Ottawa Business Journal Fall 2020

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FALL 2020 Vol. 23, NO. 03







application approval to be conditional on a number of ancillary issues or documents to ensure the proper planning and operation of the two properties, such as: • • • •

Multi-res development: How to keep your vision from becoming a nightmare

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he persistent strength of Ottawa’s housing market and demand for rental stock has many people considering investment in new multi-residential properties. Thanks to low interest rates and city policies that favour infill projects, it appears to be a can’t-lose proposition, even for those investors with little or no prior experience as a multi-residential developer. But the devil is always in the details. Rezoning hiccups, delays in securing a site plan agreement and conflicts with sub-contractors can lead to delays and cost overruns that destroy the financial viability of a project. Here are the kinds of legal issues that can arise without proper

planning – no matter the scale of your project: •

Miscalculation of setbacks and surveying for a planning application Due diligence gaps related to zoning, title search and financing The wrong contract for the job – different projects require different types of contracts

Let’s tackle each of these scenarios.

Miscalculation of setbacks and surveying Let’s say you are looking to build two side-by-side triplexes (as permitted

under by-laws with no amendments required). Always bear in mind that, in most circumstances, you can’t build completely to the edge of property limits, as per the city’s zoning by-laws, without a minor variance(s) approved by the city’s committee of adjustment. The next matter to address is title clarity. A full review of easements and rights of way is critical. One example would be a piece of land used as a shared driveway behind development land – this affects your setbacks, building density capacity, and enforces rights and obligations against both the dominant tenement (the land accruing the benefit of the easement or right of way) and the servient tenement (the land over which the beneficiary land has rights). Next, building these two side-byside triplexes will require a severance application, also known as a consent application, to split the lands in two. This will create two separate titles, one for each building, with the party line serving as the severance line. A minor zoning variance may also be required with regard to side yard setbacks from adjacent properties and rear yard setback from the rear shared driveway lands. It is not uncommon for consent

A party-wall agreement Separate utilities serving each property Evidence that a party wall meets fire code standards An encroachment agreement with the adjoining land owner

Even experienced developers can find it challenging to address all of these requirements without something slipping through the cracks. An experienced real estate lawyer can help you avoid planning application issues and arrive at a consent application that meets all conditions required by the City’s Committee of Adjustment.

Due diligence gaps related to zoning, title search and financing ZONING Perhaps instead of triplexes, your intent is to build a six or eight-unit apartment complex in a residential neighbourhood. Developers often assume there will be no zoning issues with a property purchased for multi-res development in a residential neighbourhood because it’s a residential project in a residential neighbourhood. Don’t assume this is a given. There is more to zoning than simply reviewing the online tools available on the city’s website. Zoning can be impacted by the fabric of the neighbourhood, transit lines, environmental safety assessments, and even by what was built on the property previously. It’s the developer’s responsibility to ensure proper zoning is in place for their project. Conducting the right due diligence with a lawyer, for example, may determine that your original eight-unit, eight-floor complex is not permitted, requiring too large of a variance from setback requirements/height


requirements to be feasible. It will save you much grief later to alter the project to better suit the land at this stage and go forward with the purchase on this basis. TITLE SEARCH Another aspect is undertaking a title search, which will identify any specific title issues (this goes to more than just zoning). There may be airport zoning restrictions, easements/shared property agreements, restrictive covenants from a previous builder related to a previous site plan agreement, etc. As part of your due diligence, not only do you need to confirm the proper zoning and what limitations that zoning places on your project (you can also always apply for a zoning amendment), but a search of title will permit you to identify all issues/covenants/ easements/title defects that are associated with your land and, if you’re smart enough, all issues that relate to abutting and neighbouring lands that could also affect your property.

Whether you’re leading construction yourself, partnering with a developer or a combination of the two, there are varying types of construction contracts that may be suitable for your development. Early in the planning and approvals process, it’s important to consider what form the contract will take and select the contract that best suits your needs and circumstances. Construction projects in the Province of Ontario are generally governed by one of many CCDC (Canadian Construction Documents Committee) contracts, such as a stipulated price contract, cost plus contract, design-build stipulated price contract, construction management for services contract, or construction management at risk contract, to name a few. The type of contract chosen to govern the construction project, and the obligations between you, as owner, your general contractor and/or consultants (i.e. architects, engineers, planners, surveyors and potentially subcontractors) is determined by understanding your own construction experience, your budget, the construction timeline, and the risk exposure with which you are comfortable. All of these realities intersect throughout the project, from pre-construction

through to total completion. Rarely does a construction project run to completion without a hiccup or two. It is important that your construction contract deals with these issues and many others from the outset. A thorough and comprehensive contract has the potential to avoid costly litigation down the road should a dispute arise between you and the contracted party. Learn more about Nelligan Law and the options you have to maximize your investment and minimize risk at

The real estate and development experts at Ottawa’s Nelligan Law have seen it all. Their advice for avoiding cost overruns, project delays and other setbacks? Do your homework with the right team of advisors at your side, starting, of course, with the right legal advice. Associates Jake Ruddy and Bryan Thaw are part of Nelligan Law’s Real Estate and Development team, which has extensive experience working on small and largescale real estate developments throughout Ottawa and Ontario.

Bryan Thaw Real estate and development lawyer

This is a team effort While a project may appear to be very straightforward given your vision, the site location and the surrounding area, a number of issues may arise at any stage of development that could add significant costs and time delays to the project, if not derail it completely. An experienced team of legal experts is indispensable to guide you through zoning, planning, title and financing. They will also have the established relationships to help you engage with the other professionals who are essential to the success of your project: •


Jake Ruddy Real estate and development lawyer

An architect who serves as a designer and has knowledge of zoning and Ontario Building Code regulations An engineer with Ontario Building Code knowledge who is also able to look into any environmental contamination issues A planner who is knowledgeable of your project’s place in the City’s Official Plan as well as applicable zoning A surveyor who can assist lawyers with the legal description of lands, where applicable

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BUYER REQUIRES FINANCING TO PURCHASE PROPERTY There are various types of financing, either for acquisition of land (basic mortgage) or construction financing, which permits the builder to draw down to pay for work completed with contractors at specific intervals of the project (i.e. 15, 45, 75, or 100 per cent completion). It is important to have a project budget, complete with contingency fees and cost overrun allocations, so that you can ensure you obtain the proper financing at the best rates that you believe are suitable for the development. You of course want to be able to pay this off with terms that allow you to be profitable in the end. As part of financing conditions, the lender will require a title search showing clean and marketable title, proper zoning for the project so the lender knows the project will proceed and they will be paid out, and title insurance to secure their interest in the land.

The wrong contract for the job


Marking milestones in a pandemic economy Hello. Welcome back. It’s been too long. How have you been? Maybe we shouldn’t ask. This print issue of OBJ is the first since the pandemic hit. Perhaps more importantly, it’s a print issue published on OBJ’s 25th anniversary. Not a small milestone in this economy. Not a small milestone in the media business. The pandemic has pushed OBJ, like many local businesses, even further into the digital world. That’s not a new space for OBJ. Way back in 1999, OBJ’s digital journey started in earnest, when we embraced the innovative idea of publishing local business news every few hours on a website. (Yes, that was groundbreaking back then.) Today, the vast majority of our news is published on, summarized daily on the OBJToday email newsletter and shared with 40,000 social media followers. All that

is pretty standard. Nothing new. What’s changing is more video, audio podcasts, webinars and digital events. There will be more of this. For those of you who are reading this column in newsprint format, you might be asking yourself: what about the printed product? Fear not, good reader. Print isn’t going anywhere. For the foreseeable future, OBJ will be printed quarterly. This issue, featuring the CEO of the Year, weighs in at 68 pages and is chock-full of original content. This is print-first content. Put that smartphone down for a few minutes, ease back into a comfy chair and enjoy the tactile experience of our printed newsmagazine.

Ottawa is a city divided. There is the public sector with its job security, benefits and guaranteed retirement savings, and there is the private sector that lives with boomand-bust economic cycles. The two groups have a symbiotic relationship, but these days things are badly out of balance. If those who live with economic certainty don’t step up, Ottawa will be a lesser city. Restaurants, retail shops and other small businesses will permanently close. No amount of government funding will fix this. It’s time to support your local businesses with your pocketbook.


October means Small Business Week. It comes at a time when small businesses are suffering more than ever. During this pandemic, many of us confronted the hard reality that a lot of small businesses are fragile businesses. They operate on razorthin margins, and economic downturns can be catastrophic. Look no further than this city’s mainstreets and the ever-growing number of shuttered storefronts. When the pandemic hit in March, something else became painfully obvious.

@objpublisher Michael Curran


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OCT. 7

Ottawa’s major charities pressed pause on their big fundraisers when the pandemic hit. Today most are adapting and rolling out virtual events. Several, including the Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa and Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation, exceeded impressive $1-million goals. Next up on the fundraising calendar is the Royal Ottawa’s Leaders for Mental Health on Oct. 7. There can be no doubt the pandemic is having a toll on mental health and people are suffering. “From supporting leading-edge research to purchasing state-of-the-art equipment, donations will provide crucial funding which can enhance patient care and find better ways to treat mental illness,” says the Royal’s foundation. Sign up and watch from home here:

OCT. 22

Small businesses are being challenged like never before. The onset of COVID-19 and the ensuing health measures that shut down much of the economy are pushing many entrepreneurs and managers to the brink. OBJ and the Ottawa Board of Trade are organizing the Small Business Summit as a lifeline to entrepreneurs who are struggling and a boost to companies looking to emerge from the pandemic stronger than ever. This half-day virtual conference is free to local entrepreneurs and their business managers. (There is also a VIP option that

includes a lunch delivered to your work or home.) The summit will deal with real-life issues of entrepreneurs, including team resiliency, the shifting economic climate, digital transformation and mental health. Don’t miss our video chat session on what it means to be a business owner. Visit for more information.


Member of Parliament, Ottawa Centre

MAYOR JIM WATSON Mayor of Ottawa

OCT. 27 NOV. 25

This year has been unimaginably bad. Record drops in GDP, unemployment that surpassed the Great Depression and federal government deficits that are sky-high. Still, terrible macroeconomic factors don’t mean companies aren’t battling and sometimes succeeding. Among this carnage, OBJ and the Ottawa Board of Trade will celebrate the Best Ottawa Business Awards, better known as the BOBs. This print issue announces the CEO of the Year. The Lifetime Achievement recipient announcement will come in a few weeks, followed by the CFO of the Year. All other award recipients will be kept under lock and key until Nov. 25 when the BOBs will debut as a YouTube Live event and broadcast on Rogers TV. Keep watching for the latest information.

The Mayor’s Breakfast is back. This perennial networking event and speaking series will return with a hybrid approach: a small number of physically distanced, mask-wearing attendees will gather at Ottawa City Hall and a greater number of business leaders will watch online. The first keynote speaker will be Catherine McKenna, the ranking Liberal MP for Ottawa and the government’s Minister of Infrastructure and Communities. Coming on the heels of a Throne Speech, the address should shed some light on how the federal government will continue to do battle against the pandemic. Visit for more event details. FALL 2020




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Kivuto Solutions lands $7.6M in fresh equity



After spending most of the past two decades as a supporting player in the Ottawa tech scene, Kivuto Solutions might finally be on the verge of stardom. The ByWard Market-based maker of educational software makes its home ​– when people are actually in the office, at least ​– in Shopify’s former headquarters at 126 York St. Despite 22 years of steady growth, however, the firm born in Halifax in the late 1990s under the name PowerKnowledge had never achieved Shopify-like market momentum. But things are looking up for Kivuto. The company’s revenues have surged over the past six months as educational institutions around the world pivoted to remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. In mid-September, the privately owned firm announced it has secured $7.6 million in new equity funding from a group of existing U.S. and Canadian investors led by Roynat Equity Partners. Now at about 85 employees, Kivuto makes a turnkey platform that delivers software, subscription cloud services and digital textbooks to businesses, elementary and high schools, colleges and universities in more than 180 countries.


LaSalle plans 29-storey apartment highrise at Holland Cross As the push to build housing near the Confederation LRT Line ramps up, the owner of a prominent office and commercial complex at the corner of Scott Street and Holland Avenue is the latest developer to

propose a residential tower on the eastwest transit corridor. In documents recently filed at City Hall, LaSalle Investment Management says it wants to build a 29-storey 300,000-square-


foot highrise with 337 rental units and ground-level commercial space on the southeast corner of the Holland Cross complex, which is managed by Ottawabased Colonnade Bridgeport. Built in the 1980s, Holland Cross is currently home to two eight-storey office buildings.

Jobs added in Ottawa-Gatineau since mid-summer. But despite the recovery, employment levels still remain well below pre-pandemic levels. There were 54,900 fewer people working in August than in February.

We’re looking (at Ottawa) to be a very strategic centre for us for many years to come. – Gigamon president Shane Buckley on the California-based company’s decision to establish its fourth global R&D hub in Ottawa.


Calian acquires Ottawa antenna maker Tallysman for $24.5M Aiming to boost its presence in a multibillion-dollar global industry, Calian Group has acquired an Ottawa manufacturer of wireless antennas in a deal worth up to $24.5 million. Kanata-based Calian, which provides a wide range of health-care, IT, engineering

and training services and technology, says it is adding Tallysman Wireless to its stable of companies. While the Kanata company has been manufacturing large satellite antennas of 10 metres or more in diameter for years at its Saskatoon-based Advanced

Technology division, CEO Kevin Ford said the acquisition of Tallysman –​ which makes units as small as a human hand for clients in the autonomous vehicle, precision agriculture and other sectors ​– will give the firm a stronger foothold in the fast-growing wireless satellite communications space. Founded in 2010, Tallysman now has more than 40 employees and has been growing its revenues at an impressive rate of 40 per cent annually.


Domus sold to B.C. company A family-owned cleaning company that’s been a fixture in the capital for more than half a century is now owned by a B.C. firm. Vancouver-based Alpine Building Maintenance says it’s acquired Ottawa’s Domus Building Cleaning Co. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Founded in 1969, Domus employs more than 400 people and has customers throughout the National Capital Region. In a statement, Domus officials say the deal gives the Ottawa firm an “excellent opportunity to continue to grow and find innovative new approaches” to serving its customers.

$592,548 The average resale price of a freehold home in Ottawa in August, up 22 per cent year over year. Condo prices also skyrocketed and were up 24 per cent to $383,640.


The only CEO one of Ottawa’s most iconic retail brands has ever had is stepping down after nearly six decades on the job. Gordon Reid, the former travelling salesman who built Giant Tiger from a single store in the ByWard Market 59 years ago into a multibillion-dollar national chain that competes toe-to-toe with multinational giants such as Walmart, said in late September that he is officially relinquishing the role of chief executive and chairman of the discount retailer. Paul Wood, a longtime Giant Tiger executive who’s served as the company’s president and chief operating officer for the past year, takes over as CEO effective immediately. Reid’s son Scott, who had been serving as vice-chair, will replace his father as chair of the board. Reid will remain on the board as chairman emeritus. As chief operating officer, Wood oversaw the chain’s recent acquisition of 36 stores in Western Canada from franchise partner the North West Company as well as the opening of its state-ofthe-art distribution centre in Johnstown, south of Ottawa, and the construction of its new head office on Walkley Road.

wellness platform to the company’s retirement homes across Canada – part of Welbi’s goal of having its software in 500 facilities by the end of 2021. “It’s definitely a big milestone for us,” said Welbi co-founder and CEO Elizabeth AudetteBourdeau. “Now we get to scale our platform all over Canada (and beyond). I think the biggest thing that came out of the situation with COVID was to realize how important it is to engage our senior population. For us, this is where we really shined.”


Ottawa in prime position to become e-commerce hub: Broccolini exec A top Canadian real estate developer says the National Capital Region is poised to become a major retail distribution hub as online shopping surges and e-commerce giants such as Amazon zero in on sites


Health-tech firm Welbi lands deal with retirement home giant Ottawa-based Welbi is more than living up to its status as one of the capital’s tech firms to watch. The four-year-old company –​ which helps retirement homes create recreation programs and other activities for seniors and monitor residents’ levels


of engagement – has seen a dramatic uptick in demand for its platform during the COVID-19 pandemic. As feelings of social isolation among seniors spiked during the crisis, retirement residences began seeking better ways to ensure residents remained socially and physically active – a need tailormade for Welbi’s solution. The Ottawa startup recently landed its biggest customer yet, finalizing a long-term deal with Canadian-owned Revera to bring its

Gordon Reid steps down as CEO of Giant Tiger

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that offer quick and easy access to Canada’s biggest markets. Anthony Broccolini, the chief operating officer of the Montreal-based real estate firm that bears his family’s name, recently

told a virtual audience that the move away from traditional brick-and-mortar stores has shifted into high gear during the COVID-19 crisis. Many retail experts say the pandemic has fast-forwarded the e-commerce trend by at least five years. His company and others have either built, started construction on or announced plans for nearly five million square feet of new warehouse and distribution space in the region within the past two years. Thursday night, Broccolini suggested there will be more such large-scale industrial projects to come in Ottawa. “I think you’re going to start seeing more and more of it,” he said. “The market is changing.” Broccolini said Ottawa has a geographic advantage, noting the capital’s location between Toronto and Montreal is a major selling point for retail distributors looking to satisfy growing demand for same-day deliveries to Canada’s largest population centres.


François Julien leaves indelible mark on Telfer School of Management Three-decade run at uOttawa culminates with two terms as business school’s dean BY CAROLINE PHILLIPS

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t’s an ongoing debate whether good managers are born or made. However, it’s likely a bit of both for François Julien, who managed to elevate the University of Ottawa’s Telfer School of Management to greater heights during his long and successful career at the business school. Julien, 57, stepped down this past June as dean. He was also previously vice-dean, associate dean and director of Telfer’s MBA program. “I’ve been fortunate enough to surround myself with a team of excellent collaborators and, together, we’ve really been able to make a difference at Telfer by bringing the school to the next level of excellence,” he said in an interview. What Julien has most enjoyed from his 30-plus years of working at Telfer are the students, with their fresh ideas, endless enthusiasm and ambitious aspirations. Notable alumni include Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario’s chief innovation officer, Mari Teitelbaum, who graduated from the Telfer Master of Health Administration program, and Shopify chief operating officer Harley Finkelstein, who was admitted into the joint MBA-JD program and distinguished himself at uOttawa. “I’ve watched his career with a great deal of satisfaction,” said Julien. Then there’s Canadian mining executive Ian Telfer, after whom the school was named in honour of his $25-million donation in 2007. The huge gift was his way of thanking the school for making such a difference in his life. Telfer had graduated from the MBA

program after being cautiously admitted at the last minute. He also established a scholarship at his alma mater, asking that it be awarded to the last student to be admitted.

STUDENT SUCCESS Julien has seen shining examples of entrepreneurship and innovation at Telfer, particularly through Enactus uOttawa, a student-run organization that uses the power of entrepreneurial action to empower people to improve the livelihoods of others. One recent success story is The Growcer, an Ottawa-based startup that provides sustainable fresh food, co-founded by two former Telfer students. “When you see the students’ passion, their creativity and their innovation, it’s very motivating,” said Julien. “What they need is support, and that’s what we provide and that’s how the school continues to grow and have an impact – not only through the work of our researchers but also through the leadership of our students and alumni.”

Inspiring him along the way has been his dad, Gilles Julien. Gilles, a former professor in pharmacology at Université Laval, moved his family from the suburbs of Quebec City to Ottawa when he joined the National Research Council Canada in 1971. Julien, the eldest of four children, was eight years old when he arrived here, becoming a Franco-Ontarian by adoption. It’s no surprise Julien was attracted to a career in academia. He finished top of his class from the uOttawa business school before obtaining his master’s and PhD in management science from the University of Waterloo, with a focus on mathematical modelling. He was already a professor by the time he was 27. Yet Julien’s teaching and research career headed in a different direction after he was asked to become director of uOttawa’s MBA program in 1997 – the same year he received tenure. “I was quite naive at the time and thought it might make an interesting challenge,” said Julien of a role that came with no training but many duties and responsibilities. He would go on to run the program for seven years with no regrets, calling it a “satisfying and enriching experience.” Julien was appointed Telfer’s dean in 2011, holding the position for more than nine years. He stepped down from his second term one year early for health reasons. “It’s probably time for new leadership and new energy,” he said. “I think this was probably the best time for me to pass the baton to the next person.” On his last official day as dean, he was honoured and thanked in a video prepared by university colleagues and friends. “Nobody has dedicated more to the



The François Julien Doctoral Research Scholarship Fund was recently created in his honour to help fuel a project that he established and is passionate about, the Telfer PhD in Management program.


