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JUN/JUL 2018




the construction challenge



How women are gaining ground in an industry that resists change Katy Fairley, VP, Business Development, Kinetic Construction




Maserati of Victoria O P E N I NG M AY 18 , 2 018

Maserati of Victoria 740 740 Roderick Roderick Street Street || 250.590.2888 250.590.2888 || 2018 Maserati GranTurismo MC featured Maserati All rights reserved. Maserati (logo or word) andTrident the Trident are registered trademarks of Maserati usedpermission. with permission. DLC6429. #40252 2018 Maserati Levante featured above.above. Š2018Š2018 Maserati S.p.A.S.p.A. All rights reserved. Maserati (logo or word) and the are registered trademarks of Maserati S.p.A.,S.p.A., used with DLC6429. #40252

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1751 Sean Heights Saanichton BC V8M 0B3 P. 250.544.3500

#104-335 Wesley St Nanaimo BC V9R 2T5 P. 250.741.8996


Authorised Dealer

Š2016 Steelcase Inc. All rights reserved. Trademarks used herein are the property of Steelcase Inc. or of their respective owners.

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Your Style. Our Expertise. Bath & Kitchen 7 Island Showrooms: ■ Victoria

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From the high


Bellewood Park offers a unique opportunity to experience nature—a place from which one can engage with their senses and have everything Victoria has to offer so close. Comprised of Premium Residences, Penthouses and Townhomes, this rare collection of 1, 2 and 3 Bedroom homes is thoughtfully-oriented in a truly natural setting, nestled amongst large heritage Garry oaks on two acres of parkland in the historic Rockland neighbourhood.

JUN/JUL 2018






38 Where Are the Women?





Women still make up only a pittance of the construction industry’s workforce. Douglas sets out to discover why. BY JODY PATERSON

44 The Seven Secrets to Langford’s Success From its revitalized core to its thriving retail environment to its new housing and community facilities, Langford is getting things done. BY PAUL WILLCOCKS

52 How Smart Businesses Deal with Online Negativity

How does a business facing online backlash handle the pressure? We explore MEC’s recent crisis. BY SHANNON MONEO



A new ride-thru eatery, B.C. clean tech, rethinking downtown Victoria, and local reaction to the Employer Health Tax.

20 TAKE THREE The office refresh.

22 IN CONVERSATION Developer Rick Ilich has breathed new life into the north of downtown Victoria by embracing the city’s cool factor.

62 LAST PAGE Tofino Towel Co. comes full circle. BY ATHENA MCKENZIE


(Business Intelligence)

56 URBANITE Tall cities, tall tales. BY PAUL CORNS

58 GROWTH Why founder culture can put your business at risk.





Tree Island takes their artisanal yogurt business into the big leagues. BY ANDREW FINDLAY

Is email overload driving you crazy? BY ALEX VAN TOL


Better than a townhouse! This beautiful 1998 built ‘Heritage Reproduction’ home is set on a quiet no through street on a low maintenance 3150 sq. ft. garden that fits perfectly with today’s busy lifestyle. A house you will be proud to call home! $919,000

Contemporary elegance combined with heritage style charm! Located in a 6 unit character complex converted in 2001 this 2 bdrm plus den suite boasts quality & fine craftsmanship throughout. A stroll to Beacon Hill Park, the vibrant Cook Street & the Dallas Road waterfront. $739,000




Located just steps to Mount Tolmie Park, U Vic and the Henderson Rec Centre; this 3 bed/3 bath home has been beautifully renovated throughout. A peaceful sanctuary to come home to on a pleasant .19 of an acre! $1,299,000





A peaceful oasis surrounded by nature on a private .22 of an acre. This 4 bed/ 3 bath family home offers approx. 3000 sq. ft. of living space w/ a one bdrm in-law suite. Steps to the Lochside Trail & Mt. Doug Park; minutes to popular schools, shopping & the ocean. $998,000



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Government Talks Big About Small Business (But Really Doesn’t Get It)

