bit” this year, says Sasha Angus, economic development officer for the Greater Victoria Development Agency. The local economy took a blow in 2008 and 2009 in stride with the global recession, but wasn’t impacted as severely as many other regions. As the home of the provincial government, a military base and plenty of postsecondary institutions, the capital was partly sheltered. Angus says the region’s gross domestic product shrunk 1.5 per cent in 2009. In other cities – Vancouver or Calgary, for example – “it was two or three times that amount.” “The projection this year is we (our GDP) should grow 2.5 per cent in real terms, after inflation is taken into account,” he says. One of the more promising projections for the next few months is the hiring outlook. Vancouver-based Manpower Inc. measured the hiring climate for the Capital Region’s second quarter of 2011 at 30 per cent. That number is derived from finding 37 per cent of the region’s employers plan to hire in Q2, while seven per cent planned staffing cutbacks. Manpower surveys businesses in 10 sectors to

Don Denton/Black Press

Saanich Mayor Frank Leonard will do just about anything to attract business to the region. He posed for this lemonade stand picture outside Saanich municipal hall. come up with its numbers. Out of 46 regions Canada-wide, the Capital Region placed fourth best in terms of outlook and usually places toward the top of the list, says Manpower’s Pacific regional director Susan Wright-Boucher. Looking back over the past 10 quarters, WrightBoucher adds, there’s a definite trend toward an improving hiring climate, from a low of six per cent in Q4 of 2009 to 20 per cent in Q2 2010. Slight improvements in the real estate market are promising as well, Angus says. “It can be a bit of a leading indicator in some respects as people’s confidence picks up,” he says, referring to job security and banks’ lending confidence. The number of sales have slumped compared to the market’s boom years pre-2008, a trend Victoria Real Estate Board past-president Randi Masters recently called a “balanced” market, where supply meets demand – rather than high demand causing prices to inflate. Average prices for properties increased in April

for the first time in several months. Also promising is the high-tech sector, Angus says. Last year, Victoria Advanced Technology Council’s 25 biggest companies grew 11 per cent, for the second year in a row and VIATeC is projecting to grow seven to 10 per cent in 2011, plus add employment gains in the double digits. Other sectors aren’t recovering as well. Angus says retail continues to feel the lag brought on by the recession. Tourism in the Capital Region isn’t what it once was either, with a strong Canadian dollar deterring U.S. visitors and the harmonized sales tax affecting sales in hospitality. “The numbers we’ve seen is that (tourism companies) are starting to edge back upwards in the last couple months in particular, and they’re looking forward to a good summer,” Angus says. “As long as there are no major surprises from our neighbours from the south, we should continue to see growth for the next couple of years.”

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6,546 Number of Greater Victoria homes and other properties sold in 2010.

$3.24B Value of Multiple Listing Service transactions in 2010.

$562,000 Median price, single-family homes in 2010.

$292,250 Median price, condominiums in 2010.

$419,900 Median price, townhomes in 2010.


Median price, lots and acreage in 2010.

Source: Victoria Real Estate Board


Housing market eyes stability Stability projected for resale market; HST uncertainty ERIN MCCRACKEN BLACK PRESS


arting a brand new white interior door in his gloved hands, a construction worker makes a beeline down the street for a team of trades people. They are armed with the noisy tools of their profession. The buzz, whir and pounding are the sounds of progress on a string of singlefamily homes in a new section of the Kettle Creek Station subdivision in Langford. “It all comes down to location, location, location,” says Dennis Fimrite, president of the Victoria Real Estate Board. “For single-family homes that’s where firsttime home owners are buying. You get more for your money out there (on the West Shore).” Last year saw a return to a balanced real estate market – 2010 started out strong, tapered off and then rebounded last fall. More of the same is being projected for 2011. “Victoria is a very stable (housing market),” Fimrite notes. “I don’t see any changes in the coming year.” Last year there was a 19-per-cent decline compared to 2009 in the number of homes and other properties sold in Greater Victoria. Meanwhile, overall average house prices rose modestly: 8.5 per cent for single-family homes, four per cent for condos and townhome prices rose more than three per cent.

Erin McCracken/Black Press

There is still uncertainty in the building market, said Travis Archibald, senior market analyst with the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation. Here, he stands in the new development, Kettle Creek Station, in Langford. “The key is hitting the right price point,” says Travis Archibald, Vancouver Island senior market analyst with the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation. “We do anticipate a rebound in the resale market in 2011,” he explains. “But there won’t be many big swings. It’s a return to more stable levels.” New home construction was relatively slow last year, influenced as usual by the resale market, Archibald says. Of all the driving factors, including

population growth and employment, the market for newly built homes is still largely determined by the availability and price of land, Archibald adds, pointing out that there aren’t enough of either in Victoria. Langford continues to be the popular kid in the region for new construction of single-family attached homes and multi-family units. Sooke also holds a lot of potential because it has so much room to grow, Archibald says.

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Tourism in a long, slow recovery There are hopeful signs for a strong tourist season this year ROSZAN HOLMEN BLACK PRESS


n the fall, dining guests at Laurel Point Inn gained a new, and entirely different, breakfast option: congee. The savoury rice porridge is a popular breakfast item in Asia and its appearance on the menu, several months after Canada gained “approved destination status” in China, is no coincidence. “When (Chinese) travel, they want to have a local dinner experience but, like we all do when we travel, we want breakfast to be like we have at home,” says Scott Hoadley, Laurel Point Inn hotel manager. Hoadley added congee to the menu when his first group of 15 Chinese business people booked at Laurel Point. Their two-day visit marked the only time kitchen staff prepared congee for order, but Hoadley expects the numbers of Chinese tourists to increase over time. It’s an optimism that parallels expectations by Victoria’s tourist industry more broadly.

Sharon Tiffin/Black Press

Prince of Whales senior skipper and naturalist Mark Malleson talks to a boatful of whale watchers before taking off in a zodiak in the Inner Harbour. The boat full of tourists included people from Edmonton, Calgary, England and New Zealand, most going on their first whale-watching tour. “It’s all moving in the right direction, it’s just the pace -- we’re still in a slow recovery,” says Robert Gialloreto, president of Tourism Victoria. The region has already welcomed

hundreds of tourists from China since May, and he expects that to grow by 10 to 15 per cent each year. When Victoria will start benefitting from the “Olympic effect” really depends

on who you believe, Gialloreto says. “I don’t expect to see any uptake that you can attribute to the Olympics until the third quarter of this year at the very earliest. Usually it’s a two-year proposition.” But events such as the inaugural International Buskers’ Festival, scheduled for July, offer promising signs for a healthy tourist season this year, he says. “Some of our tour operators are showing levels back to 2008, which, considering everything in the last couple of years, isn’t so bad.” Whale-watching company Prince of Whales is getting a lot more inquiries so far this year, with increased advance bookings and more school groups, says Leshell Michaluk, director of sales. “Last year there wasn’t full-time work for the office manager and this year I can keep them on full-time throughout the off-season.” Hotel operators are reporting much the same. “From the feedback I’m getting from all the hotels in the region, there is a lot of optimism for 2011,” says Hoadley, who doubles as the president of the Greater Victoria Hotel Association. “We know we’re not going to skyrocket out of it. We know we are turning the corner and it will be a long, slow turn.”

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Following the masses West Shore population growth attracting big and small business ERIN MCCRACKEN BLACK PRESS


Edward Hill/Black Press

Curious Comics owner Bill Rice at his new Langford location on Goldstream Avenue.

or Bill Rice, packing hundreds of boxes of comic books, toys and games last summer meant a lot of hard work but also a fresh start. Like a number of businesses relocating to the West Shore or setting up shop there for the first time, Rice believed the time had come for his second Curious Comics store to follow suit. After nine years on Hillside Avenue across from Hillside Mall, the business was relocated last July to Goldstream Avenue in Langford. “We thought, ‘What’s a more up-and-coming place than the West Shore?’ And away we went,” says Rice, Curious Comics president. A young demographic and a growing population in the Western Communities proved irresistible, something the chief executive officer of the West Shore Chamber of Commerce hears regularly. “A week doesn’t go by that I don’t get a call from businesses in Victoria saying they’re going to move to the West Shore,” says Dan Spinner.

Climbing rental, leasing and property purchasing costs for Victoria retail spaces, as well as population growth are driving factors. Victoria with 85,000 residents, is projected to remain level in the foreseeable future.

•• A week doesn’t go by that

I don’t get a call from a business in Victoria saying they’re going to move to the West Shore. •• Dan Spinner West Shore Chamber of Commerce CEO

The population of View Royal, Colwood and Langford is around 65,000, and is climbing at 10 per cent every year. That could very well put the West Shore population at 120,000 in the next seven to 10 years, Spinner noted. Revenue from business memberships with the West Shore Chamber of Commerce grew more than 20 per cent in 2010.

Victoria International Airport is an important engine of economic activity in the community.

Memberships now stand at about 500. “That’s astounding because it suggests the business growth in the West Shore may be growing faster than the population growth,” Spinner says. Rice is in the unique position of having shops on the West Shore and in downtown Victoria, which is close to bus routes and surrounded by the vibrancy of a commercial neighbourhood. “There is no doubt about it, we’re the economic centre of Greater Victoria,” says Ken Kelly, general manager of the Downtown Victoria Business Association, which has 2,100 members. “Downtown Victoria is Vancouver Island’s largest shopping centre. At the present time I don’t think that there is any massive shift occurring out of the downtown.” “Downtown is still a pretty vibrant area, and it’s still our flagship store,” Rice says of his initial location. “It’s not something we would do – abandon the downtown – but as an expansion opportunity, Langford was the place to go.” Your gateway to Vancouver Island.




•••• Q&A

Sasha Angus Greater Victoria Development Agency

What evidence do you see of a rebounding economy in Greater Victoria? We are encouraged to see hiring starting to pick up as local companies start to see more business coming through the door. A number of industry associations in the region report an increase in a number of positions on their job boards, and in turn on national job websites. In addition, inquiries from local businesses looking for more space have picked up considerably. What industries appear to be posting the best comeback numbers? Early indications are that the technology sector seems to be returning to more robust growth. The annual VIATeC 25 reported that 2010 revenue numbers are up 7.5 per cent from the $729 million reported in 2009. In addition, full-time employment among VIATeC 25 companies grew 11 per cent over the previous year. What industries continue to struggle? Ssectors tied to the level of consumer confidence, such as retail, tend to come out of economic downturns later than most. Even as people find new employment and have more confidence in their job security, their willingness to step up their purchasing returns at a slower rate.

Government is big business ‘Business of government’ is an industry in Greater Victoria ERIN CARDONE BLACK PRESS


ictoria is more than just a government town benefitting from government jobs. The fact is, according to the head of the chamber of commerce, the business of government is an entire industry for the region. “There are a number of impacts of having the provincial capital here,” says Bruce Carter, CEO of the Greater Victoria In most cities, of Commerce. government is not Chamber “The first one is there’s an industry, In the somewhere around 13,000 employees that work here.” capital, it is.•• Not only do they work Bruce Carter in Victoria, they live in Greater Victoria Chamber the Capital Region, have of Commerce CEO families, pay taxes and enjoy the services the region has to offer. “They make household-sustaining incomes,” Carter says. “They’re generally well-paid, generally well-educated professional employees in the public service.” The number of public service employees is one thing; the business generated to serve the government is quite another. About three times a week, a government employee walks through the doors of Alley Kat Signs in Rock Bay. Projects for the government make up a small


proportion of John de Jong’s sign-making business, but things are picking up, he says. When the name of a ministry changes, new signs are needed, for example. Carter says around five people serve each one public service employee, through service contracts, work projects and supply needs. “That’s 60,000 or 70,000 jobs (in the region) that are related to the provincial government,” Carter says. “In most cities, government is not an industry. In the capital, it is.” In 2009, the most recent figures available, the B.C. government’s own public accounts show all ministries combined spent about $3.8 million in Greater Victoria directly, on purchase cards alone. In addition, the provincial government spent $500 million on infrastructure and capital spending in the region between October 2008 and the beginning of 2011. Those projects included the $350-million Patient Care Centre at the Royal Jubilee Hospital, Royal Roads University’s Learning and Innovation Centre and upgrades to the McTavish Interchange on the Pat Bay Highway. Through gaming grants, the government also injected almost $9.8 million into Victoria-area social service organizations between 2009 and early 2010. With the government acting as such an important player in Greater Victoria’s economy, Carter says more dialogue is needed to discover whether those public service employees are served well enough by their municipalities and the businesses with which they work. “How are they doing with parking? Do they like the pool? Are they happy with the library?” Carter says. “We have some trouble (getting feedback from) the provincial government. I think it’s partially because of the structure ... but as a work force, it’s important to Victoria.”