He and his wife, Danielle Da Sylvia-Julien, have been married 34 years and are parents to three children, all in their 20s.


He got his first taste of leadership in high school as president of his school band at École secondaire catholique Garneau.


As for words of wisdom, he believes learning should be a lifelong process and that people should pursue a career they’re passionate about.


His father founded the local francophone choir, Les Chansonniers d’Ottawa, and eventually handed over the role of musical director to Julien, who derives great pleasure from running the choir and preparing the musical arrangements.

School than you have,” his predecessor, Micheál Kelly, told him. “You’ve taken on every job, risen to every challenge you’ve been given, and the school today is largely a reflection of the contributions that you have made in the many roles that you have played.”



n a sign that COVID-19 will continue to cast a pall over the local economy for several more months, slightly more than one in five respondents in the Welch LLP Ottawa Business Growth Survey say their organization plans to reduce the size of their employee headcount in the current fiscal year. To put that number in context, that figure had previously never been higher than seven per cent since 2016. But the pandemic is not affecting all businesses evenly; despite the high number of organizations forced to lay off employees, an even higher proportion – one in four – say they plan to hire new staff. That’s down significantly from 49 per cent in 2019. Observers say that reflects the uneven economic impact of the pandemic. “The diverging fortunes of various industries is a challenge for many employees – this includes individuals who are, or were, employed in industries that have been severely impacted by the COVID-19,” says Welch LLP partner Jim McConnery. “In some cases there is an expectation that the relevant industry will

recover in the future, however, the timing and strength of the recovery is very uncertain.” McConnery adds that some employers have had access to the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy program as a means to maintain employment levels notwithstanding material declines in revenue. There are also a myriad of training programs that provide support to individuals who want to repurpose their skills. “We expect that the federal and provincial governments will dedicate more funds to such programs as part of our long-term recovery initiatives,” McConnery says. DIFFERING OUTLOOKS FOR TECH, RETAIL Ottawa’s booming tech sector was largely unaffected by COVID-19 as many companies seamlessly switched to remote operations.

The sector’s underlying strength and adaptability helps to explain the industry’s relatively positive outlook on employee retention and net income, says Michael Tremblay, president of Invest Ottawa. “A lot of these companies have long-range contracts which serve them well and allow them to navigate through with little volatility,” he says. But it’s a starkly different picture for the city’s retailers, says Mark Kaluski, chair of the Ottawa Coalition of BIAs. “The brick-and-mortar sector has been absolutely devastated,” he says. “They saw their sales essentially drop to zero in a day, and while some revenue is coming back, it’s definitely nowhere near where they were.” This harsh new reality explains the overall dramatic decrease in business confidence, says Kaluski, as well as the fear that the market will only get worse. While business confidence has reached an alltime low in Ottawa, Tremblay says it is important to remember that the city has seen hardship in the past and has always recovered and grown stronger. “Some companies won’t make it through this, but the majority of them will,” he adds. “One thing is certain: At the core of it, we have great talent, and that talent will be able to persevere.”

In the current fiscal year, do you plan to… KEEP EMPLOYEE LEVEL THE SAME






The Welch LLP Ottawa Business Growth Survey is a comprehensive annual research project that explores what’s ahead for the city’s economy based on surveys with hundreds of business leaders. Read their insights and understand the factors shaping business confidence in Ottawa at



WORKING TOGETHER ECONOMIC RECOVERY Let our team of experts help your team during this period of economic recovery. Contact us at or visit for more information.


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TOURISM There’s no instruction manual on how to guide your business through a pandemic. – JORDAN HOLLEY, CHEF-OWNER, RIVIERA


LEFT TO RIGHT: Riviera chef-owner Jordan Holley, Sarah Chown, the Ottawa board chair of the Ontario Restaurant Hotel & Motel Association and managing partner of Metropolitain Brasserie and Linebox Studio principal architect Andrew Reeves. PHOTO BY MATT STEWART

Ottawa’s top restaurateurs charge ahead with expansion plans With winter approaching, many businesses are changing their service models FALL 2020





pening a new restaurant in Ottawa during the COVID-19 pandemic could be a recipe for disaster or a promising sign that the culinary scene is still brimming with cosmopolitan flavour. Ottawa-based Linebox Studio has designed three new downtown

restaurants this year. Fine dining restaurant Aiana at 50 O’Connor St. and Arlo at 340 Somerset St. W. are up and running. Authentic pizza restaurant Giulia will be coming to 350 Elgin St. Linebox Studio is owned by principal architect Andrew Reeves, whose firm was behind the design work for such dining hotspots as Riviera and Datsun, El Camino and Fauna. He and his team

collaborated with restaurateurs to create striking and memorable spaces that allow patrons to gather and socialize together. “It’s pretty motivating when you meet these chef-owners who put their heart and soul into food, and who are as passionate and dedicated to their craft as I am to mine,” said Reeves, who’s of the opinion that many restaurants in our region have risen to the top of their game. “I think the Ottawa food scene, for the past three or four years, has been the best in Canada.”

Jordan Holley is the chef-owner of Riviera, a fine-dining restaurant at 62 Sparks St. He’s launching a new eatery with business partners in the ByWard Market. Shelby Burger, located at 11 William St., will be open for customers in early October. He believes Shelby Burger will be able to ride out the pandemic through its “fast-casual” format, which emphasizes product quality, freshness and speedy service. “It’s almost built for this kind of climate with online ordering and phone ordering and quick service takeout,” Holley said. As for Riviera, increasingly more of its customers are heading back indoors to dine. “It’s far from the normal that we’re used to, of course, but it’s just great to see people back in the space and enjoying their time, feeling safe and comfortable. We’re making sure they’re well taken care of,” said Holley, who is keeping his fingers crossed that indoor dining rooms won’t be forced to shut down again. One could almost feel the collective cringe when the Canadian Chamber of Commerce recently warned that as many as 60 per cent of restaurants could permanently close this fall. “It’s a tough business; margins are tight,” said Holley. “A lot of businesses could not sustain being closed for, what was it, four months? There’s no instruction manual on how to guide your business through a pandemic, and remodel and rebrand and come up with new ideas.” Many restaurateurs – trained at the culinary school of hard knocks – have adapted to the pandemic challenges as best they can by expanding their outdoor patio spaces, serving more food-to-go meals and getting temporary permission to sell alcohol with food takeout and delivery orders. Continued on page 14


“Ottawa has always been a sports city, and it’s something that we do very well.” – Robert Kawamoto, senior strategic advisor for major events and sports, Ottawa Tourism.

Wrestling Canada Lutte and the Shaw Centre took special precautions while hosting the 2020 Pan-American Qualifiers and Championships in Ottawa earlier this year.

OTTAWA SPORTS COMMUNITY WINS BIG FOR 2021 Nation’s capital moves up the ranking in Global Sports Impact Index


sports at Ottawa Tourism. “The city has a great reputation all across the country and we are only looking to grow that success.” A SPORTS DESTINATION CITY With year-round access to transportation, modern facilities, hotels, restaurants and leisure activities, Ottawa is an ideal destination for major sporting events. By hosting a myriad of successful big-name competitions throughout the last few years, such as the CP Women’s Open and Red Bull Crashed Ice in 2017, the city increased its ranking on the Global Sports Impact Index – which ranks cities based on their ability to host tournaments. Earlier this year, Ottawa moved up six spots on the list, becoming the fifth-best place in Canada to host a sporting event. “Sport is really in the DNA of the people of Ottawa and you can see that in how groups come together to make these events happen,” says Kawamoto, adding that it takes a high level of collaboration between local associations and organizations to pull off these complex tournaments and championships.

A NEW ERA OF COMPETITION Although COVID-19 has changed the way we think about physical gatherings, there is still a huge opportunity to host sports events in the capital, says Medwidsky. The pandemic was an unforeseen hurdle in early March, however organizers of the wrestling competition were able to create a safe space for athletes by removing spectators, ramping up sanitization and creating their own bubble at the Shaw Centre. While it was a different approach to the event, Medwidsky says it is a great example of how sports can continue safely in this new reality. “Sport is really going to be one of the important pieces that is going to bring communities back together,” she adds. “I can certainly see Ottawa playing a huge role in bringing these events back to life.”

OTTAWA 2021-22 EVENT LINEUP WORLD MEN’S CURLING CHAMPIONSHIPS When: April 3-11, 2021 Where: TD Place SPORT TOURISM CANADA – SPORT EDUCATION CONFERENCE (SEC) When: April 7-8, 2021 Where: The Westin 2021 MASTERS INDIGENOUS GAMES When: August 5-8, 2021 Where: Lansdowne Park 2021 CANADIAN SPRINT CANOE KAYAK NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS When: August 24-29, 2021 Where: Rideau River/Mooney’s Bay 2022 CP WOMEN’S OPEN When: August 22-28, 2022 Where: Ottawa Hunt & Golf Club



As the city prepares for a new year of sports tourism, Kawamoto says the teams behind these events are working hard to ensure everyone involved will feel safe come time for the event. By following the directives of local health organizations, he says he feels optimistic about the impact these events will have on the city and the many businesses within it. “Rebuilding the business community with these events is definitely a step in the right direction,” he adds. “There are so many benefits of sports tourism, and the number of people it brings to the city and the economic impact it can have is just the beginning.”

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ith several professional sports leagues in the heart of their respective playoff runs, Ottawa is gearing up for its own year of tournaments and championships as local and national teams prepare to bring their competitions to the capital. While COVID-19 halted team sports throughout the city earlier this year, Ottawa Tourism and local sporting associations continued their efforts to pitch the capital as a top destination for sports events in 2021 and beyond. The city is no stranger to hosting large-scale events, with 21 national championships and 16 international events taking place in Ottawa in 2019. In the coming years, the city will see the return of the Canadian Sprint Canoe Kayak National Championships and the CP Women’s Open to Ottawa, while also welcoming the World Men’s Curling Championship and the Masters Indigenous Games. “Ottawa has always been a sports city, right from the community level, and it’s something that we do very well,” says Robert Kawamoto, senior strategic advisor for major events and

Back in early March, Ottawa Tourism, the Westin Hotel, Wrestling Canada Lutte and the Shaw Centre came together to host the 2020 Pan-American Qualifiers and Championships in the capital, transforming the downtown meeting and convention space into a sports arena. While there had been bids from across Canada to host the event, the ability to have athletes stay and compete in the downtown core, a short drive from the airport and minutes from local attractions was a huge selling point, says Tamara Medwidsky, executive director at Wrestling Canada Lutte. “We had such a great experience in Ottawa and received amazing feedback from our athletes on everything from the venue to the accommodations,” says Medwidsky. “It was an incredible event and I couldn’t imagine doing it any differently.”

TOURISM Restaurants changing service models Continued from page 12 “For most of these chef-owners, this is their livelihood,” said Reeves. “It’s an

intense industry. I don’t know any other industry that works as hard and is as committed as the restaurant industry.” Reeves’ heart goes out to the

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restaurant and dining sector, which has seen its share of casualties in 2020. “It’s extremely sad to see,” he said. “It wasn’t that they had a bad business plan. It wasn’t that they made bad mistakes or horrible decisions. Sometimes, things are just stolen from you.”

WAGE SUBSIDY Sarah Chown is the Ottawa board chair of the Ontario Restaurant Hotel & Motel Association and managing partner of Metropolitain Brasserie at 700 Sussex Dr. She credits the Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy with helping many restaurants stay afloat during the pandemic. “It’s been very helpful for all of us,” said Chown. “Our sales are down so substantially that it really helps to carry

some of those costs and allow us to still operate.” The ORHMA is pushing to see the wage subsidy program extended beyond December to help them survive what’s expected to be several bleak months. “Time is really going to tell but we certainly have some significant concerns, especially being in Ottawa – one of the coldest capitals on the planet – and not knowing what winter will look like here once the patios are shut down for the season and you’re limited to inside dining and six feet of social distancing,” said Chown. “Sadly, I think you will see a lot more places shut down in those winter months, when the wage subsidy programs run out, or early in the spring. It’s just going to be tough for some people to make it through.”

STUFF Made and Built In Eastern Ontario Coming November 2020

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ognitive dissonance is the mental discomfort that comes from holding two conflicting beliefs, values or attitudes. It is part of a social psychology theory that tries to explain a disconnect between a person’s behaviours and their beliefs. When you know that cigarettes cause cancer, but decide to start smoking anyway, it is an example of cognitive dissonance. It isn’t hypocrisy. That would be telling other people not to smoke while you are puffing away. Hypocrisy is often easier to point out and resolve. Recognizing cognitive dissonance can often mean confronting one’s decision-making process. Understanding and awareness are key steps to changing one’s approach and resolving this conflict. Ottawa, like many cities, experiences cognitive dissonance. We need to rethink what we are doing, and how, if we are serious about being the most livable mid-sized city in North America. After all, that is the point of our new Official Plan.

NEW APPROACHES How do we resolve this? The solutions are complex and may need a wholesale rethink of our approach to problem solving. One place to start is how the city budgets expenses. It funds new buildings with a capital budget while maintenance is covered in a separate operating budget. There is little incentive to build a more durable and sustainable city-owned building if it exceeds a capital target. Resolving this means understanding

and rethinking how we approach our city budget: It isn’t just the division of capital and operating costs, but merging these two budgets to better understand the decision-making process that affects budgets as a whole. We state a belief in design excellence, but award contracts for design based on low fees (which translates to low effort). Private-sector development is incentivized to strive for mediocrity while excellence, innovation and creativity are not supported. Some city planning staff insist on imposing their own design ideas, holding up applications or denigrating design submissions for months or years. We may need to rethink who is making the decisions, and how we can create policies – and actions – that achieve our aspirations. We might, for example, create a role for a city architect who participates in design projects, focusing on the creation of places for people. This champion for design could challenge city-retained consultants to come up with better solutions, lead public workshops and promote excellence in the built environment. Such is the model in Edmonton, recipient of one-quarter of all of Canada’s 2020 Governor General’s Awards in Architecture. Edmonton’s city architect has also reformed how they hire architects and engineers, stressing design excellence and innovation to deliver better value. There are no short-term, quick fixes. But if we want to bridge the conflict between what we say and what we do, and become the city we aspire to, then we need to start somewhere. Understanding the conflict between our aspirations and our actions is a key first step. Once we recognize it, we can take steps to resolve the conflict. The time to start is now. Toon Dreessen is president of Ottawabased Architects DCA and past-president of the Ontario Association of Architects. For a sample of Architects DCA’s projects, check out the firm’s portfolio at Follow @ArchitectsDCA on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.


THE GLEBE A similar disconnect was on display in the Glebe this spring. As public demand for safe public spaces increased amid the

BYWARD MARKET Over the last 16 years, more than $2.5 million has been spent on at least five different studies of the ByWard Market. Countless others have weighed in, not the least of whom was our firm with a 2018 pro-bono design study. Anecdotal evidence and organized input has been overwhelmingly clear: To make the ByWard Market better, we need less on-street parking, more places for people to walk and enjoy a high quality public realm as well as support the farmers market and other merchants. In 2020, we have a much-diminished farmers market and by 2021, there may be no market left at all. Cognitive dissonance is our city’s belief that more studies, more meetings and more hand-wringing will solve this problem when the solution has been proposed, studied and has active public support. In short, the conflict is that we say we want to achieve something with one voice (better cycling infrastructure, walkable 15-minute neighborhoods as well as respect and preservation of our social and built heritage), but then actively undermine our aspirations by working against our goals by implementing poor designs, allowing narrow business interest to override the needs and desires of residents and failing to take meaningful action in a timely way.

Despite spending millions of dollars, the city’s upgrades to Elgin Street have been criticized by cyclists and motorists alike, writes Toon Dreessen.

FALL 2020

ELGIN STREET To see how this is playing out in Ottawa, one needs to look no further than Elgin Street, where several years of reconstruction work (following extensive design work and public consultations) has wrapped up. Much of the public input was ignored or rejected. Several years earlier, the city rebuilt Main Street and installed separated bike lanes to support a walkable, bikeable 15-minute community. But despite the positive feedback, this precedent was largely ignored on Elgin Street – with entirely foreseeable results. In June, a cyclist was severely injured on Elgin, in the exact manner predicted. Anecdotal feedback from cyclists has been that the super-sharrows are a miserable experience, and that the street is not a pleasant place to commute by bike, nor by car. At the same time the city is celebrating the completion of the work as an example of its commitment to excellence and investment in cycling infrastructure, two city councillors are working to create temporary bike lanes through the use of cones. While welcome, this temporary solution is like having a new house with a tarp on the roof. Spending millions of dollars and enduring years of disruption to end up with something that needs cones to be safe is cognitive dissonance: the city-as-government states it has done well but the city-as-people states the experience is poor.

pandemic, many residents proposed one lane of Bank Street be closed to vehicles to give cyclists and pedestrians more space. This would have been consistent with moves made by other great world-class cities that created pop-up bike lanes, public spaces and supported local merchants while meeting the physical distancing requirements of our new normal. Despite strong public and political will, the idea was quashed by the local BIA and some political leaders, even though a large city-owned parking garage sits nearly empty nearby. This is cognitive dissonance: We say we want to be a worldclass city and create a great, walkable, bikeable, 15-minute neighborhood, but actively prevent local residents and their elected officials from taking action.


CPCS managing partners Jean-François Arsenault, left, and Marc-André Roy. PHOTO BY MARK HOLLERON

Ottawa consultants help plan massive infrastructure projects around the world CPCS signs partnership with Stonechair Capital to help manage US$300 million worth of investments in projects in Africa BY ADAM STANLEY FALL 2020




hen an Ottawa-based company competes and wins on a global stage, it’s a positive news story – especially in a year when good news has been hard to come by. CPCS, an Ottawa-based management consulting firm specializing in infrastructure projects around the world,

has been thriving in 2020. “I’m prouder than ever of the team,” says Marc-André Roy, the co-managing partner of CPCS. “We’ve all focused on moving things forward. “We all feel very much more part of a team than we did going into this.” The company began in the late 1800s when the federal government partnered with Canada’s private sector to build the Canadian Pacific Railway

(CP). The success of the railway saw the creation of a consulting arm, Canadian Pacific Consulting Services (CPCS). The consultancy had deep expertise in infrastructure management and offered that service to governments and service providers across the world. After a management buyout in the 1980s and a merger with another Ottawabased firm in the 1990s, CPCS no longer has any equity relationship with the railway and instead is an employee-owned company. Out of the 120 or so staff, about half are now shareholders, Roy says.

STONECHAIR PARTNERSHIP In recent years, CPCS’s advisers have

assisted India’s Ministry of Railways in planning new freight corridors, explored public-private partnership options for urban transport infrastructure in Lagos and developed a guide for U.S. transportation agencies using new data sources such as GPS to ease freight truck congestion. Earlier this year, the company announced a new partnership with private equity firm Stonechair Capital to help manage US$300 million worth of investments in projects in Africa. This is built off CPCS’s nearly three-year-old relationship with InfraCo Africa, in which the former assists the latter with earlystage infrastructure projects. Where CPCS would work with clients on initial concepts and feasibility studies, Stonechair can deploy funding to make ideas into reality. “It’s been very positive,” says Roy. “We’re on the ground and understand the market very well. We also have a great ability to advise and identify new project ideas.”

BIG DATA, SMART CITIES Roy says while COVID-19 has essentially eliminated all travel for his firm – which has clients across North America and in Africa and Europe – he has been pleasantly surprised that a lot of CPCS’s project work has been largely uninhibited by the lack of in-person client meetings. Save for projects requiring stakeholder engagement that could not be done remotely, the firm has been able to continue on without a major pause in workflow. There were a few challenges, Roy says, but the slowdown has not been as pronounced as in the retail or restaurant industries. And, Roy says, unlike some other firms, CPCS is hiring and looking to expand – especially in the areas of big data and smart cities. “We reinvested that time in building up the foundations of the company, strengthening corporate policies. We’re seeing the fruits of that now, several months into it,” says Roy. “We’ve always had a good, dynamic culture, but it’s stronger now going through this period of uncertainty.”


