tanker Traffic Controversy how to do business with the U.S. Chinatown is changing Tech and Art transform public spaces
Education feature Strategies to give your business the smart edge PM41295544
Brianna Wettlaufer, CEO of Stocksy United
Rebel with a cause Stocksyâ€™s CEO and her drive to reinvent the ultra competitive stock photo industry
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special Education Feature
Programs and strategies to give your business the smart edge
20 Rebel with a Cause Brianna Wettlaufer, CEO of Stocksy United. BY ALEX VAN TOL
28 Oil and Water
A deep look at the controversy of oil tankers in our coastal waters. BY Keith Norbury
42 Chinatown is Changing
A surge of development brings new life to one of Victoria’s most historically and culturally significant neighbourhoods. BY JOdy paterson
departments 6 FROM THE EDITOR 11 IN THE KNOW Leap XD’s big move, women in tech, local hiring climate update, the Chamber takes on climate change, and people in business 18 TAKE THREE Technology to take your office into the future 24 THE BIG IDEA Tech and art meet to transform public spaces
BY Alex van tol
54 LAST PAGE Abeego’s hive mind BY ATHENA MCKENZIE
INTEL (Business Intelligence) 49 growth
Demystifying doing business with the U.S. BY Angela coté
The most important business question BY DAVID ALEXANDER
Fisgard Street was the focus of revitalization efforts in Chinatown in the 1970s and 80s. Today, the street is a hub of everything from traditional Chinese groceries to hip boutiques.
Innovation: not just a new-economy concept By Clemens rettich
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From the Editor
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The Pipeline Guilt-Trip
Several people have noted that, as editor of a business magazine, surely I must welcome the federal government’s conditional approval of Kinder Morgan’s $6.8B expansion of the Trans Canada pipeline. After all, isn’t the decision to nearly triple the pipeline’s capacity good for B.C.’s economy? Fortunately, the old-school days when the business community championed economic development at any cost are largely behind us and I find myself in good company with others who believe a truly healthy economy embraces a healthy environment. So, as it turns out, I don’t welcome the federal decision. Nor do I welcome B.C.’s decision to grant the project an environmental certificate in exchange for meeting the premier’s five conditions, still-vague promises of jobs and a pay-to-play promise of $500M to $1B from Kinder Morgan over 20 years to offset the risks. Yes, that extra oil from Alberta will now reach “tidewater,” but it’s our tidewater, and it’s our coastal way of life and coastal economy that bear the risk. This coastal economy includes tourism in general, plus ocean-dependent tourism, which includes everything from kayaking to whale-watching, commercial and sport-fishing, shellfish harvesting and more. These waters define coastal British Columbia and are as critical to us as farmland and ranchland are to the prairies. The City of Vancouver estimates direct losses from a springtime oil spill to oceandependent industries alone could range from $170M to $563M over a 25-year period. That’s just one city and one sector. According to a 2014 Transport Canada-commissioned risk analysis, the coast of southern B.C. is one of Canada’s regions most vulnerable to marine oil spills — and among the most likely to experience a major spill — and this report was written three years before federal approval to nearly triple the pipeline’s capacity to 890,000 barrels a day, increasing tanker traffic up to seven-fold. And then there are the unknowns. As Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps rightly said, “No matter what the spill response is, there is no such thing as actually cleaning up from an oil spill. The environment never fully recovers.” Yet an attitude prevails that our oceans are less important economically than the oil sands — and that any opposition to the pipeline is merely a self-centred defense of our coastal “Shangri-La,” a land of housing-market millionaires who smugly bike to work and can afford to ignore Canada’s national interests. In fact, Gary Mason said as much in his December 2 Globe and Mail column, noting, “People in Vancouver need to get out of their idyllic little bubble and see how things are in the rest of the country.” I would argue that it is Mason who has an idyllic view of the coast if he thinks life is easy in one of the most expensive housing markets in the world where young families can’t afford first homes or even decent rentals. The price of housing is relative. B.C. has taken major steps over the past two decades to evolve our economy from one mostly dependent on a resource-base to one with a major focus on science, film, tech, cleantech, tourism and its economic offshoots. We need to continue developing our economy in ways that do not threaten our shores and do not contribute to climate change. It won’t happen overnight, but it won’t happen at all if we buy the argument that we are selfish for wanting to protect our coast, our economy and our brand: Supernatural British Columbia. — Kerry Slavens firstname.lastname@example.org
The West Coast should not be shamed into sacrificing our coastal economy.
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5,300 sq. ft. waterfront home surrounded by 80 acres of west coast woodland. 35 minutes north of Victoria, this home overlooks the Saanich Inlet and has 1,200 ft. of waterfront. andrewmaxwell.ca
Oasis in the City: Spectacular family home built in â€˜03 on Lochside cycling trail. Idyllic 2.75 sunny acres with 4-stall barn & sep 3 car garage. glynismacleod.com
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AL’S BUSINESS TIP FOR SUCCESS “Entrepreneurs: you need a sounding board — not your spouse or your friends. Instead, seek out a fellow entrepreneur who has found success, and understands the crazy entrepreneurial journey you’re on.” Al Hasham, President of Maximum Express
www.douglasmagazine.com Volume 11 Number 2 Publishers Lise Gyorkos, Georgina Camilleri
Editor-in-chief Kerry Slavens
Director of photography Jeffrey Bosdet
Production Manager Jennifer Kühtz
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deputy Editor Athena McKenzie
marketing & Events Erin Virtanen
contributing Designer Janice Hildybrant
Contributing Writers David Alexander, Angela Coté, Keith Norbury, Jody Paterson, Clemens Rettich, Alex Van Tol
PROOFREADER Vivian Sinclair
Contributing Photographers Jeffrey Bosdet, Simon DesRochers , James Hooper, Jo-Ann Loro
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Innovation | Design | Business | Style | People
[In the Know ]
“People have been talking about how tech may be booming in Victoria. It’s real and I’ve been fortunate to grow with it — it’s been the perfect timing of strategy and opportunity.” — Neil Tran, Leap XD
Photos: Jeffrey Bosdet/Douglas magazine
A Big Step for Leap
When talking about their new office on the north end of Government Street, Neil Tran and his team at Leap XD joke that it’s fitting their up-and-coming company is in an up-and-coming area. Tran started Leap — his branding and design company — five years ago as a one-man operation out of a home office. But the self-described social-butterfly knew he wanted
Leap to become a boutique firm. “We’ve been practically doubling our team every year for the past four years,” Tran says. “We’re scaling up to 12 people in 2017.” This growth has seen the company move eight times, but Tran believes he has found a permanent location for the firm, purchasing the space for its new office as “an investment for the company.”
Tran designed the layout of the 2,300 square foot space himself, wanting to create the feeling of an art gallery/coffee shop. The space will display art by Tran and his team. “Phillips [Brewing] was a client and now they’re a neighbour,” Tran says. “We feel like we get to hang out with the cool kids.” It’s safe to say that Tran and his team are adding to the area’s cool cred.
Megson Fitzpatrick Inc. (MFI) of Victoria, one of the Island’s largest independent insurance brokers, has acquired the Property and Casualty (P&C) book of business from Cumberbirch Insurance Agency. MFI will merge the Cumberbirch P&C business into its operations under the MFI brand. Dockside Realty, a family-run Gulf Island real estate brokerage owned by Sherrie Boyte and her son Sam Boyte has opened a third office with realtor Suzi Jack heading it. The new Sidney office also functions as an art gallery featuring works by Gulf Island and Vancouver Island artists. LLAMAZOO has been recognized as one of the world’s premier early-stage EdTech startups. The Victoria-based company has been selected as one of 10 finalists (the only Canadian company) for the SXSWedu Launch competition. The company makes its pitch in Austin this March. SendtoNews Video capped off the year by securing digital distribution rights for the 20162017 National Hockey League (NHL) short-form digital video content for the new season. The company’s network of U.S. news partners will now have access to NHL game highlights, interviews, top plays and other video content to publish and monetize through their online news properties. REAL Insurance Solutions, a multi-location Island company, is the first broker to offer the Verified® for Insurance mobile app and web portal from Verified Networks Ltd. of Nanaimo. This white-label app and web portal means customers can create a cloud-based inventory of insured assets for safe and secure storage. SPINCO, a Canadian-based indoor spin studio, has been opened by Hayley Gustavson and Victoria Courtnall in Victoria. The boutique studio offers spin classes led by motivational instructors, a team approach and with curated musical playlists. TOURISM VICTORIA has teamed with the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority (GVHA) in support of the GVHA’s efforts to make Victoria a homeport for Alaskan cruise lines by 2020. In March, Tourism Victoria and the GVHA will have people representing Victoria at the Seatrade Cruise Global industry tradeshow, from March 13 to 16 in Florida.
Five minutes with
Robyn Quinn The chair of Island Women in science and Technology (iWist) makes the case for Solving the science and Tech Gender Gap by Kerry Slavens
Robyn Quinn may have majored in business and English, but she switched orbits to a STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) career when she joined the army reserves and became a communications electronics engineering (CELE) officer. Later, as senior comms officer with Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, she managed portfolios for life sciences, aerospace and technology. Today, the principal of Big Bang Communications is passionate about PR for tech- and sciencebased start-ups. And as chair of the fastgrowing not-for profit iWIST (iwist.ca), she’s also passionate about empowering women in STEM professions to feel connected and find the champions and resources they need to grow their careers. This year, iWIST’s agenda includes a STEM Entrepreneur Pitch Camp at Royal Roads University (Mar. 4), a STEM Crawl (Apr. 20) and the 2nd Leading the Way Conference this fall. You obviously saw a need for a STEM organization focused on women — why? We need diversity if we really want to grow STEM jobs and the sector (I don’t restrict that diversity to women; we want the doors open!). Things are changing, but there’s a definite male-centric focus ... It’s not a new phenomenon and its been recognized and documented over and over ... Women have been sidelined out of tech, though it was women who actually worked in computer jobs at the beginning. Watch the video CODE: Debugging the Gender Gap or the movie Hidden Figures, about the black women at NASA who were the brains behind launching astronaut John Glenn into orbit. What’s the local landscape like now for women in STEM? It’s a very promising, active sector with a lot of opportunity for women, especially in software development and working with code. We have several female-led tech companies. It’s one of the best ways to change mindsets: by demonstrating that not only do women belong here, they’re potential leaders. We need more role models — men and women.
Jeffrey Bosdet/Douglas magazine
Business in Action
What are some common problems women encounter? Isolation: at work, where there is pressure to fit in. Being left out of male-oriented after-work activities, which creates even more isolation. Feeling worthless: condescending or inappropriate behavior in the workplace. This can range from sexual comments, which go unchecked (“Can’t you take a joke?”) to dismissing ideas and achievements. No hope: lack of management chances — or being passed over because the male way of managing is preferred. Many senior women in STEM remark how often they feel invisible in meetings ... How do we change this? By doing two things: creating support systems for women through organizations like iWist, and encouraging the sector to admit the problem exists and tackling it with operational and cultural strategies. What’s the business case for creating this change? As our friends at VIATeC have pointed out, technology drives business here and creates well-paying jobs, so the future looks bright ...The sector is
growing. Places like Silicon Valley have become so expensive that tech companies are looking to expand to locations that appeal to their employees, upping their chances of keeping them as long as possible. Victoria and the Island offer a lot of value in that regard. The more tech talent we can offer — men and women — the more competitive we will be.