Jeremy Meckler, Maria McLeod Chris Tilden and Lorraine Hayhoe, Vancity Savings Credit Union Throughout its history – 65th Anniversary this year – Vancity has had its share of firsts. But at the end of the day, it’s a “people first” philosophy that’s kept it growing strong. Founded in 1946 with just 12 members and $22, Vancity has become the largest credit union in English-speaking Canada, with more than $14.5 billion in assets.

Jeremy Meckler, Chris Tilden, Maria McLeod and Lorraine Hayhoe, Branch Managers of the four Vancity Victoria locations.

Today, Vancity offers personal and business banking services, investments and insurance to more than 414,000 members through 59 branches. But its grassroots, community-based philosophy remains unchanged: one member, one vote. In the 1960s, Vancity was first to offer mortgages to women. It was the first full-service financial institution to offer its own socially responsible mutual fund, Vancity Circadian Funds, and the first North American-based financial institution to achieve carbon neutrality. It’s all part of Vancity’s “triple bottom line” commitment not only to financial success, but also to environmental and social sustainability.

Building on its history, Vancity continues to improve banking accessibility and financial literacy through workshops and initiatives providing basic banking services to people who otherwise might not have them, including matched savings programs through the Burnside Gorge Family Self Sufficiency program and the Victoria Women’s Transition House Society, EMBERS in the Downtown Eastside community and, throughout B.C., the Canadian Mental Health Association’s Smart Save program. Most recently, the Vancity Springboard mortgage allows those living in social housing the opportunity to purchase their own homes.

Vancity supports community initiatives through its Shared Success program through which Vancity returns a portion of net profits to members and communities. Since its introduction in 1994, a total of $130 million has been distributed, including more than $43 million in grants and community contributions. In the last year, Vancity’s Victoria Community Branches have supported over 80 local community groups and associations, including Edward Milne Community School Society, Solid Roofs and Autonomous Roots Housing Co-operative, Bridges for Women Society, Victoria Community Health Cooperative, Centre for Non-Timber Resources and Greater Victoria Volunteer Society, T-Souke First Nation, Caring for First Nations, PEERS, Shakespeare in the Park, Feast of Fields, Leadership Victoria, Galiano Conservancy Association and the Sierra Club of B.C. Additionally, Vancity’s 15-acre Dockside Green development, at the forefront of global urban planning, has earned numerous awards with principles of smart growth, green technology and sustainable design.

Also a leader in environmental excellence, Vancity’s climate change strategy supports innovative partnerships with public transportation and green building projects and invests in organizations doing climate change work. In addition to achieving carbon neutral status in 2008, two years ahead of schedule, “green” innovations include the Clean Air Auto Loan and Vancity’s enviroFund VISA program, donating five per cent of profits to local environmental projects, with cardholders voting on the areas of focus. Today, with nearly 1,800 employees, Vancity is consistently recognized as a top employer and workplace in both B.C. and Canada, earning recognitions from publications such as Maclean’s magazine and Canadian Business magazine.

Come in and see us today!

Blanshard Street Community Branch, 1001 Blanshard Street, 250.995.7553 Langford Community Branch, 100 - 800 Kelly Road, 250.995.7573 Scott Street Community Branch, Unit A - 3055 Scott Street, 205.995.7563 (across from Hillside Mall) Victoria Community Branch, 3075 Douglas Street, 250.519.7423



Penny Rogers photo

Director Michael Rohl works with a young actor on the Impact TV series, which was shot on location around the South Island.

Film industry faces challenges head-on ERIN CARDONE BLACK PRESS


hen the going gets tough in Greater Victoria’s film industry, the crews go away. Industry staff are leaving the Island in search of work in the wake of a slow revenue year, making it harder to attract film producers. “We really try to hire as many local (Victoria) people as possible (because) it’s a transportation and accommodation issue,” says Allen Lewis, vice-president of production for Front Street Productions. The company operates out of Vancouver, but shot on the Island three times in 2010. “There’s been talk in the past that if (the industry) can gain momentum, we can bring the crews back home (to Victoria) and maybe be able to keep the equipment in Victoria.” Lewis still refers to Greater Victoria as home. He graduated from Belmont secondary school before settling in the Lower Mainland to grow Front Street. He says with film industry workers leaving the Island, the cost to film in Greater Victoria goes up. It’s a trend the Greater Victoria Film Commission is pressing to curb. “We’re trying to do everything we can to prevent that, but when there are gaps between shows ... a lot of people move over there to work on TV series. Most of them are saying they’re coming back,” says film commissioner Kathleen Gilbert. “The only thing we can do here really is to work hard and try get a show here.” Gilbert believes the emigration to be temporary. “I’ve worked in Victoria for 20 years,” she says. “I’ve had years where I said no to shows because I needed break and I had years where I’ve only done one or two shows.” Production revenue for Greater Victoria plunged to about half of what it was in 2009. The drop is not a trend – revenue has fluctuated slightly from year to year, but 2010’s numbers were the lowest


By the numbers The Greater Victoria film industry in 2010: ■ Number of productions shot: 29 ■ Production revenue: $6.7 million ■ Number of shooting days: 319 ■ Titles filmed recently include: Impact, Sorority Wars, Seven Deadly Sins, Eaux Troublés, Richard Margison: The Folksinging Opera Star

in a decade, bringing in $6.7 million, compared to almost $13 million the year before. Movies of the week – or made-for-TV movies – have been the “bread and butter” of the Greater Victoria’s film industry for five years, Gilbert says. Between attending trade shows, galahosting and door-knocking at producers’ offices in Los Angeles, the local film commission’s raison d’être is attracting producers to the region. Adding to the pressure is a strong Canadian dollar, which doesn’t entice American producers, and an additional six per cent tax credit for filming outside the Capital Region and outside Vancouver. Greater Victoria’s diversity, compactness and so-called “fresh look” keep some producers coming back, Lewis says, despite the challenges. “Talking broadly about where we are ... (the tax credits are) not enough,” he says. “What’s happening is, I think, we do have some world-class crew and we do have the built-in infrastructure that will hopefully keep us competitive. It’s a rapidly changing industry and to keep up is really important.” Gilbert says it’s too early to judge the outlook for 2011, with the busy season for filming just beginning to pick up. “I think the whole film industry was doing so well the last couple of years that to see it slow just a little kind of caught us off-guard.”



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HST benefits slow to materialize ROSZAN HOLMEN

More likely, they’ll prevent cost increases. Not all businesses, however, benefit equally from HST tax refunds. “The most substantive changes are in the heavier industries or in the resource-related industries,” Carter says. he pitch to British Co Columbians was clear: as He points to Harmac Pacific mill near Nanaimo which timed the from the harmonized sales tax, businesses benefit fro purchase of major equipment after July, and the tax savings translated these benefits in the form of lower they will pass on thes into new employees. prices, higher wages and more employees. Restaurants are a different story. So has it happened? As one of the few sectors previously exempt from provincial sales It’s too soon to see these kinds of benefits in the retail or tax, the added seven per cent on each bill resulted in an immediate service economy, says Bruce Carter, CEO of the Greater Br decline in business of seven to nine per cent, says Ian Tostenson, Victoria Chamber of Commerce. president of the B.C. Restaurant and Food Services Association. “The gains gai ains in Victoria aren’t terribly visible, I In terms of savings from the new tax, only five per cent of a typical don’t think.” restaurant’s purchases qualify for HST refunds, he Over time businesses says. For the average restaurant making $500,000 will see some savings so in sales, this equates to a maximum refund of as they make larger m $6,000. investments in their investme So where’s that money going? businesses. These busines The gains in Victoria aren’t “Any savings are eaten up,” Tostenson says, purchases, purchas such as •• terribly visible, I don’t think. pointing to rising food and property tax costs. new equipment, eq Bruce Carter Other types of local businesses are having are HST HS exempt. Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce CEO different experiences. Previous to Pre “Right from the get go, we had to replace a heat the introduction i pump,” says Ed Life, president of Saanich-based Tecnet. The tax refund of the th harmonized tax in July, was significant, he says. businesses could only claim the bus Like the restaurant business, Life’s computer support business lost GST on business purchases. Now they the can get a refund on the full 12 its provincial sales tax exemption when the HST was introduced. Unlike for restaurants, however, the change has had no impact on the flow of per pe cent. business. Realistically these savings That’s because his customers are also businesses, which must pay won’t translate into price w the HST up front, but can claim refunds later. reductions at the till, says Carter. re “We’re happy with the way the tax is,” Life says. For Point Hope Maritime Shipyards, the tax hasn’t made a difference, Don Denton/Black Press Hank Bekkering, general says general manager Hank Bekkering. Most purchases he makes are manager of Point Hope simply tacked on to the invoice he presents his customers. “For us, it’s nominal,” Bekkering says. Maritime Shipyards: “For us, it’s nominal.” BLACK PRESS BLAC




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Attracting new fans key for clubs Sports organizations find getting fans in seats a challenge MARY ELLEN GREEN BLACK PRESS


inning won’t be the only thing on the minds of Victoria’s sports teams going forward in 2011 – putting fans in their bleachers will take on new importance after this past season’s attendance numbers failed to impress. “Last season, we had an average of 4,369 fans over 36 games for a total of 152,299,” says Jeff Harris, director of media relations for the ECHL’s Victoria Salmon Kings. For the club’s 2010-11 season – its last before a WHL team takes its place – the Salmon Kings drew an average of 3,618 fans over 30 home games, about 750 fewer fans per game. “The team didn’t perform as well early on in the season, so that could be part of the reason why attendance has been lower,” Harris says. “I couldn’t speculate beyond that

Sharon Tiffin/Black Press

Attendance at a Salmon Kings Sunday afternoon game at Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre. why the numbers are down.” The Salmon Kings weren’t the only Victoria sports team starving for fans. The Victoria Grizzlies, who play out of the West Shore’s Bear Mountain Arena, are seeing between 1,300 and 1,400 spectators per game, down almost 300 from last season’s average. “The state of the economy

has a lot to do with it,” says Grizzlies co-owner and business manager Reza Binab. “It has nothing to do with the team. People are holding back a bit and the first thing they cut is entertainment.” The Grizzlies cut prices to fill seats, offering first-round playoff tickets at the reduced price of $10 instead of the

usual $15. Binab says it helped, but it didn’t fill the 2,000 seats he hoped it would. “We came very close,” he says. While the Grizzlies’ numbers are down, another team playing on the West Shore isn’t experiencing the same problems with spectator downturn. The Victoria Highlanders,

who play on Langford’s new turf field at Bear Mountain Stadium in City Centre Park, are enjoying steady attendance and are even seeking extra temporary seats in anticipation of more sales and larger crowds turning out to games. “We’ve averaged about 1,600 spectators per game over the two seasons we’ve played (at City Centre Park),” says Drew Finerty, Highlanders’ vicepresident and general manager. “We only have seating for 1,200 in our grandstands and 500 spots in temporary seating, so we’ve put in a request for 500 to 1,000 additional temporary seats to get us through this year.” With most of their fans coming from Saanich and Victoria, and a large portion coming from north of the Malahat – as far away as Nanaimo – the Highlanders are enjoying a competitive edge over some of the other sporting franchises in the city. “Victoria will always support a winning team, no matter the sport,” Finnerty says. “But while all that sounds great, we’re still only about half way to break-even.”

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Big-ticket projects put pressure on region’s taxpayers ERIN MCCRACKEN BLACK PRESS


number of big-ticket items in the works for Greater Victoria will translate into tax hikes – by how much is unknown. “It is unfortunate that two of the biggest of the big-ticket items – sewage treatment and the rapid-transit system – are arriving at the same time,” says Geoff Young, CRD board chair and Victoria city councillor. He’s optimistic federal and provincial funding (verbal promises of which have been made) will further whittle down the cost of the liquid-waste sewage treatment project, which started out at more than $1 billion. Annual operating costs are estimated at $14.5 million a year, which would result in a cost of $210 to $500 per household.