Ottawa cargo flights climb as carriers rush to meet growing demand YOW plays key role in eastern Arctic supply chain, but position cannot be taken for granted, officials say


was outbound – products sold by local businesses to customers in other markets. This is driven in part by YOW’s key role in the eastern Arctic supply chain. “Everything from axle grease to zucchini can be sourced locally for air freight to the north,” says Mark Laroche, the president and CEO of the Ottawa International Airport Authority. “This is positive for the local economy, particularly for producers, manufacturers, distributors and retailers in Ottawa-Gatineau.” However, Laroche cautions that Ottawa’s current role as a supplier to the north should not be taken for granted. Preserving Ottawa’s advantage Looking at a map of our country could be somewhat misleading and could give us the impression that Ottawa is in closer proximity to Iqaluit relative to other Canadian cities. But other Canadian airports – which would welcome additional cargo business to the north – are almost equally close.



Outlook Despite the inherent volatility in the air freight industry, the sector’s outlook in Ottawa is promising. The merger of Canadian North and First Air is good news for the National Capital Region, as the Arctic-focused carrier has indicated that it will maintain its headquarters in Ottawa. Elsewhere, FedEx has an aircraft dedicated to its busy Ottawa operations, and Air Canada recently upgraded its YOW cargo facilities. Meanwhile, changing consumer trends and the growth of e-commerce is creating expectations for quick and timely deliveries, putting more pressure on air freight. “We’re paying close attention to ensure that YOW is prepared for future cargo growth. Our airfield is ready, and we have land available for facility expansion. We need to continue working with the City of Ottawa to ensure that essential airport roadway infrastructure is equipped as well,” Laroche says. FALL 2020

sharp rise in cargo flights serving Canada’s capital this summer highlights an important but often overlooked part of the Ottawa International Airport’s operations that enables local businesses to quickly reach customers in other markets. Air freight is typically handled either on dedicated cargo flights operated by carriers such as FedEx, Cargojet and Canadian North or in the belly of passenger aircraft, below the cabin, flown by the likes of Air Canada and WestJet. With many of those passenger flights temporarily suspended, dedicated cargo flights at the Ottawa International Airport jumped 18 per cent year-overyear in July to 138 takeoffs and landings. The demand for dedicated cargo flights climbed as carriers replaced lost capacity aboard passenger aircraft and responded to growing demand for rush deliveries, ranging from medical equipment to everyday e-commerce purchases. Some 31,375 metric tonnes of cargo moved through YOW in 2019, a two per cent increase over the previous year. Significantly, nearly two-thirds of that cargo

For example, a Cargojet Boeing 767 freighter takes approximately 2.5 hours to fly from YOW to Iqaluit. That same aircraft would only require an additional 12 minutes to reach Nunavut’s capital from Winnipeg and another 20 minutes from Hamilton. The flight from Quebec City to Iqaluit is actually 15 minutes shorter than from Ottawa. Given that aircraft are mobile assets and can be redeployed as demand and supply chains evolve, it is essential that Ottawa maintains its competitive position by, for example, maintaining efficient road access to the airport. “Time is critical in cargo operations,” Laroche says. It’s equally essential that limits on the type of development that can occur close to the airport are adhered to by all. The purpose of the airport’s “operating influence zone” is to avoid building homes and other structures in areas where people could be bothered by the sound of planes taking off or landing during all hours – an avoidable conflict that can lead to curfews and other restrictions. “The airport needs to continue to remain open to cargo,” Laroche says. “That is why limiting ‘noisesensitive’ development in the Airport Operating Influence Zone (AOIZ), as described in the City’s Official Plan and Comprehensive Zoning By-law, is so important.”


Build the greatest supplychain planning software that ever existed How a young software engineer climbed the corporate ladder to build a multibillion-dollar tech powerhouse BY DAVID SALI

FALL 2020




ohn Sicard’s ascent to the top of the Ottawa tech world almost stalled before it ever got off the ground. Back in 1994, just months after relocating his family to the capital from Montreal to work at a small Kanata tech firm then known as Enterprise Planning Systems, Sicard suddenly found himself facing the unsettling prospect of looking for a new job. Enterprise, it turned out, was on shaky financial ground. In an effort to stem the bleeding, the company slashed its workforce from about 80 employees down to 26 in one day. “We just sat there around the room waiting for names to be called … and my name never got called,” Sicard says. “I was terrified, because I’d bought a house I couldn’t afford and moved my wife here. She had lived in Montreal all her life, so this was a very big deal.” Having survived the drastic cuts, the young software developer and the rest of what remained of the company’s R&D team were handed a monumental assignment by then-CEO Michael Ker. “We were asked to go and build the greatest supply-chain planning software

that ever existed,” Sicard says with a smile. “I remember clocking four to five hundred hours a month on just coding. We didn’t sleep. We were eating coffee beans for months on end building some of the technology that we still have today. We started from line one. It was such a privilege to watch and to be part of.” The software that Sicard and his colleagues created, called RapidResponse, became the foundation of one of the most remarkable turnarounds in the history of Ottawa tech. The sophisticated business planning technology slowly but surely helped the company now known as Kinaxis regain its footing and embark on a path to profitability that’s made it a publicly traded powerhouse. Much of the credit for that transformation must go to Sicard, who stuck with the company as it went through a series of name changes and restructurings in a struggle to gain altitude. Today, the firm founded 36 years ago by a trio of former Mitel employees is in full flight, and Sicard is in the pilot’s seat.

AHEAD OF ITS TIME Earlier this month, Kinaxis was named one of the Toronto Stock Exchange’s

top 30 performers of the past three years. The firm’s stock price has risen 140 per cent since 2017, and its value has roughly doubled since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic as customers scrambled to adjust to wildly fluctuating market forces that saw some products flying off store shelves while demand for other merchandise cratered. “We’ve probably never been more relevant as a company than we are now,” Sicard says, repeating a line he’s recited often over the past six months. “It’s only recently we’ve sort of come out of the shadow of other giants, I will say, and people recognize what we’re truly doing. I would say we were ahead of our time.” It’s safe to say that Kinaxis’s time has come. The firm that couldn’t crack $10 million in annual sales when Sicard arrived is now projecting revenues of up to $220 million in the current fiscal year, with adjusted profits of between 20 and 23 per cent of revenues. Now at nearly 1,000 employees in 21 countries, Kinaxis has been on a hiring spree during the pandemic. The firm is on pace to grow its headcount by 40 per cent in 2020 as more and more customers realize the value of its products in a global economy that’s been upended by the coronavirus. The company’s cutting-edge software helps corporate heavyweights such as Ford, Procter & Gamble, Toyota and Unilever keep track of their inventory as

well as decide what materials to order and when. With consumer buying habits in constant flux during the COVID-19 crisis, the need for up-to-the-minute data on changes in price, supply and other variables is greater than ever, Sicard notes. As a result, the number of daily scenarios run by its customers has more than doubled during the pandemic and is now in the billions per month. “The supply chain collectively makes the world go round,” says the 58-year-old native of Nova Scotia, who took over as CEO in January 2016. With a chuckle, Sicard says even his teenaged nieces and nephews now grasp the significance of what he does after seeing supermarket shelves stripped bare of essentials such as toilet paper this spring. “They didn’t really quite understand what I did for a living, but now they do,” he says with a grin. While timing has undoubtedly played a part in Sicard’s success, his friends and colleagues credit his tenacity and insatiable curiosity for his rise to the top. Former CEO Doug Colbeth says he realized right away that his future protégé had a mix of attributes you don’t often find in the corner office of the C-suite. “He had this very rare combination of being extremely technical, but he was also extremely interested in all parts of the business,” says Colbeth, who took over the company, by then known as Webplan, in 2003. “Even then, I could see that John had the potential someday to run the company. ”

GROUNDBREAKING BUSINESS MODEL Over the next 15 years, Sicard became one of Colbeth’s most trusted lieutenants as the CEO worked to overhaul Kinaxis’s business model and instil a culture of success at a firm that had consistently failed to generate momentum. Indeed, Kinaxis spent most of its first few decades in existence on the edge of a breakthrough that never quite came. As far back as 1992, the New York Times declared its customer reviews “almost too good to be true,” but the hype never

As a software engineer, when somebody would tell me, ‘That’s impossible,’ I’d usually say, ‘Pardon?’ I love problems like that. – KINAXIS CEO JOHN SICARD

CLIMBING THE CORPORATE LADDER Senior software architect and pre-sales 1994-2002

Vice-president of professional services 2002-2005

Executive vice-president of marketing, development and service operations 2009-2011

Chief strategy officer 2012-2013

fell while customers gradually shifted to monthly subscriptions. But just as Colbeth and Sicard hoped, the softwareas-a-service model eventually gained traction and became the driving force behind the company’s growth. Conceding there were some “scary moments” as Kinaxis navigated through the transition, Colbeth says Sicard never wavered in the face of criticism. “I remember many evenings where late at night, John and I would say, ‘We’re

Chief product officer 2013-2016

CEO 2016-present

going to figure this out –​ we just don’t have the answer right now. But we’re going to figure it out.’”

RESILIENCE Growing up in a military family, Sicard lived in 15 different places. He credits that nomadic lifestyle with teaching him how to adapt to changing circumstances on the fly, an early life lesson that’s served him well in the topsy-turvy world of tech. Continued on page 20


Gartner thinking that we were going to fail,” says Sicard, who was responsible for overseeing the software’s creation as head of R&D. “They said, ‘No one’s going to allow their bills and material out of their building and there’s way too much data to transfer across the internet.’ As a software engineer, when somebody would tell me, ‘That’s impossible,’ I’d usually say, ‘Pardon?’ I love problems like that.” For a time, the firm’s financial picture remained muddied as upfront revenues

Chief operating officer 2011-2012

FALL 2020

translated into major market gains. In 2005, the company changed its name to Kinaxis. That same year, it made a bold move that turned out to be a stroke of genius: instead of charging customers a one-time fee upfront, it switched to a subscription-based model, billing clients by the month for cloudbased software delivered online. It was a groundbreaking concept at the time, and skeptics abounded. “I remember (global research firm)

Executive vice-president, development and service operations 2005-2009


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Sicard and his wife Pina are the proud parents of 29-year-old Alexandre, a PhD candidate in chemistry at the University of Ottawa, and Nicholas, 26, a software tester at Kinaxis.



Continued from page 19 “Every two years my father would come home and say, ‘We’re moving.’ We’d say ‘When?’ He’d say, ‘Monday,’” he recalls. “I’ve always grown up to be hyper-resilient. I lean in. When someone says that’s impossible, I say, ‘That’s a call to action. Challenge accepted.’” As the company’s financial prospects began to brighten, the rising executive famously told a reporter that Kinaxis was on its way to eclipsing another well-known Ottawa-based software firm that had annual revenues approaching $1 billion. “He said, ‘Someday we’re going to be worth more than Cognos,’” says Colbeth, who now runs a health-tech company in San Diego called MedCircle. “He was not intimidated. I think our market value at that time was maybe $100 million.” Showing his trademark determination, Sicard continued to work his way up the corporate ladder. He excelled in every C-suite role Colbeth could offer, including chief operating officer, chief strategy officer and, ultimately, chief product officer. In 2014, Sicard helped pave the way for Kinaxis to go public, criss-crossing the continent with Colbeth and chief financial officer Richard Monkman in an effort to win over sometimes skeptical investors. In the end, the firm had one of the biggest Canadian tech IPOs in years, selling more than $100 million worth of stock on the TSX.

Sensing that Kinaxis needed a new leader to take it to the next level, Colbeth decided to move on. Surveying the corporate landscape, he had no doubt who his successor should be. Sicard, he says, is a rare breed: a leader who sees the big picture but doesn’t overlook any of the details needed to make that vision a reality. “He’s extremely well-organized,” Colbeth says. “He sees the value of building the infrastructures to support the growth of a company. When I left, I said to

analysts and investors the business was “solid.” Since that day, the company’s market value has nearly tripled to more than $5 billion. Kinaxis’s head of human resources, Megan Peterson – who’s worked with Sicard for a dozen years – marvels at her boss’s uncanny ability to steer a course that satisfies the short-term demands of shareholders while keeping his eyes fixed on where the market will be heading months and years down the road. “The pressure of being publicly traded, he has managed it really, really well,” she says. “I’ve worked for other public companies where they live and die by the quarter, but he’s got a longer-range view. I think that helps us stay the course even if things are rocky.” Sicard’s colleagues also point to his strong skills as a communicator and his team-first mentality. Even in the midst of a hiring blitz, the busy exec still takes time to have an informal meet-and-greet with every new employee where he asks one question: How did you become the person you are? “There’s only one rule: you can’t talk about what’s on LinkedIn,” Sicard says of the get-togethers, which now take place virtually. “It forces you to get to know people. I often start by saying, ‘I have a tattoo, but I’m not going to show it to you.’ Then they realize, ‘Oh my God, he’s just a regular dude.’ It really unites everybody.”

He said, ‘Someday we’re going to be worth more than Cognos.’ He was not intimidated. – DOUG COLBETH, FORMER CEO, KINAXIS

the board, ‘This is the guy who can take this from a $100-million company to a billion-dollar-a-year-revenue company.’” Sicard’s calmness under pressure was rarely more evident than in mid-August 2017, when Kinaxis lost $350 million in market value in less than a week after it failed to hit its quarterly revenue target. While other execs might have panicked, a confident Sicard simply shrugged it off and assured skittish

AUTISM AT WORK Away from the boardroom, Sicard and his wife Pina are the proud parents of 29-year-old Alexandre, a PhD candidate in chemistry at the University of Ottawa, and Nicholas, 26, a software tester at Kinaxis. Diagnosed with autism at age two, Nicholas is the inspiration behind one of Kinaxis’s most important and farreaching initiatives in Sicard’s tenure as CEO – the Autism at Work program.

The company partnered with Specialisterne Canada, an international organization that helps employers integrate people with autism into the workforce, to launch the program four years ago. Its goal was to have one out of every 100 Kinaxis employees be a person on the autism spectrum. Today, nearly two per cent of the company’s workforce is autistic. “I think diversity is the path to innovation,” Sicard says. “This is not a charity. These are phenomenal brains that just happen to be wired a little differently. Aren’t we all?” Although he likes to describe himself as a “software engineer who fell in love with supply chain,” Sicard is equally passionate about another pursuit that showcases his creative side: music. Never one to settle for half-measures, Sicard has equipped his Kanata North home with a full-scale music production facility, where he practises with his band, Open Channel D, and hones his skills at recording, mixing and mastering demo tapes in his spare time. “I basically built a studio and then wrapped a house around it,” he deadpans. Still, you get the feeling work is never far from Sicard’s mind as his company strives to become the global leader in an increasingly competitive space. Earlier this year, Kinaxis made its first acquisition, joining forces with Toronto-based supply-chain software startup Rubikloud as part of its push into the retail vertical. Next year, the company will move into a new corporate headquarters near the Tanger outlet mall that’s more than double the size of its current head office on Silver Seven Road. Meanwhile, Kinaxis continues to battle every day for market share with U.S. and European competitors such as SAP, Blue Yonder and Oracle. Twenty-six years into the journey that was almost aborted on the runway, Sicard is still as excited as ever to find out where it will take him next. The way he sees it, Kinaxis is just getting started. “I say it all the time – we’re still in chapter one, book one, in an epic series to write,” he declares. “I’m just so proud of what the team has produced. We are on the world stage as it relates to supply chain. Maybe someday we’ll be in chapter two.”

Steady. Safe. Secure.

Discover passive and long term income options with OakWood’s Investment Property Services Design • Kitchens • Renovations • Custom Homes • Investment Properties • Financing FALL 2020




client relationships that often evolve into friendships. Some of Tammadge’s clients have been with him for 20plus years. For their benefit, and the benefit of the rest of the team, he will continue to play a supportive role. “At 65 you don’t suddenly turn dumb or want to spend all your time on the golf course, but you want to continue to help out to the extent that people need your help,” he said.

Mastering the learning curve for clients

Baker Tilly managing partner Ken Tammadge, left, is working with his successor, Michael Hayward, to ensure a smooth transition.

Baker Tilly team always on call to help clients navigate the pandemic Managing partner Ken Tammadge passing the torch to Mike Hayward in January 2021


tay focused on the long game with a sound plan, the fortitude to see it through and the willingness to adapt. This is the kind of advice the team at Baker Tilly Ottawa LLP offers business clients and it’s been particularly resonant over the past six months. The accountancy and business advisory firm also takes it to heart. As incoming managing partner Michael Hayward points out, Baker Tilly Ottawa LLP is itself a small business – a team of 14 entrepreneurs who have had to plant their heels and get creative to push through the pandemic’s challenges.

FALL 2020

Through the pandemic and beyond



Collins Barrow offices across the country and its well-known accountancy and business advisory firm in Ottawa rebranded in 2019 and took on the name of its larger global network, Baker Tilly. The rebrand reflects the company’s dedication to a unified global voice and represents the ability of the company to serve entrepreneurial customers the world over.

That includes staying the course with the Ottawa office’s succession plans. Outgoing managing partner Ken Tammadge is keeping on schedule with his retirement, even if those family trips to Machu Picchu and Down Under have had to be postponed. The two professionals have been working shoulder to shoulder to prepare for this very day. “I see a very smooth transition and no hiccups in the process,” Tammadge said. “We’ve been working on succession at the individual partner level for many years now as various partners have retired.” Retirement in no way means that he is going to disappear. Baker Tilly is a business built on long-term

The Baker Tilly Ottawa LLP team will continue to foster great relationships and have great conversations with local clients while helping them anticipate and plan for the future success of their companies, through the pandemic and beyond. Now, for tomorrow.


The rest of the team, meanwhile, remains focused on providing clients with the advice and services they need the most in these historic times. For example, understanding how to apply for and benefit from any of the new government support and relief programs without incurring a penalty for inadvertently breaking a rule. “Never have we had to spend so much time in such a short span to understand legislation that is largely new for everyone,” Hayward said. “It’s been a constant effort to master the learning curve – but that is why we are here. This is what we do.” Pandemic response programs that were first announced with largely universal access in the spring have since grown in complexity and now have more stringent qualification criteria. As the situation has evolved, the government has made adjustments to ensure these programs are more accountable and needs-based. “The average person trying to run their business doesn’t have the time, inclination or base of knowledge to keep up and understand how to take advantage,” Hayward said. “This has increased their reliance on professional advisors like Baker Tilly. It’s become more important than ever for us to proactively reach out and communicate regularly with our clients.” The past six months have been a shared learning experience, and Hayward remains impressed by how adaptable many clients have proven to be. “It’s remarkable to see how resilient our clients are, regardless of their size or industry,” he said. “These are entrepreneurs who adapt – it’s in their blood. And it’s our job to equip them with the tools and the support they need. It’s stressful and burdensome to clients when they are spending time trying to figure out what pandemic-relief programs are available to them and how to apply for these much-needed benefits. We are able to guide them through the ever-changing business world, and help navigate that complexity for them, so they are free to do what they do best.” Contact Ken Tammadge and Mike Hayward: 613-820-8010 |

Helping you succeed Value-added audit, tax and advisory solutions

At Baker Tilly Ottawa, we offer hands-on partner involvement and practical tax strategies to more effectively plan and manage your business. Helping your business prosper and grow Start the conversation 613.820.8010 For COVID-19 business guidance, visit our website: FALL 2020

Now, for tomorrow



Lawyer Hugues Boisvert jumps into learn-to-swim industry – feet first Kids Can Swim Canada launches first facility in Kanata with plans to open three more locations in Ottawa BY CAROLINE PHILLIPS

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ocal business lawyer, entrepreneur and investor Hugues Boisvert is making a splash in the west end by offering an enhanced way of delivering swimming lessons to babies and kids through the first-ever purposely-built swim school in the nation’s capital. His new company, Kids Can Swim Canada, is specifically geared toward giving young children the basic water safety skills to enjoy splashing around at the beach, pool, lake or waterpark. “Our job is to make sure parents don’t have to worry if Timmy goes to the cottage and, while out on the water, he falls out of the canoe,” Boisvert says in an interview at his 4,000-square-foot facility in Kanata, just off Highway 417 near Terry Fox Drive. “We’re here to make sure that he knows how to swim.” Boisvert, who was born and raised in the Quebec town of Brownsburg in the Laurentians, can rattle off a long list of what makes Kids Can Swim Canada so special. The place is bright, airy and clean. It keeps its classes small

People are willing to pay if they get great customer service, great product quality and a fun experience. –​ HUGUES BOISVERT, OWNER AND CHAIRMAN OF KIDS CAN SWIM CANADA, AT HIS NEW 4,000-SQUARE-FOOT FACILITY IN KANATA. PHOTO BY CAROLINE PHILLIPS

to the rapidly expanding and successful local fresh food and grocery chain. There’s no swinging animatronic monkey at Kids Can Swim Canada but it does have very lovely aquatic-themed decor. “We’re like a premium product. People are willing to pay if they get great customer service, great product quality and a fun experience.”