Number of unfilled jobs anticipated in Canada’s Information Communication Technology (ICT) sector by 2019. Source: Statistics Canada
20% Percentage of women
in the STEM workforce in 1987.
22% Percentage of women
in the STEM workforce in 2015.
of Number of women named to the Royal Society of Canada’s Academy of Sciences in the past four years (11 per cent). Source: Macleans magazine, “Why there are still far too few women in STEM,” 2016
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Strong Local Hiring Climate Kicks 17% Off 2017 of employers
plan to hire
83% of employers
plan to maintain their current staffing levels
RETAIN YOUR YOUTHFUL GLOW AT ANY AGE.
0% of employers anticipate cutbacks
Victoria and Capital Region employers expect a strong hiring climate for the first quarter of 2017, according to the latest ManpowerGroup Employment Outlook Survey, which found 17 per cent of employers plan to hire for the January to March quarter; zero per “Job seekers have cent expect cutbacks. reason to be “Nationally, the hiring optimistic in the climate is expected to quarter to come.” be steady heading into the first quarter of 2017, led by a strong publicadministration sector and gains in manufacturing,” says Darlene Minatel, VP, Manpower Canada. “While there are still some areas of concern, oil prices are recovering from their recent lows, the continued weakness in the Canadian dollar is a boon for exports, and Alberta is beginning to rebound after the damage caused by the Fort McMurray wildfires...”
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Top of the Chamber’s list
Affordable Housing and Climate Change
The Chamber’s list ities of its seven prior 7: for 201
Affordable Housing Climate Change tion
Labour Supply & Reten Local Economy Local Government:
are the first Chamber to take it on as a policy area...,” says Hasham. “It’s something new that came up — and it shouldn’t have been new, because it affects all of us.” He says the Chamber will advocate for solutions that work best for business, while educating people about the effects of climate change and the importance of taking action on this key issue.
engagement, incurring high redesign costs as well as lengthy projects delays...,” the newsletter stated. While the Townley proposal was rejected by Saanich council, as of press time the GVHS was set to present four new options for the redevelopment at a community open house on February 7. Also topping the Chamber priority list is climate change. “I believe we
Governance and Servi
Regulatory Environme Transportation
The Parking Puzzle Many of Victoria’s downtown retailers believe customers are staying away because of a parking crunch — hundreds of spots have disappeared in the construction boom, which blocks some street parking, while entire lots have been lost to condo and office development. City Council is looking at different proposals to address the shortage.
s Jeffrey Bosdet/Dougla
he scarcity of affordable housing and climate change top the list of seven priority areas the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce will focus on in 2017. Chamber Chair Al Hasham says lack of affordable housing has reached a critical stage. “It’s really hard to find affordable housing if you live here,” he says, “and there’s a tickle-down effect: we can’t get people to move here if we don’t have affordable housing.” He says the Chamber is working with all levels of government and advocating for affordable options in the region. In its November newsletter, the Chamber sharply critiqued Saanich’s decision to postpone the Greater Victoria’s Housing Society’s (GVHS) proposed redevelopment on Townley Street, which would have replaced the 39-unit Townley Lodge with a 51unit apartment building for seniors and 16 townhouses for low-income families. “The Chamber is hearing of nonprofits with the money and land to provide affordable housing [who] are struggling with rezoning approvals that involve intensive public
“These are issues at the forefront that affect all of us, our members and our ully if we all communities ... Hopef things will do our part, bit by bit, r.” yea ry eve ter get bet
a ir, Greater Victori — Al Hasham, Cha erce Chamber of Comm
Chamber For a detailed look at visit priority areas for 2017, victoriachamber.ca.
The DVBA will be producing a map for public use with all the current downtown parking structures, lots and street parking spaces. The City operates five parkades, three surface parking lots and approximately 2,000 on-street parking spaces.
Council will review the City’s parking rates, including the first-hour-free policy in parkades, as part of a larger look at downtown transportation issues. (Statistics show parkade usage has increased by 47% by those parking for three hours or less.)
Local Apps We Like
If having multiple Gmail and G Suite apps for personal and business use drives you insane, you may like Shift, a new native app release from Victoria-based Redbrick. Shift helps simplify and streamline the navigation of multiple Gmail accounts. It also addresses the many workarounds that Gmail users typically try when managing their various accounts. These include running multiple browsers simultaneously, setting up different users in Chrome and adding email accounts and aliases to their primary Gmail account. Shift is available as both a free and a pro version for a yearly subscription of $19.99. tryshift.com
Mayor Lisa Helps believes the City should focus on a setting a goal to encourage more people to use transit, cycle and walk. One proposal involves a parking lot which will be “park and ride” for commuters with a short shuttle ride into downtown. The DVBA is also working with Modo CarShare to produce a program that will work for businesses and help educate the public that Modo is in three of four Downtown parkades.
Save the Date Capital Mission II February 22 to 24 | Various Venues Following its big success in 2016, the Capital Mission returns for round two. This three-day event for accredited investors welcomes angels and venture capitalists to the Capital Region from the U.S. and other parts of Canada for front-row access to the region’s top minds in tech, investment, education and more. Mayor Lisa Helps opens the event on the 22nd with investment power couple Don Mattrick, former president of Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment division, and Nanon de Gaspé Beaubien-Mattrick of Beehive Holdings in conversation with Hannes Blum. The 23rd features an educational investor lunch and a networking evening at Northern Quarter. On the 24th, a Pitch-and-Mix breakfast at the Crystal Garden features some of Victoria’s hottest startups, from pre-revenue to multi-million-dollar enterprises. Visit the Economic Development section of victoria.ca for more info.
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From the whimsical to the truly inventive, Discover Tectoria is a showcase of innovation.
February 24 | Crystal Garden From science experiments to the latest tech trends, prepare to be wowed at Discover Tectoria 2017, a one-day exposition of more than 70 Greater Victoria tech firms and research agencies. This free annual event features a trade show, video-game lounge, Startup Alley, where you can get a sneak peek at the future of Tectoria, a Research District where you can view projects by post-secondary students, and an Innovation Theatre featuring talks and panel discussions. The event is designed to appeal to everyone from investors to business owners to career seekers and students. Visit viatec.ca.
Steve Bokor, CFA 250-405-2930 stevebokor.com
Victoria Real Estate Investment Expo March 11 | Crystal Garden Victoria real estate businesses, the Real Estate Investment Network and 80 exhibitors will educate homeowners and investors at this local expo, anticipated to bring 1500 first-time home buyers and seasoned investors together to learn and share the most current insights on real estate, including Victoria’s hot real estate market. The expo benefits the Greater Victoria Housing Society and is a production of the Women’s Real Estate Network.
Innovation | Design | Business | Style | People
on the Move Sara Park is the new marketing manager for Mayfair Shopping Centre. Park has extensive experience in the marketing of shopping centres in the Lower Mainland, most recently at Vancouver’s Pacific Centre. Kim Van Bruggen, APR, president and founder of Acumen Communications Group, has been appointed to the Canadian Public Relations Society’s (CPRS) nation-wide College of Fellows.
Mel Cooper will receive the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce Governors’ Lifetime Achievement Award in April. Cooper had a long career in radio and, as CFAX 1070 owner, helped to establish the radio station as a major media player. He is well known for his work with local charities, including many hours volunteering on boards across the region. He is chair of the Telus Victoria Community Board and a recipient of the Order of Canada (1989) and Order of British Columbia (1992).
Dr. Zig Hancyk is TEC Canada’s new Victoria chair of the Small Business Peer Advisory Group of non-competing members who work and learn together to accelerate corporate and personal growth. Hancyk is a former CEO, business professor, management consultant and executive coach. TEC Canada is a member-based community of over 1,200 chief executives, entrepreneurs and business owners from across Canada. Sharon Davies (left) has joined Page One as an account manager for YAM and Douglas magazines. She was previously the publisher and owner of Our Homes magazine in Ottawa, where she led a customer-centric team focused on B2C and B2B marketing. Erin Virtanen has joined Page One Publishing as marketing and events coordinator for Douglas and YAM magazines. She was previously in community relations and events at Thrifty Foods. Virtanen also has a extensive background in marketing and communications.
APPOINTED Dr. Ralph Nilson, president and vicechancellor of Vancouver Island University (VIU) has been reappointed for a third term. Dr. Nilson was first appointed president in 2007, the year before VIU (then Malaspina UniversityCollege) received its Allan Wiekencamp, VIU Board university designation. Prior Chair (left) and Dr. Ralph Nilson to joining VIU, he was VPAcademic at Acadia University in Nova Scotia and director of the Indigenous Peoples Health Research Centre at the First Nations University of Canada. Cheryl Eason is the new vicepresident and CFO of Royal Roads University. Eason brings more than 25 years of financial management experience to RRU. She was previously CFO of the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS), the largest public pension fund in the U.S. with a budget of $1.8 billion and 2,800 employees. A RRU alumna (MBA 2011), Eason’s previous roles included VP, financial and plan board services for BC Pension Corporation and executive VP and CFO for Manitoba Lotteries Corporation. Eason succeeds Dan Tulip, who will retire in June after 15 years of outstanding service with RRU.
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Total amount that the tech sector was directly responsible for in 2015 — or 7.1 per cent — of Canada’s economic output, greater than that of the finance and insurance industry.
Total business enterprise research and development (BERD) investment by the tech sector in Canada in 2015, making it the largest private investor in BERD that year. *Brookfield Institute
Technology to take your office into the future Douglas looks at some of the most eagerly anticipated innovations in tools and gadgets.
Tech-World Reads In The Social Organism , tech entrepreneur Oliver Luckett and MIT Media Lab’s Michael J. Casey argue a revolutionary theory: social networks mimic the rules and functions of biological life. In sharing and replicating memes, the world’s social media users are facilitating an evolutionary process. It’s a manifesto on how social media works, how it’s changing human life and how one can master it for good and for profit. From Brad Stone, who looked under the hood of Amazon in The Everything Store, comes The Upstarts: How Uber, Airbnb, and the Killer Companies of the New Silicon Valley Are Changing the World. Stone explores how a generation of entrepreneurs is using technology to upend convention and disrupt entire industries — often sidestepping ethical and legal obstacles in the process.
Clusterfunk: When a number of things go wrong on a computer system, at the same time, because of one action, such as upgrading its operating system or downloading software.
Small tools, Big Ideas 18 Douglas
Jot it Down The Bamboo Spark’s smart case contains a sensor, which records your handwritten strokes digitally. It then syncs with your phone or tablet — storing your inspired scribblings for later use.
Forget about Wearables Sowlo Office Smart Personal Sound technology (noveto.biz)
Remember the hubbub when Apple removed the headphone jack? How about a world postheadphones? Sowlo’s emerging tech can steer and focus audio signals so only a specific user can hear them — without any form of external hardware. By scanning a person’s features, the system’s 3D sensors can track a user’s head as they move, and then use its tranducers to focus the sound to that specific user, even in a crowded room or open-concept office.