CRD residents face a future swollen with tax increases

“Each municipality will be responsible for raising part of that ($782-million) cost for that system,” Young says. “No matter how it’s raised it will be a significant impact on individual taxpayers.” The timing of sewage treatment is all wrong, says Colwood Mayor Dave Saunders, at a time when residents are most concerned with transportation, hospitals, economic growth and job protection. “It all adds up and there is only one taxpayer,” he says. Regional rapid transit, in the form of light rail or rapid bus, could present an additional expense, the costs of which have yet to be determined. Still, says Young, it will be far cheaper and more effective than adding highway lanes to address congestion. The financial burden residents bear would be eased if the gas tax they pay at the pump all went to municipalities rather than the federal government. “If it did, we’d be able to pay for street and bridge repair, and contribute to other costs of the city,” says Young.

Sharon Tiffin/Black Press

City watchdog Ross Crockford says the federal and provincial governments aren’t doing enough to ease the tax burden on city taxpayers with construction of the new Johnson Street Bridge. Victoria residents may also feel the financial crunch of the new Johnson Street Bridge. Victoria Mayor Dean Fortin maintains the $77-million replacement cost won’t appear in property taxes since the city can borrow up to $49.2 million. Another $21 million is coming from the federal government. “They’re kind of in a tricky place,” says Victoria resident Ross Crockford, who has long said bridge repair is more cost-effective than replacement.

“We don’t know how much this thing is going to cost at the end anyway,” Crockford says. “There are all sorts of surprises that could take place during construction.” Borrowing that much money will also affect the city’s ability to take on other initiatives. “We have a long list of things that have to be done,” Young says. “What we spend on one, we can’t spend on the other.”

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Retailers buoyed by optimism Businesses have weathered a tough year and now it looks like things are getting better EDWARD HILL BLACK PRESS


t was a rough and tumble year for Greater Victoria retailers – the harmonized sales tax, stricter liquor laws and mediocre tourism numbers made for hits to the bottom line. But emerging from the doldrums of recession, retailers have a sense of optimism, or at least a sense that the economy isn’t getting worse. “There is definitely an improved outlook and optimism for businesses within the downtown,” says Ken Kelly, manager of the Downtown Victoria Business Association. “Street issues have seen a tangible improvement. Things are far better shape than they previously were.” An annual Greater Victoria retail report from Colliers International pegs downtown commercial vacancies at 5.9 per cent, a jump from 3.5 per cent in 2009, and versus 3.5 per cent over the Capital Region. At the same time, Uptown opened for business, offering vast amounts of new floor space quickly snatched up by big retailers. “People look at downtown as a bellwether,” Kelly

says. “There certainly are some ‘for lease’ signs, but its no different than if you walk around the West Shore or any other part of the community.” Kelly suspects Uptown will change the centre of gravity for retail consumption in the region – downtown and big box shopping in Langford have an able competitor. But with buildings such as Atrium and The Hudson opening, and Victoria working to address homelessness and drug abuse on the street, Kelly says downtown is drawing more people and more investment. Bruce Carter, CEO of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce, says downtown merchants are still weathering lackluster tourist numbers, which tend to help drive the retail economy. The Colliers report also noted that cruise ship brought nearly 440,000 passengers, while the Vancouver Olympics did nothing for the tourist trade in Victoria. “Tourist related sales are OK or flat. Less (tourist) spending downtown is reflected in vacancies,” Carter says. “But as U.S. tourists return, and there are indications of that, it will be a better year for downtown.” The West Shore, for the first time in years, didn’t produce any new retail space in 2010, but small and medium businesses are seeking space amid a growing population and the area’s relatively affordable housing. Dan Spinner, CEO of the West Shore Chamber

of Commerce, says his organization has seen a 20 per cent upswing in membership in the past year, a fair measure of robust economic activity. Leasing commercial space is priced 20 or 30 per cent lower than in Victoria, he notes. “On the balance, retailers have come out of the recession well,” Spinner says. “Businesses say they are happy here and want to expand.” Tim Curry, owner of the Canadian Tire in Langford, says his sales have remained flat for about three years, but confidence is high in projected population growth – he plans to increase his floor space by 50 per cent this year. Like many retailers of general goods, the controversial HST didn’t change the price on the majority of Curry’s merchandise, but the tax has changed how people spend money. “(The HST) took a lot of discretionary spending out,” he says. “They don’t have as much disposable income as before.” How the transportation changes unfold – such as establishing some form of commuter rail and the form of the new Johnston Street bridge – are key concerns for businesses, business watchers say. “There is a lot of uncertainty with transportation,” Carter says. “The bridge and rail will bring big shifts in traffic patterns. There is a lot of concern about being in the right location. It all affects volume at the door.”


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Number of stores Windsor Plywood operates across Western Canada and the U.S. A key to its success, according to the company’s website, is its emphasis on the local communities. In Langford, Windsor Plywood owner Michael Hanson is involved in several organizations including West Shore Parks and Recreation and has volunteered as an administrator and organizer for Juan de Fuca minor hockey. The store also sponsors youth hockey teams and, on a slightly different tack, sponsors crossing guards for Sangster elementary school in Colwood. “We spend a lot on sponsoring teams in the community,” Hanson says. “It’s hard to say no.”

Weathering economic storms Langford’s Windsor Plywood learns to survive in the shadow of big box stores EDWARD HILL BLACK PRESS


hen you’re a small fish in a sea of sharks, it takes more than luck to

survive. With 5,000 square feet of floor space, Windsor Plywood in Langford is the little guy surviving in the world of 100,000 square-foot building supply outlets. Owner Michael Hanson has weathered more than one recession and the influx of big national competitors, proving that giant stores don’t always spell the end to smaller retailers. Hanson took ownership of the Windsor Plywood franchise in 1994, just in time for the mid-1990s economic slump, followed by the introduction of Home Depot, Wal-Mart and Costco to Langford. “In 1995-96 the economy was hit badly,” Hanson says. “To top it off the big box syndrome started. The West Shore

Similar to construction contractors and trades, the retail climate for building supplies is still smarting from the 2009 recession, Hanson says. He didn’t start really feeling the sting until January 2010, after the federal home improvement rebate expired. But like other retailers, the business did experience steady, healthy growth for more than a decade before the downturn. “We say we were hit in 2009, but if you compare it with sales in the early 2000s, its not that bad,” he says. “But as a mom and pop store, Edward Hill/Black Press we don’t have big overhead and Windsor Plywood owner Michael Hanson puts the community at we haven’t had to lay off. In fact we’ve hired over last year.” The the heart of his business. “mom and pop” aspect is literal – his wife Sandra and son David supply building materials for exploded with retail.” are among the 11 employees. new homes, but existing homes Hanson’s survival as a Hanson may be a small surrounding new subdivisions relatively small retailer, in part retailer, but he is part of a larger tend to upgrade. New homes at least, can be credited to chain of Windsor Plywood beget new doors, fencing and becoming deeply embedded in franchisees, who in turn are part fixtures in older homes. the community. Hanson sits on of a national-level buying group. “Within six to nine months, 20 several boards and volunteers per cent of homes (around a new He sticks to buying wood and with youth organizations. wood-products from Canada neighbourhood) will do renos,” Specialty building supply and Europe and gets the same he says. “We’re even seeing closely follows the home pricing as large national retailers. renos now from Bear Mountain construction market, Hanson and it’s only five years old.” notes. He doesn’t usually

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ith four microbreweries and four brewpubs, Greater Victoria has more options for craftbeer than anywhere else in the country. “It’s the beer capital of Canada for the population,” says Don Bradley, co-owner of the Moon Under Water brewpub which opened in February – the new kid on the proverbial block. Founders of Bowen Island Brewery, Don and his wife Bonnie returned to Victoria last year after years of working a vineyard in the Okanagan. “We wanted to come back to where we could get beer again, to somewhere we could go out for a pint at a brewpub, because (in Oliver) we had to drive,” Don says. Don and his nephew, Ron Bradley are making craft brews in the traditional English fashion – an ale with low carbonation and low alcohol content. “We’re traditional ale drinkers, and we’re all about being low key,” Don says. “We can’t be everything to everybody.” Nor do they have to. There’s enough variety in craft brewing in Victoria to find something for every beer lover, and many in the industry say it’s because of the consumer. “We’ve got a pretty educated, beer-savvy customer base here in Victoria,” says Rob Ringma, sales and marketing co-ordinator at Vancouver Island Brewery, Victoria’s oldest microbrewery, which opened in 1984, the same year Spinnaker’s, Canada’s oldest in-house Mary Ellen Green/Black Press brewpub, opened. “We really got back into craft brewing in Don Bradley, brew master at Victoria’s newest brewpub, Moon Under Water, shows the raw barley Victoria in 1984, so we really had a head start on a lot of places in Canada in rebuilding that craft he uses to make his traditional English ales.

Victoria Beer Blogs Looking for information and inspiration from the local beer scene? Why not check out one of the many Victoria beer blogs. • • • • •

beer culture,” Ringma says. John Rowling, founding president of the 200-member consumer society Campaign for Real Ale, also known as CAMRA, says he would attribute the successful craft-brewing industry to the savvy consumer who enjoys the finer things in life. “It’s probably the West Coast culture,” he says. “More and more young people are getting into drinking craft beers and specialty imports from Belgium and the U.K.” CAMRA member Gerry Hieter introduced Greater Victorians to the Great Canadian Beer Festival, Canada’s largest and longest running craft beer festival. Hitting 19 years in 2011, the festival introduces 8,000 attendees to beer from more than 50 craft-breweries, from Canada and the U.S. “It’s all about quality beer and it educates people and shows them what the possibilities are,” says Greg Evans, a brewing historian with CAMRA. “We’re certainly looked upon with envy by other parts of the country, how strong the beer culture is out here. People know what to look for, they understand what goes into a good beer, they’re willing to pay a little extra for that. It’s about quality over quantity these days and friends of mine are saying that they’re drinking less but they’re drinking better.”



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Future of hi-tech TV comes in 3-D Electronic market sees growth in third dimension CHARLA HUBER

something people haven’t seen in the home setting.” It’s anticipated the video game industry is going to give this new t’s been a long time since people technology the extra push into the changed TV channels with a knob residential market. and adjusted bunny ears to get a Mark Lalonde, Best Buy general clearer picture. manager in Langford, says playing Flatscreen televisions have replaced games in 3-D is a whole other bulky box TVs, with high-definition experience and players are immersed programing streaming into homes. right into the game. The next big addition to home “I am a big gamer entertainment, myself and it was according to those in definitely awesome – 3-D the business of selling gaming is definitely going high-tech entertainment The market trends are big,” he says. gadgets, is viewing bigger TVs and bigger toAbemisconception of the programs in three 3-D TV is its 2-D quality dimensions. screens. Bigger is is often overlooked, While 3-D TVs and 3-D better, right? •• Lalonde says. Blu-ray players aren’t Mark Lalonde “It’s a lack of flying off the shelves, Best Buy, general manager understanding. The Rick Taylor, store (models) we carry are manager of Madman some of possibly the best 2-D TVs we McKay’s Home Theatre Centre, says have. “This year there is an increase in that market is growing. 3-D TV sales.” “Most people, when they have the Lalonde estimates the 3-D TV and 3-D choice (at the movie theatre), are going Blu-ray player sales will rise as more to grab the glasses and go see it in 3-D,” content becomes available. Taylor says. “More and more movies are filming “I don’t think (3-D TV) was a flop, it’s BLACK PRESS



Arnold Lim/Black Press

Rick Taylor, store manager at Madman McKay’s Home Theatre Centre in Colwood shows off his 120-inch projection TV. in the 3-D,” Lalonde says. “All the kids movies are coming out in the 3-D.” But with only a small selection of 3-D films currently released, people may not be willing to upgrade their equipment quite yet. The average pair of 3-D glasses cost at least $100. “With a 3-D TV, glasses could be part of why people are hesitant to invest,” Lalonde says. Further, people who own a relatively new flatscreeen TV, may not want to trade it in yet. But, people who are in the market for a new TV will be turning to the 3-D sets, Taylor says. “3-D is going to become a normal

feature,” Taylor says. While the 3-D TVs are slowly emerging onto the scene, Taylor and Lalonde say the big screen TV market is in full swing. “It’s the Cadillac all people want to buy,” Lalonde says. “The market trends are bigger TVs and bigger screens. Bigger is better, right?” Manufacturers are constantly lowing prices to undercut competitors, he says explaining this process is called “the race to zero.” “When the first VCR came out they were $1,200,” Taylor says.