SELDOM A WEEK GOES BY when I don’t hear a politician referring to small business as “the engine of the economy” or the “backbone of the economy.” These are vastly overused clichés, but they happen to be true. Small businesses make up 97.7 per cent of the Canadian business landscape and employ about 8.5 million people. Unfortunately, despite giving lip service to the importance of the small-business sector in Canada, most politicians show little understanding of what it actually takes to run a small business — and small businesses know it. In a recent Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) Study, 87 per cent of small business said they believed government had big business — not small business — in mind when creating regulations. A 2016 research report by payroll accounting leader Sage found 63 per cent of small businesses around the globe were unaware of government efforts to support them, or felt under-represented by their politicians. It begs the question: does government actually understand the difference between big business and small It irks when so many business? politicians use small Let’s look at the B.C. government’s decision to fund its promise to cut Medical Services Plan (MSP) premiums in businesses for “mom and pop shop” publicity B.C. by 2020 with an Employer Health Tax (EHT). Finance minister Carole James said only large businesses will pay photos during election the full tax. That means, she said, that most businesses won’t be impacted. campaigns, then treat But that’s not really the case. small businesses like The tax kicks in for employers with payrolls over an underclass. $500,000, who will pay a “reduced rate” of 0.98 per cent on their total payroll, and then increases incrementally up to $1.5 million, at which point employers will pay the full rate of 1.95 per cent. Here’s the flaw in the B.C. government’s thinking: it doesn’t take a whole lot of employees before a payroll creeps up over $500,000. In fact, many small businesses, especially in the professional services industry, will tip those scales at nine or 10 employees. And that’s not a large business. That’s a small business. That’s an “engine of our economy” business. You can argue that adding an extra 0.98 per cent won’t severely impact any business, but let’s be clear — most small businesses, especially new ones, don’t have the margins to absorb any extra costs — and they most certainly don’t have access to the incentives and bailouts some governments throw at big corporations. (Don’t even get me started on the federal government’s announcement that it will offer a financial guarantee to reduce Kinder Morgan’s risk for the Trans Mountain pipeline, or its recent blunders regarding small-business taxation.) It irks when so many politicians use small businesses for “mom and pop shop” publicity photos during election campaigns to prove their concern for small business, then treat this very important sector like an underclass of business once they are elected. If John Horgan’s NDP government truly wants to support small business, go back to the drawing board and raise the threshold for the EHT so that “the engine of the economy” isn’t left running on fumes. — Kerry Slavens

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930 Ardmore Dr., Victoria

1 - 501 Pandora St., Victoria

529 Swanwick Road, Metchosin



BEDS: 6 BATHS: 7 10,700 SQ. FT.

47 acres golf course with licensed clubhouse, pro shop and cottage. Excellent opportunity with room to grow and diversify. Call Robyn Wildman for details.

Zoned CA-6 (Central Area) including; retail, restaurant, artisan/craftsman and high tech, professional/general office & numerous other uses.

Simply Sensational: The Pacific West Coast meets innovative, cutting-edge design. Just 30 minutes from Victoria on 67 acres.

Robyn Wildman

Melissa Kurtz

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150 Barkley Terrace, Victoria

1012 Richardson St., Victoria

570/572 Niagara St., Victoria

2027 Hedgestone Lane, Langford

BEDS: 4 BATHS: 5 3,781 SQ.FT.

BEDS: 5 BATHS: 3 2,376 SQ.FT.

BEDS: 3 BATHS: 2 2,604 SQ.FT.

BEDS: 3 BATHS: 4 3,388 SQ.FT.

Grand family home prominently overlooking the Juan de Fuca Strait and the Olympic Mountains. Outstanding views.

Beautifully updated legal duplex each suite 2 bedrooms, den + 2 bathrooms. Excellent opportunity in great Fairfield location.

Set in the heart of James Bay, this immaculate character house affords flexible duplex zoning on an oversized lot.

Modern west coast masterpiece, with the breathtaking backdrop of the Jack Nicklaus designed golf courses.

Andrew Maxwell

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2002 Hannington Rd., Victoria

4192 Bremerton St., Victoria

238 Bellamy St., Langford

901 - 630 Montreal St., Victoria

BEDS: 5 BATHS: 5 4,063 SQ.FT.

BEDS: 3 BATHS: 3 2,170 SQ.FT.

BEDS: 4 BATHS: 4 2,322 SQ.FT.