Embrace the Interactive Sony Xperia Projector (sonymobile.com)
Using short-throw projection and state-ofthe-art sensors, Sony’s upcoming Xperia Projector will transform any surface — a boardroom table, your desk, a wall at home — into a 21-inch touchscreen. It even has a built-in camera, which will be able to recognize individual users within a home or business, showing them specific notes or reminders accordingly.
Space Savers Need portable storage for your laptop, tablet or even phone? The Samsung Portable SSD T3 is fast and has up to 2TB of space, along with a USB-C port, making it compatible with a range of devices.
Mind the Machine Eric Jordan, the CEO of Codename Entertainment and a lifelong gamer, believes the exciting advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) make it the technological area that could have the most profound effect on business — and the world — in the near future.
M A G A Z I N E’S
“Artificial intelligence is an extremely interesting and exciting area ... Computers have been the world’s best chess players since 1997, the best Jeopardy players since 2011 and, starting in 2016, the best at playing GO. In the future, Google DeepMind and Blizzard Entertainment’s recent partnership will birth an AI that beats the best human StarCraft II player. What’s next? An AI lawyer that beats a human lawyer? Imagine what this could mean to your business?”
Supporting our community by recognizing innovative new businesses The exposure winners receive through 10 to Watch gives them well-deserved applause, builds brand recognition and shines the spotlight on the Island’s vibrant spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship.
Jeffrey Bosdet/Douglas magazine
Watch for the winners in the Apr/May issue of Douglas magazine.
Office Pet If your work zone is animal free and could use a fun personality, consider adding a robot. The Cozmo from Anki — created by former Pixar employees — has facial recognition and an “emotion engine” that evolves the more you play with it.
Personal Assistant A voice-controlled home or office is now a reality thanks to products like Amazon’s Echo and Echo Dot. Stream music, get weather reports, control the lights, set temperature zones and even order food.
douglasmagazine.com Douglas 19
In conversation with Brianna Wettlaufer, CEO of Stocksy United ■ BY alex van tol
Rebel with a cause High energy, big enthusiasm, formidable smarts — CEO Brianna wettlaufer haS led stocksy united in a strategy that has disrupted the Global stock photography industry — by doing the right thing.
n a chilly day in December, I march into the rabbit warren that is Market Square in search of one of Victoria’s fastest rising entrepreneurs, the CEO of Stocksy United, the stock photography and video-footage sensation launched by industry veterans who set out to reinvent the highly competitive but endlessly derivative microstock industry. A third-floor frosted door opens into Stocksy’s office space, which can only be described as old barn meets hipster warehouse. The space hums with quiet activity. Most of Stocksy’s 25 Victoria employees are clustered around a long bank of enormous screens that stretch across the centre of the room. In the foreground, two Gen-Xers share a late-afternoon conversation. I’m soon joined by Stocksy’s CEO Brianna Wettlaufer, a tall, stylish thirtysomething who easily slides into the interview, her smile authentic, her laugh surprising in its depth — and its inclusiveness. When you’re with her, you feel like you belong. Wettlaufer and her partners founded Stocksy in 2012. Just four years later, this artist-run cooperative has made a big dent in the microstock industry. Wettlaufer recently announced Stocksy had doubled its revenue in 2015 to US$7.9M, paid out more than $4.3 million in royalties to artists and paid its first dividends of $200,000 to member artists who sold imagery in 2015. Making the announcement, Wettlaufer boldy said: “At a time when some stock imagery companies are slashing artist royalties and others suffer from bloated, outdated collections, Stocksy’s success proves that clients at the major design firms and Fortune 500 companies we serve agree that the combination of fair pay combined with meticulous curation equals a far better product. Our member artists are invested in the company’s growth and paid equitably, so they can spend more on photo shoots, making the Stocksy collection uniquely vibrant and current.” No wonder competitors have taken notice. Stocksy has truly emerged.
You have a global outlook, but I understand you are an Islander?
Yep, I was born here. I did the usual: moved away. My mom was American, so I grew up between here and San Diego. But Victoria has always felt like home. I can’t live anywhere but Victoria. Everywhere else is ruined. Did you go to university here?
I didn’t go to university [laughs]. I have no regrets. I kind of dropped out in grade 11, homeschooled myself for a year and then it was like, Do I finish this? Or do I just start my life? And the teacher I was working with was like, Dude, you’ve got this. Nobody cares if you graduate high school. And I was like, OK, that’s how I feel. You were self-taught in graphic design, so how did you get into the industry with no formal training?
There was a place called PCN Creative at the time. I walked in and said, I think you should hire me and they were like, Yeah, just sit and wait. They let me wait for four hours, and I was thinking, Nope, I’m not going anywhere until I get a response. The creative director eventually came out said, All right, we’ll give you a chance. I worked my way up from the bottom. I was there a year, then got hired by one of their clients to be their creative director. That was a leadership consulting firm, which I think had a pretty big influence on my idea of leadership.
Jeffrey Bosdet/Douglas magazine
“Typically, I’ve thought of rebels as something ‘cool,’ which I’ve never really considered myself. But in Picientium sundam am volores ut ullatur, the true definition of rebel: quam, odit, cus imus.Axim earcili berferum, ‘Rebels know who they are omnimi, ut et magnis eum volesent eatestibus and notamcompromise re corrovi digenim et, amdo dicia evelibus, nima delliquia perferum theirvenda individuality or personal opinion for anyone. They’re straightforward and honest, and they will sure as hell tell it like it is.’ Well, that pretty much sums me up.”
So you skipped over all those other levels of doing leadership wrong and got to work with experts whose role is to teach others how to do it right?
you can’t bring value back — and I think we’re showing that you can.
Yes, they let me take some of the tests they administered, too. I did one that was really traumatizing! At 19 or 20, you have this selfassured perception that you know yourself so well. No f-ing way you do. The results came back and showed I was insecure and constantly seeking validation. I’m like, What is this? OK, this is going to change NOW [smacks table]. I realized if I wanted to do things, I had to do them for myself.
The platform co-operative based on fair pay is a new and different thing. You give 90 per cent of profits to your artists?
Possibly. I think I’ve always been very process-focused. I quickly came in and was like, Well, this is nice how you’re running this, but we’re going to fix it [laughs]. The photo process when I came in was pretty much a free-for-all — anybody could upload anything, the team was a mess, there were no standards. So I was like, Why don’t you let me take this over? They let me. You knew you could do more and do it better if you put parameters in place. That’s a big part of your heavy curation process at Stocksy too. You still have final say, I understand.
I had to fight everybody when we first started — even some of the other co-founders — about what my vision was. I wasn’t going to accept anything else. I put together the first creative brief for our membership: Here’s what stock looks like now. It’s a joke. Here’s what it should look like. It was photo-to-photo comparisons, good to bad. We would break them down into what was working and what was wrong. It didn’t make sense why stock had to have a different look in comparison to things that were in magazines. It was breaking down the patterns that people had fallen into. We spent a lot of time writing creative briefs and education pieces, and we’ve got a really handson editorial team. When you’re consistent with people while challenging them, once they hit that bar you’re trying to push them to, they’re usually really thankful that you did. Stocksy is different because you hand-pick your photographers and pay them well. How did you decide on your business model?
Until we came into the scene, there was the notorious line where the industry was racing to the bottom. Subscription models had just taken over. When you have subscriptions, you’re literally paying pennies to the photographers. When we came in, the point of things being sustainable was really important. You can’t be sustainable if you’re not paying people the true value of what they’re creating ... I think that’s what gave us a competitive edge. Everybody’s fighting with the subscription thing, saying 22 Douglas
Jeffrey Bosdet/Douglas magazine
So then iStock hired you as a writer. Did you bring those leadership skills to that position?
It was a very deliberate choice of wanting to prove that you don’t have to take that much money away from photographers and artists in order to run your company. Run it on a shoestring budget, keep your staff low, be intentional — and when you give back to your community and your artists, they give back to you to create a stronger product. It creates a cycle and feeds the success of your product. It was a gamble that might not have worked out, but we’re lucky. I think we did validate that with the loyalty we have from our members.
business model. But we get the pleasure of being accountable to people who are actually invested in the product and the integrity of the product and its long-term success, versus a venture capitalist who’s just looking to cash out as quickly as possible. We get to be much more long-term focused. Stocksy serves Fortune 500 companies, household names and even banks. How have you managed to work with such well-regarded companies?
I think we’re lucky in the executive team that came together to formulate the way we do things. We weren’t learning things for the first time; most large agencies have a fairly rigorous onboarding process with legal and accounting. Our goal was: how do we make that as easy and as personal as possible for them? We make sure we do everything we can to be excited about what [our clients] are doing. We have a full-time creative research person helping clients uncover photos quickly. We’ve made a very deliberate effort in our tone and in the way we talk to people. This is just how we do business, trying to keep it as human and sincere as possible. How does Stocksy manage to compete against the “big guns” in stock photography?
The fact that we love photography and want to support artists creates a much different approach to our business versus just, How do
“I like function and consistency, which is, I think, why I like the digital world so much: because it’s design, but it’s so much function.” All the other agencies have gone through our member directory trying to poach [our photographers] and our photographers are like, I left you for a reason. This company is treating me well, I want to support them. In your second year, you extended ownership to staff. What prevents other companies from doing that?
Even as I’m listening to other people wanting to set their companies up like that, they’re like, Well, we’re going to do it but we’re not going to do it as a co-op, and I’m like, Why wouldn’t you want to do it that way? and they’re like, Well, I’m not sure I can trust everybody. There are major trust issues. It’s not going to happen overnight. If you want everybody to be collaborative, working together, you have to share your information and invest in the education of everybody’s understanding. We’re accountable to everybody who is a shareholder, which is no different than a traditional
we make a ton of cash? We have a really high ratio of photographers on staff, so we end up championing it ...There is an infectious quality to that. Focus on quality over quantity and give clients the great stuff they want — that’s our edge. I can’t let you go before you tell me what it was like to have Stocksy featured in the New York Times!