A DECADE IN THE MAKING and engaging. The water is warm and shallow. They offer flexible scheduling. Every child progresses at his or her own pace. The pools have an ultraviolet light system to keep the water clean while eliminating the need for heavy

chemicals. The instructors are wellqualified, well-trained and friendly. The lessons are all science-based. “We see ourselves as the Farm Boy of the learn-to-swim industry,” says Boisvert, giving a tip of the bathing cap

Boisvert was aware that too many of us have childhood memories of sitting on the side of the pool, shivering and feeling unhappy or bored. “We want it to be a fun environment, where kids feel safe and comfortable

and don’t want to leave.” The idea of starting such a business had been floating around in Boisvert’s head ever since he considered a similar investment opportunity a decade ago. It would have been in Australia, where learning to swim is part of the Aussie culture. “The deal didn’t go through but it always remained in the back of my mind,” he recalls. As people in his life started having families, the issue of water safety and children became of greater interest to him. “I was getting older,” acknowledges Boisvert (it seems like only yesterday he was collecting his Forty Under 40 business award). He got married last year, having first met his wife, Tegan, while visiting the military base in Petawawa. Their unofficial, unintentional matchmaker was Ottawa entrepreneur Paul Hindo, honorary colonel of the Canadian army. Boisvert didn’t enter into his multimillion-dollar venture lightly. He did his research to make sure there was a marketplace demand. He talked to the

right people. He travelled the world to see what sort of facilities existed in other countries. “It was an investment I wanted to make, but I first wanted to make sure that it would work,” Boisvert explains. “When I looked at the opportunity, it just made so much sense, and there was nothing like this in Ottawa.” As for the physical space, Boisvert struck a deal with Allan Malcomson of the family-owned Canadian Tire Kanata to take over their vacant building located next to the retail company. Malcomson let his new tenant turn the building into a learn-to-swim school, with two small pools that were customized for the kind of classes that they teach. “He’s been incredible,” says Boisvert. “He’s been instrumental in our success.” Boisvert has plans to open three more Kids Can Swim Canada locations in Ottawa. He’s specifically set his sights on the Ottawa Train Yards shopping district, Orléans and Barrhaven. He and Tegan want to eventually add a charitable component that would give disadvantaged children the opportunity to take classes.



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THE BRIGHT SIDE OF BUSINESS The Bright Side of Business is a new editorial feature focused on sharing positive stories of business success. This column is presented by Star Motors, Ottawa-Gatineau’s original Mercedes-Benz, Mercedes-AMG and Mercedes Van dealer.

Each Apiverte EZHouse is adorned with murals by local artists. PHOTO BY CINDY MULVIHILL PHOTOGRAPHY

Gatineau beekeeping firm Apiverte expands sustainable honey harvesting initiative Innovative approach makes beekeeping accessible to small-scale producers FALL 2020





anada loves its honey, and it shows: the number of Canadian bee colonies has been steadily rising over the last decade. Locally, Wakefield-based Apiverte is helping the National Capital Region be a part of that trend with an innovative and sustainable hive design

that’s increasing pollination in the area around highways 5 and 105 between Chelsea and Low. In a traditional farmer’s honey house, frames of honey are stacked one on top of the other, explains Sandra Bornn, who co-founded Apiverte with her husband, Michael Smith. When it’s time to harvest, each full frame can weigh up to 80 pounds.

“There’s a lot of backbreaking work in beekeeping,” she says. But there is another way. “Bees will live anywhere. It’s only humans that have decided that we should put them in square boxes and stack them up,” Bornn says. “Why not make beekeeping in a fashion that won’t break the people doing the beekeeping?” That’s exactly what Bornn and Smith did after coming across a vertical system in Slovenia. “You basically open up a door, like a kitchen cupboard,” Bornn explains. “Everything is accessible. You’re never lifting anything heavier than a single frame of honey, which is maybe twoand-a-half kilos when it’s full.” This inspired Bornn and Smith’s EZ Hive design. After creating their prototype, they partnered with Gatineau farmers and businesses to build honey houses (“EZ Houses”) – each with five to 10 EZ Hives inside. The businesses host the EZ Houses and sell the majority of the honey.

TAKING FLIGHT Since launching in 2019, Apiverte has brought more than five million honey bees to the National Capital Region. In July 2020, the company received two grants totalling $35,000 to launch another project: the EZ Harvester,

I don’t think either of us ever anticipated that we were going to farm five million tiny livestock. – Sandra Bornn, co-founder, Apiverte

making remote honey harvesting accessible to small-scale producers. Instead of having to pay up to $10,000 for harvesting equipment, beekeepers can simply rent the EZ Harvester for a day. All this comes on top of their other professional commitments – Bornn is a marketing and design consultant, and Smith is a technician at the City of Ottawa – but is helping the couple indulge in a longtime dream. “Farming is something we’ve always wanted to do,” Bornn says. “I don’t think either of us ever anticipated that we were going to farm five million tiny livestock.”

I’ve been in a dream state these last couple of weeks, just reflecting on how far I’ve come. – Manock Lual, CEO and founder, Prezdential Basketball

Prezdential Basketball gives Ottawa youth training, life-changing skills C

an you transform a professional basketball career into a social enterprise? For Manock Lual, founder and CEO of Prezdential Basketball, the answer is yes. Now in its third year, the business provides basketball lessons and foundational life skills to Ottawa youth. Lual and his family came to Ottawa from South Sudan as refugees. He grew up in Overbrook from the age of 12. He chose to channel his energy into basketball and use it as a springboard. “I said, ‘I can change my circumstances, I can even provide

financial freedom for my family,’” he says. “I put everything into the game.” After graduating university on a full scholarship, Lual began to play professionally, starting off in England. “It was 10 years of business experience within one year,” he says, noting this wasn’t always a positive side of the game he loved. “These coaches were trying to make (basketball) something that it wasn't. I understood that when you involve money in something, it always drives it into a different area.”

Lual returned to Canada and played for the Ottawa SkyHawks before being released. “I went through my own depression,” Lual says. “To see that no matter how hard you work, or how talented you are, when it comes to the business world – if you're not meeting the criteria, you could lose all of it. I went through a very tough time, but I picked myself up and said, ‘I'm going to give this back to the kids.’” And so, after five years of playing professionally, Lual started Prezdential

Basketball, partnering with community resource centres across Ottawa to provide basketball training for youth. Under Lual’s leadership, Prezdential quickly expanded its offerings to include entrepreneurship classes, coding workshops, financial literacy programming – even family counselling and cooking classes. “We're in a great state where we have a lot of support, and the programs are packed,” Lual says. “I've been in a dream state these last couple of weeks, just reflecting on how far I've come with the game (and) how amazing it is to find what you love at such a young age, and to carry it with you to adulthood.” – Nickie Shobeiry

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The AMO conference brought guests to Ottawa virtually, digitally recreating the Shaw Centre lobby and Parliament Hill.

Event organizers put Ottawa at the centre of reimagined meetings and conventions Ottawa Tourism is ready to help associations and businesses plan their meetings and events, even if they look different than what we are used to

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espite the ongoing restrictions on large in-person gatherings, local and provincial associations are finding creative ways to host their conferences and events – and managing to bring Ottawa to their attendees, even from a distance. While several groups were scheduled to bring trade shows and conventions to the city in the first half of 2020, many were forced to postpone or outright cancel due to the pandemic. Others, however, are proceeding with their events in new formats. As restrictions on gatherings are eased, local institutions such as Ottawa Tourism and the Shaw Centre are ready to help associations and businesses plan their meetings and events, even if they look different than what we are used to, says Jantine Van Kregten, director of communications at Ottawa Tourism. “The hospitality industry is chomping at the bit to get back to doing what they do best: Hosting,” she says. “Whether it’s the Shaw Centre, hotels or local museums, these groups are prepared to welcome people back in a safe and controlled way.” While multi-day, multi-venue events

may be temporarily on hold, there are still options available for those looking to reconnect with employees or groups that were kept apart the last few months. Technology has been a key factor in keeping people connected, says Van Kregten, and it is a great way to start reintroducing conferences. The hybrid model – having a small number of people gather in person and connecting virtually with other groups in the province or country – allows organizations to come together locally while enabling people to explore the great amenities their home city has to offer.

As opposed to travelling to Toronto for an annual general meeting or yearly convention, hosting local staff in Ottawa and connecting via video conferencing is a “great alternative,” says Van Kregten. “Keeping these events in Ottawa is going to be a key part of the economic recovery for the city and the hospitality industry,” she says. “Your attendees will feel safer without having to travel, and you’re injecting muchneeded money into the city, so why not keep it local?”

Ottawa goes virtual

While some remain hesitant about gathering in groups, organizers can still bring guests to Ottawa, even through virtual events, as the Association of Municipalities of Ontario demonstrated in August. After months of preparing to bring the


Visit OBJ.CA/OBJ-DIGITAL-EDITION to view the digital edition for exclusive features


AMO conference back to the capital in 2020, executive director Brian Rosborough and his team were forced to change their approach, turning it into a fully digital event when COVID-19 emerged in early March. Not wanting to lose out on the experience of attending a conference in Ottawa, they decided to virtually recreate the Shaw Centre lobby as the navigation hub for the event, as well as include surrounding sights such as Parliament Hill to give attendees a sense of familiarity during the new experience. “We often host the event in Ottawa, and our delegates always like to go because both the facilities and the attractions available are great,” says Rosborough. “This year, we took all kinds of steps to make sure it had some look and feel of the city, which was really well-received.” To further highlight Ottawa as the host city, Mayor Jim Watson and Algonquins of Pikwàkanagàn First Nation Chief Wendy Jocko both gave opening remarks to welcome those attending, while Ottawa Tourism representatives provided information to attendees on what the city has to offer once everyone can safely travel again. “Ottawa Tourism was critical in helping us create a welcoming environment, even in a digital world,” Rosborough says. Hosting the conference virtually also allowed organizers to be creative with the content lineup, as well as with how users interacted with the event. Attendees were able to access webinars, videos and meetings from wherever they were located, giving them the flexibility to come back days later and revisit any material they felt they had missed. Although many were still longing for the face-to-face interactions and evening networking events commonplace at large conferences, having Ottawa locales present at the event definitely added a sense of comfort to everyone involved, says Rosborough. “It lent some familiarity and certainly acknowledged the important role of Ottawa as a host,” he says. “We really wanted people to understand that even though we couldn’t be in Ottawa physically, like we all wanted to be, we were still there virtually.”

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CFO CORNER: Corporate finance strategies for Ottawa businesses

THE CFO’S GUIDE TO DATA ALCHEMY: Seven axioms for turning gold into rhodium CRGroup’s Vijay Jog offers insights into turning data into profits


he most precious metals have historically been rhodium, platinum, gold, ruthenium and iridium. However, since we are now living in the age of digital technology, I don’t believe these are still the most precious materials on earth. There is currently a trend in extracting and using another invaluable resource. It’s called “data.” Data is the new gold, information from that data is the new platinum and actionable insight generated from that information is the new rhodium.

The role of the CFO Data allows businesses to become more competitive, tap into new markets, better develop products and services and generally increase profits. But just like ore, data alone is useless. It must be processed and shaped into something useful before it can add value to an enterprise. This transformation of data or “data alchemy” is often described as big data, Internet of Things, predictive analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence. Companies are turning to their C-level leaders to lead this operation, specifically, the CFO. In today’s data-rich environment, CFOs are expected to understand and use data to predict, influence and ultimately shape financial results. So how can modern CFOs turn data into actionable insights? Here are seven axioms for CFOs keen on practising data alchemy:

Axiom 1: Look for data everywhere

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Data is everywhere. CFOs must step away from their general ledger lens and start analyzing all the data that exists outside of the chart of accounts. CFOs must also identify which data sources are essential for enterprise success. The data requirements for a project-based company, for instance, would require more indepth insights into every project, past and present, and a software company would be more interested in data that helps to analyze new versus recurring revenues. Most importantly, CFOs must be able to cross-compare multiple sources of micro and macro-level data to identify correlation and causation.



Axiom 2: Identify drivers of success I often ask my clients, “beyond financials, what drives company success?” I’m often met with silence. There are typically 15 to 20 non-financial metrics that encompass drivers of enterprise performance. CFOs must find what they are and how to ensure that data is continually

collected, shared and used. If you are unsure or just starting your data journey, use this as a starting gate and go from there!

Axiom 3: Clean your data Unfortunately, unless data is collected by systems without any human intervention, enterprises have to live with “dirty data.” We’ve all heard the saying “garbage in, garbage out.” Whether the data was not consistently recorded, is missing or hasn’t been maintained, it will likely need some refining before it can be trusted for use. CFOs need to create a disciplined approach for ensuring that data is scrubbed clean and consistent across systems. Otherwise, insights will be derived from misleading and incorrect information - the fool’s gold of the data world.

Axiom 4: Unite islands of data Very few companies have all their data available in one master repository. Internal data often exists in multiple business systems, and external data often arrives piecemeal. This “disconnected” data means we have to deal with “islands of data.” The good news is that we now have cost-effective applications such as Microsoft Power BI that can pull data from multiple systems for reporting and analysis. It is also becoming more accessible and more common for companies to create their own centralized data warehouse/data marts/data lakes where data from various systems is extracted, transformed and loaded and then linked and analyzed. CFOs have the responsibility to identify islands of data and initiate the centralization of data for use.

Axiom 5: Upgrade how you visualize and serve data Data alone is essentially unreadable. It must be refined, packaged and viewable from every angle to shine with insights. Most companies serve data in Excel at the cost of many administrative labour hours. I have seen very sophisticated Excel workbooks (sometimes 100-plus megabytes) that are elegantly designed. Excel is not a scalable or sustainable form of data delivery. It is the CFO’s role to invest in data visualization or business intelligence tools that allow for the intuitive display of historical information and lend sophisticated analysis that will help drive action for the future, either through real-time predictive analytics or ML/AI tools such as Microsoft Synapse.

Axiom 6: Drive accountability for data usage If CFOs are tasked with ensuring data is clean, centralized, available and served up to decision-makers, then it is the responsibility of those decision-makers to use it. Here is where I go back to one of my favourite phrases: “Trust, but verify.” Like any other investment, CFOs need to monitor the usage of this “data-to-insights” investment. I typically recommend that companies start using their enterprise dashboards (data) as a wall of fame and shame for leaders and employ full transparency by kicking off monthly, quarterly and annual performance meetings with the dashboards displayed front and centre for everyone. Then let decision-makers use the dashboards to elaborate on insights and actions that helped move the needle. The only way to transform your data into results is to ensure leaders and decision-makers are making the most from it.

Axiom 7: Ensure security and governance at every turn As a valuable resource, data must be protected and governed. There are immense benefits to becoming a data-driven enterprise, but there are also risks: Data validity and ethics - ensure only valid data is used and reasonable insights are inferred. CFOs need to outline strict and monitored data collection, storage and interpretation methods and ensure that all involved are held accountable for the highest standards of ethical behaviour. Data security – prioritize data protection and privacy. When an enterprise starts to collect and mine data, there’s a risk that the data can be breached or accessed by external entities that exploit it for their benefit. Securing data requires significant investments in data protection software and governance. If not done correctly, it can have a permanent and negative impact on the enterprise. CFOs should work with all leaders to weave data security policies and practices into every fabric of the enterprise, including employment agreements, IT SLAs and privacy policies. Data-driven, high-performance companies require CFOs to be at the forefront of understanding the business model and performance/value drivers of the enterprise that can’t be found in the chart of accounts or financial statements. It requires investment in not just data collection systems, but data analytics and visualization platforms. CFOs are stepping up to lead the data-to-insight revolution and work with other leaders to build a solid foundation of data mining, refining and reporting that can transform already valuable information into invaluable insights for decision making. Vijay Jog is the founder and president of Corporate Renaissance Group (CRGroup), a Quisitive Company (QUIS) and Ottawabased firm dedicated to transforming business management and performance. Dr. Jog consults with organizations around the world and is a leading author and speaker in the areas of corporate performance and the office of the CFO. For additional resources, visit


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Infrastructure investments, startups and Canadian tech powerhouses fuel economic development

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How the work-from-home movement is reshaping the region’s towns and cities

OBJ REGIONAL We’re seeing a lot of Ottawa people, or people that know they never have to return to the office buildings of downtown Toronto, choose here. – PETER VINCENT, REALTOR, RE/MAX METRO CITY REALTY

Ottawa Valley real estate market hits new heights Remote workers, highway expansion fuelling demand BY ADAM STANLEY

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eter Vincent has been a real estate agent in Renfrew for nearly two decades. His mother has been in the business even longer – 37 years. Collectively, they’ve seen it all. Been asked all the usual questions. How old is that roof? What about the foundation or the furnace? But lately, he’s been getting a totally different query kick-starting the conversations with potential buyers in his neck of the woods. What about high-speed internet? With countless businesses across

Canada and especially in the Ottawa area employing a work-from-home strategy, buyers are looking for more and different amenities when thinking about purchasing a new home. Renfrew County, about 45 minutes to Kanata and an hour to Parliament Hill, is seeing the same kind of hot real estate market as neighbourhoods closer to the city. It’s one of the first times the area has experienced such a scenario. And, according to area experts, there are no signs of it slowing down. “There is a strong demand but a very short supply,” says Vincent. “We normally don’t have multiple-offer situations, but what’s happening in the big city is happening in our jurisdiction.”

SALES UP, INVENTORY DOWN Vincent points to Renfrew’s solid collection of schools, excellent hospital

and increasingly vibrant downtown area, not to mention golf courses, ski hills, lakes – and yes, high-speed internet – as some reasons why workingage homebuyers are choosing the community over other locations. “We’re seeing a lot of Ottawa people, or people that know they never have to return to the office buildings of downtown Toronto, choose here,” he says. “This year is unprecedented.” According to area statistics, the average sale price is up 12 per cent. Inventory is down 60 per cent year-over-year. Sherri Cobus of eXp Realty – another agent with 20 years’ experience – says she hasn’t seen anything like the market conditions 2020 has given her and her colleagues, COVID-19 aside. “It hasn’t stopped. We’re working seven days a week,” she says. Cobus gives an example in which she showed a potential buyer a home

close to Renfrew’s downtown that was listed at $399,000. Twelve offers came through and it sold at just over $500,000, a full $100,000 more than asking. She describes it as a “nice bungalow” but there was no basement. “It wasn’t that desirable,” she admits. “We went in at $450,000 and it sold for $50,000 higher. Crazy.” Cobus says that for the first time in her career, when something is listed in Renfrew now there are usually several competing offers. She says she’s seen many cash buyers coming from both Toronto and Ottawa who are prepared to make unconditional offers because they can get way more for their money in Renfrew County and can now easily work from any location. It’s a new scenario for the county, and one that heralds interesting developments for the future, Cobus says. She says the area has always been a

buyers’ market and the influx of more working-age people into the community is exciting for Renfrew. The industry veteran says if a buyer is willing to pay a little more now, they can expect to see an appreciation in their property’s value, especially as a four-lane expansion of Highway 17 is set to move through Renfrew in the coming years. “People are paying these high prices here in Renfrew now, but I don’t think they’re overpaying,” says Cobus. The Highway 17 expansion through Renfrew “will up the values again,” she predicts.