BEDS: 2 BATHS: 2 1,599 SQ.FT.

This home was quickly and efficiently sold for over 22% more than the tax assessed value. call Neal today for details.

Westcoast Traditional, potential for 4th bed and/or family rooms. View deck and a must see.

First time home buyers successfully navigated a multiple offer situation to purchase this beautiful character home in Fernwood. Call today.

Spacious corner suite overlooking inner-harbour and marina, with sweeping views of Ogden Point & Olympic Mountains.

Neal Carmichael

Dean Boorman

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792 Lands End Rd., North Saanich

2640 Queenswood Dr., Victoria

1851 Crescent Rd., Victoria

4826 Spring Rd., Victoria

BEDS: 5 BATHS: 7 5,800 SQ.FT.

BEDS: 5 BATHS:6 6,753 SQ.FT.

BEDS: 3 BATHS: 5 4,810 SQ.FT.

BEDS: 4 BATHS: 4.5 6,356 SQ.FT.

On the North shores of the Saanich Peninsula, with Salt Spring Island starring back, sits this exquisite estate.

Spectacular oceanfront estate. Luxurious custom home on a sunny & private setting with beach & private point.

Urban Beach House: Astounding steel & concrete construction.Indoor/outdoor living par excellence.

Stunning Ken Murray custom home with breathtaking views. 3 car garage & double garage.

Logan Wilson PREC


Lisa Williams PREC



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Sophia Briggs PREC Nancy Stratton

250.418.5569 250.857.5482





3456 Fulton Road, Colwood

$1,170,000 4039 South Valley Dr., Saanich

661 Kelly Rd., Colwood

2028 Haultain St., Oak Bay

BEDS: 4 BATHS: 4 3,900 SQ.FT.

BEDS: 3 BATHS: 3 2,715 SQ.FT.

BEDS: 2 BATHS: 1 1,300 SQ. FT.

BEDS: 4 BATHS: 3 2,168 SQ.FT.

Panoramic ocean and city views from this 3900+ sq foot home perched up on Triangle Mountain.

This family home has 3 generous sized bedrooms, hard wood patio with plenty of sunlight in private back yard.

Conveniently located in central Colwood, currently generating rental income, this ~35,000 sq. ft. flat lot is perfect for developers or investors.

Exceptional family home, located in the highly desirable Henderson neighbourhood of Oak Bay.

Donald St. Germain

Victoria Cao PREC

Rebecca Barritt

Katherine Gray










105 - 365 Waterfront Cres., Victoria

B1004-379 Tyee, Victoria

9704 Fifth St., Sidney

308 - 1351 Esquimalt Rd., Victoria

BEDS: 2 BATHS: 3 1,506 SQ.FT.

BEDS: 2 BATHS: 2 1,253 SQ.FT.

BEDS: 3 BATHS: 2 1,800 SQ.FT.

BEDS: 2 BATH: 1 769 SQ.FT.

This impressive SE facing corner suite built by CONCERT is sure to please. A must see.

Enjoy stunning ocean, mountain and city views from this south facing penthouse with terrace.

Appointed with high ceilings, gas fireplace, stainless steel appliances, granite and warm maple hardwoods.

Welcome home to the Colonial House in Saxe Point. This recently updated top floor corner unit has everything you need. Sold fast.

Matthew Traynor

Tom de Cosson

250.418.5569 250.857.5482

Sophia Briggs PREC Nancy Stratton

Nancy Stratton Sophia Briggs PREC

250.857.5482 250.418.5569



Andy Stephenson

Andrew Maxwell

Brad Maclaren

Brett Cooper

Christine Ryan

Dean Boorman

Donald St. Germain

Glynis MacLeod

Katherine Gray

Lisa Williams

Logan Wilson

Mark Imhoff

Matthew Traynor

Melissa Kurtz

Nancy Stratton

Neal Carmichael

Rebecca Barritt

Robyn Wildman

Sophia Briggs

Tanya Piekarski

Tom de Cosson

Victoria Cao








Canadian Owned and Operated. E.&O.E.: This information is from sources which we deem reliable, but must be verified by prospective Purchasers and may be subject to change or withdrawal. PREC is Personal Real Estate Corporation.