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Gourmet delight, culinary adventure EDWARD HILL BLACK PRESS


ary had a little lamb, fresh veggies and a glass of wine – all within 30 minutes of the fine china and white tablecloths of her favourite downtown Victoria bistro. The idea that local organic food is better food has long been the mantra of environmentalists and foodies, and that notion isn’t lost on upscale Victoria eateries. In bistros such as Zambri’s, Camille’s and the Mark, menus highlight meats from Metchosin, salmon hauled into Fisherman’s Wharf and seasonal vegetables and fruits grown on the Saanich Peninsula. Sourcing local food is a badge of distinction. “There’s lots of local lamb, local vegetables, local pork,” says Kathy McAree, a director with the B.C. Culinary Tourism Society and owner of Travel With Taste. “The trend is based on knowing where your food comes from and, in Victoria, that’s not hard to do. The region has a real mix of urban and rural. That’s not happening in places like Vancouver where everything is farther apart. Here things are closer together – it’s easier access.” Victoria has been on the culinary tourism trail for at least a decade, thanks to aggressive marketing abroad and the fact Victoria has scores of fine dining restaurants and upscale bistros. After San Francisco, Victoria enjoys the most restaurants per capita in North America, according to Tourism Victoria.

Arnold Lim/Black Press

Hotel Grand Pacific executive chef Rick Choy drizzles cipollini onion fluid gel on the Sidney Island venison rack at the Mark restaurant. Culinary tourism, specifically, remains a small but growing reason why people visit the region. But dining out is the largest portion of a tourist dollar spent in Victoria after accommodation. A 2010 Tourism Victoria survey shows, on average per day, a tourist spends $64 on meals. The controversial harmonized sales tax and stricter liquor laws have hit restaurants’ bottom lines, but the bottom hasn’t fallen out of the industry. “When I speak with restaurateurs, they talk about being just as busy, but people

aren’t spending as much,” McAree says. “And certainly alcohol consumption is lower. People are concerned about drinking and driving.” McAree notes that Victoria has cultivated a strong culture of small, family run restaurants – enough to keep dining interesting for tourists and locals. “In Victoria, it’s more quaint. There is more of a personal experience,” McAree says. “It’s what people look for in a dining experience. It’s not just a good meal.”

Foodie heaven The experience of fine dining in Victoria is resilient and doesn’t necessarily rest on polish and pomp. Here are two examples: Bengal Lounge, located, in 1 the Fairmont Empress, is known throughout the region for its authentic curry buffet and signature cocktail menu. Red Fish, Blue Fish, located at the foot of 2 Broughton Street along the waterfront, offers an “environmentallyfriendly” seafood menu. It’s unique in the fact it has a shack on the waterfront and, was featured on NBC’s Today Show last year. – Edward Hill

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CONSTRUCTION Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Bear Mountain Land Holdings Ltd. CEO Gary Cowan stands on the deck outside the lobby of the Westin Bear Mountain overlooking the Highlander, a partially-constructed condominium tower. Work will not begin on the stalled project until the company’s market analysis is complete later this spring. Natalie North/Black Press

Builders on a long road to recovery Under construction Major projects under construction in Greater Victoria. ■ Westhills $2 billion ■ Bear Mountain $1.2 billion (stalled) ■ Dockside Green $650 million (stalled) ■ Bayview $400 million (stalled) ■ Uptown $350 million ■ Aquattro $350 million (stalled) ■ RJH Patient Care $349 million ■ The Hudson $300 million ■ Royal Bay $150 million (stalled)

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he view from the Westin Bear Mountain is telling of many major residential developments across the Capital Region. Bear Mountain Land Holdings Ltd. CEO Gary Cowan looks out across one of the resort’s two Jack Nicklausdesigned golf courses, where a partiallyconstructed condominium tower stands. Untouched since work halted in October 2009, the Highlander building was originally designed as 15 storeys of spacious luxury suites – plans that will most likely be exchanged for density and a lower price tag when crews resume work on the site. “Our objective is really to determine which types of product are most acceptable in today’s market conditions and what can we build to satisfy that market,” says Cowan, who took over the stalled $1.2-billion resort and residential development last July after HSBC Bank was granted ownership and ousted the original management in a highly-

publicized court action. “That’s all behind us now,” Cowan says confidently. “We’ve got new owners and a new management team, so we’re on very solid financial footing. I’m personally quite excited to move forward.” Cowan expects the market analysis to be complete by the end of spring. Meanwhile, a new face has joined the team at the stagnant billiondollar Bayview residential towers and Roundhouse mixed-use development near the Songhees coastline. Earlier this spring, Colin Bosa, CEO of Bosa Properties, partnered with Ken and Patricia Mariash of Bayview Properties. The team unveiled plans to begin work on a second, slimmer, tower in the fall that will offer smaller, more affordable units, starting at less than $300,000. Downtown, the transformation of the former Hudson’s Bay building at Douglas and Fisgard streets into the 152-unit Hudson is now complete, with prominent sale signs posted in every street-level window.

All one bedroom suites are now priced at $349,900 and all two bedrooms available for $499,900 (reduced from as much as $591,000). “We’re always anxious to move a little faster than sometimes happens naturally,” says Bob Pearce, director of residential development for Townline, Hudson developers with two other residential projects in the works. “We’re feeling quite good right now ... I expect within a few months we’ll be sold out.” Pearce expects construction on Phase 2 of the project – a tower of market rental units – to begin in May and June. Two more towers are planned to move forward “when the market is ready for them,” Pearce says – a common theme among Greater Victoria’s biggest developments. At Uptown, major plans haven’t changed since the first phase of development was completed and businesses opened last summer. PLEASE SEE: Projects continuing, Page B28

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It takes a city to build a village ‘Village concept’ addresses modern issues of sustainable development NATALIE NORTH BLACK PRESS


ith roads changing names three times in one stretch and winding routes that jog a half-block across one-way streets, Victoria isn’t the easiest city to navigate. This jumble of cross-town pathways, some dating back to the 1800s, have the city looking at “the village concept” as one way to address modern issues of sustainable development. “Because Victoria is an older city that developed in the pre-automobile age, there is a pattern of commercial areas peppered around town,” says Mark Hornell, assistant director of community planning for Victoria. “That does give us an advantage over a suburban area, where you really need a car to meet your needs.” Forty per cent of the Victoria’s growth is projected to be within larger mixeduse village areas such as James Bay and

Sharon Tiffin/Black Press

Steve Ford shows Sara Cantin steaks at the Island Meat and Seafood store, one of the merchants who helps create the village feel of Cook Street Village. Cook Street, with another 10 per cent in smaller villages – including some that haven’t yet been developed, Hornell says. Along the proposed rapid transit line on Douglas Street, he expects centres to develop at Mayfair Shopping Centre and between Bay Street and Hillside Avenue. “The broad strategy that Victoria city council endorsed, was that over the next 30 years or so, we would develop a pattern of villages around the city that would put one within a 15-minute walk from everybody’s home. We’re pretty close to that already,” he says.

For Victoria Mayor Dean Fortin, each village is a reflection of its neighbourhood. Despite the diversity between thriving village centres, common factors ensure the success of villages old and new, he says. “Ultimately, your villages are your grocery store, your liquor store, and your coffee shops that appeal to a wide range of people.” Whether these people will be interested in seeing the type of density necessary to sustain villages, is still up for debate.

Fortin attributes some of Cook Street Village’s long-term success to planning for four- and five-storey apartment buildings. In Oak Bay, Mayor Christopher Causton acknowledges traditional village anchors are banks, grocery stores and pubs. But when he talks about the future of Estevan – a village without these businesses – these factors are not pivotal to a thriving centre. “In a ‘real’ village, there’s also a church,” he says, adding that the residential backdrop, proximity to Willows Beach and commercial balance in Esetvan have positioned it as a viable village. “The key is the mixture of shops and everything just flows from there,” Causton says. Michael von Straubenzee, vicepresident of the Cadboro Bay Business Improvement Association and owner of Visions 2000 Travel, can attest to the range of clientele visiting Cadboro Bay Village – one that, like Estevan, isn’t there for selling food and drinks alone. “Our clientele has changed over the years,” von Straubenzee says, noting the rise in online travel planning left him with a more loyal client base. “We get some people who wander in because they’re in the village, but we tend to be a destination.”

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Penthouse effect Even Oprah must get in line for in-demand homes in the sky NATALIE NORTH BLACK PRESS


Don Denton/Black Press

The views are endless for realtors Jeremy Eade and Sophia Briggs in a penthouse in The Falls building.

ophia Briggs turns the key and slides open the door to suite 1902 at The Falls. On a grey West Coast morning, light floods through two storeys of windows encasing the penthouse’s formal living room, the lofted study and open concept kitchen. “There are lots of top floor suites,” Briggs says, “but there aren’t too many true penthouses.” The difference? Luxury. From epic outside decks the size of entire apartments to in-suite elevators – both features of Shoal Point properties, which Briggs and her Sotheby’s International Realty business partner Jeremy Eade, sold last year. “It’s more of a house that’s on top of a building,” Briggs says. The view behind them stretches from the Inner Harbour past Christ Church Cathedral as Briggs and Eade discuss the clients who ventured through Sotheby’s Douglas Street office and accounted for 10 of Greater Victoria’s penthouse sales in 2010. At MacDonald Realty, Leslee Farrell closed three sales of penthouses last year. She categorizes the properties by virtue of location only, making no distinction between top floor and penthouse suites. A penthouse spanning an entire top floor, versus one shared by two suites, holds more value than the others, Farrell says. Custom design features, as in Esquimalt’s Swallow’s Landing, which was “finished beyond the highest standard possible,” are often typical of the most sought-after suites.

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Ocean front properties, as in Shoal Point, also remain in demand, reflected by their price, Farrell says. The Falls’ $1.55 million, two-bedroom penthouse has monthly strata fees of $534. Last year, property taxes for the property were just over $8,000. “People are more settled with the economy and they know it’s a little more stable in Canada, so the people that have money are going to spend it,” Briggs says. “They’re not worried anymore. “We saw a lot of money move in our luxury properties because this is a true destination for people.” Locals account for about half of the high-end and luxury clients, with visitors from Alberta and California accounting for much of the remaining sales. Unlike mid-range properties, buyers often don’t require financing and deals are completed within a matter of days. “Our buyers generally own more than one home,” Eade says. “They just want vacation homes.” When prospective buyers include media mogul Oprah Winfrey, whose offer on a suite at The Falls was declined last year, there’s no way of predicting which features will attract the most interested clients. Again, it all comes down to sheer luxury. Past the gas fireplace and up the hardwood stairs to the master bedroom, suite 1902 opens into an upper landscaped balcony offering a nearpanoramic view overtop Vista 18. “Every penthouse in Victoria is completely different,” Briggs says. “There is no formula.”

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uildings constructed in the 1970s account for roughly half of all condo sales in Greater Victoria. But is there more to consider when buying into the aging market than the price – the biggest consideration for most buyers? “The other thing that factors in is size,” says Tony Zarsadias, realtor with The Condo Group. “It’s not a hard and fast rule, but I’d say that ’70s condos are at least 10 per cent bigger – probably 10 to 20 per cent bigger.” A typical buyer with $300,000 to spend on a condo could purchase a new bachelor pad or, potentially, a single bedroom unit. The same cash is likely to land a buyer double the space and two bedrooms in a 35-year-old condo, Zarsadias says. Apart from size and price, location tops the list of priorities for buyers. Clusters are concentrated near downtown, James Bay, Fairfield and Saanich – another draw for potential homeowners. Greg Baynton, president of the

Vancouver Island Construction Association, isn’t so quick to trumpet the benefits of buying into a retro condominium. Baynton spent much of his career as a building envelope remediation contractor – expert in the repair and restoration of leaky condos – during the 1980s and ’90s. “The buildings are probably tired,” Baynton says. “They would need roofs. Windows are past their life expectancy. Decks and lots of exterior elements are past their life expectancy, so it’s kind of like buying a used car. The older it is, the cheaper it’s going to be.” To continue with Baynton’s analogy, as with many used vehicles on the market, older remediated condos are often sold with warranties of five – or even 10-years – something that he advises buyers to look into before purchasing a condo of any age. “I think there’s some misconception that there’s also some risk mitigation, in terms of a building built in the ’70s

•• It’s not a hard and fast rule,

but I’d say that’70s condos are at least 10 per cent bigger – probably 10 to 20 per cent bigger. •• Tony Zarsadias The Condo Group realtor

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The Condo Group Realtors Mike Janes, left, and Tony Zarsadias stand in front of Uptown Rise, a 1970s era apartment building at 3800 Quadra St. that has been renovated and sold as condos. not having the problems of a building (constructed) in the ’80s or ’90s,” he says. “Just because the building is ’70s vintage, doesn’t mean it’s not susceptible to the same failures as a building from the ’80s. It’s not as likely, but it’s still possible.” The higher price tags attached to new homes are indicative of industry advances in building code and available products, Baynton says, including state-of-the-art fiber optics, heating and insulation.