We met the writer at the first-ever platform co-operative event (which is testament to how much people are paying attention to the co-op model). We stayed loosely in touch, and when [the New York Times] was preparing to run the article, we got a call saying they were going to send a Seattle photographer up to shoot the team. Which was so strange! That they sent a photographer up from Seattle?! We were like, Wow. We were one of the most read articles in the New York Times that day. People care about the why. ■
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the big idea BY alex van tol
Bright Lights BOLD CITY Meet two Victoria companies whose tech-based art installations are transforming the way people interact with public spaces — and energizing the city.
hen was the last time you lit up a dull urban parkade with your own musical mixing skills, or changed the colours of the branches on an illuminated tree by clapping or yelling? Thought so. Well, there’s no time like tonight. Thanks to a couple of arts-focused tech companies, Victoria is now home to a growing number of interactive art installations that are delighting the senses and drawing crowds. Take, for example, the musical staircase on the south side of the Bastion Square Parkade. Designed by tech-based art installation company Monkey C Interactive and funded by the City of Victoria through its Art on Parkades public art competition, each of the staircase’s 10 landings lights up and plays music depending on how users interact with a series of tiny photon sensors embedded in the metal railings. Effectively, this staircase is a 50-foot-high musical instrument. It’s not advertised, nor is it really explained (there is a small placard at the base), but the staircase’s flashing lights and synthesizer riffs are easy to figure out — and they’re a powerful magnet for community interest and engagement. As people stumble upon it, they delight in it, tell passersby about it, post about it on social media and come back with friends in tow. “Because it’s an active thing, interactive art can engage people differently than other kinds of art,” says filmmaker and media artist Scott Amos, one half of Monkey C Interactive. “It’s a terrific way to draw people to a part of a neighbourhood, gather them on a street corner or spark conversations at a storefront.” Amos tells me about Atagamaton, a
motion-controlled kinetic sculpture that was housed in Victoria’s G++ gallery a few years back. Created by Amos and his business partner David Parfit in collaboration with Victoria’s Limbic Media, Atagamaton tracked users’ hands to trigger sound and motion. The novelty drew people together in their exploration of this weird and wondrous moving machine, says Amos, recalling a posting on Craigslist from someone who had connected with a complete stranger over the motion-controlled art piece. “It basically said, ‘Hi, we played on this thing and we never actually met, so I wanted to reach out,’” says Amos. “That changed our perspective on what our art can actually do.” Built over a series of months and officially launched in July 2016, the musical staircase immediately drew crowds. “By the end,” says Amos, “we couldn’t work on it any time of the day except between 2:30 and 5:00 a.m. or else we’d have to stop people from playing on it so we could work on it. We’d be working on it and we’d hear people come up with their friends and say, ‘Oh my god, you have to see this thing.’” Other interactive art installations are creating visual interest and sparking conversations in town, including the colourful motion-reactive ThinkCubes along Harbour Road at Dockside Green — another Monkey C project, sponsored by InterArts, Rifflandia and others — and the Innovation Tree at Government and Wharf. A collaboration between the Downtown Victoria Business Association (DVBA), the City and VIATEC, the Innovation Tree’s 1,000 LED lights change and flicker as they respond to nearby sounds.
“The tree interacts with its environment,” says Justin Love, president of Limbic Media. “You see a horse walk by, and you can see the lights reacting.” Limbic’s sound-reactive Aurora lighting system means the colour of the Innovation Tree’s lights can be changed remotely, with a few clicks on a smartphone, thereby reducing costs. “So the installers for the City and DVBA don’t have to take down the lights every Christmas season,” says Love. “It can be reprogrammed.” Green for St. Patrick’s Day, for example, or red and white for Canada Day. (Naturally, the lights react to the fireworks, adding to the spectacle.) It’s the Experience that Matters While direct ROI for interactive art installations is difficult to measure, there is no arguing that they change the nature of a space in a way that something more static — say, a mural — simply can’t. “It’s a bit like how they have transitioned the experience with malls,” says Love. “It’s not just about the shopping; it’s about the whole experience of being in a place that’s nice, with fountains and lights and maybe a rink and tree at Christmas. The more people you bring, the more people will buy.” It’s a powerful business move, too. “Interactive art is pretty close in line with any other branding effort a company could have if they want to be perceived as thoughtful and participatory,” says Joey MacDonald, director of programming for Thinklandia, Victoria’s creative festival held every fall. “Companies sometimes view art as a luxury that’s only accessible with a surplus of energy or time or money. But if companies innovatively
Jeffrey Bosdet/Douglas magazine
Using sensors and microcontrollers, Monkey C Interactive turned the rear stairwell of the Bastion Square Parkade into a fully playable five-storey musical instrument with sound-responsive LED lights. From a bluesy remix to glitch hop, sounds are triggered by placing a hand over one of the sensors.
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The Innovation Tree at the base of Government Street is powered by Limbic Media’s sound reactive Aurora lighting system, which enables the 1,000 LED lights in the tree to respond to the sounds of the city. These giant ThinkCubes lit up the Dockside Green Thinklandia venue, forming a glowing, interactive light sculpture that reacted to motion.
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The Art of Placemaking But it’s not all just about driving revenue. Interactive art goes deeper than that, to the way a community sees and responds to a space. “For me, it creates a sense of wonder and some reason to go to that location,” says Love. He and Amos also recognize art’s power to transform not just a space, but people’s opinions. “At first there was pushback ... by people who complain about how our tax dollars are spent,” Amos says of the staircase (Love fondly refers to those critics as “cranks”), “and there was a pile-on of hate online before it was even built.” But once Victorians discovered and began to talk about the musical staircase, sharing it
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The Power of Placemaking And so it is with other installations: the ThinkCubes have become so connected to the Vic West visual experience that people want to be reassured that these magical, changeable light-up cubes won’t be taken away, says Amos. “It becomes part of the community identity.” MacDonald points out the power of interactive art in wayfinding and placemaking. Love agrees, reinforcing Amos’s observation that it promotes community connection. “As we build more of these interactive, public-engaging locations in the city,” he says, “I see us having an interactive art walk from location to location.” There’s a healthy and growing interest in public art now, a fact that arts supporters and creators find encouraging, though there are still gaps in basic support mechanisms and organizational capacity to develop and create public art projects and partnerships, says MacDonald. That’s very much the end game of initiatives like Thinklandia: bringing artists and property owners together into a framework where projects can work for both. “Arts funding is always changing,” MacDonald says. “[Interactive art] is one of the most straightforward arguments for private money participating in arts processes. It’s a very dynamic way to be investing in the community,” he continues. “It has real and visceral outcomes.” ■
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oil and Water A Deeper Look at tanker Traffic on our Coast Oil tankers are nothing new on our coast, but recent federal — and now provincial — approval of the expansion of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline could more than triple the traffic. Is it a risk we’re ready or willing to take? by Keith Norbury Photo by James Hooper
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in December 2016, nine Vancouver Island First Nations have signed mutual-benefit agreements with Trans Mountain. And as this went to press, Kinder Morgan had yet to make a final investment decision on the pipeline.
Risk and Reason Should the project proceed as expected, up to 890,000 barrels of petroleum products will arrive at the Burnaby facility each day compared with 390,000 barrels at present. Those plans also call for up to 29 additional Aframax tankers to leave the Westbridge terminal each month. Each ship would carry diluted or synthetic bitumen to China and other Asian destinations. The new pipeline has the capacity, at least, to about double the volume of crude oil currently carried through the Salish Sea. These Aframax tankers have only about half the capacity of very large crude carriers, or VLCCs like the Alaskan Explorer and the Exxon Valdez. But each one can leave Burnaby with up to 750,000 barrels of product. That’s about three times as much as the estimated 260,000 barrels that spilled from the Valdez when it ran aground in Alaska’s Prince William Sound in March 1989. “They really have to deal with the issue of the ones that are there now because it’s not adequately protected right now,” Fletcher says of the existing tanker traffic. As the long-time education director for the Race Rocks Ecological Reserve, and as director of the Friends of Ecological Reserves, Fletcher is greatly worried about the devastating effects an oil spill would have on southern Vancouver Island’s sensitive ecosystems.
B.C. environmental groups, and a number of First Nations and municipal politicians have come out strongly against the pipeline expansion. In November 2016, B.C. Green leader Andrew Weaver vowed “...the social unrest on this issue will be something we’ve never seen in British Columbia.” Michael Wheatley/AllCanadaPhotos.com
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ust about any day, from the porch of his home on Metchosin’s Taylor Beach, Garry Fletcher can gaze out across Juan de Fuca Strait and see oil tankers. “I look right out on the passage where all those ships are going to go by,” Fletcher says, referring to an anticipated doubling of tankers on the strait should the controversial twinning of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline go ahead as planned. Already on a typical day, at least one or two oil tankers sail by Victoria, most of them carrying crude from Alaska to refineries in Washington State. One Sunday in November, the vessel-tracking website marinetraffic.com displayed nine oil/chemical tankers between Port Angeles and Cherry Point, Wash. They included the Alaskan Legend and the Alaskan Explorer — each of them nine-tenths the size and capacity of the Exxon Valdez. Meanwhile, a few Aframax tankers, up to five each month, also carry crude oil from Kinder Morgan’s Westridge Marine Terminal on Port Vancouver’s Burrard Inlet, most of it destined for refineries in California, according to a Trans Mountain media-relations rep. Of late, that has dropped to about one or two tankers a month, says Captain Robin Stewart, vice-president of B.C. Coast Pilots. In December 2016, the federal government gave approval for the Trans Mountain pipeline to proceed. This January, the provincial government granted Trans Mountain an environmental certificate. The project is sure to run into opposition from environmentalists, municipalities and First Nations on the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island. But opposition even in this part of the world isn’t unanimous. As the Times Colonist reported
Return-It School and BC Green Games make a great team
Science World’s BC Green Games contest and Encorp Pacic’s Return-It School beverage container recycling program will once again team up to oﬀer the Return-It Trip prize to BC schools. The prize awards a free eld trip and travel subsidy to Science World in Vancouver. Last year, twenty teams from all over BC were inspired to take action, educate and get creative with beverage container recycling. Competing teams submit a video or photo essay showing the innovative ways they incorporate beverage container recycling in their school and community and creatively communicate the importance of keeping these items out of the landll. Preference for this prize is given to teams from remote communities who would have to travel a signicant distance to attend their BC Green Games celebration eld trip, which can take place at one of ve participating BC Science Centres. In 2016, teams from Zeballos Elementary-Secondary School in Zeballos and T’lisalagi’lakw School in Alert Bay, BC, made a very special trip to Science World in Vancouver to celebrate their award-winning BC Green Games projects, sharing a $3000 travel subsidy. These teams did an excellent job documenting the unique challenges they faced starting up and running recycling programs in their communities.
“Opportunities like the BC Green Games free eld trips and the Return-It Trip travel subsidy are so important for BC’s more remote schools. Travel in and out of these places is both diﬃcult and costly. These teams travelled for over eight hours to attend their celebration. For many of these kids, this was their rst trip to Vancouver and it really means a lot for them to get to experience the city’s cultural and educational resources.” – Sandy Sigmund, V.P. & Chief Marketing Oﬃcer at Encorp Pacic. The BC Green Games and the Return-It School program were excited to create the Return-It Trip prize. Their partnership is a natural one, as both organizations are committed to providing engaging environmental stewardship programming to BC schools. By linking the programs together, they are better able to acknowledge the eﬀorts of young environmental stewards and celebrate the stories of environmental action in BC. This year Science World is proud to work with an excellent group of recycling stewards to present the BC Green Games program. Thanks to leadership from our presenting sponsors at Encorp, Return-It, Science World was able to build a relationship with ReGeneration, the consumer-facing brand of Product Care Association, a not-for-prot special waste recycling organization, to oﬀer the ReGeneration School Mural prize. This
prize awards projects with more artistic themes with a mural created from recycled paint. Science World is also welcoming back the Viewer’s Choice Prize sponsors at Call2Recycle, Canada’s go-to for battery recycling. In addition to hosting this prize, Call2Recycle also runs battery drives at Science World, helping increase awareness of battery recycling resources. To view the winning projects and to learn more about the Return-It Trip and BC Green Games, visit bcgreengames.ca.
Encorp Pacic (Canada) is a federally incorporated not-for-prot stewardship corporation with beverage container management as its core business. Encorp is committed to developing and managing a consumer-friendly and cost-eﬀective system to recover beverage containers from consumers and ensure that they are recycled and not incinerated or landlled. You may know them best from your local Return-It Depot. To learn more about Encorp Pacic (Canada), visit return-it.ca
R E CYC
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Among the “adverse effects” listed as most significant by the National Energy Board were those likely to impact the southern resident orcas, estimated at 78 to 80 and listed as a Species at Risk.