We believe the ultimate measure of our performance is our client’s success. It has guided our approach for over 30 years.

PUBLISHERS Lise Gyorkos, Georgina Camilleri







CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Paul Corns, Andrew Findlay, Shannon Moneo, Keith Norbury, Jody Paterson, Clemens Rettich, Alex Van Tol, Paul Willcocks CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS Dean Azim, Jeffrey Bosdet, Darrell LeCorre, Jo-Ann Loro


CONTRIBUTING AGENCIES Alamy p. 16; Thinkstock p. 20, 52 ADVERTISING REPRESENTATIVES Deana Brown, Sharon Davies, Cynthia Hanischuk

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Steve Bokor, CFA 250-405-2930





ADVERTISING INQUIRIES ONLINE FACEBOOK DouglasMagazineVictoria TWITTER COVER Katy Fairley, VP, Business Development at Kinetic Construction Photo by Jeffrey Bosdet at Lewis Sheet Metal Published by PAGE ONE PUBLISHING 580 Ardersier Road, Victoria, BC V8Z 1C7 T 250-595-7243 E

Printed in Canada, by Transcontinental Printing Ideas and opinions expressed within this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of Page One Publishing Inc. or its affiliates; no official endorsement should be inferred. The publisher does not assume any responsibility for the contents of any advertisement and any and all representations or warranties made in such advertising are those of the advertiser and not the publisher. No part of this magazine may be reproduced, in all or part, in any form — printed or electronic — without the express written permission of the publisher. The publisher cannot be held responsible for unsolicited manuscripts and photographs.

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With bicycle traffic into the downtown increasing dramatically after the opening of the new Johnson Street Bridge — and an expanding network of protected bike lanes — Victoria should start to see some innovative bike-friendly businesses. Dobosala on Pandora boasts a ride-thru window where riders or pedestrians can pick up chef Kunal Ghose’s tacones, noodle bowls and cantina-crafted sopas. “I had the idea of a ride-thru for Dockside Green along the Galloping Goose, so it’s been in my mind for seven or eight years,” Ghose says. “We were already in talks with Jawl Properties about this space when the dual bike lane came in, so I thought, why not try it right here?” Along with its bike window, Ghose is hoping Dobosala becomes a late-night spot, with music and a modern cantina atmosphere complementing its IndoPacific menu. “It’s all my favourite things from around the Pacific with a touch of Indian influence,” explains Ghose. “Much of it is designed to be travel friendly, so it’s good for those who come through on their bikes.”




Jeff Bray, new CEO of the Downtown Victoria Business Association

downtown, and the movement of tech companies and their employees into the city core. “We now have thousands of people who call the neighbourhood home. It’s become a ‘people’s neighbourhood’,” says Bray. “And it’s important to make sure amenities are built for the well-being of residents — if we build it for locals, everyone else will come.”


There’s a new face in the CEO role at the Downtown Victoria Business Association (DVBA), but Jeff Bray is more interested in talking about the new face of downtown Victoria. “If you haven’t been downtown for a while, you’re in for a whole new experience,” says the former VictoriaBeacon Hill MLA who officially became the DVBA’s new CEO in April. Bray says the DVBA aims to become the go-to resource for information about everything downtown, as well as continuing to build vibrancy in the core. Part of that means overcoming outdated perceptions by those who recall the high retail vacancy rates of up to 10.2 per cent as little as four years ago. Those retail vacancy rates now sit at a much healthier 3.7 per cent as of year-end 2017, says Graham Smith, senior vice-president at Colliers in Victoria. Like Bray, he attributes the lower vacancy rates to several factors: a resurgence in tourism, more people living and working



DOWNTOWN’S RETHINK That means, say Bray, more eateries, more services and more people on the streets at all hours of the day,

How Victoria Ranks

which helps make downtown safer. “There’s a new generation downtown who wants unique shops and restaurants and things to do. So the emphasis isn’t just on the transaction — it’s on the experience.” To that end, the DVBA has been creating and supporting initiatives that draw people downtown. The organization was one of three partners in the city’s first Capital City Comic Con which drew about 7,500 attendees downtown this spring. It is also a lead supporter of Car Free #YYJ, set for June 17. Last year’s event attracted about 40,000 people. The vibrancy has led to buzz from the likes of New York Times, which dubbed Victoria an “urban jewel.” Bray says he feels optimistic about downtown, and that includes his attitude toward dedicated bike lanes and the new Johnson Street Bridge. “Anything that removes barriers to more people coming downtown,” he says, “is a great thing.”