ECONOMY ‘TRACKING UPWARDS’ Alastair Baird, the manager of economic development services for the County of Renfrew, says more and more individuals are deciding to move to Renfrew to run their business or operate a home-based business because of the lifestyle on offer. Baird says he’s connected with a new Renfrew resident who sold their condo in Mississauga and moved to the county. Then there was the older couple, he says, who sold their home

in Kanata and moved to their Ottawa River hideaway full-time. And the young pair who started a business in Renfrew after selling their place in Toronto’s hip Junction neighbourhood. Despite COVID-19 and its overarching impact on the area’s businesses, Baird says there are still a lot of new local retail and services options to serve the influx of homebuyers. “We were astounded and pleased at how many new businesses did open right through the midst of COVID-19. Where we had growth, things were happening, and it continued despite the pandemic,” he explains. “That’s been good for everyone’s spirit to see a new retailer, a new service business come online. The economy here was tracking upwards and it did continue on that front.” But while the Renfrew County Real Estate Board and the Canadian Real Estate Association can’t forecast what 2021 will look like yet due to COVID-19, longtime realtors in the area believe the same kind of sellers’ market will continue marching on. Buyers, sellers and agents are all


FIRST-TIME HOMEBUYERS While Renfrew County’s real estate numbers have been heating up – the area’s real estate board says July of 2020 saw 278 units sold, the most in recorded history for that month, with a price increase of 20 per cent from last year – there is one segment of the market that has been left in the cold: first-time homebuyers. “I feel bad for young people trying to buy their first house here,” says Peter Vincent, a longtime realtor in the area with RE/MAX Metro City Realty. “You’re getting into situations where it’s always a fight. It’s a multiple-offer situation and they look at you and ask, ‘how much more should I go over?’ and

navigating uncharted territory, but combine an outdoorsy lifestyle with new businesses and more affordable living than in major cities and you’ve got something special, industry veterans say. “As long as you have high-speed

SNC-Lavalin says it is part of a joint venture with Arnprior-based M. Sullivan & Son to decommission the existing powerhouse at Ontario Power Generation’s Calabogie Generating Station, perform excavation work and construct a new facility capable of generating enough electricity to power 10,000 homes. The redevelopment project, expected to be completed in 2022, will double the station’s generating capacity from five to 10 megawatts. Originally constructed in 1917, the Calabogie Generating Station was already nearing the end of its operational life span when it suffered extensive damage in the tornado that swept through eastern Ontario in September 2018.

Brockville company builds new legacy through engineering merger

workflow, says Melchers. Under the new name IN Engineering and Surveying, the company will offer building design, surveying and engineering services to commercial, residential and community projects across Eastern Ontario. The team is also equipped with the latest 3D modelling software to assist clients in fully imagining the scale of a project through a digital rendering.

Almonte distillery gets $455K to produce hand sanitizer made from milk sugar An Almonte-based startup that makes vodka, cream liquors and other spirits from milk byproducts has received $455,000 from the provincial government to beef up its production of hand sanitizer in the ongoing fight against COVID-19. Dairy Distillery pivoted to making hand sanitizer early in the pandemic, and so far the company has donated more than 30,000 bottles of the alcoholbased, germ-fighting product to local groups in need. The new funding will allow the distillery to more than triple its output of ethanol made from milk sugar, which used to go to waste but is now being used to produce hand sanitizer, the province said.


One of Canada’s most prominent engineering firms is partnering with an eastern Ontario construction company on a $100-million project to build a new hydroelectric power plant on the Madawaska River.

One of the province’s oldest land surveying companies is merging with a fellow Brockville-based engineering firm in hopes of streamlining its business processes. Collett Surveying – which opened its doors in 1881 – was acquired by IN Engineering, a local firm founded in 2018 by owner Andrew Melchers. The acquisition will combine the two companies’ services, which should result in more efficient operations and an easier

internet, the young people are going to buy for sure,” says Cobus of homes in the area. “And as the highway keeps coming up from Ottawa the value is going to go up in Renfrew again. We’re in a nice little niche here.”

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SNC-Lavalin, M. Sullivan & Son to lead $100M hydro dam redevelopment

I don’t know what to tell people.” Vincent says while the area has become even more attractive to young people who can work from home, it’s still a tough place for buyers to enter the market. He says he’s had to have some uncomfortable conversations with first-time homebuyers who have just started their careers, trying to convince them that they may have to spend upwards of $30,000 over asking just to get in the game. One of his latest clients ended up fifth out of seven offers for a property. “We went in with $15,000 over asking,” he says, “and we weren’t even looking at the bronze medal.”


Farm Boy deal just the beginning for indoor farming startup Cornwall’s Fieldless Farms eyes expansion into new markets BY ADAM LANGENBERG

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ithin six months of completing construction on its Cornwall growing facility, Fieldless Farms’ produce could already be found on the shelves of more than 20 Farm Boy stores across Ontario. But armed with an aggressive expansion plan to bring more hydroponically grown vegetables to Canadians, CEO Jon Lomow says his company is just getting started. Fieldless currently supplies two types of lettuce mixes – Northern Crunch and Ontario Sweets – grown in its Cornwall indoor farming facility. Lomow wants to rapidly expand both the types of crops the startup grows as well as its physical footprint. Fieldless uses just 20,000 square feet at its Cornwall facility for its current operations, but Lomow insists that will increase quickly, with the CEO also harbouring ambitions of building new growing facilities in Toronto, Montreal and even the country’s west coast by 2025. “We want to scale this very large – we want to be a national success story. We want to play a major role in shortening supply chains for Canadians using controlled environment agriculture,” Lomow says. He says Fieldless will significantly increase its capacity to grow leafy greens in the next one to three years, increasing the yield of both its current lettuce mixes and other crops such as romaine lettuce, spinaches and basil. From there, there are plans to expand to smaller vegetable

crops, including baby tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers, which the company is just on the cusp of being able to grow economically, Lomow says.

AGRICULTURAL EVOLUTION That kind of aggressive growth may seem overly optimistic to some, but Lomow says rapid change is all the company has known since its inception. Fieldless, which secured its first round of private capital funding in June last year, has gone from finishing construction on its Cornwall facility to providing almost 2,000 packs of lettuce mixes to customers each week inside six months. Initially just selling products through Burrow Shop, the Ottawa-based online retailer Lomow co-founded, as well as Ottawa’s Massine’s Your Independent Grocer, Fieldless achieved one of its early goals in August when it signed a deal with supermarket chain Farm Boy to supply its lettuce mixes to 16 stores spanning from Cornwall to Kingston. That number quickly jumped when Farm Boy asked weeks later if Fieldless could supply seven stores in the Toronto area, a number that is set to grow again in coming weeks. Farm Boy’s origin in Cornwall and its “obsessive focus” on reducing the amount of fresh produce wastage made it the perfect first retailer to partner with, Lomow says. That early growth gives confidence to Lomow, who notes that Canada – reliant on $48 billion of food imports each year – needs to significantly increase its food production in future years. Lomow is also buoyed by what he predicts will be a “trillion-dollar

We want to scale this very large – we want to be a national success story. – Jon Lomow, CEO, Fieldless Farms evolution in the agriculture industry,” powered by falling automation costs and efficiency improvements in lighting technologies. The thing that sets Fieldless apart is that it’s not trying to do it all, Lomow says. Before launching, it signed a deal with an unnamed Canadian partner that handles the hydroponic technology side of the equation, leaving Lomow and his team to focus on the supply chain as well as perfecting the taste of its products and getting the products into stores. “We’ll deploy core technologies for our growing platforms and then we’ll innovate inside the gaps, because there are tons of gaps still in indoor

farming,” Lomow says. “We just won’t be developing the core technology.” “We decided we were way better off to focus our efforts on evaluating that technology, in making sure that we had the right technology as opposed to starting from scratch. If you go down the wrong road you’re kind of stuck there.” The current technology platform sees lettuce crops grow from seedlings inside a 20-day cycle in a way that Lomow says strikes “the right balance between automation and manual labour,” but Fieldless’ technology agnostic approach means it will partner with other technology companies to build other facilities and grow other crops in the future.

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FALL 2020 | @KingstonCanada | 1-613-544-2725



County Road 43 upgrade unlocks expansion plans for Kemptville businesses Infrastructure improvements expected to usher in “the next boom” for rapidly growing town BY ADAM LANGENBERG

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everal Kemptville businesses and property owners are reviving expansion plans after the federal and provincial governments committed to funding an upgrade to a problematic 1.15-kilometre stretch of County Road 43. Ron Theriault, Kemptville Retirement Living’s land and business development director, said a 75-bed expansion was always part of the company’s plan when it purchased its property west of the Highway 416 interchange. However, the economic impacts of COVID-19 and uncertainty around the road upgrade meant it had been placed on the backburner. “I don’t think we would have moved unless we had that commitment – it would have been just too dangerous. I think it would have been a big factor in the final decision.” The current state of County Road 43 means residents can “forget about” turning left out of the retirement facility and requires drivers to be extremely vigilant to turn right onto the road, Theriault said. “No one will ever tell you if that’s what scares them off (from deciding not to stay at the facility), but it is scary to try and drive and pull out,” Theriault said. Work on doubling the number of lanes to four as well as adding roundabouts, crosswalks, bike lanes and streetlights is set to begin next year after the federal and provincial governments committed nearly $10 million in funding.

The bridge over Kemptville Creek will also be rehabilitated as part of the project, which received $5 million from the federal government and $3.33 million from the provincial government, with the balance to be funded by the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville as well as the Municipality of North Grenville. For Theriault, who said another site would have been chosen for the retirement community without assurances from the municipality that upgrading County Road 43 was a priority, securing the funding will usher in “the next boom for Kemptville” and allow KRL’s expansion plans to commence. The road upgrade, which will include a turning circle near the facility, will also trigger the creation of another entry to KRL’s existing 150-suite facility, which opened last July.

RETAIL ATTRACTION Commercial and residential property developer Kevlar Developments, which owns the Giant Tiger and KFC retail sites on County Road 43, says the upgrade will help the company develop and find tenants for some of its vacant commercial retail land. “Once (Highway) 43 is expanded to the four lanes and the traffic flows better, it certainly is going to help finish off the retail component up front,” CEO Kevin Mulligan said. “The tenants we’ve attracted – Starbucks, Mucho Burrito, some of the national food franchises – they look at traffic count and how well the traffic

Ron Theriault, Kemptville Retirement Living’s land and business development director, said he likely would have looked elsewhere to expand without a commitment to improve County Road 43. PHOTO BY MARK HOLLERON flows. The better the traffic count, the better the flow, it’s certainly going to attract more quality tenants for our commercial retail space.” Kevlar Developments is currently planning an 84-unit development across four buildings on the rear of the vacant land it owns spanning from Giant Tiger to KRL, with Mulligan hopeful the upgrade will convince more people to move to the area. North Grenville Mayor Nancy Peckford said securing the funding was a “game changer” for Kemptville. She said the condition of County Road 43, used by more than 18,000 vehicles each day, was “deplorable” from both a safety and traffic flow perspective. As well as KRL and Kevlar’s retail spaces, County Road 43 is home to

North Grenville’s largest daycare and high school, as well as the Colonnade retail centre. “It’s such an obvious example of infrastructure that didn’t grow with the community,” Peckford said. It is expected that construction will begin in 2021. The upgrade is set to take between two and three years, with Peckford saying she was “realistic enough” to expect construction to extend into a third year. The County of Leeds and Grenville has also committed to securing funding to expand a further three-kilometre patch of County Road 43 between Colonnade and Somerville roads, with the total cost of all upgrades on the regional highway tipped to exceed $30 million.

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OBJ REGIONAL We have all the know-how and understanding of how to construct these facilities locally. – TIM JOHNSTON, CO-FOUNDER, LI-CYCLE

Li-Cycle charges ahead with Kingston ramp-up Exponential growth in electric vehicles leading to growing demand for battery recycling BY ADAM LANGENBERG

FALL 2020




ith the number of electric vehicles on the road skyrocketing, a Canadian recycler of the lithium-ion batteries found under the hoods of these cars and trucks is turning to its growing Kingston R&D centre to help it expand its operations. Mississauga-based Li-Cycle recently added a third shift at its Kingston facility, which also hosts many of the company’s R&D initiatives. The plant will operate 24/7 by the end of the year, processing up to 5,000 tonnes per year of lithium batteries into what Li-Cycle calls “intermediate products,” says Li-Cycle co-

founder Tim Johnston. Those intermediate products from Kingston and other “spoke” facilities will then be sent to a new US$170-million “hub” facility in Rochester, N.Y., which is set to process up to 60,000 tonnes of lithium-ion battery feed annually into battery-grade chemicals and returned to the battery industry. The company says its hydrometallurgic process means it extracts about 95 per of recoverable materials from each lithium-ion battery it processes. Johnston said Li-Cycle continues to be inundated with companies wanting to offload spent lithium-ion batteries, a trend set to rise as electric vehicles grow in

popularity. About 40 per cent of Li-Cycle’s battery feed currently consists of electric vehicle and high-voltage batteries, but Johnston says he projects it to make up the bulk of its recycling business in the coming years. Its Kingston workforce – which currently stands at approximately 30 employees and is expected to grow by another 10 in the coming months – will also be kept busy building 14 additional “spoke” facilities that Li-Cycle plans as part of its global expansion. Each facility is constructed and tested in Kingston before being broken down into six modules and transported to their new locations. “The benefit of that is we know that by the time a facility is delivered to site that

CLOCKWISE: Li-Cycle’s Kingston facility. Shredded lithium batteries. Lithium batteries being processed.

it’s ready to go, that there shouldn’t be any surprises on the commissioning side,” Johnston said. “We have all the know-how and understanding of how to construct these facilities locally and by being able to do it here locally we’re able to generate a relatively efficient engineering and construction process, which also brings down the cost of implementation, as well as the risk.” Other pilot programs for Li-Cycle’s R&D program are also set to be run out of Kingston over the next one to two years, Johnston said. Johnston said Li-Cycle is not yet ready to announce further international expansions, but is at different levels of commercial negotiations with multiple countries in Europe and Asia as it eyes off opening additional facilities.


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Explore the Ottawa Valley Science & Tech Corridor Hundreds of innovative firms operate between Kanata and Deep River. Here’s your opportunity to join them. The Ottawa Valley Science and Tech Corridor is anchored by Canadian Nuclear Laboratories in the west- one of the world’s leading nuclear, hydrogen, advanced materials, environmental, biology and human health science and technology clusters. Together with aerospace, metals, radiation and explosives detection, security and defence suppliers, pharmaceutical products and composites manufacturing businesses, we are directly linked to the Kanata technology community.

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START-UPS Entrepreneurial spirit is strong in the Ottawa Valley and we have the peer community and support structures in place to accelerate your success. Enterprise Renfrew County provides the basic business planning foundation, coaching and mentoring- and seed money from our Starter Company Plus program. The RC 100 (Renfrew County 100) program from Renfrew County Community Futures Development Corporation is a competitive process to support innovative technology development at the pre-commercial stage, with a $100,000 debenture to accelerate your growth. Our entrepreneur network meets periodically for sharing, collaboration and mutual support, joined by government agencies supporting industry with financial and technical resources and by local investors and entrepreneurs.

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OBJ REGIONAL: VIDEO In a series of video interviews, OBJ’s Mark Van Dusen speaks to eastern Ontario’s entrepreneurs, business executives and political leaders to explore the trends shaping the region’s economy. Through his conversations, Van Dusen uncovers stories of innovation, industry leadership and perseverance. To watch the full series, visit

JOHNSTOWN DISTRIBUTION CENTRE PAYING DIVIDENDS FOR GIANT TIGER Giant Tiger’s recently opened 600,000-square-foot Johnstown distribution centre is playing a key role in the discount retailer’s ongoing Canadian expansion, its president says. The company opened its new facility south of Ottawa in late 2018. By locating its distribution centre near the Highway 401 corridor, Giant Tiger estimates it has eliminated some 860,000 kilometres in annual transportation distances, saving it roughly $1 million. “Centralizing our distribution was a key part of our growth strategy,” says Giant Tiger president Paul Wood.

GLOBAL VIDEO PRODUCTION FIRM HELICONIA TURNS LENS ON ITS HOME PROVINCE When Ken Whiting left the world of international kayaking competition as a world champion, he didn’t slow down. He still shoots the rapids, but instead of a paddle, he’s armed with a video camera. From their base in Beachburg – the heart of the Ottawa Valley’s Whitewater Region – Whiting and his team at Heliconia produce high-end outdoor adventure travel video series. In a unique business twist, Heliconia will then typically give its content away for free to major streaming and television networks such as Fox Sports, Outside TV and Sportsman Channel in exchange for guaranteed distribution. It finances its productions through partnerships and sponsorships with brands and tourism marketing boards. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic earlier this year was an “immediate kick

CORNWALL’S ‘MINI-STIMULUS’ TO HELP SMALL BUSINESSES PIVOT AMID COVID-19 After seeing their federal and provincial counterparts create special funds for businesses to stay afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic, municipal leaders in Cornwall moved quickly to create a “ministimulus” program of their own for local merchants.


Mayor Bernadette Clement said she expected about 100 businesses to apply for the $5,000 interest-free loans. The funds are intended to help businesses transition so they can continue to operate during the pandemic. For some, that may mean modifying their space to meet physical distancing requirements, Clement says. In other cases, businesses may want to invest in e-commerce capabilities.


panels allow builders to construct a home more quickly than using traditional construction methods and significantly reduce the occupant’s energy consumption for heating and cooling. When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, the firm quickly saw how its product could help hospitals and community clinics prepare for a potential surge in patients with mobile medical units that could be used as assessment and treatment centres, transition spaces for staff and patients, disinfecting stations as well as quarantine and self-isolation units.

FALL 2020

After quickly finding a market for its energyefficient building envelope solutions, a Kingston firm has developed new mobile health units to help medical providers quickly add capacity to treat or isolate patients. Feris Build Tech has developed a building envelope system made of lightweight steel and expanded polystyrene foam. These prefabricated

in the butt” as tourism marketing dollars dried up and limited the international destinations that crews could film in. But Heliconia quickly pivoted by finding new sources of funding from brand sponsorships and taking a closer look at the adventure travel destinations in its own backyard.


Corsa Security gaining global traction as remote work trend ramps up wireless traffic Total funding haul for Kanata cybersecurity firm reaches at least $50M BY DAVID SALI

FALL 2020




n Ottawa cybersecurity company that helps customers beef up their firewalls without slowing down the flow of traffic on their networks is continuing its high-speed ascent as it racks up millions of dollars in funding and expands its reach into new markets. Corsa Security recently landed $7 million in fresh funding from longtime investor Roadmap Capital, cash the company plans to use to keep evolving its platform of virtual firewalls that give a boost to traditional cybersecurity defences. The new equity comes less than a year after Corsa received another $11 million from Toronto-based Roadmap in a previous funding round. The nearly $20 million in fresh operating capital brings Corsa’s total funding haul to at least $50 million. In addition, the seven-year-old company recently beefed up its C-suite with the hiring of veteran sales executive Claudio Perugini as chief revenue officer. New York-based Perugini, who joined Corsa in March, brings more than three decades of experience selling technology around the world and has already helped add to Corsa’s growing

The work-from-home shift has changed how people are looking at their networks. – CAROLYN RAAB, CHIEF PRODUCT OFFICER AND CO-FOUNDER, CORSA SECURITY

list of channel partners. “This is sort of all tied together as we continue to build our momentum,” says Carolyn Raab, Corsa’s chief product officer and co-founder.

WORK-FROM-HOME SHIFT Corsa seemingly hasn’t stopped gaining steam since the company pivoted in late 2018 from producing software-defined networking technology to focusing on its virtual firewall system. Raab says the technology is becoming even more relevant as a dramatic shift in work habits during the COVID-19 pandemic has ratcheted up demands on highspeed networks.