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“It’s hard to say what would be permanent,” Fletcher says of the potential damage. “Much of the research says if oil ends up on a rocky shore with high exposure, it’ll take a matter of years to clean up. That’s questionable in terms of the different groups of organisms that are going to be affected.”
Uncomfortably Close Captain Eric Klapperich, secretary-treasurer of Puget Sound Pilots, notes that an oil tanker from Alaska will often call at more than one Washington refinery before heading to California to discharge the remainder. In fact, Klapperich piloted the Alaskan Explorer in early November from BP’s Cherry Point refinery to Shell Oil’s refinery at Anacortes, with an anchorage stop in between. U.S. tankers also occasionally travel along Haro Strait on the Canada-U.S. boundary. Sometimes that’s to avoid meeting another tanker on the shipping lane through Rosario Strait, Klapperich says. “We have places that we don’t meet,” he says. “Either a guy will have to wait if he’s early, or if another guy’s late he will have to hold up.” The Haro Strait traffic is within a few nautical miles of where Sidney crab fisherman Kelvin Campbell and the crewmen on his two boats set their traps. “Oh, with the currents here, [a spill] would wipe us out,” says Campbell, who has fished the area since the 1980s. “Juvenile crab, and all other kinds of species like that, when they’re first growing, they’re all in the shallows and the eelgrass. And that’s eventually where your oil would end up.” At the Center for Whale Research on the west side of San Juan Island, research director Dr. Deborah Giles can look out at Haro Strait and see tankers passing by. Not a day passes that she doesn’t think about the impact of ship
authority regulates, Obermeyer isn’t about to claim that the risk of spills has been eliminated. “You can never say never and I would never say that because as many levels of safety you put in place, there is always this slight chance that something will slip through,” Obermeyer says. Dealing with the additional oil volumes would mean training more pilots to add to the 111 who already belong to the B.C. Coast Pilots Ltd., the pilots’ own company that contracts their services to the pilotage authority. Obermeyer says eight to 12 new pilots are being trained each year in anticipation of not just Kinder Morgan’s but also other projects such as
occurred in the entire world from 2003 to 2012, and no crude oil spills of any size in Canadian waters. But the report also notes that B.C.’s south coast, including Vancouver Island, is one of two zones in Canada where the potential impact from an oil spill is greatest. Kevin Obermeyer — CEO of the Pacific Pilotage Authority, a federal Crown corporation — says the tankers currently sailing from Vancouver differ from the Exxon Valdez in three key ways: they have local pilots aboard; they are escorted by tugs; and the tankers are doublehulled. Yet despite these measures, and the great confidence he has in the coast pilots the
traffic on the orcas she studies. “Even in the best-case scenario it’s a terrible situation,” Dr. Giles says. “It would potentially be to the detriment of this entire population of the southern resident fish eaters, of which there are only 80.” More than 400,000 people go out on whalewatch boats in the Puget Sound region each year, Giles points out. A spill would wipe out that industry, she says. Jeff Friedman, president of the Pacific Whale Watch Association, says his organization, which represents 38 whale-watch companies in B.C. and Washington State, commissioned a study in 2014 that concluded whale watching contributes US$150 million annually to the region’s economy. “That’s not just whale-watching revenue. That’s for hotels, restaurants and economic impact,” says Friedman, who owns Maya’s Legacy Whale Watching, based on San Juan Island.
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What are the Odds? Just how likely is a spill? A 2014 report by WSP Canada Inc. and SL Ross Environmental Research Limited calculated that a spill of at least 10,000 cubic metres — 63,000 barrels or more — would occur in Canadian waters every 243.2 years. That is a much more modest estimate than SL Ross made in a report for the Canadian Coast Guard in 1999. That report estimated that a spill of 100,000 barrels or greater would happen every 16 years in Canadian waters, and a 200,000-barrel spill every 86 years. The difference in the two estimates reflects a reduction in the frequency of large spills in recent years. In the decade leading up to the 1999 report, there were “nine exceptionally large spills,” including the Exxon Valdez. In contrast, the 2014 WSP/SL Ross study notes that only two spills of 10,000 cubic metres or more
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Oil by t he n um be rs
How many tankers are currently traversing the Juan de Fuca Strait?
t anker transits occurred at Neah Bay near Cape Flattery at the entrance to the Strait in 2012, according to a report prepared by Nuka Research for the B.C. government. As many as half, however, were tankers crossing the line after discharging cargo.
Average annual tonnes of oil that have travelled to U.S. ports in the region during the preceding decade, according to a 2013 Transport Canada tanker-safety expert panel report. That’s an annual average of 275 million barrels.
Number of tonnes of oil in the region accounted for by Canadian oil-tanker traffic.
Number of tonnes of oil the Kinder Morgan expansion would add, at full capacity. SOURCE: 2013 Transport Canada Report
were vessels under 50,000 deadweight tons (DWT). 533 were carrying chemical products.
were larger tankers over 50,000 DWT. 491 of those carried crude oil or crude-oil products. Most would have called at U.S. ports, considering that only 81 of the larger tankers carrying crude or crude products also crossed the line at Port Roberts, which the Nuka report notes “is a better representation of the level of tanker activity in the Port of Vancouver.”
4 were chemical tankers of a different class. SOURCE: 2013 Vessel traffic study by Nuka Research and Planning
several liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects that might or might not materialize. Western Canada Marine Response Corporation is also poised to ramp up its presence on the coast, says communications manager Michael Lowry. The corporation, which is funded by industry, has received a $200-million commitment — $150 million from Kinder Morgan — to increase its spill-response capabilities. That includes adding 115 personnel to its current staff of 65 and opening new bases at Nanaimo, Sidney, Becher Bay, Port Alberni, and Ucluelet, as well as stationing an ocean-supply vessel near Victoria. The corporation already has a warehouse in Duncan and equipment such as containment booms across the Island, including three of its 33 vessels stationed in Victoria harbour. Despite all that firepower, spill response is “not a magic bullet,” Lowry admits. “Really, the key here is prevention,” Lowry says. “That’s what’s going to help people have some assurance in the tourism industry and other areas.” Stormy weather, for example, can hamper efforts to contain a spill. That was most evident last October when the diesel tug barge the Nathan E. Stewart sank near Bella Bella, spilling about 100,000 litres of diesel fuel and other petroleum products. “That’s a good example of weather impacting an incident,” Lowry says. “But it’s also a good example of how much can come into play when there is a situation. There were a lot of assets up there.”
A Lengthy List of Concerns
Kevin Obermeyer — CEO of the Pacific Pilotage Authority, a federal Crown corporation — says the tankers currently sailing from Vancouver differ from the Exxon Valdez in three key ways: they have local pilots aboard; they are escorted by tugs; and the tankers are double-hulled.
e h t l l i w e r
r e z a l b ed
? r e h ake
From his vantage point in Metchosin, where he often sees 50-knot winds blow by, Garry Fletcher is far from convinced that a double hull will do any good if a tanker loses control. But captains Stewart and Klapperich say the pilots are trained for any weather. Klapperich points out that about every two years, pilots train on a loaded tanker that loses power in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. “You are trained to correct that and fix that in a quick amount of time,” Klapperich says. “It’s pretty amazing what you can do with a tugboat that’s tethered (to a tanker).” The tanker pilotage procedures are similar for both Canadian and U.S. jurisdictions, with requirements for escort tugs and tethering of the tugs to the ships in certain passages. One key difference, however, is that the U.S. rules only require one pilot on a tanker whereas Canadian regulations now require two. Leading the charge against oil tankers on this coast is the Dogwood Initiative. The Victoriabased non-profit advocacy organization has a lengthy list of concerns. Among them is that the new tankers will carry diluted bitumen, which environmental groups consider to be a particularly nasty petroleum product that sinks in water. (That’s a subject of some dispute. Lowry says his organization cleaned a spill of synthetic
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bitumen, a slightly different product, from Burrard Inlet in 2007 and it didn’t sink.) Aside from the environmental risks, however, the pipeline expansion and the tankers it will bring make no economic sense in a world awash with cheap oil, says Kai Nagata, the Dogwood Initiative’s communication director. “The project was proposed and the arguments built around an environment, a high-price environment, which currently does not exist,” Nagata says. “So that’s why you would lose money if you were to load a tanker right now and try to sell that product, that heavy crude stock, in the Asian market.” But Geoff Morrison, operations manager at the Victoria office of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), is sticking to the position that the new pipeline and tankers will provide market access and a higher price, which are priorities for CAPP members. The economic benefits from that will flow to all Canadians, and not just Albertans, he adds. “There’s actually over 600 companies in B.C. that supply goods and services directly to the oil sands.” Such arguments don’t sway Campbell. “Am I as a fisherman gaining something out of this, or is it just a 100 per cent risk to me? Because I only see it as a 100 per cent risk.” The risk from existing tankers is already substantial, Nagata says. And it isn’t reduced just because a major oil spill hasn’t ever occurred in the Salish Sea. (A Trans Mountain spokesperson says by email that the company has “safely loaded marine vessels with petroleum products since 1956 without a single spill from a tanker.” It didn’t mention that 2007 spill that occurred on land, however.) “The argument that we’ve been lucky so far is not an argument to ‘let’s increase the risk,’” Nagata says. His fears and those of other tanker opponents weren’t assuaged at all by the federal government’s announcement in November of a $1.5-billion oceans protection plan. Among the protection plan’s promised initiatives are “to strengthen the polluter-pay principle” by ensuring “adequate industryfunded” compensation. “But what if the polluter goes bankrupt?” Fletcher asks as he looks from his porch across to Constance Bank at a Hanjin container ship that was then stranded there after the South Korean company went bankrupt. Kinder Morgan makes it clear that any such spill is the responsibility of the ship owner, not the pipeline operator. As for Fletcher, should a spill mar his beach, he’s not sticking around to be overcome by toxic fumes. He will head inland. ■
DOUGLAS BUSINESS snapshot
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And Now for Something Different Riipen is an innovative, easy-to-use online platform that connects students to companies through short-term, skill specific projects. Founded in 2013 by a group of UVic grads, Riipen helps businesses post shortterm projects that students complete for class credits, employer recommendations, cash and other incentives. Whether you need an junior developer or a marketing study geared toward students, Riipen gives screened students the chance to demonstrate their skills and build a portfolio, while employers can crowd-source new ideas from emerging talent. Students on Riipen’s roster come from top schools, including UVic, Royal Roads, Western and U of T. There is no cost to employers or students. riipen.com 38 Douglas
Royal Roads University’s Bachelor of Business Adminstration (BBA) Solution Team members (l to r): Zain Abbas, Brayden Pelham and Jaimee Imrie with Carmanah Technologies’ Alison Keller, who is describing Carmanah’s solar-signal technologies.