WHAT THE DVBA IS DOING PARK AND RIDE X 2 The DVBA coordinated the city’s first Park and Ride in 2017 to provide options for customers and clients wanting car-free access to the downtown core. That proved so successful, the DVBA, with Robbins Parking, B.C. Housing and other stakeholders, is championing a second Park and Ride, to be launched at a still-undisclosed location near downtown. The initiative could free up as many as 150 parking


spots in the core, says Bray, who acknowledges customer parking remains high on the list of concerns for DVBA members. GOVERNMENT STREET PEDESTRIAN MALL Government Street between Fort and Yates will be closed to traffic for limited time slots on several Sundays during the summer months in a pilot designed to gauge the impact of a pedestrian mall.

PRECINCT IDENTITIES The DVBA has been working with downtown business precincts, including Lower Johnson, Fort Street and the newly identified “Belleville Walk,” to celebrate the unique character of each district with new visual identities, including distinct street banners.  FORT



on MoveHub’s 2018 International Hipster Index for Canada’s “most hipster cities.”


 n Point2Homes’ o 2018 list of hot spots for Canadian millennials.


i n Condé Nast’s Readers Choice Awards for the world’s Best Small City.

City Stats 3.77%

Downtown retail vacancy rate – COLLIERS, 2017


Current population of the city centre of Victoria, which is among the most densely populated cities in Canada with approximately 4,405.8 people per square kilometre. – WORLD POPULATION REVIEW,



Population growth rate in Victoria’s downtown core, which equals 1,200 new residents from 2011 to 2016. – STATISTICS CANADA

1,500 new rental units and 1,733

condo units under construction or pre-construction downtown.

10,000 Additional new

residents expected in Victoria’s downtown core by 2041.


Hotel Zed

Takes its Brand of Retro Chic to Tofino With its retro design, vinyl listening-stations, vintage typewriters, board games and rotary dial phones, Hotel Zed is known for its bold and distinctive brand presence in B.C.’s hospitality market. Now Hotel Zed plans to expand its unique experience to Tofino. Accent Inns, which owns Hotel Zed, recently announced plans to transform the 38-room Jamie’s Rainforest Inn in Tofino into the newest Hotel Zed. This will mark the third Hotel Zed to launch since Mandy Farmer, president & CEO of Accent Inns, founded the new brand in Victoria in 2014. A second Hotel Zed opened in Kelowna in 2016. Farmer says Tofino’s Hotel Zed, still in the planning stage, will be designed to fit in with Tofino’s community. “I don’t think Hotel Zed would work with every town,” says Farmer, who also hints at future expansion beyond Victoria, Kelowna and Tofino. “It is perfect though for a cool and funky town like Tofino.” “Each Hotel Zed has its own personality and unique experiences,” adds Farmer, “and the Tofino property builds on that.” Jamie’s Rainforest Inn is located on four acres of rainforest in the middle of a bird sanctuary that attracts birders from all over the world. The hotel will continue to operate as Jamie’s Rainforest Inn until the transformation to Hotel Zed begins this fall with a possible spring 2019 opening.




Farmer says the creativity and sense of fun her team has invested in Hotel Zed have also infused the Accent Inns’ hotel brand, taking it from staid to full of fun. In each of the hotel chain’s five locations throughout B.C., rubber ducks with instructions have appeared in hotel guest rooms, comment cards are humorous, and elevators have been transformed to look and feel like hot air balloon rides. For Farmer and her team, the success of both Accent Inns and Hotel Zed in a highly competitive market are proof that rebelling against the ordinary can lead to extraordinary

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Local Presence, Global Solutions


The following companies are either currently part of Alacrity’s Cleantech Scale-Up program or in the process of qualifying.

Clean Tech Facts

Like many major cities in developing countries, Beijing suffers from serious air pollution issues. Exhaust from over five million vehicles, coal burning and heavy industry emissions are major factors.