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Does age matter? A look inside the retro condo market

These are advances that were not in place prior to what he calls “a perfect storm for a major catastrophe” when he repaired failed building envelopes constructed in the 1970s, as well as those from the ’80s and ’90s. “If someone were asking me, as a construction expert, I’d be advising to look for a building with a good warranty in place. I actually don’t think the date has anything to do with it,” Baynton says. “I don’t see an advantage other than – potentially – price point.”

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Last year at this time, many Victoria-area projects were stalled. How has that changed? The projects that stalled were principally private-sector residential projects and a continuation of the impacts of the 2008 economic crisis. In the institutional, commercial and industrial sector, there was and still remains significant activity. The change from last year is a gradual decline in publicly funded and a measurable increase in privately funded multi-family and commercial projects.


Greg Baynton Vancouver Island Construction Association

What is the job situation like for tradespeople now? There is limited economic expansion and therefore demand for new positions. However, 2011 is projected to be the beginning of renewed expansion through to 2015. It is not expansion that will drive demand, but retirement and mortality that will create more than 31,000 positions between 2011 and 2019. Of those, 15 to 20 per cent are on Vancouver Island. How is the construction industry being proactive with developers? The construction industry works with developers and their consulting team to manage costs, schedule, risks, design, green and other innovative solutions for project success.



Baby boom or baby bust? Flood of retirees to Greater Victoria turns to a steady flow

2007’s economic crunch. But four years have passed since the crash and, “out of province economic drivers are firing up again,” Gaby says. “We’re seeing interest from baby boomers coming to Victoria, more seriously now. Mostly from Alberta but other places as well.” Bayview’s phase one is nearly sold out, following a 2009 effort to rebrand itself for local buyers. That included lowering prices. Despite the effort to attract locals, Gaby estimated five or six of the 48 units he sold were to retired out-of-town buyers. He says new developments will likely steer away from the luxury end of the scale. “The market is a complete reversal. (New developments) would want to be smaller and more affordable. We’re dealing with the under $500,000 crowd.” Gaby says retiring baby boomers will still be attracted to Victoria. Many buy just to get a foothold in the market and upgrade in a few years once they sell their original home and relocate here. Tony Zarsadias agrees. He’s a realtor and CEO of The Condo Group, the realty marketing company responsible for selling all 171 units of Balance, the second phase of Vic West’s Dockside Green development. “Especially if you’re looking at baby boomers, even if they’ve done well (for the prairies), the sale of their 4,000 square foot house isn’t going to buy the equivalent here,” Zarsadias says. “Products that people build will have to be toned down to be absorbed by our market. “As long as the economy continues (recovering), we should expect more people to move here, including boomers.”


As the demographic bulge of Canadian baby boomers move into retirement, there’s been speculation Victoria’s retirement community will grow with it. It’s a logical belief. Thousands more retirees will uproot from Calgary, Winnipeg and Toronto, and downsize to Victoria to golf and fish their days away in our gentler Out of province economic drivers climate. This may have been are firing up true, at least until the economic downturn of again.•• 2007. Four years later, the Peter Gaby global financial fallout has DFH Realty realtor had a hedging effect. One trend that isn’t happening are the luxury developments, often pitched as secondary properties to out-of-towners anticipating retirement. “Baby boomers are still relocating to Victoria, and are buying in from other parts of the country. There’s just not as many as prior to (2007),” says Peter Gaby, a realtor with DFH Realty in Victoria. In April 2010, Gaby took over the sales of the remaining Bayview Residences. The luxury development was already underway when others like it, such as Silkwind in Colwood and Capella at Bear Mountain, were abandoned in the wake of


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Old bricks and mortar reborn Chris Le Fevre finds niche in heritage restoration projects NATALIE NORTH BLACK PRESS


rom his Herald Street office, Chris Le Fevre outlines his business philosophy – a simple approach to complex restoration projects. “I like to be different. I like to do things that perhaps others are daunted by, so the challenge is what turns me on,” he says, “but there’s got to be some money.” Financial viability for the England-born Le Fevre, of Le Fevre & Company Property Agents Ltd., means appealing to the starter housing market. Le Fevre’s old town Victoria restoration projects hinge on keeping costs as low as possible, in part through repurposing a space’s original elements of construction or design. “I love recycling old materials and wherever I can, I like to introduce hardedged industrial elements that respect its prior use,” he says. Le Fevre’s office is located within a refurbished warehouse, the first property he bought in Victoria through a tax incentive program 15 years ago. Since then, Le Fevre’s list of projects,

Sharon Tiffin/Black Press

Developer Chris Le Fevre is known for restoring classic old buildings in Victoria’s downtown core. many involving creative uses of past pieces, as in old steel or heating pipes turned into fencing, has expanded exponentially. He runs through the list: Bond’s Landing phase of the Rail Yards and lofts at the Oriental Hotel on Yates Street – a selfdescribed “progressive, downtown iconic building,” with 32 suites priced from the

Projects continuing

low-$200,000s. Le Fevre also has two buildings under construction in Tofino – waterfront condos and village centre town homes – and more projects approved in downtown Victoria. It’s enough on the go to consider himself “pretty active.” For the first time, the Saanich Peninsula resident plans to own one of his residential suites – an art deco unit in the upcoming Waddington Alley building (located at the lower end of Yates and Johnson streets) opposite the sold out Morley Soda Factory, nine units built in 1875, restored in 2009 and priced from the mid-$200,000 to $300,000. “The Morley Soda building was a complete wreck of three half-standing walls and we turned it into a terrific example of regenerated living in a classic downtown building. I don’t think many people would have tackled it and it was certainly more for the challenge than for the money, that one was.” Le Fevre embraces the concept of “boomtown” urban living for young families and first-time buyers, a key factor to how his developments have flourished in a stagnant market. As for other secrets to his success – he’s rather up front about divulging. “They’re successful because I’m clever at presenting them to a broad variety of people. There’s ingenuity at work and people respect that. We’re not slapping up blocks.”

Work on Uptown’s Phase 2, which includes mixed office and retail space, and a five-level parking garage, is ongoing and slated for completion in the spring of 2012. Last year at this time, Uptown’s residential phase was not yet in the works and “subject to residential market demand,” says Geoff Nagle, director of development for Uptown’s developer Morguard Investments. The same holds true today, with those plans still on hold until the condo market has further rebounded. In Langford, Westhills celebrated the opening of its Glen Heights condo development in March, which has suites priced from $259,000. Units are now selling in three buildings on the 209-hectare sustainable living site, with those in the project’s first completed building having sold out after three months on the market.

Continued from Page B23


HIGH-TECH Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Attracting and keeping the best talent Retention of highly skilled workers remains a challenge for Victoria’s high-tech sector KYLE SLAVIN BLACK PRESS


shley and Robert Roulston are the kind of people Victoria’s technology industry wants to attract. The New Brunswick-native siblings came to Victoria for their post-secondary education in the mid-2000s, and recently graduated from the University of Victoria. The are already making a name for themselves with their start-up company, Reef Safe Fish. The company is developing technology that recycles waste from fish farms and turns it back into food for fish. “For so many reasons, it just made sense for us to be out here, working in Victoria,” Ashley says. “Victoria’s tech sector has really helped us out a lot, and there are a lot of people who’ve helped us by providing their expertise.” That’s the beauty of Victoria’s tech You have to be opportunistic, sector, says Dan Gunn, executive director idealistic and believe you’re of VIATeC, the Victoria Advanced about to set the world on fire Technology Council. The plentiful draws of a great lifestyle and a strong any minute. •• technology industry are helping attract Dan Gunn some of the best of the best to Victoria. Victoria Advanced Technology Council “Victoria isn’t well known as a tech mecca, even though it’s our largest industry,” Gunn says. “That was our biggest challenge last year, and we expect that will remain a challenge in 2011.” Like any sector, attraction and retention of skilled employees is a key priority. “We have great opportunities, we have great career paths and well-paying jobs here.” VIATeC is preparing to launch a tech-based job website, as well as looking at siting prominent signage at tourist-heavy spots promoting the strong technology sector. Despite a slow-to-rebound global economy, Gunn says the local market was relatively unshaken by the recession. “That we have diverse sectors means we don’t rely too much on one market for our growth. If one gets hit hard, because we have diversity and micro-niche tech companies, it doesn’t bring down our overall strength in the economy,” Gunn says. For 2011, he expects to see more growth – upwards of 10 per cent in staffing and eight per cent in total revenues – in the overall sector.


Sharon Tiffin/Black Press

Victoria Advanced Technology Council executive director Dan Gunn shows off a maze robot in the mechanical engineering laboratory at Camosun College. High-tech industry continues to grow and expand in the Capital Region. Though he acknowledges that’s a very lofty and optimistic goal, Gunn says it’s a real expectation – that would mirror growth the industry saw in 2010. As innovative companies such as Reef Safe Fish set up shop in Victoria and build a name for themselves, Gunn says technological creativity is what will help the industry boom. “Ask any tech CEO and they’re always optimistic about the coming year. You have to be opportunistic, idealistic and believe you’re about to set the world on fire any minute,” Gunn says. “(Our) track record is long enough to show that it’s stable and consistent. I have no reason to think it won’t continue like that.”

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Turning ice into gold Business develops technology for ultra-efficient ice rinks TRAVIS PATERSON BLACK PRESS


ou probably haven’t heard of Accent Refrigeration. But if you’ve been to a rink in Greater Victoria, chances are you’ve skated on its ice. Since 1990 Accent has been the only ice plant manufacturer in Greater Victoria and its work is in nearly every rink -- from Oak Bay Recreation Centre to Sooke’s Seaparc Leisure Complex. Accent owner and system designer Art Sutherland says local work usually means refitting old plants. However, Accent has made a name for itself as a pioneer in bringing green initiatives to ice making. The company’s energy recovery systems can cost twice as much up front, but they will minimize the environmental impact of running ice all day and night. It’s created a demand for Accent’s services as far as Queenstown, New Zealand, and Capetown, South Africa. Each ice plant designed by Accent is specific to the arena but there are a few tricks that make Accent standout. “The more energy recovery we do in the initial design, the more it’s going to cost up front,” Sutherland says. “(Eighty per cent) of the cost to run and maintain an arena comes after it’s built, during the course of its 20- to 25-year life span, to run the hot water, heating, ventilation and de-humidification equipment.

•••• Q&A

Dale Gann Vancouver Island Technology Park

Are you seeing any surprising trends involving local tech firms? Over the past year we have witnessed a new media/wireless/ mobile wave with the takeover of tablets and smart phones. With the growing global marketplace, more companies are moving into online marketing, whether it is creating the newest app for a device or using new forms of social media and geo-marketing. How much growth have you seen in tech park membership this year? We’re at 100-per-cent occupancy, all 165,000 square feet is claimed and leased. We renovated a piece of the park for RevenueWire Inc., which brought 45 new employees. With 36 companies and 1,100 people, you see people coming and going all the time, some are here to do business, others are new employees. What are some of the tech sectors that we’re still not the player we could be? We’re underrecognized in the ocean tech and marine sector, but research platforms such as UVic’s Venus and Neptune underwater ocean observatories have given us great international exposure. Kids growing up on the West Coast should look at the ocean as an opportunity to learn and build new technologies in traditional marine forms or sustainable energy.