Reasons to Make Co-op Students Part of Your Hiring Strategy
Last year, more than 5,000 British Columbia employers tapped into a smart HR solution to bring new talent into their businesses, affordably boost their workforces and infuse their enterprises with a new generation of ideas. How did they do it? These savvy employers hired qualified students through one of the co-operative education programs at participating B.C. post-secondary institutions. What is Co-operative Education? Co-operative education programs (a.k.a coop programs) are facilitated by colleges and universities to match students who want hands-on experience in their fields with employers who want short-term employees who will bring enthusiasm, new ideas and hard work to the workplace. Coop terms typically last for four or eight months, although some last up to a year. Colleges and universities make it easy for employers to find and hire the right students in a process that has been proven over the decades to
work well for both parties. As an employer, you establish a salary based on your financial resources and industry standard. Salaries may vary depending on the student’s skill level and year of study. Some federal, provincial and private funding may be available, mostly during summer months. What are the Advantages? There are many pluses to hiring co-op students. We’ve identified the top 5 reasons to hire them:
They Save You Time and Money Many employers find advertising and interviewing for new employees is costly and time-consuming. Co-op programs eliminate much of that hassle. When you post your job with a college or university co-op program, your job opportunity is promoted internally to eligible students by staff and instructors. Most co-op programs pre-screen, recommending only applicants suited to your unique needs. Students must meet the criteria of the program along with your specific hiring
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needs. Co-op staff arrange interview schedules, facilitate hiring and check in with employers and students during the work term to ensure mutual success.
They Fill the Gaps Co-op students are great hires for peak periods and short-term projects. Students are available year-round for four-month, eight-month, or even year-long terms, from a variety of disciplines, including marketing, business, engineering, science, writing, economics and more.
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They Bring Energy to the Workplace Co-op students are eager to learn as much from your business as they can so they can build their careers. In fact, their enthusiasm tends to be contagious — many employers find co-op students bring fresh, positive energy to the workplace. This energy can be refreshing and even inspiring to other employees, who often welcome a mentorship role that allows them to share their knowledge.
important questions that have been overlooked by your long-term staff. That’s because co-op students see your business from an entirely new angle.
They Could Be Your Future Employees Working with co-op is a low-risk way to find star employees to hire once they graduate. In fact, think of co-op as an extended interview.
How to Get Started If you’re thinking of hiring a co-op student, you can contact any of the colleges or universities in your region or visit the website of the not-forprofit Association for Co-operative Education (ACE). There you’ll find detailed information about programs, funding opportunities and local contacts. Visit co-op.bc.ca. Co-operative education is a great way to help launch promising new careers while bringing hardworking talent and valuable ingenuity into your organization. That’s a win-win. ■
They Inspire New Ways of Thinking Additionally, because co-op students are fresh from the classroom, they tend to be savvy to the latest research and trends affecting your industry, and they’ll often ask
Use education to take your career to the next level Boost your resumÉ by updating your credentials, supplementing your qualifications or even learning new skills.
It’s not just your computer software that needs constant upgrading. If you’re not learning, you run the risk of plateauing in your career — or, worse, becoming obsolete. Whether you’re hoping for a promotion with your current employer, looking for a stimulating new job or wanting to gain skills to help you step up to the next level on your career path, education can empower those changes.
Here are some learning opportunities to keep you on top of your game: Take an online course Online education through colleges or universities can provide an ideal alternative for degree-oriented learning, especially for individuals and entrepreneurs unable to make it to a campus on a regular basis. In addition to being cost-effective, it can be done at a time
and location convenient for you — so the time-strapped can schedule sessions at their desks over lunch or weekend intensives. Online learning is also a great way to supplement your skills. Check out job listings for positions you’re aspiring to — do you have all the requirements they’re looking for? For example, are your technical and IT capabilities up to date? If not, a web-based seminar might be the best solution. It’s also a great way to brush up on subjects such as coding or WordPress.
LEADERS IN OUR REGION At VIU, we believe in a strong and vibrant future for our region’s economy.
Research learning opportunities in the community From Lunch & Learns at your local chamber of commerce to public conferences at institutes of higher education, there are always occasions for expanding your knowledge. While these events won’t add professional credentials to your C.V., some conferences can be added to your resumé and also provide excellent opportunities for networking and meeting potential employers. These forums often provide experts on interviewing, negotiating or social media skills — capabilities that can add to your professional development.
Our future is powered by education, opportunity, access and employment $400 million in annual impact 16,000 full- and part-time students 2,300 faculty and staff $1.9 million in scholarships, awards and bursaries
Invest in getting your Master’s Degree A postgraduate or master’s can give you a definite edge over your employment competition. But you need to have a clear view of why you are doing it and what you hope to achieve from an advanced degree before you begin. If it is for career advancement, be sure to focus on a program that is highly relevant to your industry and will leave you with better skills. Consider getting in touch with a specialist recruiter or an industry employer to see what they think of the degree before you commit to the time and money. ■
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Consider continuing education While continuing-education classes are often taught at colleges or universities, these courses tend to concentrate on career specializations rather than a degree curriculum. These professional-development classes can be the ideal way to build skills you don’t have the opportunity to practice during a regular workday. In addition, many schools offer certificate programs that can enhance your skills, increase your industry connections and boost your resumé. These can cover a broad range of industries, from communications to human resources to project management to economics.
1) Wah Lai Yuen Restaurant & Bakery; 2) Fisgard Market, one of several Chinese grocery stores; 3) Government Street Tattoo; 4) the view of Chinatown from the CRD main office on Fisgard; 5) tables outside Fan Tan Cafe; 6) the Tam Kung Temple, operated by the Yen Wo Society; 7) Don Mee, a dim sum hot spot for locals and tourists. Opposite page: 8) Fan Tan Alley, the narrowest street in North America; 9) ingredients for the traditional Chinese remedies at K&A Chinese Herbs; 10) the north entrance to Fan Tan alley, located between Fan Tan Cafe and the Cathay Living store.
On the streets and in the narrow alleyways of one of Victoria’s most culturally and historically significant neighbourhoods, a new vibrancy is emerging. Urban dwellers, culinary curators, boutique owners, designers, architects and live/work artisans are flocking to an increasingly refurbished Chinatown. But even as they think of the future, these new residents are ever-mindful of Chinatown’s compelling past. by Jody Paterson
photos by simon desrochers
Chinatown is Changing
ictoria developer Chris Le Fevre remembers that momentous day 25 years ago when he first came to the city on a “quiet walkabout” and found himself in Chinatown. “I walked along Herald Street and thought, ‘There will come a day when this will be a really cool place to live.’” And that day has arrived. Two major heritage restorations and the big, new Union building at the foot of Fisgard and Pandora have transformed the west end of Chinatown in the last two years, adding 191 condos and a whole lot of new retail to Victoria’s original live/work neighbourhood. The streets are bustling with shoppers checking out an array of independent retailers selling everything from locally made soaps to French pastries to organic juices. New mid-block alleys are drawing shoppers and tourists ever farther north, and the funky “design district” developing in Chinatown is adding to its Old Town charm. That it has all happened without Chinatown losing its multicultural character speaks to the determination of almost a half-century of heritage-aware municipal councils and city planners, and a handful of developers and architects with a passion for working with the bones of old buildings to create something new. Chinatown may be gentrifying, but everybody involved in the process say they’re committed to maintaining the distinct character of the historic 160-year-old neighbourhood that was home to Canada’s earliest Chinese immigrants. “The mix is really appealing — the restaurants, the residential, the vegetable-sellers,” says Daniela Cubelic of Silk Road Tea, which first opened its doors in Chinatown 25 years ago. “Other neighbourhoods are trying to replicate that, but no one has it like Chinatown.” Of course, artists have known about the charms of living and working in Chinatown for quite some time, having moved in during the late 1970s as the neighbourhood underwent its first
major revitalization. But the rest of the world was slower to catch on. Designer JC Scott, a Fan Tan Alley resident, says Chinatown definitely wasn’t a cool address for retailers back when he moved into the ’hood in the winter of 1979 — a time when having a live/work space in Chinatown meant flouting City of Victoria regulations. “We had to pretend we didn’t live here,” recalls Scott of the group of four artists who first took up residence in the dilapidated secondand third-floor spaces above Chinese-run stores. “People were afraid to come to Chinatown in those days. A friend of mine told me that when they were kids, the biggest dare of his day was to run through Fan Tan Alley.” Not anymore. With its twinkly lights, cheery Chinese lanterns and string of intriguing little stores, Fan Tan Alley has never looked better. Gone are the days when Heart’s Content store
owners Tony Kane and Pearl Jung had to stand outside the quirky clothing store blowing bubbles in hopes of luring passing shoppers into the alley for a look. “Now when tourists come, Fan Tan Alley is a destination,” says Jung, whose store will mark its 30th anniversary this year.
Spirit of Survival Dig into the wild history of Victoria’s Chinatown — once the largest in Canada — and perhaps it’s not surprising that the neighbourhood still retains the fighting spirit of the ChineseCanadian entrepreneurs and change-makers who lived and worked in Chinatown during some of the most disturbingly racist decades in Canada’s history. Denied the vote, the right to an education, the right to hire who they wanted or to move freely through the city without fear of harassment, early Chinese immigrants
responded by creating a vibrant space for themselves and their businesses in a part of town that no one else had any interest in. On the upside, Chinese Canadians eventually achieved equality, and by the 1960s were no longer constrained to living in Chinatown or limiting their career dreams to owning a laundry or a corner store. On the downside, Chinatown was looking pretty dilapidated by then. By the time a UVic student named David Chuenyan Lai surveyed Chinatown in 1971 for an urban development project, little was left of it beyond two blocks of crumbling buildings and a few dozen elderly Chinese Canadians and low-income families living in the shabby neighbourhood. But change was afoot. Unsettled by Lai’s influential report and encouraged by his recommendation to use economic incentives to lure people and businesses back into the
a history of Chinatown In 1979, Victoria City Council began a Chinatown rehabilitation program which included sidewalk improvements, installation of Chinese-styled lampposts and bilingual street signs; and the construction of a Chinese arch in 1981.
1900 By 1911, Chinatown had reached its peak, expanding to cover about six city blocks and housing most of Victoria’s 3,000 Chinese residents.
In the 1880s, Chinatown was the main entry point for approximately 15,000 Chinese builders of the Canadian Pacific Railway.
In 1983, Queen Elizabeth II visited Chinatown. To date, Victoria’s Chinatown is the only Chinatown in Canada visited by a British monarch.
1950 A 1971 survey of Chinatown showed it had shrunk to about two city blocks and its residents decreased to 143. Many tenement buildings were condemned, their upper floors left vacant and boarded up. Some old buildings were demolished, the space converted to parking lots.
By 2015, projects such as the Union, which contains 133 residential units and 10,000 sq ft of retail space fronting on Fisgard Street and Pandora Avenue, had helped with revitalizing the area.
2000 Jo-Ann Loro/Douglas magazine
From 1880 to the early 1900s, many Chinese voluntary associations purchased properties during the building boom.
Jo-Ann Loro/Douglas magazine
From the 1850s to 1870s, Chinatown was the starting point for several thousand Chinese gold miners heading to the Fraser and Cariboo regions. Its economy was dominated by the import and export companies Kwong Lee, Tai Soong and Yang Wo Sang, which recruited Chinese labourers to come to Canada for the gold rush and provided them with goods, equipment and daily necessities. (These companies were also opium importers and manufacturers.)