PANI ENERGY has developed a desalination technology which uses membrane technologies to provide energy and water in an environmentally benign way. Pani is focused on global deployment of its technologies, which help desalination plants to reduce the energy required in the desalination process by 10 to 30 per cent.








wen Matthews recalls being on the world’s in B.C. alone, and has developed a global infrastructure fastest train from Beijing to Shanghai for of offices and networks in Mexico, France, United Arab a 1,300-kilometre, 4.5-hour journey. It took Emirates, India, China, Singapore, Turkey and more. almost 300 kilometres, he says, to escape Over the next three years, the Cleantech Scale-Up Beijing’s air pollution. At the same time, program will work with about 20 B.C. companies to prepare members of his team were flying into Delhi during India’s and connect them with international export and investment 2017 air pollution crisis. Doctors said breathing Delhi’s opportunities while providing access to mentoring and air was akin to smoking 50 cigarettes a introductions to the foreign market. day. Upon landing, they were handed air Richard Egli, Alacrity’s managing filtration masks. director, says the program will focus on “There’s a lot of need for clean tech in companies that are reasonably established these and other developing economies,” and in the order of an A- or B- round says Matthews, chairman of Alacrity investment financing stage, with a Canada, which recently received $711,000 commercial product ready to go to market. in funding over three years in support of “We’ve heard from the actual countries Alacrity’s Cleantech Scale-Up program. we’re focusing on that they want this The B.C. government’s support for the type of innovation,” says Egli. “Countries program, which just completed a threelike China, India and Mexico all have a month pilot, is matched by funding from demonstrated demand for new clean Western Economic Diversification Canada. technology from the outside, and they are “CLEAN TECH ISN’T open to outside technologies coming in.” AN INDUSTRY OR CLEAN SOLUTIONS TO CRITICAL ISSUES A SECTOR — MAKING THE CASE FOR CLEAN TECH Alacrity plans to generate an additional IT’S A PHILOSOPHY.” $20 to $30 million in direct foreign investment Matthews feels clean tech’s time has come, — OWEN MATTHEWS, CHAIRMAN, ALACRITY over the next three years, says Matthews, but stresses that success depends on more who notes the urgency in developing than an altruistic mission. countries to solve critical environmental problems related “As much as we are, philosophically, totally in tune to poor air quality, lack of clean drinking water and other with doing it for the greater good, we have to get these environmental concerns. clean-tech companies to focus on the bottom line of their “There are massive citizen/community problems that customers,” he says. [these countries] have to be seen to be addressing, and “It’s not about saying ‘Hey, buy this and save the they’re willing to spend money to do that,” he says. “The environment.’ It’s about saying ‘This is going to save you market is there and we’ve got great engineering talent. money, reduce risk, save insurance costs and, in fact, it’s There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be solving some of the a compliance requirement that you do it, so maybe you world’s problems.” should buy it.’” Alacrity is no stranger to helping tech firms gain a “If you don’t succeed with the customer,” he adds, “you successful foothold in the global market. Since 2009, don’t get to do greater good no matter how exciting your Alacrity has had an estimated direct impact of $300 million clean tech is.”




 U-BICYCLE is the first stationless bicyclesharing platform in Western Canada, and is now launching across North America. Headquartered in Victoria, U-bicycle is focused on providing globally adaptable solutions to short-distance commuting needs.

QUANTOTECH SOLUTIONS is an engineering company that supplies energy-efficient and environment-friendly LED lights and lighting services to commercial growers. OCEANWORKS INTERNATIONAL specializes in the design and manufacturing of manned and unmanned underwater work systems and related equipment for the international marine industry.


Turn a trusted relationship into intelligent investments.