“If (developers) are willing to pay that extra 30 to 50 per cent, even 100 per cent, up front, our plants cost far less to run,” not to mention a smaller ecofootprint. Sutherland came to Victoria in 1990 from Alberta. With project manager Greg Hillman, he has worked on NHL ice rinks and made ice at three Winter Olympic Games. For the 2010 Olympics, Accent was called on to build the 30-metre ice wall in Richmond. Accent first made an impact on the industry in the 1990s, when it re-adapted natural gas desiccant dehumidification, making it a standard practice in ice making. Now Accent is changing the industry again, and its fossil fuel-free dehumidification system. Starting with the new ice rink at Langford’s City Centre Park, Sutherland and company have created a system to run the dehumidifier with ultra-efficient ammonia heat pumps, which draw energy from heat expelled from the ice plant. “It’s the first of its kind on Vancouver Island,” he says. During the summer, the rink’s heat-pump system will also use excess heat (used to make the ice) to power air conditioning through the new bowling centre and public areas of the Sportsplex building. The system also works in tandem with the neighbouring Westhills development’s geothermal system. The ice rink will use 100 per cent of its “wasted” heat, either internally or by feeding it to homes in Westhills, connected through geothermal piping. Langford Mayor Stew Young says the city is fortunate to have world-class refrigeration specialists. “There’s not many centres that can say someone who looked after Olympic ice three times will be maintaining their ice.”

Edward Hill/Black Press

Accent Refrigeration owner Art Sutherland stands near piping that feeds geothermal heat to homes at Westhills in Langford. He plans to link that heat-exchange system to the new ice sheet at City Centre Park.

Creating the social network Victoria web developer seeks to launch a platform for parents

CEO, works out of the basement of his Oak Bay home to create the family-friendly website. Online businesses, especially social networks, are a challenge in many ways, DeGreef acknowledges. He knows there’s a lot of work ahead of him to make ChatterBlock a recognizable name in Victoria. Only KYLE SLAVIN BLACK PRESS once that’s established can he really expect to see it become a money-generating business. “We don’t expect to make money in the first couple ames DeGreef wants his social networking years,” he says. They first need an active parent user website to be the third largest in North America, base, then they can seek out venture capital to help it behind only Facebook and LinkedIn. become continent-wide. The problem, however, is that it hasn’t even It’s the reality of web businesses launched yet. everywhere. But Victoria has a The goal for strong enough IT sector that it may seem lofty, but the Victoriaattracts some of the best web based site, preparing to go online in developers in the industry to work August, will fill an untapped hole in with unique, innovative companies. the social media market. “These great ideas are “My wife was spending a lot of homegrown,” says Dan Gunn, time trying to research summer executive director of the Victoria programs for our daughters – Advanced Technology Council. camps, different events – talking “From that, we’re staffing them to a lot of her parent peers around with people who want to be here. what was good, what they were There’s a lot of locals and a lot who putting their kids into. She was come from around the world to going to many different websites, work for these companies.” having school playground DeGreef and ChatterBlock’s COO conversations and she was getting stressed about this,” DeGreef says. SharonTiffin/Black Press Randy Greencorn, both computer Enter ChatterBlock. It’s goal is to James DeGreef with his science grads from the University of Victoria, say Victoria is a perfect be a secure, social network platform daughters Annika and Jamie. place to launch, test and tweak for families to discuss, co-ordinate their social network for parents. and share information regarding children’s programs “There’s so many things going on in Victoria, and and events in their community. “Do you want to go to this festival? We’re going; can I there are so many young families looking to do those bring your kids along? What have you heard about this things,” DeGreef says. “We’re focused on making what parents are already program?” DeGreef, 35, says of the type of networking doing more efficient. Parenting is the most important service the site will provide families. job there is. We want to provide parents in Victoria DeGreef and two partners and three designers started ChatterBlock in late 2010 and are working hard with this service that really supports that idea.” toward their Internet launch. DeGreef, the company’s





Staying cutting edge with apps Smart phone software market booming for Victoria tech firms KYLE SLAVIN BLACK PRESS


n less than a decade, cellphones went from being just a communication device to being the Swiss Army knife of portable technologies. For companies looking to stay current and reach new audiences, they’re able to find new ways of achieving that through the development of applications for iPhones and Android phones. “Over the years we’ve had to reinvent ourselves many times – a company has to stay current with the technology out there. So a couple of years ago we decided we’d get into iPhone and iPad apps,” says Chris Boag, co-owner and vice-president of northStudio. The company, headquartered in Saanich, creates apps for clients looking to get into the mobile marketplace. It also specializes in website design and marketing. “We get a lot of people asking ‘How do we get this onto an iPad and make it look cool to display, and deliver it in such a way to make it so that people

think it’s fun to do on an iPad?’” With a team of 30 developers and locations -- in Vancouver, Calgary, Dalhousie, N.B., and internationally in Dubai – Boag says in just a few short years northStudio has rejigged its business formula to where almost a quarter of its work is in app development. “And it’s growing. Over the next year or so we’re going to see more customers coming to us to explore those options,” he says. But app development isn’t cheap. Boag says a basic one can start at $10,000 and reach $50,000 to $60,000 for something more complex. “It’s the same as developing software and applications for another platform like building a website,” he says. Victoria game designer Jeff Widderich, meanwhile, has developed iPhone and iPad apps for a number of his puzzle games. He’s hired a developer in India to do the work for a fraction of the cost. The time and money invested, he says, are crucial to the ultimate success of the app. “It usually takes no more than a month. For some people, it takes half a year to develop an app. That’s way too expensive.” Widderich’s companies – Syndicated Puzzles and iLife Touch – have developed 17 apps, which bring in an average of $120 per day through the iTunes app store. “It’s not bad, but it’s a crapshoot. If

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HEALTH Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A prescription for doctors UBC’s Island Medical program helping prepare new doctors for small communities VIVIAN MOREAU BLACK PRESS


indsey Lerch’s school day begins just before 8 a.m. and doesn’t finish until 11 p.m. And sometimes it goes through the night. Lerch, 26, is a third-year student in the University of British Columbia’s medical doctor program, B.C.’s sole university with a medical school. After an initial semester at UBC’s Vancouver campus, she’s been studying at the University of Victoria. Lerch is one of 32 students each year who study at UVic and work alongside doctors in clinics and hospitals in the Capital Region and up-Island, through the Island Medical program. “It’s been harder than I anticipated, both in terms of hours and emotionally,” Lerch says. “I’m not saying that doesn’t come with a huge benefit. It’s a gift to be involved in people’s care. It’s tough, but it’s so worth it.” The UBC program has 288 first-year students registered this year in its fouryear undergraduate MD program. In addition to the 32 who chose to study at UVic, two other cohorts of 32 will study at the University of Northern B.C. and at UBC’s Okanagan campus. The remainder are at UBC’s Vancouver campus. Students learn together linked through real-time classes online. Lecture halls are equipped with large screens allowing students in Victoria to see a student in, say, Prince George, who asks a question. The program was started in 2004 to train students at smaller universities to be doctors and to practise in small communities. It is the first in North America, perhaps the world, says Dr. Oscar Casiro, head of UVic’s Island Medical program. “They are not just learning in Victoria,” he says. “We’ve developed opportunities for them: teaching space in Duncan, Nanaimo, Campbell River and Comox for clinical experience. They learn not just about medicine in those communities, but about life in those communities.” Students in the Island Medical program spend about 40 per cent of their time in classrooms, lecture halls or labs, as well as two half-days a week working with doctors in their practices. Lerch has also just finished what student doctors call “the big three,” eight-week intensive rotations working 100-hour weeks in hospitals in pediatrics, internal medicine and surgery. Although Lerch admits she never babysat as a teenager, pediatrics was her favourite rotation. When on call, she would often cradle babies in the wards. Pediatrics was a rewarding stint and not just because kids and babies gave unconditional affection, she says, but because “kids bounce back so quickly and so amazingly.” Lerch, who has a bachelor of science and an MBA, originally thought she would become a surgeon. But she’s decided to go into family medicine after completing the four-year degree and required two-year residency. She hopes to open a practice in Port Alberni with her partner, a fourth-year MD student.

Don Denton/Black Press

Medical students Lindsey Lerch, Frank Clarke and Stuart Gray with Dr. Oscar Casiro at the University of Victoria. The students are in a program aimed at keeping doctors on Vancouver Island after graduation. About half the students who’ve graduated from the Island Medical program in the past seven years have headed to family medicine, Casiro says. He notes a provincial program that forgives student loans to doctors who choose to practise in smaller communities has been one factor. But going through a medical program that places students with doctors in towns gives them the confidence to work in places other than big cities, he adds. “If you compare their experience to a student who may only spend their four years in a big city, the kids who graduate from our program have a much greater appreciation for what medicine is like in smaller rural communities, and they’re not afraid to go there.”

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Judge, detective a formidable team Volunteers invaluable to health care fundraising VIVIAN MOREAU BLACK PRESS


etired judge Ted Hughes gets asked two or three times a year to be the front man for fundraising projects. He thinks carefully before saying “yes.” “You can’t fundraise for more than one thing at a time, otherwise people think you’re coming too often,” he says. Most recently, Hughes was co-chair of the Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness, a position he retired from in 2009. By day, Rick Anthony is a Victoria police detective. Both he and Hughes are donating time this year to help the Victoria Hospitals Foundation raise $25 million. The funds will provide new equipment for the new Royal Jubilee Hospital patient care centre, which opened in March. Anthony and Hughes are just two of 120 volunteers who help raise funds for the foundation. Anthony has worked for many years on annual campaign to raise funds for equipment and supplies for the region’s two hospitals – last year it brought in $6 million. Hughes is taking on the one-time role as the $25-million capital campaign co-chair, a position he shares with realtor Leslee Farrell. During a tour of the facility, Hughes notes that

when he had two knee surgeries, first in 1988 and then in 2008, he had to use a walker to get from the bed to the washroom. He points to a “contraption” on the ceiling of a private patient room. (Eighty per cent of the rooms in the new hospital are private.) The sliding track with adjustable handlebar allows a patient to walk themselves from bed to the washroom and back. Hughes also points out his favorite feature: the sunroom at the end of the ward that overlooks the hospital’s heritage chapel and garden. “The work that has gone into positioning these sunrooms on every floor, in every wing, really showed a lot of thought for people,” he says. Anthony has been volunteering with the foundation since 1996. He became convinced of the foundation’s good work when he attended his first fundraising gala. “It was fancy and pricey for a young constable … but I thought it was outstanding. It was then I realized I wanted to get more involved.” In planning the annual gala, he also signed up for multiple committees. “Some weeks I didn’t know which meeting I was going to. I’d get there with all the wrong paperwork.” Anthony has volunteered with other organizations, such as Victoria restorative justice, the Better Business Bureau and Ballet Victoria. He says Victoria is a “little big town. It’s kind of a small place with big issues, but for every issue there’s always some group willing to give their own time and effort to attempt to make it better.”

•••• Q&A

Don Hubbard Vancouver Island Health Authority

How pleased are you with how the new Royal Jubilee Hospital patient care centre turned out? The whole VIHA team is incredibly proud of our new hospital. Completed on time and on budget – the norm here in VIHA now without any doubt – and the best publicly-funded hospital anywhere in Canada. With more than 80 per cent single-patient rooms (a first in Canada), providing both privacy and the ability to drastically reduce infection, this is simply the future of health care, here and now, for Vancouver Island patients. How will it affect the patient flow between the two major hospitals? That is not the purpose of this new hospital. Rather it provides the best evidence-based environment in which to care for patients in the key specialties located at Royal Jubilee Hospital. Brand new state-of-the-art equipment and a new care facility will enable our dedicated teams to deliver even better care. What is the most pressing patient care issue facing VIHA right now? This has to be our growing and aging population and their associated increasing needs for care and service. No publicly funded system can meet all expectations and all demands all the time. In 2004 our annual budget was $1.2 billion. Today it is $1.9 billion, an increase of more than 58 per cent. This is a huge increase that has allowed us to significantly grow and develop services to patients.

Vivian Moreau/Black Press

Ted Hughes, co-chair of the Victoria Hospitals Foundation, with nurse Robyne Maxwell, in the south wing of the new Royal Jubilee Hospital patient care centre. Victoria police Det. Rick Anthony, inset, is a long-time volunteer for the foundation.