“Traffic volumes on the internet are just going through the roof,” she notes. “The whole work-from-home shift that we’ve all gone through has also changed how people are looking at their networks.” In order to regulate traffic flowing into a network, firewalls typically need to inspect and potentially decrypt packets of information before data can carry on – a process that’s nearly impossible to do at rapid speeds. Corsa gets around this problem through a series of virtual machines that segment and scale the firewall’s filtering process. The company works with security giants that include the likes of Fortinet

and Palo Alto Networks to implement its tech, and Raab says the company is looking to add more partners to the roster. While about 80 per cent of its customers – which include big names from the banking, government and education sectors – are in North America, Corsa has a growing presence in Europe and recently strengthened its foothold in the Middle Eastern and Asian markets when it inked a deal with Spider Digital, a fintech firm with offices in Dubai and Bangladesh. For now, Raab says, the company remains focused on virtual firewalls. But she believes there’s huge potential for new developments in areas such as scaling web proxies and other network security applications in the future. In an industry as competitive as cybersecurity, she explains, if you’re standing still, you’re falling behind. “Cybersecurity is constantly evolving,” she says. “There’s so much more we can do. You have to bring something new to the table or it’s just … why bother?” Now at about 50 employees, Corsa plans to use some of the new funding to add to its product development and sales teams. Raab says the company is starting to see a “pickup” in revenues compared with the height of the pandemic, adding customers have responded well to virtual sales campaigns so far. But she says she’s concerned about the long-term effects of “Zoom fatigue” on a sector that traditionally relies heavily on face-toface meetings to seal deals. “I’m worried that that won’t last,” she says of the effectiveness of remote customer calls. “But you can’t control that.”

FALL 2020



No, they won’t come just because you’ve built it uOttawa can equip your engineers with the skills they need to understand and influence your customers


FALL 2020

ngineers design and build – that’s their passion and their expertise. But in the business world, there must be alignment between what an engineer does and what a customer truly needs. The “soft skills” of listening, dialogue and influence can be just as important to an engineer, and an entire R&D team, as any amount of technical knowhow. Conveying complex concepts in layman’s terms, asking the right questions to understand someone’s motivations and being able to truly listen are all crucial for: • Effective internal communications, to ensure an organization’s R&D, sales and marketing teams are on the same page and working well together. • Effective external communications, to truly understand what needs are motivating prospective customers and to avoid wasting time and money on building the wrong thing or adding the wrong features.



‘So what?’ “Engineers often get caught up by the cool factor of a technology,” said Trevor Græme Wilkins, principal at the University of Ottawa’s Engineering Sales School (uOESS). “But I always ask, ‘So what?’ Have you actually analyzed what your cool technology or brilliant idea will deliver in business terms? Only then can you talk to sales prospects and ask them the right questions to understand what it is you can deliver – and what they’re willing to pay for.” Since 2009, the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Engineering has included in its undergrad and grad programs opportunities meant to help engineering students learn what it takes to get the right product or service to the right customer. Students today can pursue a unique uOttawa Certified Sales Engineer (uOCSE) certification.

Trevor Græme Wilkins is the principal at the University of Ottawa’s Engineering Sales School.

Have you actually analyzed what your cool technology or brilliant idea will deliver in business terms? Built on a proven methodology The uOESS has applied this experience to create a fourpart business communication and influence (BCI) program for the corporate sector, as well as three advanced courses. These are delivered through the uOttawa Professional Development Institute. Wilkins has spent 30-plus years in the technology industry as a mechanical and IT engineer, startup leader, sales executive and engineering sales trainer. The BCI program incorporates his “Turning Selling into Buying” methodology – a simple, universal process that “absolutely anyone” can use to influence others to buy (or buy into) their ideas, services or products. (Turning Selling into Buying is available as a three-part book.) Get started today The BCI program is available to teams, companies and individuals (even if they are working full-time) through a blended synchronous/asynchronous curriculum. The program can be delivered either on campus (including the uOttawa Kanata North Campus), on an employer’s premises or virtually. Full remote learning online will be available in January. Learn more and register today at OBJ360 CONTENT STUDIO

The hard ROI of mastering those soft skills Engineer, entrepreneur and seasoned executive Simon Morris has long been an avid fan and beneficiary of the “Turning Selling into Buying” methodology that underpins the uOESS’s BCI program. The former CEO of Mtekvision Canada, Cognivue and IRYStec Software emphasizes the value of this investment to the whole organization. “The engineering world is slowly getting the message that engineers really need to understand, at the minimum, how the sales management process works and how that impacts what they build,” Morris said. “These skills apply to selling a concept internally within the company as much as they do to selling externally to prospects. They help to reduce miscommunication between the R&D, sales, marketing and customer support teams, for faster product development, the right product development and shorter time to revenue.” Deeper understanding for a shorter sales cycle Systems engineer and product manager Oleg Mysyk has worked in the local telecom sector for more than 20 years and was first introduced to the new BCI program’s methodology while working at Nokia. The BCI concepts resonated with Mysyk so much that he joined the program delivery team for BCI. “Being able to develop and control a technical conversation is a good start. Having the skills to draw out and explore a customer’s business goals was even more critical. This not only helped our development team shorten the sales cycle but also made sure our downstream teams knew what to build and why,” Mysyk said. “Through BCI, your engineers and similar specialists learn to have these kinds of planned, conscious conversations that end with both parties agreeing to what is wanted, needed and can be afforded.”


Ottawa startup eyes breakthrough with AI-powered patient monitoring tech Therapeutic Monitoring Systems set to start trials of $6M technology BY DAVID SALI



– Dr. Andrew Seely, CEO, Therapeutic Monitoring Systems Photo by Mark Holleron

has been no fundamental change in the way monitoring is performed,” Seely says. With the help of TMS, he believes that’s all about to change. The company is close to gaining Health Canada and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s approval to sell the Extubation Advisor to health-care facilities in the two countries, he says, adding he hopes it gets the green light before the end of the year. But the company’s path to commercialization has been fraught with fits and starts as it struggled for years to secure funding from investors who were skittish about pouring money into a prerevenue startup with unproven medical technology. Thankfully, Seely himself was fortunate enough to land about $3 million

in government grants to help carry him through. In addition, a group of private and government investors that was led by Toronto VC Genesys Capital and also included several local angels has kicked in another $3.5 million. Last year, the company inked a partnership with OBS Medical, a U.K.-based firm that’s also developing predictive algorithms to help doctors better treat critically ill patients, that helped keep it on the path to commercialization. “It has been challenging in the past to find individuals that will invest in our company, but we’ve been fortunate to have a number of investors in Therapeutic Monitoring Systems that believe in our technology,” he says.


TMS’s system, called the Extubation Advisor, constantly tracks vital signs such as heart rate, blood pressure and blood-oxygen levels. Its machine-learning technology then analyzes that data to give doctors a more precise read on when to take patients with serious breathing difficulties due to illnesses such as COVID-19 off of ventilators. Seely says the technology, which cost more than $6 million to develop, will ultimately improve the quality of patient care while saving the health-care system time and money by reducing the number of adverse events that occur in hospitals. If the trials prove successful, TMS’s technology could represent a giant leap forward for patient-monitoring equipment, which has remained stuck in a time warp for years while other aspects of health-care technology have continued to advance, he explains. “For the last three to four decades, there

“It’s going to be an exciting next phase for the company.”

FALL 2020

fter 13 years, millions of dollars in funding and thousands of hours of R&D, Dr. Andrew Seely feels like the prognosis is looking good for an Ottawa health-tech enterprise he hopes will improve outcomes for patients with critical breathing issues. Seely, a thoracic surgeon and scientist at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, is the founder and CEO of Therapeutic Monitoring Systems. Since the company’s founding in 2007, Seely and his team of researchers have painstakingly developed the AI technology that monitors a patient’s vital signs to the point where it’s finally ready to be put through its paces in a real-world hospital setting. TMS is one of eight companies that are set to start trials this fall with the support of the non-profit Ontario Bioscience Innovation Organization. Its system will be installed in intensive care units at the Ottawa Hospital and the Hamilton Health Sciences Centre, where it will be evaluated for the next six months.

“It’s a real challenge for companies in Canada to actually get their products into hospitals,” Seely says. “It’s going to be an exciting next phase for the company.”


Landlords weigh options amid potential rent freeze Attempting to work with tenants is the best approach


FALL 2020

he Government of Ontario is expected to announce this fall a residential “rent freeze” for 2021. What does this mean for landlords and is it likely to spur a wave of evictions as some tenant advocacy groups fear? Ontario has a system of rent control intended to strike a balance between protecting tenants from excessive annual increases while ensuring landlords can continue to generate sufficient revenue to cover the rising costs of maintenance and operation. These rent control measures will likely not apply to vacant rental units – a landlord can currently raise the rent on a vacant unit by whatever degree they believe the market can bear. Tenant advocacy groups have expressed their concerns through the media in recent weeks that landlords will take advantage of this to circumvent a rent freeze. They warn landlords will seek grounds on which to evict tenants, for the express purpose of raising rents. But how likely is this really? And what recourse do landlords have if the government does restrict their ability to increase rents for existing tenants? The most obvious grounds on which a residential landlord can evict a tenant is for non-payment of rent. Given the current situation with the pandemic, this is the most pressing concern for tenant groups, as job loss – either temporary or permanent – has left many people under financial duress.



FINDING LEGITIMATE GROUNDS FOR EVICTION ISN’T EASY Even in situations of non-payment or late payment, the landlord must still abide by the process provided for in the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006. To commence an eviction process, the landlord must first provide the tenant with a written notice outlining the reason for eviction, the termination date and the tenant’s remedial period. A standard form issued by Ontario’s Landlord and Tenant Board must be used when serving an eviction notice to a tenant. The tenant is given a certain amount of time to remedy their behaviour or to comply with the request made by the landlord. If the tenant doesn’t remedy the situation or move out, the landlord can file an application to the Board to

end the tenancy. Most applications must be made within 30 days of the termination date set out in the notice. However, there is no deadline to apply to end a tenancy for non-payment of rent. From there, the matter can proceed to a hearing, which the Board will schedule to decide the landlord’s application. The outcome of a hearing will be an order, which presents a board decision on whether the tenant can or cannot be evicted. SYSTEM BACKLOGS A backlog of eviction applications with the Board built up over the summer thanks in part to the temporary closure of the Board’s counter services and an eviction moratorium by the province that ended in July. It’s fair to say that an eviction application is unlikely to move quickly through the system at present. THE COURT OF PUBLIC OPINION The other consideration is one of public perception – is it really in a landlord’s best interests to be seen as attempting mass evictions? The efforts of tenant advocacy groups and the power of social media can quickly turn the court of public opinion against a landlord who is portrayed as acting in an unjust or opportunistic manner. It’s also reasonable to say that the Government of Ontario doesn’t want to see this kind of activity become commonplace. A RENT FREEZE LEAVES LANDLORDS WITHOUT A LOOPHOLE A rent freeze puts the onus on landlords to absorb any shortfalls in their rental income that may impact their ability to pay taxes (which by and large are not decreasing) and maintenance/operating costs (which continue to rise). Vacancies do provide the opportunity for a landlord to command a higher rent, regardless of any government-imposed freeze, but only if the market can bear the increase. Fewer travellers and tourists seeking

short-term accommodation, fewer post-secondary students moving into the city for the school year – these and other factors related to the pandemic are having an impact on rental demand in many cities. FIND COMMON GROUND Landlords should certainly consider eviction of a tenant when it has valid grounds on which to proceed and seek the right legal advice to do so. But in the current environment, seeking mass eviction as a means of circumventing a rent freeze is unlikely to be in a landlord’s best interests. The best advice for any tenant-landlord relationship, as it was well before the pandemic, is to seek common ground and find a compromise which both parties to the rental agreement will find tolerable. Timothy J. Thomas is a real estate lawyer and partner at Perley-Robertson, Hill & McDougall. Tim’s practice centres on negotiation and preparation of financing documentation – for financial institutions and borrowers, leasing matters, and commercial real estate development, including the sale, purchase and financing of commercial, industrial and residential properties. Contact Tim at


(613) 238-2022

Techopia Live Connecting Ottawa’s next generation of tech entrepreneurs Techopia regularly speaks to Ottawa-based entrepreneurs and tech veterans to explore strategies to build and scale tech companies. Visit to see OBJ’s full collection of videos, including more than 150 interviews with local tech leaders.



The COVID-19 pandemic completely upended the business plans of countless companies. Cliniconex is one very big exception. After making a name for itself developing an automated patient reminder system for medical clinics, the startup began to expand into the senior care market in 2018, putting Cliniconex in a unique position when COVID-19 struck. Hear how the company responded to this surge in demand and plans to maintain its momentum.

Ottawa’s GBatteries has a straightforward and highly ambitious goal: Develop battery technology that fully charges an electric vehicle in the same amount of time it takes to fill a tank of gas. GBatteries has been incubated in Silicon Valley and raised millions of dollars in financing. Mentorship and networking are vital for many early stage companies. But where can entrepreneurs make those connections amid a pandemic?

Many entrepreneurs and business owners have been learning on the fly to run a remote company in recent months. But for some startups, remote work is ingrained in their DNA – providing a source of strength and creating flexibility to pivot and tackle new markets. Bitback is a fintech startup with roots here in the National Capital Region. Its first product was developed in South Africa, validated in Uganda and is now being refined in Germany before it scales up back in Canada.




Jaison Dolvane has seen virtually every stage of a tech company’s lifecycle.

It costs thousands of dollars for lenders to process a mortgage application. It’s a time-consuming and manual process to validate a borrower’s income, property valuation and other information. Ottawa entrepreneur Chris Grimes saw these shortcomings first hand while working in the mortgage industry – and knew there had to be a better way. But when is it time to take a great idea and turn it into a business? And at what point does one leave the stability of a day job and go all-in on a new venture?


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He co-founded a tech venture, survived the bust, raised venture capital, took his company public and, last year, exited when Espial was acquired. And now he’s doing it all over again with a fresh startup, WishSlate. What lessons does a veteran tech entrepreneur bring to a brand new venture? And how do they prepare to tackle a completely fresh market? Hear about the lessons learned Dolvane is applying to WishSlate as well as the different mindset that’s required to tackle the B2C market.


unique inspiring office spaces Share your creative, clever and inspiring work spaces. Eye-catching designs, colourful details and innovative layouts are just some of the elements that create an engaging work space. What is your story?

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Contact Wendy Baily 613.238.1818 ext. 244 |


48 is supported by the generous patronage of Mark Motors, the National Arts Centre and Sparks Dental. STORIES AND PHOTOS BY CAROLINE PHILLIPS


Ottawa business leaders raise more than $225K for Lebanon Disaster Relief Fundraiser Lebanese ambassador, MP David McGuinty, Mayor Jim Watson among special guests at small, backyard gathering

organization,” said Saikaley, who’s retired now as a real estate and business law partner at Perley-Robertson, Hill & McDougall LLP. He continues to own and operate a property management firm and recently became a grandfather for the first time. Saikaley got a helping hand from his four grown daughters in organizing the fundraiser. The family also donated a combined $27,000 to the cause. In case anyone is wondering, cheek kissing, embracing and handshaking were a big no-no that night, replaced with some friendly elbow bumps. “I want to hug you, but it’s so wrong,” Meera Dilawri was overheard telling Liza Mrak, executive vice-president of Mark Motors Group, as they greeted one another sans physical contact.


were seen cruising by toward nearby Mooney’s Bay. All the bite-sized servings of falafel, tabbouleh, prosciutto-wrapped dates and other food were courtesy of Ottawa caterer Shirley Kouri of Peridot45. The money raised is going to the Humanitarian Coalition. It brings together leading aid organizations to provide Canadians with a simple and effective way to help during international humanitarian disasters. The federal government previously announced it will match donations made by individual Canadians to the Humanitarian Coalition and its members, up to a maximum of $8 million. “We did our homework to make sure we’re giving money to the proper

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Ottawa businessman Charlie Saikaley and his wife, Majida, threw a party in late August that really packed a punch, raising more than $225,000 to help the people of Lebanon rebuild their lives following tragedy. The couple hosted a small and intimate Lebanon Disaster Relief Fundraiser at their astonishingly beautiful new home. They capped the number of guests at 50 and kept the two-hour reception strictly outdoors to limit the possible spread of the COVID-19 virus. Lebanon’s ambassador to Canada, Fadi Ziadeh, donated the wine and was among the dignitaries in attendance. Other special guests were David McGuinty, Liberal MP for Ottawa South,

and Mayor Jim Watson. Saikaley was assisted in his efforts by well-connected volunteer fundraisers Gary Zed and Ottawa obstetrician Dr. George Tawagi. Attendees were asked to make a minimum donation of $2,500 per person or $5,000 per couple. There were many supporters who still gave money despite not being there. Moreover, it wasn’t just Ottawa’s Lebanese-Canadian community stepping up; donations came from a cross-section of people from the business community. “I’m pleasantly surprised; everyone really came together,” Saikaley told OBJ. social early in the evening, as guests started filing into his backyard. Saikaley hoped to raise $225,000, and it appeared he was set to exceed that goal. The Saikaleys’ property is so spacious that it’s practically made for social distancing. It also backs onto the Rideau River, where boaters of all kinds is supported by the generous patronage of Mark Motors, the National Arts Centre and Sparks Dental. STORIES AND PHOTOS BY CAROLINE PHILLIPS


It’s a $1M win for the Cancer Champions Breakfast You can bet 2020 Cancer Champions Breakfast chair Ian Sherman and the staff at the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation woke up in mid-September feeling like a million bucks. The nonprofit organization has announced that its virtual breakfast, held Sept. 16, raised more than $1,063,799 for its cancer coaching program and its support of local cancer research and clinical trials. The million-plus dollars is the most amount of money the event has ever raised in a single year, according to the Cancer Foundation. It’s a particularly satisfying result when one considers the challenges that organizers faced this year in holding the breakfast. The breakfast, hosted by experienced public speaker and emcee

Catherine Clark, featured interviews with local cancer care professionals and patients. There were also remarks from Sherman, who took over the leadership role for the breakfast this year. He’s a tax partner at EY, where he’s worked for nearly 31 years. Sherman had previously expressed confidence that he and the fundraising team could reach $1 million. Helping organizers hit their target was a special 25x25 campaign that asked 25 individuals, families and companies to donate $25,000 in honour of the Foundation’s 25th anniversary. For Sherman, the breakfast turned out to be a labour of love. “We certainly had been hoping that

we would be meeting as a community, in person, physically, at the Infinity Convention Centre, back on May 13th,” he said during the virtual breakfast, in conversation with Clark. “However, I think we are the first – or among the first within this community – to launch a virtual breakfast, and the effort has been so

worthwhile for such a worthy cause.” The Cancer Champions Breakfast followed right on the heels of the Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa’s virtual breakfast, which was held the day before. It also raised $1 million. Together, the two fundraisers injected positive news in a world that badly needs it at this time.

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Four marathons, 24 hours: IMI’s Rudi Asseer raises $25K for Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa BY NICKIE SHOBEIRY

When his community needs him, Rudi Asseer goes the extra mile – and then some. Asseer, president and CEO of IMI Global People Company, has supported the Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa since 2017. Like many local charities, BGCO’s fundraising efforts were disrupted by COVID-19. “A lot of our core funding comes from that, and it pays for the basics of what we do – our daily operations, getting kids in the door,” says Adam Joiner, CEO of the Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa, which serves 4,500 children and youth every year. With schools closed, many are experiencing significant isolation, Joiner says.

“Our in-person, safe and supportive programming is what’s most important for some of these kids,” he says. Asseer, a self-described “start-up philanthropist,” raced onto the scene with a special – and gruelling – charity run.

PERSONAL CONNECTION Sponsored by IMI and held this summer, Asseer brought the Quarantine Backyard Ultra to Ottawa: a global event held in more than 50 countries, with athletes each covering 100 miles in 24 hours. “I’ve never done anything like this before,” Asseer said the day before the run. “I’m very nervous. The furthest I’ve run is just over a marathon. We’ll be completing over four marathons consecutively.”

inuksuit cuisine

“Having that structure was so impactful at such a young age.” On the day of the Quarantine Backyard Ultra, Asseer started running at 9 a.m. on Saturday, and finished close to the same time the next day. As well as raising an additional $5,000, he hit his personal goal: 100 miles completed in 23 hours and 39 minutes.


SEP - NOV 2020

Despite any nerves, Asseer was in it for the long haul, not least because of his personal connection to BGCO. When he was eight, Asseer and his family moved to Canada from Belgium. Asseer found community at the clubhouse. “Providing a safe environment for inner city children is key,” he says.

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From left, Susan Ibach, Rudi Asseer and Mike Blois run in the Quarantine Backyard Ultra. PHOTO BY MICHAEL ANDERSON PHOTOGRAPHY.