In 1995, Chinatown was designated a national historic site.
neighbourhood, city council set about making plans to revitalize Chinatown. City planners and urban designers including Rod Clack, Steve Barber and Mickey Lam were integral to the revitalization of Chinatown, and integral to creating the vision that still guides development in the neighbourhood. In 1979, the city launched a “paint-up” project that reimbursed Chinatown building owners for half the cost of painting if they’d agree to adhere to city design. Unsightly power lines were moved underground, planters built, sidewalks widened. The now-famous Gate of Harmonious Interest went up in 1981. In years to come, the city would use tax incentives to encourage building owners and developers to do seismic upgrading and redevelop upper stories. The appeal of Chinatown for new live/work development took root in the late 1990s with architect Tom Moore’s award-winning Dragon Alley project between Herald and Fisgard streets. Moore took “two of the most derelict buildings in Victoria” and created 12 live/work units and a new mid-block passageway. (Ask Moore to tell you the very funny story of how it came to be named Dragon Alley.) The 2010 relocation of a controversial Store Street shelter for people living homeless also awakened new interest among developers, and the development of the long-vacant Janion Hotel building —
though not technically in Chinatown — brought the promise of new life to what was then a dead zone at the foot of Fisgard.
A Tricky Business Doing a development in Chinatown is tricky, not only due to the delicate nature of construction and restoration work amid heritage buildings on all sides, but also because many properties are still owned by Chinese societies, associations and family trusts uninterested in selling. “It doesn’t matter how much money you’ve got, you still need a willing vendor,” notes Chris Le Fevre, president and CEO of Le Fevre & Company. So when two buildings in the 500 block of Fisgard came on the market recently, Le Fevre jumped at the chance to redevelop them. The newly christened Lee Chong and Lum Sam buildings — named for their original developers — will introduce 26 new condos to the neighbourhood when the project wraps up early this year, restoring original Chinese tenements. “Of all the things I’ve been involved in, nothing has been as funky-core-residential-with-soul as that project is,” says Le Fevre. The Union development started in challenging circumstances, with Anthem Properties invited to join the project just as the financial meltdown hit in 2008, says Rob
Blackwell, Anthem’s senior vice-president of development. Nothing happened on the block-wide vacant lot next to Swans Hotel until 2012, when Anthem turned the ground on the Union project. News stories at the time noted “tepid” pre-sales for the building’s 133 condos, but interest picked up as the project approached completion. “What it took to find buyers for that project was a finished building,” says Blackwell. “We needed to be able to walk people into the building to show them how cool and rich and unique it was.” That 2014-15 project added a new mid-block passageway between Pandora and Fisgard, dubbed Theatre Alley. With the help of a heritage consultant and Chinatown’s Dart Coon Club, Anthem learned that the original building — long gone by that point except for a brick façade spared after a 2005 fire at the site — had a passageway providing street access to an internal building that housed a Chinese theatre (a common practice in Chinatown, says Tom Moore, and the reason for addresses like 624½ Fisgard). Wanting to acknowledge that history, Anthem recreated the passageway. Blackwell hopes that once a restaurant rents the purposebuilt space that fronts the alley (the only vacant commercial space left in the Union), the hustle and bustle of the passing scene will evoke the
storefronts are fully leased for the first time in “a long, long time,” notes Blackwell.
Can We Still Dream?
“Victoria’s Chinatown has found its way into the modern era holding onto its originality.” — Chris Le Fevre
feel of bygone days when people arrived for a night at the theatre. Anthem’s $1-million renovation of its Market Square property last year opened the square up to the light by tearing down a (non-heritage) building amid the collection of buildings that comprise the square. Market Square’s
One niggling concern for those watching the latest wave of development is that few of the retailers and even fewer of the new residents in Chinatown are actually of Chinese heritage. “Can you preserve the culture when the stores change to Western stores?” wonders city councillor Pamela Madoff, a fierce supporter of heritage conservation during her 24 years on council. “You don’t want it to be phony or manufactured, but when there’s no reference, it’s difficult to know what will happen.” Seeing Chinatown thriving is wonderful, adds Madoff. But it’s also just a little sad to realize that as each building is revitalized and empty lots fill in, there’s no more “room to dream.” “You can call what’s going on ‘gentrification,’ and there’s a lot of good that results, but what made Chinatown special over the years was that there was that room to dream,” she says. “You could look at those buildings and imagine.” Oriental Emporium owner Sylvia Lau says some of her Chinese-Canadian customers complain about how few of the stores cater to traditional Chinese tastes anymore. “People
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come in thinking they should still be able to buy something their grandmother bought 50 years ago,” she says. “But time changes things. We can’t stop market changes.” Marc Morrison, whose restaurant Brasserie L’Ecole opened 16 years ago across from the Gate of Harmonious Interest, says the gentrifying of Chinatown has him feeling “excited and a little worried.” The neighbourhood feels increasingly vibrant, “but it’s a little disappointing it’s not with Chinese business owners and residents.” Daniela Cubelic thinks businesses that set up shop in Chinatown ought to feel an obligation to acknowledge the culture and history of the area. “I think it’s important to find ways to contribute to that,” she says. “So often an area becomes increasingly gentrified and all of a sudden, you’ve lost what made it special.”
Chinese at its Core But the outgoing chair of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association says that while Chinatown may appear increasingly westernized, a lot of Chinese action carries on behind the scenes. Accountant Thomas Chan notes that at least 10 of the long-standing Chinese societies and associations that own or control buildings in the neighbourhood continue to maintain their head offices and social clubs in Chinatown. The area still has an active Chinese school, a temple and low-income housing run by the Chinatown Care Society. “You want to walk in Chinatown and still hear mah-jong being played? Come down here on a Saturday or Sunday,” says Chan. Where to next for Chinatown? Presuming city council maintains current height and heritage requirements, those observing the scene say they aren’t anticipating any big changes. Aside from the roomy parking lot that stretches across Store Street at the feet of Fisgard and Herald streets, “there’s not enough land and not enough high-rise permits” for additional development, says Le Fevre. “Instead, we can judiciously embellish what we’ve got.” Chinatown could live on indefinitely as a cool and cultural destination as long as future city councils continue to be “stewards of visionary policies,” adds Madoff. “There was a wonderful presentation recently on Old Town. One of the questions was: What’s the most pressing threat to Old Town? My answer: Mayor and council. We have all the policies in place now, but the threat is a council that would change that.” The neighbourhood is quite perfect right at this moment, adds Le Fevre. “I wouldn’t want anyone to think I’d ever want to change the face of it. I wouldn’t advocate that it should change,” he says. “Victoria’s Chinatown has found its way into the modern era holding onto its originality.” ■ Douglas 47
[business intelligence ]
Why innovation isn’t just a new-economy concept
Demystifying doing business with the U.S.
Why “What if?” is the most important question in business
Brian Scudamore is a B.C.based serial entrepreneur whose business empire began with 1-800-GOTJUNK? Scudamore sees solutions where others see problems. He launched his first company after seeing a junk-filled pickup going through a McDonald’s drive-thru.
all, he is the founder and Vancouver owner of $150-million company 1-800-GOT-JUNK.
Growth by Clemens Rettich
Why Innovation Isn’t Just a New Economy Concept Tech companies often get all the innovation kudos, but traditional companies are making headway of their own.
he day Brian Scudamore had his house repainted he reinvented house painting. It started when he met Jim Bodden, a business owner who promised to paint Scudamore’s home in just one day. That meeting led to one of those breakthrough entrepreneurial moments. Scudamore realized that when it comes to residential repainting, the client’s pain point usually isn’t paint or price — the biggest pain point is actually the inconvenience and disruption of having
painters in your home for days — or weeks. By the end of the year, Scudamore had purchased Bodden’s company and created WOW 1 DAY PAINTING. The company is now on its way to becoming his second multimillion-dollar franchise operation. Like most innovations, this great idea didn’t begin with the search for an innovation. It started with paying attention and realizing there was an unaddressed pain in the market. It’s something Scudamore is very good at. After
Innovation Isn’t Always Sexy Solving problems is at the heart of innovation. Look at Amazon — it knows its business is not only about selling online but selling to the long tail. Victoria’s Flytographer totally “gets” the pain of making a huge financial and emotional investment in the trip of a lifetime only to come home and realize your vacation photos suck. So it connects travellers with professional photographers in cities around the world. These are both big, sexy solutions. But innovation isn’t limited to new-economy businesses — it’s just as critical to oldeconomy businesses that actually need to be profitable to be viable (manufacturing, retail, services). In fact, old-economy innovations are more often buried inside the cultural and operational fabric of successful businesses. Douglas 49
When Act Together Moving Services, a Victoria business that helps seniors downsize and move, onboards a new employee, it isn’t all doughnuts and policy-manual reviews. The company actually arranges for new employees to visit with happy past customers for tea and conversation. Act Together knows there isn’t anything that inspires new employees more than hearing from seniors who felt safe, cared for and understood by the great work the business does. Those conversations are transformative in a way no training video, office tour and “here’s your desk” could ever be. This isn’t a hot app; it’s a quiet innovation driving a critical business value: loyalty and engagement. Romeo’s Trucking, a Saskatoon-based firm that hauls across Canada, has a significant prejudice against modern trucks (Tupperware in trucking language). Their love for vintage rigs has brought them the attention of international customers and serves to attract drivers in a tight trucking-labour market. It also turns out there are expense- and balancesheet benefits to running older but reliable machinery. Not sexy (unless you are a trucker) but very innovative. These organizations zig when others zag. Squeezing that innovation and reinvention out of a tired industry takes as much creativity and courage as creating a new iPhone app. The Beginner’s Mind All of these stories point to one common feature of innovation: looking at assumptions embedded in an industry or a business and taking none of them for granted. In the discipline of Zen, it’s called shoshin or “beginner’s mind” — and it’s about paying
attention and seeing the world through a beginner’s eyes. It’s how Brian Scudamore and Romeo’s saw what no one else saw. Innovation and reinvention in old-economy businesses are not only possible, they are necessary. There is no growth in just doing more or just working harder. In a world of tight labour markets, nervous capital and bottomfeeding pricing by your competitors, doing things differently is the only way forward. And it begins with a beginner’s mind. Get Intentional If you haven’t explored intentional innovation as a strategy for growth, here are some places to start: w Put yourself in your customers’ shoes. Like Scudamore, figure out what the real pain point is. Don’t assume it is the usual pablum of quality or customer service. Dig deeper and ask real customers real questions. Try to see with a beginner’s mind, without preconceptions about what can or can’t be done. w Put yourself in your employees’ shoes. As Act Together Moving did, get past what everyone else does to hire and build a team. Go straight for the heart. w Tread boldly. Fools may rush in where angels fear to tread, but so do entrepreneurs. Business leadership is seldom a place for cautious angels. Do your due diligence, of course, but just because everyone else says “There’s no gold there,” doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pan the creek anyhow. Innovation rejects the idea of common sense. Common sense said there is no profit in a market’s long tail. Amazon saw it differently. Common sense also said old trucks have no business in a modern trucking business. Romeo’s didn’t agree.
w Pay attention. Most innovation is unplanned. Scudamore was getting his house painted, not looking for a new business. The HVLS Fan Company in Kentucky changed its name to Big Ass Fans (now Big Ass Solutions) because customers kept calling it that. There were no months of painful brainstorming with consultants, just paying attention on the way to becoming a $34M company with $2B goals and a cool name. w Drive a stake through the phrase “best practices.” Read this column long enough and you’ll start to anticipate my antipathy for banal language. Here’s one: best practices. Look at every best practice in your industry and in your market and challenge it: pricing, delivery, talent acquisition, core products and services, who your customers really are or what they really want — and pull those assumptions apart. There are no best practices. There are only successful and unsuccessful practices. Innovation happens everywhere and at every level in a growing business. There is no growth without it. There is also no innovation without three things: paying attention, risk taking and hard work. So forget the programs and workshops on innovation. Learn instead to listen, to see with a beginner’s mind, to take intelligent risks based on what you observe — and then put in the hours. Do all that, and innovation just becomes what you do every day. Clemens Rettich of Great Performances Management has an MBA in Executive Management, with 20 years of experience in education, management and small business.
by Angela Coté
Demystifying Doing Business with the U.S.