Yin and yang of assisted living Seniors complexes offer care, security to aging population VIVIAN MOREAU BLACK PRESS


he senior turned the key to lock his studio suite, and with shoulders hunched, he shuffled to the elevator. How did he like living in Selkirk Place, an assisted living apartment complex for seniors? “I hate it,” he says. “My daughter stuck me here because she thought I couldn’t take care of myself. I can’t even cook myself a meal here.” As he stepped off the elevator on the main floor a young female staff member dressed in a sparkling sari called out a cheery “hello.” The senior straightened and gave a bright “hello” in return. “That girl has more energy than anything,” he says with a grin. He walked briskly off down the hall. They’ve been called old folks’ homes, rest homes, nursing homes, retirement homes, even old soldiers’ homes. But in 2011 the Vancouver Island Health Authority calls it assisted living. They’re housing complexes for seniors, with the added benefits of a hotel-like setting, such as a fitness centre, housekeeping services and a communal dining room, where meals are served à la carte. They also have the benefits of 24-hour care workers who can help with bathing and reminders to take medications. There are 18 facilities in Greater Victoria with 518 units. All are regulated by VIHA, but most are operated by private companies. It will cost you 70 per cent of your net income to live in one. And although some, like the gentleman who harrumphed at the elevator, think residing in assisted living is restrictive, others find it provides particular freedoms. Vera Little has lived at Selkirk Place on the Gorge waterway for almost two years. From her sixth-floor

Sharon Tiffin/Black Press

Vera Little stands with husband Irv at Selkirk Place Assisted Living on their 65th wedding anniversary in February. window she has a spectacular view of the city. But that’s not what drew her to Selkirk. Each day at noon she gets into the elevator, goes down to the main floor and walks to the complexcare east wing of the facility. Her husband, Irv, who has Parkinson’s disease, lives there. Married 65 years, the couple found it difficult to live together independently as Irv’s illness progressed. When a chance came up for Vera to move into the assisted living wing and Irv to receive the higher level of care he needed there, the two moved in. “It’s the best we could come up with, and I’m quite happy here,” Vera says. Selkirk has 271 beds in the complex care wing and 41 suites in assisted living. After a two-hour lunch with her husband, Vera goes back to her suite or takes part in activities in the centre. Although she’s not found a group to play bridge with, she does play cribbage. She also exercises in the on-site fitness room. She has dinner on her own and visits Irv again in the evening. “We’re well looked after,” she says.












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TRANSPORTATION Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A cyclist braves the heavy traffic on Shelbourne Street where there are no bike lanes. The CRD says the longterm solution to overcrowded roadways is reducing reliance on vehicles. Sharon Tiffin Black Press

Looking to the end of the road 1.24 million Number of trips taken by CRD residents on an average weekday.

3.6 Average number of trips per day, per person in the Capital Region

78% Number of those trips taken in a private vehicle

2,836 km Total length of roadways in the CRD

Region focuses on transportation alternatives SAM VAN SCHIE BLACK PRESS


uses jammed in traffic, cycling lanes that end at municipal borders, the underutilized E&N railway – these are a few of the transportation issues the Capital Regional District is tackling. And while from behind the steering wheel, commuters may cry for more highway lanes and overpasses, CRD planning manager Bob Lapham says the only long-term solution to overcrowded roadways is reducing reliance on vehicles. “We can’t fix the problem with bigger roads. We add lanes and cars will fill them, and then we’d be facing the same congestion problem again,” Lapham says. Never mind the high cost of major highway improvements. The McTavish Road interchange in Sidney carries a $24-million price tag, and the stimulus


money that covered the bulk of it has been spent. Many regional infrastructure projects are instead supported by federal gas tax funding, which the CRD, along with the Union of B.C. Municipalities, is responsible for doling out to regionally significant projects that help reduce air and water pollution. In the past five years, gas tax money has been used for the E&N rail trail, purchasing B.C. Transit buses and upgrading the Island Highway to include cycling lanes. The CRD is in the process of evaluating projects for the next round of gas tax funding – $18.5 million to be used by 2015, plus additional grants through competitive pools. A list of projects will be ranked by importance and each will be funded in turn as money becomes available. Lapham says improving cycling and pedestrian paths continues to be a focus. “We’re more interested in narrowing roads to accommodate cycling lanes and traffic calming, rather than widen them for more car lanes,” he says, citing Esquimalt and Craigflower roads and

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Shelbourne Street as examples where cycling lanes are being worked into the current roadway, in some cases at the expense of street parking. B.C. Transit president Manuel Achadinha echoes the sentiment of re-purposing existing roadways. Transit is hoping to see curb-side lanes marked as bus-only during peak hours on several major corridors. “We can’t just build our way out the gridlock,” he says. “We have to make better use of the roads we already have.” CRD transportation studies found that 78 per cent of all trips in the region are made by private vehicles, and the average vehicle speed is dropping as population growth puts more cars on the road. Commuters on the Trans-Canada Highway got a preview of that when the closures on Island Highway pushed at least 500 vehicles to that corridor and morning traffic backed up from Tillicum Road to the Millstream interchange. “When driving isn’t faster, alternatives look more attractive,” Lapham says. “That may be the only way we’ll see a real shift away from a reliance on cars.”



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Ferries rides wave of fare increases Labour and fuel make up to 80% of budget SAM VAN SCHIE BLACK PRESS


iving on an island comes at a cost. Every time we want to travel to the mainland, money flows to someone, and more often than not it’s B.C. Ferries. And with the ferry fares creeping up every year, it can sometimes feel like living in the City of Gardens isn’t worth the bill. Since the April 1 rate increase, riding the ferry between Swartz Bay and Tsawwassen costs $14.25 per passenger and $47.25 for a standard vehicle. Between 2012 and 2015, all fares on that route will climb 4.15 per cent per year, adding about $2 to the vehicle rate each year. When asked what keeps pushing up the costs, B.C. Ferries CEO David Hahn blames labour and fuel. “Those two items alone make up 80 per cent of our budget,” he says.

Don Denton/Black Press

The BC Ferries vessel Spirit of British Columbia motors through Active Pass en route to Tsawwassen from Swartz Bay. Upgrading to more efficient ships has helped save fuel costs, but cutting back the number of staff on each boat isn’t an option. “Transport Canada requires us to have a certain staff-topassenger ratio,” Hahn says. You’ve heard it from the voice on the loud speaker: “All ship personnel are certified for marine evacuation.”

That means the folks ringing up your coffee and sweeping the deck also spent time at local pools practising with safety rafts as part of their job training. Hahn, who came under scrutiny for his $1 million salary last year, has grown used to hearing public outrage over fares and suggestions on how to run the public-private ferry service. While some critics say

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the ferries should pare back the amenities and even run barebones on services, Hahn isn’t so sure. “When I get on a ship, I see a lot of people in line for burgers. I think that means people want burgers,” he says. Staff on ferries need to be there at least for safety reasons, so they might as well be doing something.

“If they weren’t cooking food or working in the gift shop, the staff would just be standing around,” Hahn says. “The money we make on the ship actually helps subsidize fares.” When the ferries stopped being a Crown corporation in 2003, an independent commission was established to regulate fares and service. Ferry commissioner Martin Crilly explains his role as, “a substitute for the pressure of competition,” ensuring B.C. Ferries doesn’t take advantage of its current monopoly. So when B.C. Ferries asked to increase fares 20 per cent over four years, the commission capped that increase at 17.7 per cent for major routes (i.e. 4.15 per year). “We give them a productivity challenge, so costs don’t get out of control,” Crilly says. The lower cap meant B.C. Ferries will have to find a $18.5million reduction in costs. But the commission also needs to be reasonable with how much it asks to cut costs. “We still need to give them enough to provide safe, reliable service,” Crilly says.

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ove over planes, trains and automobiles, the buses have rolled into town. Bus tourism is riding high. With travel cost rising and the economy fluctuating, more travellers are turning to the wheels of the buses going round and round to get to their tourist destination. “Bus tourism is probably one of the top things we sell for people new to the city,” says Tourism Victoria’s Helen Welch. “(With a bus tour) you get a tour of what makes Victoria great, it is easy for visitors to participate – and it is not cost adverse.” Seen as the economical option for travellers, sightseeing in groups of between 48 to 56 (the typical size of many


tour buses) keeps visitors eyes transfixed on the region instead of the roads. And there’s another benefit. “Per passenger mile it is the most eco-friendly mode of transportation. One bus of 50 people replaces more than 25 cars on the road,” says Joe Jansen, general manager for Wilson’s Transportation. Tours ranging from trips to some of Victoria’s popular destinations including the Inner Harbour and Butchart Gardens, to week-long trips from Victoria to the Rocky Mountains, have remained popular in economic downtimes.. “(Bus tours) are an important part of our business absolutely. It is one of the most used transportation methods,” Jansen says. “People associate airplanes with touring but more people ride a bus every year than ride a plane.” Wilson’s, contracted by numerous tour companies across the world, uses its fleet to provide charter service across Greater Victoria for visitors from abroad. The locally-owned-andoperated company believes its stock is on the rise – even if it doesn’t get the recognition it sometimes deserves. “It is not a very glamorous business. If you asked (visitors) what the name was on the side of the bus they won’t remember it,” Jansen says laughing. “(However), they will remember they saw the parliament buildings.” Whether they remember the buses’ name or not, Jansen believes visitors will continue riding to their favourite destinations and he hopes that Victoria continues to be one of them. “Victoria is a must-see stop when you visit B.C. sadly people get to Vancouver and they stop,” Jansen says. “They don’t take the opportunity for a half-day or fullday in Victoria and they’re missing a lot.”

Arnold Lim/Black Press

John Wilson, vice president of Wilson’s Transportation stands in front of one of his fleet of 40 buses.

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Innovation Vital

in a Recovering Economy


ital to Victoria Women’s Transition House Society weathering the economic downturn and recovery is INNOVATION. Like many non-profits we are still recovering and are reminded that INNOVATION and COMMUNITY play pivotal roles in the fundraising we do for our programs. A large component of many organizational fundraised dollars, are grants. However, across the board non-profits have received fewer grants than in previous years. As hard as this has been, we are grateful for the savvy portfolio management and careful watch of our supporting Foundations that will see us beyond the storm. This in-turn created a transformation in fundraising methods used by many.

Here at Transition House it continues to be about COMMUNITY, in that “It takes a community to make a difference.” We knew we needed to take every opportunity to be “out there” in the Community in the eyes of individual

donors and groups, which brought us opportunities like: Q Hitchcock & Hemlines Fashion Event in March which raised over $1,000; Q Scrappy Endings which sells bags to raise money for Transition House (; Q soup delivered to the Shelter each month from Soup Sisters, which launched in March. This donation is anticipated to reduce our annual $20,000 Shelter food budget by 20% (; and Q Reed Pope Law Firm purchasing ingredients and cooking a dinner each month at the Shelter, which will also help reduce our food expenditures ( We are always looking at new ways to collaborate and partner. Maybe your business and staff would like to cook a dinner at the Shelter each month, too. Or, you may have a great event idea you would like to try. I look forward to connecting with you to learn new and innovative ideas!

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Resource Development Manager

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100 – 3060 Cedar Hill Road EDUCATE Q Victoria BC V8T 3J5 P 250-592-2927 Ext 210 VOLUNTEER Q F 250-592-9279 Q E DONATE w w w.t r a n s i t i o n h o u s e . n e t




Carbon economy gets a kick-start Public sector ordered to go carbon-neutral SAM VAN SCHIE BLACK PRESS


ore than 150 public sector organizations must go carbon neutral this year. B.C.’s Greenhouse Gas Reductions Target Act has required all provincial agencies to track their energy emissions since 2008. This year every B.C. ministry, health authority, school district, post secondary institution and Crown corporation will pay $25 per tonne of C02 they produced in 2010. Based on 2009 emissions, the Ministry of Children and Family Development would expect to pay $175,000 to buy 7,000 tonnes, B.C. Transit will need $1.5 million in offsets, and the Provincial Capital Commission that runs Crystal Garden and Victoria’s Visitor Information Centre will be charged $5,000 for 200 tonnes. The legislation has prompted many offices to reduce their carbon by trading travel for video-conferencing, driving hybrid vehicles and retrofitting heating

and air conditioning systems. The Vancouver Island Health Authority started hospital “green teams” to engage staff in energy awareness. Paper use has decreased thanks to electronic health reports, lighting and heating systems were upgraded, and the new Patient Care Centre at Royal Jubilee Hospital will allow the deconstruction of three less-efficient hospital wings. Deanna Fourt, VIHA’s acting energy director, said these and other efforts have helped bring down energy use at hospitals. Yet she estimates VIHA will need to find $850,000 in this year’s operations budget for carbon offsets. “The initial reaction is shock. That’s a lot of money,” she says, acknowledging the persistent demand on health care for more service and technology improvements. “On the other hand, it’s forced us to focus a lot of attention on this, and make improvements we may not have otherwise.” Fourt notes lower utility bills help pay for the carbon offsets, but she doesn’t think that will ever balance out. “It’s money out of our budget, however you look at it.” The money goes to Pacific Carbon Trust, a Crown corporation (which used

Your South Island Opposition MLAs

Rob Fleming, MLA

John Horgan, MLA

Victoria–Swan Lake

Juan de Fuca

Tel: 250-360-2023

Tel: 250-391-2801

Lana Popham, MLA

Carole James, MLA

Maurine Karagianis, MLA

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Saanich South

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Your voice in the Legislature

Don Denton/Black Press

Rudi van den Broek, chief project officer and general manager of special projects, kneels on a “green” roof in the newly opened wing of Royal Jubilee Hospital. The plants grow on the roof, filter pollutants from rainwater, create a lower temperature around the area and slows water going into sewers. a meager 16 tonnes of C02 in 2009). This year the trust expects to buy one million tonnes of unused carbon from private and municipal energy-saving projects and sell it as offsets for carbon used in the public sector. It’s an odd concept to wrap one’s head around – the trust pays for carbon emissions that aren’t there anymore. But this system effectively creates a financial incentive to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in all sectors.