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Rebecca Palmer is a loud, proud booster of local entrepreneurs. The newly appointed fulltime executive director of the Ottawa Coalition of Business Improvement Areas believes small businesses are the lifeblood of the local economy. Yet Palmer feels many of their concerns have been falling on deaf ears, especially during the COVID-19 crisis. She hopes to help change that in her new role. “We have all these businesses who need a voice,” says Palmer, a former law clerk who moved to the capital from Barrie about a year and a half ago. Business Improvement Areas represent retailers and other businesses in a defined neighbourhood, using levies raised from members to fund marketing campaigns, beautification initiatives and events designed to draw customers to the area. Officially launched last fall, OCOBIA brings the 19 BIAs in the Ottawa area under a single umbrella. It aims to provide a forum for members to share successful business practices as well as present a united front when dealing with various levels of government on policy issues. Collectively, the organization represents some 6,400 businesses that employ 120,000 residents –​ a larger membership, Palmer notes, than the better-known Ottawa Board of Trade. Many of those businesses are small storefront operations that are struggling right now as the pandemic continues to batter

Rebecca Palmer / Ottawa Coalition of Business Improvement Areas the economy, she adds. “All of our BIAs have small businesses that are hanging on by threads,” Palmer says. “(Our work is about) finding ways to help them across the board.” Palmer has spent her first few weeks on the job meeting with BIA leaders from across the city in an effort to get a better handle on the issues that matter most to them, whether it’s the need for ongoing rent relief or more effective promotional campaigns to get the message out to the public that mainstreet stores are

indeed still open for business. While OCOBIA’s members come from a wide range of industries and vary in size from one- or twoperson operations to tech firms with thousands of employees, Palmer’s goal is to find the common threads that bind them together. “It’s really understanding what makes up each of the BIAs and finding where concerns and needs intersect and overlap,” she explains. Before joining OCOBIA, Palmer served a brief stint as a programs manager at Startup Canada, an

Ottawa-based organization that promotes entrepreneurship across the country. She also helped organize last year’s Get in the Ring event for local startups seeking funding and mentorship opportunities in a bid to scale their operations. “It was a way that we could celebrate what’s really happening in Canada,” Palmer says. “It’s very important to me, whether you’re a mainstreet business or a large business, that we are looking on the global level to compete.” – David Sali


Commercial buildings must modernize to keep up with tenant requirements A

embarked on a modernization program that is transforming the building.” District Realty is bringing back base building conditions by installing upgrades such as LED lighting, new carpeting, a new ceiling grid and by updating older materials with new finishes. Exposing the building’s undisturbed views to Parliament Hill and the Gatineau Hills was paramount to the renovation, says Morin. “When you walk into a space, you don’t want to feel closed in,” adds Morin. “We opened everything up so that you’re seeing windows and not walls. Everything is exposed and ready to be transformed by the client’s own design.” While office workers across all sectors are looking for a workspace that is modern, comfortable and offers opportunities to collaborate with colleagues, Hockey says the tenant of 2020 is looking for more than just a physical space. “It’s no longer just about the building and the office space,” he says. “Companies want to offer their employees the entire workplace experience.”



A report released by Newmark Knight Frank earlier this year supports Hockey’s analysis. “The desire of companies to attract and retain the best and brightest employees has led office tenants to focus on amenities during their location decision-making,” the report stated. Proximity to nice restaurants, such as the Clocktower at 1 Nicholas St., access to outdoor space, walkability to transit, secure bike storage, shower facilities and collaborative spaces, such as open board rooms, are highly sought-after amenities for the modern tenant. Facilitating access to social spaces is known to increase productivity, promoting more focused activity once an employee returns to their desk. In this regard, District Realty’s 1 Nicholas St., in its prime downtown location, has the right amenities to attract and retain tenants. There are currently several blocks of space available for lease inside 1 Nicholas St. Organizations that are interested in office space in the heart of downtown Ottawa can explore their options at

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blank canvas” is what commercial tenants are looking for, and Ottawa landlords, including property management corporation District Realty, are responding with significant renovations and creative upgrades. “The average tenant is using space very differently than they were 10 to 15 years ago,” says Lindsay Hockey, a broker from Avison Young. “Tenants are looking for something open-concept. They want something that has clean lines and bright, unencumbered lighting. Essentially, they’re looking for a modern space.” District Realty’s 1 Nicholas St. property – located at Rideau Street, on the edge of the ByWard Market and within walking distance from a light-rail station – is capitalizing on the opportunity to create a more modern environment. “We recognize the changing requirements of new tenants,” says Michael Morin, a commercial property manager at District Realty. “We know that our product needs to meet or exceed what others are offering, which is why we have


Creating a diverse and inclusive workplace culture

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There is growing awareness in Ottawa that addressing gender diversity and inclusion is not only a good thing to do, but the right thing to do. Executives and leaders across all sectors are realizing there are economic benefits to be realized alongside the well-established social advantages. But when I speak with corporate presidents and CEOs, I often hear that they are now committed to taking action but struggle with how to do it successfully. After several years of research, including interviews with top male and female executives and managers, I developed a blueprint for organizations to implement these changes. Let me walk you through five helpful tips for getting started:



Model and commit: Make a formal commitment to employees and external stakeholders such as investors, recruitment agencies and subcontractors stating that a concerted effort is taking place to make your company more genderdiverse and inclusive. Stating this intention holds the president and other senior leadership accountable. Accountability is the key to the success of implementing this sort of change. Say it: Tell your employees you’re serious by assessing – and, where necessary, changing – company policies, visions, goals and mandates to include gender-diverse and inclusive language. Say it to your industry peers by participating in conferences and

These strategies are used by some leading tech companies operating in the National Capital Region. HP Canada, which has a presence here in Ottawa, recently received recognition for being one of Canada’s Best Diversity Employers in 2020. Here are some of HP’s approaches:

stating externally what your company is doing and sharing the message that it’s not just a social issue, but a business advantage.

Show it, be visible and take action often: Hold focus group discussions (e.g. at the branch level) between senior executives and employees. This smaller group setting will increase the likelihood of sharing any concerns, and allow those concerns to be addressed in an open and transparent manner that builds trust. This in turn creates honest communications that delve into the root issues that are causing some people to be reluctant to onboard a gender-diverse and inclusive culture.

Explain the benefits to men: Articulate that work-life balance policies apply to both men and women. With this knowledge, men feel a part of this new culture and see how everyone is healthier as a result. For example, discuss how men can attend their kids’ school activities or leave early from work and still be seen as committed to their careers. Mention that this social connection to family leads to less stress and fewer heart attacks, less suicides as well a reduction in the “death gap” between men and women. Hire a gender expert coach: Bringing in an outside perspective can help guide your executive team to make a sustainable plan toward gender equality that will be implemented, monitored, measured and reported.

It made a formal commitment to increase the number of women in senior roles and technical positions throughout the organization; It created a new full-time position of chief diversity officer to implement the change needed. HP also funded training for women’s career development as well as mentoring programs and unconscious bias training; and It organized activities to celebrate Pride Month as well as diversity and inclusion, accessibility and aging.

Although HP Canada has not revealed the economic return on investing in GDI, other international companies have seen big returns. Sodexo – a food services and facilities management firm with local operations – understandably boasts that for every dollar it invests in GDI, it receives a $19 ROI. HP Canada’s leadership clearly demonstrates it has the mental muscle to know this is a no-brainer business decision, or as I like to say, business advantage. It has forged the way for other high-tech companies to follow their lead.

Great River Media, 250 City Centre Ave., Suite 500, Ottawa, Ontario, K1R 6K7 TELEPHONE Phone: 613-238-1818 Sales Fax: 613-248-4564 News Fax: No faxes, email PUBLISHER Michael Curran, 238-1818 ext. 228 CHIEF MARKETING OFFICER Terry Tyo, 238-1818 ext. 268 HEAD OF CONTENT Peter Kovessy, 238-1818 ext. 251 EDITOR David Sali, 238-1818 ext. 269 CONTENT CREATOR & CAMPAIGN MANAGER Lisa Thibodeau, 238-1818 ext. 280 NEWS RELEASES Please e-mail to ADVERTISING SALES General Inquiries, 238-1818 ext. 228 Wendy Baily, 238-1818 ext. 244 Eric Dupuis, 613-266-5598 Victoria Stewart, 238-1818 ext. 226 CREATIVE DIRECTOR Tanya Connolly-Holmes, 238-1818 ext. 253 DESIGN DEPARTMENT Regan Van Dusen, 238-1818 ext. 254 Celine Paquette, 238-1818 ext. 252 FINANCE Cheryl Schunk, 238-1818 ext. 250 PRINTED BY Transcontinental Transmag 10807 Rue Mirabeau, Anjou, QC H1J 1T7 LETTERS TO THE EDITOR We welcome opinions about any material published in the Ottawa Business Journal or issues of interest to local businesspeople. Only letters with the writer’s full name, address and telephone number will be considered for publication. Addresses and phone numbers will not be published, but they might be used to verify authenticity. Letters can be e-mailed to

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Kelly Cooper is the founder and CEO of the Centre for Social Intelligence as well as the author of Lead the Change – The Competitive Advantage of Gender Diversity and Inclusion, available through and in Ottawa Chapters locations.


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Westboro office market growing in popularity among entrepreneurs Enviable amenities and easy access puts neighbourhood on the map for businesses looking for space


s Ottawa businesses reimagine how they make the most of their workplaces, many local firms are taking a closer look at commercial space in some of the city’s central neighbourhoods. The second and third-floor spaces above the restaurants and retail shops on and around Richmond Road in Westboro – as well as several recently constructed mixed-use buildings – are leveraged by entrepreneurs, professional service providers and startups looking for flexible and easily accessible workspace, surrounded by amenities. They include accounting firm GGFL, rapidly growing tech company Pythian and marketing agency KarmaDharma, which recently vacated its old Richmond Road office in favour of larger space that it could share with a website development company. Neither company imagined their search for a larger office – which included visits to spaces in downtown Ottawa – would lead them just a few hundred metres down the street. But it quickly became clear that the amenities the company had grown to love in Westboro Village just couldn’t be matched elsewhere, says Peter Georgariou, CEO and founder of KarmaDharma. Not wanting to leave behind the close-knit community and direct retail access, the team packed up the office and traveled just minutes away, taking over a larger space on the second level of 346 Richmond Rd. “Our team loves Westboro, and the space we found was such a better fit for us than anything else we viewed,” he says. “For staff to be able to go out for a walk at lunch, grab food from a local cafe or pick up groceries on the way home

Work-life balance Westboro Village offers professionals the best of both worlds: an urban vibe, but without the traffic and transit congestion of downtown. “Some businesses are starting to shy away from the big glass towers, where you don’t know your neighbour and have long waits for the elevator,” says Rick Eisert, a broker at Royal LePage Team Realty. “We have smaller buildings, parking and even e-scooters now, so getting to Westboro and moving around isn’t an issue.” Accessing Westboro Village will become even easier in the coming years when construction of two new light-rail stations – Westboro and Dominion – are complete. For motorists, the community is easily accessible from all corners of the city via Highway 417, the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway and the Champlain Bridge. And cyclists have smooth commutes on the multiuse pathways that run along Byron Avenue and the Ottawa River. But it’s not just a shorter and more pleasant commute that gives Westboro-based employees a better work-life balance. The neighbourhood is home to a highly diverse mix of food retailers, grocery stores, pharmacies, gyms and salons that makes it easy

Westboro Village is becoming an increasingly sought-after destination for entrepreneurs and business owners looking to take advantage of the neighbourhood’s direct retail access and close-knit community feel, says Judy Lincoln, executive director of the BIA. to squeeze in a haircut or workout, or pick up food for dinner, into a busy workday. “There’s so much to offer your staff,” says Judy Lincoln, executive director of the Westboro Village BIA. “They can access so many amenities without having to leave the neighbourhood.” She adds that Westboro’s unique character, combined with the high number of locally owned and managed businesses, gives Westboro the feeling of a close-knit community that’s not always seen in other areas of the city. It’s a sentiment Georgariou says he also feels when he’s visiting retailers and other companies in Westboro. “From one business owner to another, it’s nice to get to meet the person you’re supporting,” he says. “They need our business, but we also need them.”

Some businesses are starting to shy away from the big glass towers, where you don’t know your neighbour and have long waits for the elevator — Rick Eisert, a broker at Royal LePage Team Realty



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is a huge bonus.” For Georgariou and his team, who have now fully moved into their new space, the opportunity to stay and work in Westboro is an option both they – and their customers – are celebrating. “We inevitably always hear from our clients that they love coming down to see us because they love the neighbourhood and poking around the shops,” says Georgariou. “Being here is definitely a win-win scenario for everyone.”

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Stories of inspiration, innovation and leadership



CHAMPIONS FOR HOPE The Royal is so fortunate to have champions across our community and around the world who volunteer their time to support the incredible mental health care and research that helps provide hope and transform lives. We’re grateful to highlight these three champions for mental health who use their platforms to help raise money and awareness.


Thank you, Ian, Elizabeth and Robert, for everything you do for us!




Ian Mendes, a local sports broadcaster who co-hosts the afternoon radio show “The Drive” for TSN Radio 1200, is using his media platform to support The Royal and help bring awareness to mental health in our community. “In university, my roommate and good friend ended up taking his own life shortly after we graduated,” Mendes says. “I started to look back wondering if I had missed some signs – or if I should have had more open conversations with him. But in the year 1998 when we were graduating, talking about mental health just wasn’t what it is now.” Mendes’s goal is to help make Ottawa a better place. “As a member of the media, I want to use my platform for more than talking about a power play that doesn’t work or a team that needs to sign a free agent. If I’m able to volunteer my time to The Royal to tell impactful stories and to interview mental health experts, that’s my way of giving back to the community.” Mendes would like to see conversations about mental health continue to push forward, further decreasing the stigma, so that young people today will be able to talk to each other more openly. “My hope is that if there’s a kid at Carleton University today who has a roommate that’s struggling, they’ll be able have those important – even life-saving – conversations.”

Despite being the pride and joy in Canadian women’s figure skating as the 1988 Olympic silver medalist, the 1988 World silver medalist, and a three-time Canadian national champion, the joy we saw on the television screens in our living rooms masked the pain Elizabeth (Liz) Manley was feeling. Deemed “Canada’s Sweetheart” for more than 20 years, life for Manley has been filled with mental health challenges. At the age of 16, Manley was diagnosed with depression. “I was a teenager, bald, 35 pounds overweight and locked in a house because I didn’t want people to see me. I had experienced a nervous breakdown. I thought there was nothing good in life for me. Four-and-a-half years later, I was standing on the podium and having the greatest moment of my life. When you think your life is no good, you can change it.” Manley works tirelessly to inspire others with her mental health journey. She is a strong advocate for the work being done at The Royal and continues to support the Foundation, using her media platform to raise awareness. In addition, Manley is grateful to The Royal’s mental health experts who have helped members of her family. She believes that it’s important, now more than ever with the pandemic, to continue to support mental health care and research. “My heart belongs to The Royal because of the great work that they’re doing and as a community we can’t lose that, because no one should suffer in silence.”

Robert de Wit, Ottawa’s premier headshot photographer, says his one goal is to “rid this world of boring and uninspired headshots.” He’s worked with actors, artists and executives. Now he’s giving back to the community by offering his services to the Royal Ottawa Foundation for the front and inside covers of this publication. “I wanted to do something more meaningful, where I could help tell a story of those who benefit from and work with The Royal, through photography,” de Wit says. He describes how every photograph has a voice and that the most important voice is the one that elicits an emotional response from the viewer. “We’ve all seen iconic shots that stop you in your tracks. That’s storytelling. That’s photography. That’s my purpose.” The Foundation is grateful for this generous donation of de Wit’s time and talent.

in the Ottawa region and is quickly becoming a much sought-after treatment for depression.

A PREFERRED TREATMENT Unlike other treatments, such as antidepressant medication and electroconvulsive therapy, rTMS has very few side effects. Additionally, rTMS sidesteps some of the traditional obstacles to treating young adults with depression. Youth and young adults who take antidepressant medications, for example, may experience behavioural, emotional and physical changes. Many elderly patients are also limited in their use of antidepressant drugs because of poor kidney or liver function. rTMS as an alternative to drug interventions is useful for a wide range of people.

Approximately 50 per cent of patients see a significant reduction in their symptoms – which includes 30 per cent who achieve complete remission.

Watch at:

The Royal’s Dr. Sara Tremblay demonstrates the use of a repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation with Dr. Lisa McMurray, seen at far right. The treatment stimulates the brain circuit known to be dysfunctional in people with major depression. PHOTO BY MICHELLE VALBERG

HOPE FOR PEOPLE LIVING WITH TREATMENT-RESISTANT MAJOR DEPRESSIVE DISORDER I n an effort to help people living with treatment-resistant depression – those who have failed to respond to one or more different antidepressant medications – Dr. Sara Tremblay, a scientist at The Royal’s Institute of Mental Health Research, has been tirelessly working for the past two years to bring an rTMS clinical-research platform to The Royal. Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) is a type of neuromodulation that directly stimulates the specific brain circuit known to be dysfunctional in people with major depression. This is done by producing a brief and painless magnetic field that is delivered via a

coil placed against the scalp. “Across the mental health landscape, clinicians, researchers and patients are all becoming increasingly aware that there is an urgent need for new, alternative therapies for mental health disorders,” says Dr. Tremblay. “Neuromodulation offers us a whole new way of looking at mental health treatment, where we can identify malfunctioning circuits in the brain and effectively treat them in a non-drug, non-invasive way.” This dream of Dr. Tremblay’s became a reality in January 2020. The Royal’s new rTMS clinical-research platform is the first of its kind



Health Canada approved rTMS in 2002, but unfortunately only three jurisdictions – Saskatchewan, Quebec and Yukon – have publicly funded this innovative treatment. Those who live in large urban centres with private clinics can pay out of pocket for treatment. But for many, the only other way to access rTMS is through research. Through this clinical-research platform at The Royal, Dr. Tremblay’s goal is to offer treatment to as many people as she can while collecting research data to help better predict and refine rTMS treatment on a continuous basis. “Research in this area is leading to a better, more personalized standard of care for patients with depression and related mental health disorders, for whom traditional treatments haven’t worked,” says Dr. Tremblay. For a period of four to six weeks, five days a week, study participants come to The Royal for a 20-minute session in which rTMS is applied for four minutes. Although this may seem like a big time commitment, the results from rTMS have been quite positive. In fact, recent large trials have shown response rates similar to antidepressant medications; approximately 50 per cent see a significant reduction in their symptoms – which includes 30 per cent who achieve complete remission. The ultimate goal is to eventually obtain the necessary funding to expand upon the current rTMS clinical-research platform and to offer different types of rTMS treatments to individuals with treatmentresistant depression as well as for individuals living with other mental health disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder and schizophrenia. An rTMS clinical program would provide patients with a fast, free, safe and effective method to help treat chronic and treatmentresistant mental health disorders.




Watch at


AN OPEN LETTER TO PARENTS Shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic hit, I was sitting in my office one afternoon, meeting with a patient online, when they asked, “Dr. Beck, am I going to be able to finish high school?” Like many of us, teens are frightened by the virus, but their worries have shifted to their future and all of the unknowns that come with a pandemic. Most of the youth whom I work with know that education is key to better jobs and a better life, but they – and their parents – are nervous and unsure about how their school year will be affected. For teens who are already living with a mental illness, who have been both physically and socially distancing from their friends and families for months, this adjustment could be debilitating. I know how hard my patients work to be and stay well. The best thing about being a psychiatrist for youth is that I watch many of my patients grow up to be happy and successful. It’s because of the kindness of our donors that they are given the opportunity to succeed in life. They still have so many years left to live their best lives, and with continued support, we can ensure they soar to greater heights, reaching their life goals, and becoming the person they are meant to be.


First and most important, rest.


The next best thing to do if you’re anxious — an activity that counts as restful, in fact — is exercise.


Another thing to do is eat nourishing food.