Helpful Tips for Winning Over
When it comes to doing business with our neighbours to the south, there are some big cultural divides to bridge. Here’s how to do it.
Communicate with confidence
iven the recent election results, I’m likely not the only one wondering what might change in regard to doing business in the United States. As a franchise consultant with industry connections and prospects all over North America, one thing I do know is that regardless of the country’s president, it is essential to understand and respect the cultural differences between how Canadians and Americans do business. Anyone who knows me would tell you that 50 Douglas
I am very comfortable in a room full of people I’ve never met. This pays off in business, especially as an independent consultant who must do a lot of networking to build my business. However, I recently signed up to attend a franchise conference in Philadelphia — my first in the U.S. I was honoured to have been asked to be part of a panel on Unit Economics, but it hit me while preparing for the event that I would be mixing, mingling and sharing my knowledge with a potentially
Our American Counterparts
Get to know key players in your industry by following them on social media and ultimately connecting Don’t be shy about touting your company’s strengths
Engage regularly with your American connections to continuously build trust Listen and learn, always giving them an opportunity to make their point Stay clear of expressing political opinions
different culture. Americans are known to be a little more, um, assertive and self-assured than their polite and cautious Canadian counterparts. I felt it was incumbent on me to make a good impression (and to make Canada proud), so I set about doing some research. I called a colleague in Toronto who had attended this conference in the past and asked him to share what he thought was the cultural vibe of the conference. I spoke with other colleagues to get tips on what they saw as the key cultural differences in working with Americans. According to John DeHart, co-founder of Nurse Next Door, who has over 140 franchises in both Canada and the U.S., “the adage of ‘Americans are more aggressive than Canadians’ is certainly true when it comes to business on a whole. And I see this in our competition, in our franchisees and our partners. They are more aggressive when it comes to sales, they are much more likely to go all out to dominate a market. They can also be much more cutthroat in how they do business. There is a certain edge to the American style versus what we have up here in our polite and everyone-wins Canada.” Here are five key cultural differences you should know about when doing business with our American neighbours:
trust. I saw this first-hand at the conference when my Canadian colleague had won over a direct competitor by being honest about something early on. The subsequent respect from the competitor has led to many business leads for my friend.
➎ You Never Get a Second Chance to Make a First Impression According to local businessman David Johnson, founder of an innovative technology company for gym equipment called ECOFIT: “With Americans there are no second chances. If you misstep, they will move on to your competition.” Americans may have a higher
tolerance for risk-taking and more open minds about investing in services, but they will be less forgiving if you steer them astray. Once at the conference, the similarities were more apparent than the differences. The cultural vibe was one of collaboration and fun, and the business exchanges felt very similar to those I have experienced here in Canada. However, as a key trading partner with the U.S., it is helpful to understand and respect the differences in the business culture. Angela Coté is a business growth and franchise specialist in Victoria, B.C. She is also a franchise partner of two local M&M Food Markets (formerly M&M Meat Shops).
➊ Just Do It When doing business in the U.S., hold on to your hats, fellow Canadians! Americans in business are action-oriented. They have more tolerance for risk-taking, enabling them to make decisions more quickly. That means that in general, things move a lot faster and require a firm eye on your ethics to keep up.
➋ Open for Business Along with a higher tolerance for risk-taking, Americans are generally more open-minded and accepting of change. They are more willing to spend money on third-party services, like consultants with industry expertise, probably because they are more tolerant risk-takers. However, make sure you get it right, because they have high expectations of what they will get in return, which leads to my next point.
➌ Fail Quickly Given that Americans have a gutsy attitude about risk-taking, you may be able to predict that they also have a greater acceptance of failure and they understand that in order to progress, you often need to fail a few times. Instead of seeing failure as a negative, Americans look at failure as an opportunity to learn. ➍ Circle of Trust Once you get it right and have proven yourself, you may well have made an American friend for life. Americans are keen on building relationships in business with people that they
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Plato said, “You can learn more about a person in an hour of play than a lifetime of conversation.” Lego Serious Play is more than play; it’s a methodology designed to boost innovation, without sacrificing fun.
Tech by David Alexander
“What If?” The Most Important Question in Business Today’s name of the game is constant innovation, but how do you get your team in the mindset to move forward?
very business owner or manager knows that continually coming up with those bright and shiny ideas to take your business to the next level can be a slippery pursuit. So how do you make the quest for innovation an actual “thing” rather than “a happy accident”? A good place to start is by creating an innovation culture with a team encouraged and inspired to think “What if?” and empowered with the processes and tools to explore that question. Many overworked business owners might ask: “Why rock the boat and invest in a hard-to-pindown concept? Why take staff away from their tasks and ask them to dream?” The reason is pretty compelling: survival. We’ve all seen companies that have established their niche, gotten really comfortable and eventually gone out of business. Remember Blockbuster? Who ever dreamed we wouldn’t have a video store on the corner? Netflix certainly did.
Getting Started Start by committing to the creation of an innovation strategy. Just like any other strategy, an innovation strategy serves to solidify your 52 Douglas
commitment to innovation and sets up criteria by which you can evaluate new ideas so you’re not losing track of the good ones or mistakenly chasing the ones that are exciting but not right for your company. Here are some tips for crafting your strategy: Define what innovation means to your organization. Is it inventing new technologies? Is it successfully commercializing new products? Is it improving ways to communicate with customers? Define it and document it. Aim high. Your innovation strategy should be inspiring (more so than, say, your IT strategy). Go out on a limb and imagine — give your staff something to strive for. Don’t immediately shut down ideas because you perceive roadblocks. There’s plenty of room for shaping and measuring ideas later. Take it seriously. Innovation is one of the more enjoyable parts of business, but it shouldn’t be taken lightly — this is what you are using to kick your competition in the butt, to outpace them in the market space you share. Make it part of your business environment, not a once-a-year meeting.
Put aside preconceptions. The worst phrase in business is “we’ve always done it this way.” Kick that one out the door and look to your staff, your vendors, your clients and your competition for ways to be more innovative. Evaluate often. Including frequent evaluation points will allow you to review what success looks like and the tactics that are going to get you there. Incorporate flexibility. Letting your strategy gather dust isn’t particularly innovative. Things change — so your innovation strategy should be a living document. Getting in the Innovative Mindset If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting what you’ve always got. So the saying goes — and it’s true. Here are some fun but important steps you can take to create the right space for continuous innovation to occur. Turn your office into an innovation lab. You might be thinking, “This is crazy; I couldn’t possibly redesign my office.” But why not? Start by creating group spaces where your staff can talk and share what they are working on. Pick up some whiteboard paint and go crazy in your group space or in the boardroom — provide a space where ideas can become visual and come alive. No idea how to go about it? Why not work with an interior designer who is
experienced in designing commercial spaces and understands how humans interact with their environment to reach their highest capabilities? Then fill your office with examples of innovation: art, books, products or technologies that push boundaries. Try some new tools. Pick up Lego Serious Play, an innovative process designed to enhance innovation and business performance with hands-on, minds-on learning that can lead to deeper, more meaningful understanding of the world and its possibilities. This may seem like a kids’ toy, but it truly is designed to get you thinking differently. Practice “Six Thinking Hats.” Designed by Edward de Bono, this is a way to spark collaborative thinking with the use of differentcoloured hats. The idea is to disrupt normal thought processes, cause a change in the conversations and thus get a group moving in a different direction. Lastly, Roger von Oech’s Creative Whack Pack or the new Innovative Whack Pack: 60 Creativity Strategies to Provoke and Inspire Your Thinking can help teams see problems in fresh ways. These card-based packs by von Oech, an author and toymaker, are easy and can be used in groups or individually — bring them out whenever you’re hitting a wall. They even come as iPhone apps. Give design thinking a go. Whether you’re a tech company developing a new product or a museum crafting a future exhibition, design thinking taps into something creative industries have harnessed for years to break down problems. Popularized by the international design firm IDEO (think of Apple’s first mouse, Steelcase’s iconic Leap chair, Fender’s stereo acoustic amp), design thinking provides a proven, repeatable problem-solving methodology that is used to to solve complex problems through humancentred innovation.
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Go exploring. Immerse yourself and your staff in new ideas. Attend conferences, talk with peers, connect with business associates — find out what others are doing. And study innovation: pick a couple of the big companies like Tesla or Amazon that have truly embraced and prospered from innovation and learn from them. It’s all scalable. Start Now; Shape the Future Embracing innovation keeps you on your toes, and keeps your business engaged, in charge and relevant. Some people expect innovation to happen instantly just because they decide it should, but it is actually a slow incremental path. It takes leadership, patience and the will of the entire organization, but in the end it will pay off. David Alexander is head of archives, access and digital, at the Royal BC Museum and has a keen interest in the technology trends that affect our businesses and lives.
Last Page Abeego, the food wrap, is made by coating a pre-printed hemp and cotton fabric with beeswax, tree resin and jojoba oil. It should last for over a year and can be reused by washing it “like a plate.”
Hive Mind by Athena McKenzie
Toni Desrosiers, Abeego founder Jeffrey Bosdet/Douglas magazine
When Toni Desrosiers, founder of Abeego, refers to “the Hive’” it’s easy to assume she means her company’s airy Rock Bay studio — which smells invitingly of the beeswax used to create Abeego’s unique food wraps. But the Hive encompasses something far bigger. “The Hive is the interest of all the people that we touch,” Desrosiers says. “While I do call my team ‘the Hive,’ any of our customers are invited into the Hive. The thing about Abeego is we’re consistently learning new things about it because we can’t test [our product] in every capacity ourselves. We’re constantly being given suggestions for use, and those people are all part of the Hive.” From bakers who love Abeego for proofing bread to the man who claims it makes an excellent portable cigar humidor, the suggested uses for this eco-friendly food wrap cover a surprising range. Along with streamlining production and reducing waste, a recent redesign and rebrand of the Abeego wrap set out to clarify the company’s marketing message and bring attention to the wrap’s uses. “In my mind, Abeego has never been a plastic alternative but an alternative to the peel,” Desrosiers says. “Abeego is different in that it’s breathable and not airtight. Whenever nature has wrapped your fruit or your cheese, it’s with a peel, skin or a rind to protect it from air and moisture, but it breathes. There’s not a single airtight food wrap anywhere in nature. “We want to shift the attention to our ‘keep food alive’ message and help people understand that Abeego is a new peel and not an alternative to plastic.” While 2017 will see the company focus on getting out its redesigned wrap, there are also two new product releases on the horizon. All in all, Abeego plans to use 6,000 pounds of beeswax this year. They will, as they say, be busy as bees.
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