For example, the trust could pay up to $50,000 to a Whistler resort for the carbon savings resulting from a hybrid heating system the resort installed, which produces 2,000 fewer tonnes of carbon over three years, compared to conventional heating. “We’re creating a carbon economy,” says PCT president Scott MacDonald. “This is going to encourage innovation in our province.”


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•••• What is your No. 1 priority for improving transit in the Capital Region? The short-term focus is to make transit a priority on Victoria roads and use our infrastructure more efficiently and effectively. With an ever-growing population and increasing road congestion, we need to focus on ways that give transit an edge over the single-occupant vehicle.


Where does light rail fit in to B.C. Transit’s future here? During this spring’s open houses for the Victoria Regional Rapid Transit Project, our team will have a side-by-side comparison of two types of rapid transit technology – one on rubber tires and one on rails. Based on factors such as investment, capacity, maintenance, time saved and environmental impact, we’re leaving it to the public to decide what they want rapid transit to look like.

Manuel Achadinha B.C. Transit

How tough is it to plan for the future if ridership numbers stall? This is the first time we’ve seen ridership fall in over a decade. In the last 18 months, the average speed of buses has gone from 25 km/h to 20 km/h. That means it costs us more to provide the same level of service. The solution is to introduce transit priority measures, which can increase bus movement efficiency by 20 to 40 per cent. It will increase ridership and revenue, reduce costs, maintain service and keep property taxes down.

Don Denton/Black Press

B.C. Transit wants to make transit a priority on T H E 2 011 ALL-WH E E L D RIVE I M PRE Z A Greater Victoria roads. A series of open houses on the transit system will be held this spring.

Victoria Airport Authority president/ CEO Geoff Dickson stands on the tarmac at the Victoria International Airport. Dickson has been working towards securing funding from the provincial and federal government to expand the runway at YYJ. Sharon Tiffin Black Press

Longer runway on wish list Victoria airport officials say more international flights possible SAM VAN SCHIE BLACK PRESS


f you build it, they will come. That’s the hope at Victoria International Airport where a runway expansion would make way for non-stop international flights, bringing an estimated 48,000 new tourists to the Capital Region annually. But before the project can take off, YYJ needs the provincial and federal governments to each chip in for a third of the $40-million price tag to expand the asphalt runway from 2,133 to 2,575 metres. A matching portion that would be paid by the Victoria Airport Authority. The final design for the runway was completed last September, a few months before the retirement of VAA president and CEO Richard Paquette who’d held the position for 11 years. It’s now the job of his replacement Geoff Dickson to pitch the project to ministries for funding. “It would be a huge boost to our region and the tourism industry,� Dickson says. “There’s

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a substantial market for people coming here from the U.K. in particular.� In it’s five-year strategic plan released in 2010, the airport authority aims to increase passenger traffic through the airport to 1.7 million annual passengers. The airport saw 1.5 million passengers in both 2009 and 2010, with numbers remaining fairly steady despite the lingering effects of the economic downturn. Airport authority board chair Christine Stoneman says while extending the runway is key to attracting non-stop service to Europe and Asia, there are still opportunities to expand service in North America, which currently sees 60 daily departures. “We’re continuing to push for service to Ottawa and Los Angeles,� she says, noting that non-stop flights to San Francisco added in 2010 have proven successful. But it’s not just long-haul flights that operate out of YYJ. Island Express Air has been running its eight- and 10-passenger aircraft between Victoria and Nanaimo, Abbotsford and Comox airports since August 2009 and continues to increase service. Owner Garry


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YYJ facts â– YYJ saw steady passenger growth from 2004 to 2008, from 1.25 million passengers to 1.54 million passengers. In 2010, that number slipped to 1.51 million passengers. About 80 per cent of passengers are travelling within Canada. The remainder are flying to the U.S. and only a fraction of a per cent fly internationally.

Visser says the airline will add a third six-passenger plane to its fleet this year. “Most of our passengers are travelling on business,� Visser says. “When your time is money, being able to fly somewhere in 10 minutes instead of getting on the ferry makes a lot of sense.� Dickson says the Victoria Airport prides itself on offering a pleasant passenger experience, without the stress that comes with navigating larger airports. “As we grow, preserving and improving the friendly, helpful atmosphere in the airport will always be important,� he says. “We’re not trying to be Vancouver or Seattle. People choose this airport to avoid the stress of the major centres.�

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EDUCATION Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Kate Fonteyne and Jordan Kummerfield, students in Royal Roads University’s bachelor of science program check out solar panels recently installed on the Nixon building on campus. The panels supply all the power necessary for hot water in the residence building. Submitted photo

Academics plan for sunny days Colwood becomes a real-time classroom for Royal Roads University students TRAVIS PATERSON BLACK PRESS


eyond the academic impact, the number of Greater Victoria educational institutions in itself has a sizable economic impact. And it’s not just the dollars generated by the University of Victoria and Camosun College – though they are grand in scale, with an estimated $2 billion value to the local economy. In Colwood, students of the region’s third biggest school, Royal Roads University, are helping to shape their city’s future in what’s become a symbiotic relationship with the municipality. “We have an opportunity that many cities (our size) don’t have, a university with students and

professors focused on city issues,” Colwood Mayor Dave Saunders says. “RRU has brought forward a lot of ideas to open up our municipality as a real-time classroom.” Kate Fonteyne is the spokesperson for Hatley Park Environmental Consulting – one of two student groups in RRU’s environmental sciences program currently doing research for the Solar Colwood initiative. It’s exploring the integration of solar energy as a sustainable option for the city. “We’ll put a report together for August that Colwood residents will be able to use as a resource to put a solar heating system in their house,” Fonteyne explains. The Hatley consulting report will educate citizens about the life cycle expectations for a typical solar thermal system used to heat water in a Colwood household. “We look at the financial cost and environmental (footprint) of the materials used to compare the solar (heating) system to a hot water system commonly found in a house right now.” Much like a real consulting group, Fonteyne’s partners bid for the project, one of many research

topics up for selection. “We talked to Colwood councillor Judith Collingwood who is very involved with Solar Colwood and she told us what they expect from our team.” Fonteyne’s group is encouraged to value their work with a dollar figure, though they have yet to do that. By comparison, a finalized consulting report by RRU’s masters of business administration comes in at $40,000. Don Caplan is the person who evaluates the organization management projects (OMPs), the “capstone” of the MBA program. He’s overseeing 260 of them. “When our learners do a project we bring it to the point of recommendation, a 400-hour piece of work in a 15,000 to 20,000 word document,” he says. “Not all recommendations are taken into account but many are used. When I get feedback, it is always great. The awareness is spawning more and more projects all the time.”




Learning the soft skills of success Camosun’s BEST program for starts and restarts TRAVIS PATERSON BLACK PRESS


harlie Burnahm is back in school. A contractor in the carpentry industry, the 49-year-old went to Camosun College this winter looking for a career switch. Before enrolling in anything, Camosun counsellors suggested Burnahm complete the eight-week BEST program: Building Employment Success for Tomorrow. I would guess of all story isn’t the people out there theHisonly one of who’ve done career its kind. the wake of assessments, 80 per theInstumbling cent still aren’t doing economic, post-secondary what they love. •• institutions Linda Edmond in Canada, BEST instructor both public and private, have filled with workers-come-students looking to adjust their skill set to join a more desirable area of the workforce. It’s a lifestyle change for Burnahm, who is unwilling to relocate for work and


is entrenched in Victoria. “There’s still plenty of carpentry work for what I do, if I’m energized to go out and get it,” Burnahm says. “With tendinitis in both elbows, the body is starting to wear out on me. It’s time to find something less exhausting.” BEST is designed to help soon-to-be enrolled Camosun students succeed by building awareness of the school’s support and resource systems, says BEST instructor Linda Edmond. Edmond runs the program with assistant instructor Wendy Stevenson and averages 20-22 students per semester. “We see enormous benefit with our students,” Edmond says. The cost of enrolment is minimal. Fees are $116, but grants are available if needed. “We help in many areas and we do a career assessment. I would guess of all the people out there who’ve done career assessments, 80 per cent still aren’t doing what they love,” Edmond says. BEST is for anybody, from students straight from high school to people 60-and-over. It offers enough skills that some people return right back to the workforce though most move on to

Travis Paterson/Black Press

Students Charlie Burnahm, left, and Holly Miller-Stroes, second right, discuss options as part of Camosun’s BEST program with instructor Linda Edmond, standing, and assistant instructor Wendy Stevenson. regular studies, Edmond says. “It’s not a job club but we do send students out the door with an up-to-date résumé following the course.” What BEST also does, besides helping students fine-tune their soft skills (communication, listening, problem solving), is teach them to understand their values, skills, and, hopefully, find their passion, Edmond adds. “Finding your passion, even if you’ve been in the workforce, can be a very difficult thing to do.” A classmate of Burnahm’s, Holly

Miller-Stroes is one of those other stories. The 18-year-old Cobble Hill resident is fresh off completing her high school diploma. She knows what she likes -anthropology -- but is realistic about it as a career option. “I’d be happy to jump into anthropology at Camosun, and I might still, but I want to make sure I’m headed toward something practical. “I’m basically here to figure out a starting point for my adult life.”

Businesses bursting the invisible barrier Education, inclusion key to breaking stigma around mental illness TRAVIS PATERSON BLACK PRESS


hat a world it would be if the answer to breaking down the invisible barriers around mental health were as simple as eating an apple. An apple a day has long symbolized physical health, but Canadian kids today are learning their diet needs a lot more to keep them healthy. The same educational campaign needs to happen around mental health, says Cindy Player, director of the equity and human rights department at the University of Victoria. “The earlier the better,” Player says, about mental health, which is one of the least understood groups that can face discrimination in the

Don Denton/Black Press

Statistic show that one in every five Canadians will be diagnosed with a mental illness in their lifetime. Creating an inclusive workplace can make a big difference, says a UVic official. workplace. As an institution, UVic is helping to lead the way in B.C. and Canada, ensuring accessibility to the four groups designated by the Canadian Human Rights Commission: women, visible minorities, the disabled and aboriginals. “Many mental illnesses

manifest themselves at the teen and young adult level,” Player adds. “University age is a prime age for it to show up.” Issues surrounding diversity in the workplace have come a long way from the 1990s, when the equitable treatment of women and visible minorities

in the Canadian workplace became a hot topic. The inclusion of women, minorities and first nations in Canada’s educational institutes and workplaces is an ongoing battle. Add to that list the growing number of Canadians diagnosed with mental illness. According to the Mood

Disorders Society of Canada’s 2009 study Mental Illness & Addiction in Canada, the number of Canadian children and youth affected by mental illness at any given point in time is a staggering 15 per cent, or 1.2 million of all citizens There’s no easy way to break down the invisible barriers associated with mental illness. But creating an inclusive classroom and workplace can make all the difference for many people, says Grace Sneddon Wong, adviser to the provost on equity and diversity at UVic. “Conforming to a norm in a work place is a stressful situation,” Wong says, noting that a lack of understanding by the group can keep individuals from improving their health. “Because of the stigma with mental illness people aren’t open about living with it.” An inclusive workplace is crucial for optimal mental health. The stigma comes from people having a lack of knowledge of mental illness, whatever it is. “So when people self-identify,” Sneddon Wong says, “those with a limited knowledge put the stigma onto them.”






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Progress May 2011  

Business Progress

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