If you are feeling especially anxious or have an anxiety disorder, evidence shows that you should spend 40 per cent of your day resting. What does that mean? What is resting? Resting includes sleeping, and teens need at least eight hours of sleep daily. That’s about one-third of the day. Other resting activities include exercise, reading, listening to music, napping, knitting or other hobbies and chatting at a safe social distance — any activity that helps you smile or have fun. I remind teens in my practice that video games are not necessarily restful and screens on their own can often be more exciting than calming. For example, I like watching documentaries and movies but I make sure not to watch upsetting shows. The Silence of the Lambs is not my idea of a restful movie.

The teens in my inpatient practice complain sometimes if I suggest we go for a walk, but I remind them that what we’re doing is actively working against hormones that cause stress. The research shows that this works more effectively if you can be outdoors, so go outdoors. Use fresh air to combat anxiety! Since you’re going to be around home anyway while you’re socially distancing, why not make your own bread or soup? There is time for oatmeal in the morning and you probably now have more than 20 minutes to think about supper, so make something special.

Originally appeared on Dr. Beck’s blog:

NEED HELP NOW? One in five Canadians will experience a mental health issue at some point in their lives. You are not alone and help is available. If you are struggling and need help, the first step is to contact your family doctor, nurse practioner or a walk-in medical clinic. These professionals can help to figure out what is wrong, provide treatment, and/or refer you to specialized care like The Royal.

Need help for problems with drug or alcohol use? The Royal’s Substance Use and Concurrent Disorders program offers many different services to help people who are struggling with drugs or alcohol use. You do not need a referral from a doctor to access these services. Just call 613-722-6521 ext. 6508 and we will help you figure out what the best service is for you.

CRISIS LINES Mental Health Crisis Line: 1+(866) 996-0991 Ottawa and the counties of Prescott Russell, Renfrew and Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry: 1+(613) 722-6914 Leeds & Grenville district: 1+(866) 281-2911 Pembroke Regional Hospital Mobile Crisis Team: 1+(613) 732-3675 ext. 8116 or 1+(866) 996-0991

Dr. Gail Beck Clinical director, youth mental health The Royal

Youth Services Bureau 24/7 Crisis Line: 1+(613)260-2360 or 1+(613) 377-7775 Kids Help Phone: 1+(613) 668-6868



n mid-March, emergency public health measures swept across the country, limiting in-person interactions in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. At The Royal, the pandemic has prompted the acceleration of several initiatives, particularly telemedicine. Never before has the ability to connect virtually been more important. Virtual care provides clinicians with the opportunity and capability to connect with our clients across the community while limiting the risk of spreading COVID-19. Almost immediately, a team of clinical leaders, recreation therapists and administration staff in collaboration with the Royal

Ottawa Foundation began working to raise money to secure connected devices – tablets and smartphones – in a bid to support the inpatients at The Royal and those in the community. Ensuring patients stay connected to loved ones and expert mental health care during the crisis was a top priority. Among the hundreds of donors who heeded the fundraising call, a national leader stepped in as well. When looking for support for this vulnerable population, TELUS was a natural partner. The technology company moved quickly to expand its national TELUS Mobility for Good initiative to keep vulnerable Canadians

connected to their loved ones. It’s a partnership that ensures the devices end up in the hands of those who need them most. With visitor restrictions in place across the Royal’s inpatient units – and with only a single landline per unit to share between as many as 30 patients – the opportunity to connect with the outside world became limited. “Imagine being hospitalized without any ability to speak to friends or family,” said Dr. Nicola Wright, a psychologist at The Royal. Her patients are often challenged by schizophrenia spectrum disorder and psychosis. “At a time when patients were feeling most distressed due to COVID-19, they were also cut off from their closest, most precious contacts,” she added, noting the situation caused by the pandemic “was heartbreaking.” Of the 125 phones and 135 data plans received by The Royal through TELUS, half are being used by clients in the hospital. The remainder were allocated for use by outpatients who had no access to a phone or data, making connection to their psychiatrists, mental health team members and cognitive behavioural therapy group sessions all but impossible. For one of Dr. Wright’s patients who lives alone, the declaration of the pandemic left her entirely cut off from group-based care because she didn’t have access to a phone with data. Through the Mobility for Good program, she is now able to attend three virtual group sessions per week and is maintaining her mental wellness. TELUS has been a partner of The Royal for more than 16 years; they are a key sponsor for a variety of Royal Ottawa Foundation events as well and recently launched the Health for Good initiative with the creation of the TELUS Mobile Health Clinics. TELUS truly is an incredible partner and supporter of mental health.


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2020-09-11 10:39

“Learning how to identify those at highest risk is a key goal in this field.” – DR. JENNIFER PHILLIPS, AN ASSOCIATE SCIENTIST AT THE ROYAL’S MOOD DISORDERS RESEARCH UNIT


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From left, Patricia Burhunduli, Dr. Jennifer Phillips and Katie Vandeloo are researchers at The Royal currently studying brain biomarkers that are associated with individuals with treatment-resistant depression who are most at risk of suicide.

NEUROIMAGING: A SNAPSHOT OF THE SUICIDAL BRAIN Understanding the progression of treatment-resistant depression


uicide is the second-leading cause of death among youth and young adults in Canada. Every year, 4,000 people die by suicide in Canada alone. Suicidal ideation – thinking about, considering or planning suicide – is a common symptom in patients with major depression. Yet despite its high prevalence, very little is known about its biological underpinnings. Few treatments are available. Dr. Jennifer Phillips, an associate scientist in the Mood Disorders Research Unit at The Royal’s Institute of Mental Health Research, and her research team are currently studying brain biomarkers that are associated with individuals with treatment-resistant depression who are most at risk of suicide. Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) at The Royal’s Brain Imaging Centre (BIC), the research team is examining the brain’s structure by measuring the volume of various brain regions, the thickness of brain tissue and the white matter tracts in the brain that connect different brain areas. They are also looking at brain activity to identify brain networks that may be associated with suicidal thoughts and attempts. Imaging data from the study participants is then combined with clinical factors and behavioural traits associated with suicide – factors such as impulsivity, hopelessness, perceived stress and childhood trauma.

“One of the biggest challenges in mental health research is suicide prevention,” says Dr. Phillips. “Suicidal thoughts can be very common among individuals with mental illness, yet not all will progress towards making a suicide attempt. Learning how to identify those at highest risk is a key goal in this field.”

BIOMARKERS In addition to examining neuroimaging and clinical risk factors, the team is combining the imaging data on suicide with markers of inflammation in the participants’ blood, found to be elevated in people who have died by suicide. The study is among the first of its kind to combine these factors. They hope to uncover valuable biomarkers of suicidal ideation in patients with treatment-resistant depression, and identify potential targets for treatment. “Depression is so complex and difficult to understand, and there are many factors that can lead to depression and suicidal ideation,” says Patricia Burhunduli, an MD/PhD student working on the study alongside Dr. Phillips. “This study is a stepping stone towards improving our ability to identify patients with major depressive disorder who are at highest risk of suicide, which can open the doors for improved treatment and prevention measures.”

People with treatment-resistant depression may have brain structure or function that looks different than others, but researchers still don’t know why this is. Katie Vandeloo, another graduate student working on this study, has been examining the brain scans of healthy individuals, people with suicidal thoughts and people with suicide attempts to characterize a brain biomarker spectrum and see what’s unique about people who experience depression, suicidal ideation and behaviours. “We don’t really have personalized medicine in mental health right now,” Vandeloo says. “People who have depression see a doctor and start a medication, but that medication is just a ‘one-size-fitsall’ kind of treatment.” This multi-dimensional study is allowing the research team to examine suicide from biological, clinical and psychosocial perspectives, something that is essential to progress towards suicide prevention. There are currently 50 participants in the study, 38 of whom have treatment-resistant depression and 12 healthy controls. Participants come to The Royal’s BIC for a one-time, 45-minute brain scan that images various regions of the brain. Once the study comes to an end, all participants with treatment-resistant depression are provided a consultation, where they receive an individualized treatment plan. The end goal of the study is to better understand what a suicidal brain actually looks like – to understand the progression from suicide ideation to suicide attempt – in order to more effectively inform and target treatment for people with treatment-resistant depression and suicide ideation.

“This study is a stepping stone towards improving our ability to identify patients with major depressive disorder who are at highest risk of suicide, which can open the doors for improved treatment and prevention measures.” – PATRICIA BURHUNDULI, AN MD/PHD STUDENT AT THE ROYAL’S MOOD DISORDERS RESEARCH UNIT

“The more that people recognize the importance of research that helps us to understand the brain, the more we hope that will lead to people becoming better educated and able to recognize the signs and intervene earlier.”



“When we lost our Jennie, we decided we better do something. I hope my contributions will reduce the incidences of suicide.” – BEN JAMES, FATHER OF JENNIE

hen separate tragedies struck the lives of the Lees, Waddington and James families, they each turned their grief into hope for people living with mental illness. Growing up, J.D. Lees says that his relationship with his sister, Allison, was strong. Their family spent summers at the cottage and ski trips in the winter. However, her struggles with intermittent periods of depression and an eventual diagnosis of bipolar disorder in her late teens became difficult for their family. Allison tried many different medications over the years, but struggled with the side effects as well as with her diagnosis. At the age of 27, she died by suicide. Louise Helen Waddington – better known as Helen – was bright, gifted and always wanting to change the world for the better, according to her father, John. She was diagnosed with rapid cycling bipolar disorder and, being acutely aware of the inadequacies of her treatment at the time, saw no prospect of a full recovery. She died by suicide at the age of 35. Jennie James was well-travelled, vibrant, fun-loving and made friends wherever she went. Her incredible mind brought her several scholarships from universities around the world, but it was also

her incredible mind that kept letting her down. Seeing his daughter plagued by depression for years, Allison’s father, Ben, helped her get professional help. Despite everyone’s best efforts, as well as time spent as an inpatient at two hospitals, Jennie had her life cut short by depression. At the age of 33, she died by suicide. To honour their loved ones, each family created endowment funds through the Royal Ottawa Foundation. The Allison Lees Depression Research Fund, the Jennie James Depression Research Fund and the Louise Helen Waddington Research Fund have each provided support to the Institute of Mental Health Research (IMHR) Annual Graduate Student Research Awards for almost a decade. These family funds provide research and educational opportunities to promising graduate students at the IMHR who are making important strides towards better understanding mental illness, and subsequently helping to inform new prevention and treatment strategies. “By getting involved with research, it does feel like my family and I can make a small difference in helping these students to help improve the lives of others with mental illness,” says J.D. Lees. “The thought

that we can play a role in just one or two people getting better really does help with the healing process.” J.D. says that his family’s experience getting to know these bright young students over the years has given his family some much-needed hope that the research they are helping to support will prevent future suffering for other families like them. Two recent award recipients, Katie Vandeloo (awarded in 2019) and Patricia Burhunduli (awarded in 2018), are both currently working with Dr. Jennifer Phillips on her neuroimaging study on suicide and the brain (read their stories on the opposite page). The Foundation is pleased to welcome the addition of the Julia Ruddy and Christina Ruddy Depression Research Fund to this group of philanthropic families. John and Jennifer Ruddy created a fund in memory of Julia and Christina Ruddy, who struggled with depression and were lost to suicide. The intention of this meaningful and lasting remembrance of John’s sisters is to help advance depression research and develop more effective treatments that will help other individuals and families in the future.

“We hope that fresh, trained, and committed minds addressing all aspects of bipolar disorder and depression will steadily produce a deeper understanding of the illness and its treatment.” – JOHN WADDINGTON, FATHER OF HELEN





It has been six months since the COVID-19 pandemic was declared in Canada. There is no question that the past months have challenged us as individuals and as a community. Here at The Royal, they have also brought out the best in us. Building on 10 years of experience in telemedicine, we have leveraged technology to provide virtual services wherever possible and stay connected to clients and their families while working hard to keep the individuals receiving care in our hospitals safe as they progress on their roads to recovery. More than 80 per cent of our outpatient appointments currently take place virtually, as do our client and family support groups and community education programs such as our Is It Just Me youth mental health program. MCC_14225_RoyalOttawa_OBJAd_PRESS.pdf 1 2020-09-14

We have also acted quickly during the pandemic to provide urgent mental health care while other services in our region were closed or scaled back. During 17 weeks of operation, our temporary C-Prompt clinic served more than 540 individuals. For many it was the first time they received specialized care for symptoms of depression and anxiety. We offered accessible mental health treatment in close collaboration with primary care providers. This clinic exemplified the type of responsiveness and collaboration that we aspire to at The Royal. The pandemic has exposed and intensified the need for better access to mental health and addictions care. We have seen this in our clinical work and through our research. We are actively working on new initiatives to support that need. We are building our future guided by insight and feedback from clients, families and partner organizations across our community. Through collaboration and innovation we will be the best we can be, fostering hope and delivering care to those impacted by mental illness.

SPOTLIGHT ON STIGMA For individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19, let us keep in mind that they not only face isolation and loneliness, but also the shadow of stigma that surrounds them. And this is impacting their mental health. For decades, we have fought hard to lift the veil of stigma

Joanne Bezzubetz President and CEO The Royal

that has prevented so many people from seeking help. Let’s try to understand and help each other during these trying times in our world. Rather than judge each other, let us look out for one another. Whether you are saying it from behind a mask, over the phone, on video or typing it, the message is the same: “I’m here for you. It’s OK not to be OK.”

10:32 AM


“As an employer, we know we don’t always see the full picture – which is why we’re committed to improving and creating a workplace where you can feel safe to talk, be heard and get the support you need.” Brent Strachan Division President, Ottawa

OUR DONORS HELP FIND HOPE For more than a century, The Royal has been dedicated to caring for families and people. That has made us who we are today. It’s not the years that count, it’s the lives made better that matter most to us. We’re driven and motivated by our common goal of helping people who suffer from mental illness and addictions. Our passion is to help them get better, faster – through innovative treatment, early intervention and strategies for prevention. Every year, thousands of people come to The Royal for help and hope. Our community is reaching out in larger numbers. More frequently. More urgently. With hope.

Caring for every person and every family who reaches out to us depends on us. People count on us. Our clients reclaim their best lives and build hope for the future – every day because of the work we do. And because of the people that support our work and mission. Because of you. We are driven by what could be, what should be, what will be. Our innovation and technology reduce barriers and bring care to people wherever they are. Access matters to those who struggle. At The Royal, we will never tire in searching for new and better treatment. New ways to change lives. New ways to bring hope. I invite you to get involved and join us as we work to transform access to mental health care.


Mitchell Bellman President and CEO Royal Ottawa Foundation for Mental Health

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n the most tragic day of Stephanie Richardson’s life, a symbol of hope was offered to her, giving her the strength she could not find for herself. In November of 2010, Stephanie and Luke Richardson tragically lost their 14-year-old daughter, Daron, to suicide. In tribute to Daron, Stephanie, Luke, their daughter Morgan and Daron’s friends created DIFD (Do it for Daron) and began advocating for youth mental health, inspiring conversations, offering education programs and creating helpful mental health apps. Since its inception, DIFD at The Royal has raised millions of dollars for various programs, research and initiatives, including the Is It Just Me? youth mental health education program, and the initiation of the DIFD Mach-Gaensslen Chair in Suicide Prevention Research. The offerings and awareness of DIFD have grown beyond the Ottawa region, its reach ranging from classrooms and cafes to baseball games and hockey rinks throughout North America. On that tragic day back in November, there was an act of kindness that Richardson will never forget. As she waited with Daron at the hospital for Luke and Morgan to arrive, a first responder – and one of Ottawa’s exceptional police officers — Insp. Pat Flanagan, waited with her. “Pat placed something in my hand and then closed it. He looked at

Making a difference together.

me, and told me that I would be OK,” Richardson says. “When I opened my hand, I saw a beautiful medallion. I looked down and realized that he had ripped it off his chain and placed it in my hand.” Flanagan, an executive officer to Ottawa’s chief of police, said his mother had given him that St. Jude medallion in 1998 to protect him while he was on an overseas mission in Bosnia. “As a police officer, you wear many different hats. But on that day with Stephanie, the hat I wanted to wear was one of support,” says Flanagan. He pulled the medallion from his front breast pocket of his police vest – where he always carried it – because he wanted to give Stephanie something of significance in that moment; something that would help protect her like it did for him. “St. Jude is the patron Saint of hope, lost causes and desperate cases,” he adds. “Without hope – next to health – we have very little. Stephanie needed that medallion much more than I did.” Stephanie is so grateful to Pat and all of the courageous first responders who are there for people in their darkest moments. “I’m very passionate about our first responders and military – they show such kindness every single day, to so many people like me who have been devastated,” Richardson says. “Without Pat, I can’t even imagine how I would have made it through that first day. I know we

Stephanie Richardson says she’s “forever grateful” to Ottawa Police Insp. Pat Flanagan for his gift of a medallion – as well as his compassion and guidance. PHOTO BY ROBERT DE WIT

would have been on a different path without his compassion and guidance. We are forever grateful.” The Richardson family and Flanagan formed a close bond through the years after that tragic day in November. Years later, Richardson offered the medallion back to Flanagan, but he told her to keep it. He said that the medallion “found a home with her.”

At BMO, we are committed to advancing health and wellness in our local communities. Through various sponsorships and community involvement, we believe in helping and making a difference together, to reduce the stigma around mental health in Canada. BMO is proud to support The Royal Ottawa Foundation for Mental Health.

“We’re so fortunate to have The Royal, with its worldrenowned researchers and mental health experts, right here in our nation’s capital.” – COLLEEN O’CONNELL-CAMPBELL


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FROM TRAGEDY TO HOPE Colleen O’Connell-Campbell shares her family’s personal story to destigmatize mental illness and rally support for increased access to care


n February 2004, Colleen O’Connell-Campbell was at work preparing for a client meeting when she received a call from her husband. He immediately told her not to panic, and that what he was about to say had nothing to do with their two boys, but that she needed to get to the hospital immediately – for her brother. O’Connell-Campbell recounts how, on that painful day, she arrived at the hospital to see her brother laying on a bed in a room behind a curtain. Tragically, at the age of 24, he had died by suicide. In retrospect, O’Connell-Campbell says there may have been some signs that her brother was unhappy or struggling, but it wasn’t part of their family conversations because people didn’t talk much about mental health at the time. “Danny was never treated at The Royal because he was never really properly diagnosed,” O’Connell-Campbell says. “We never even realized that anything was going on with him until just a few months before he was gone.”

O’Connell-Campbell, lead of O’Connell-Campbell Wealth Management at RBC Dominion Securities, is vice-chair of the Royal Ottawa Foundation for Mental Health board of directors. She’s been on the board for four years, but has been involved in giving back to The Royal since 2011. As one of the founding members of the philanthropic group Women for Mental Health, she helped raise more than $1.5 million for The Royal’s Campaign for Mental Health. O’Connell-Campbell dedicates her time supporting The Royal through volunteer work on the Foundation board as well as involvement in the Foundation’s signature events, advocacy and fundraising. She believes strongly in the vital work being done, particularly at The Royal’s Institute of Mental Health Research (IMHR). “We’re so fortunate to have The Royal, with its world-renowned researchers and mental health experts, right here in our nation’s capital,” she says. “The organization is actively working on research

projects that will have a direct impact on patients’ lives and will provide a positive and transformational impact for the healthcare system.” O’Connell-Campbell believes that we all have a responsibility to take care of ourselves and to recognize when we need to ask for help. “It can potentially be challenging for some people to get the services that they need, but at the same time that’s exactly the reason why we need to continue fundraising for mental health and access to care,” O’Connell-Campbell says. “If you have access to your company’s employee assistance program (EAP), use that; or get on the phone and call the crisis line or your GP. And don’t ever – as hard as it may be – ignore an issue. Never give up.” O’Connell-Campbell continues to work on destigmatizing mental illness in the community through open discussions about her own personal tragedy. “Even today the stigma is still really strong, and there’s still a lot of work to do,” says O’Connell-Campbell. “I’m grateful that things have moved forward, but I think it’s really important to not forget that there’s still so much work that we have left to do.” On that cold day in February, 16 years ago, Colleen stood with her family in the emergency room, devastated for the loss of her brother. A comment made by her sister rings true to her today. “Life is not that bad,” O’Connell-Campbell had said to her sister. Her sister turned to her and said, “To him it was.”


Colleen O’Connell-Campbell is a founding member of the philanthropic group Women for Mental Health and has helped raise more than $1.5 million for The Royal’s Campaign for Mental Health. PHOTO BY LINDSEY GIBEAU


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