A Taste of Victoria’s

BEER CULTURE It took over a year of renovation and rezoning, but the long-awaited tasting room at Phillips Brewery is now open. THE BEER MARKET



ne of B.C.’s largest and most popular craft breweries now has its own tasting room, with 16 taps, its own sodas and tonics, and a curated selection of local food. “We were compelled to open the tasting room from a number a different directions,” owner Matt Phillips explains. “Partly to make sure that Victoria stays relevant in the craft-beer world, given the explosion of tasting rooms in Vancouver. Also, to give us more opportunity to have a direct interaction with customers, get feedback, and have it so people could come in and experience the brewery in a more social way.” When Phillips first moved into the brewery space on Government Street 10 years ago, it was more focused on production. “There was no provision in the rules that allowed us to

have a tasting room,” Phillips says. “Breweries were meant to be either brew pubs, where you could not distribute, or distributing breweries, where you had no provisions for hosting guests or experiential opportunities.” Largely due to space concerns, Phillips still resisted adding a tasting room when the provincial rules changed back in 2013 to allow wineries, breweries, and distilleries to sell their products on-site. That changed in early 2017, when he leased approximately 4,000 square feet of space at Government and Discovery, next to the brewery. After a lengthy process of rezoning, the tasting room opened this May. In keeping with the original art deco style of the building, the tasting room’s exterior was inspired by art-deco diners. “In Victoria, we’ve always prided ourselves on being a hotbed of craft-beer culture,” Phillips says. “So, we had to up our game.”

A micro-brewery, such as Category 12, is one that produces less than 15,000 hectolitres of beer annually.* A regional brewery, such as Phillips, is one that produces between 15,000 and 350,000 hectolitres annually.* The number of new breweries in Canada has more than doubled over the past five years to nearly 800. That includes craft breweries, microbreweries and brew pubs.**

B.C. contains 22.3% of industry breweries despite representing only 13.1% of the Canadian population** From December 2015 to September 2017, craft beer’s share of the beer market grew from 20.6% to 24.6%.* *B.C. LIQUOR DISTRIBUTION **IBISWORLD CANADA

Investing is about working together. Your goals. Our solutions. Jeff Cohen, BA, CFP, FCSI Wealth Advisor Tel: 250-361-2408


Brewery’s Expansion Continues Phillips Brewery’s new distribution centre in the Francis Rattenbury designed building at 502-508 Discovery Street will open “shortly,” according to Matt Philllips. The brewery purchased the historic brick building in February of 2017. “We’re trying to rezone it so we can make the second storey more functional as well,” Phillips says. “It’s a really neat space up there and we want to make it accessible and bring some life to that second floor. We’re enthusiastic about this project.”

BMO Wealth Management is the brand name for a business group consisting of Bank of Montreal and certain of its affiliates, including BMO Nesbitt Burns Inc., in providing wealth management products and services. ® “BMO (M-bar roundel symbol)” is a registered trademark of Bank of Montreal, used under licence. ® “Nesbitt Burns” is a registered trade-mark of BMO Nesbitt Burns Inc. BMO Nesbitt Burns Inc. is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Bank of Montreal. If you are already a client of BMO Nesbitt Burns, please contact your Investment Advisor for more information.

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DOUBLETREE BY HILTON in Victoria has launched its My Stay My Car program, which means its guests can rent threewheeled Solo all-electric vehicles by Vancouver automaker Electra Meccanica. There are two hybrid and two electric vehicles in the fleet, available for $20 to $30 per night in a program powered by share-economy pioneer Turo. NORTHSTAR AIR TOURS has added an Island Hopper service from Victoria to San Juan Island. The 12-minute flight makes it North America’s shortest flight, according to NorthStar. NANAIMO AIRPORT (YCD) has launched a $15-million infrastructure investment project to expand its terminal building by 60 per cent. The 14,000-square-feet expansion will increase the security area and more than double the size of the departure lounge. A partnership between Nanaimo Airport Commission and the federal and provincial governments, the project will be managed by Durwest Construction Management. ELEMENTS CASINO in View Royal has reopened after a 14-month, multimillion-dollar revamp that adds 26 gaming tables and 200 slot machines, bringing the total to 800. The casino has also added a 560 seat entertainment venue, public house and expanded food offerings.


VIKING AIR plans to hire more than 200 employees as part of the Viking CL-415 Conversion Program to rebuild a fire-fighting water bomber. The program is a collaboration between Viking and Longview Aviation Asset Management of Calgary. In support of the program, Viking will relaunch its Viking Academy program to train successful job applicants in the appropriate technical skills.

VICTORIA REAL ESTATE TRENDS More inventory but fewer sales for April in the Victoria Real Estate Board Region










Local Businesses Voice Concern About Employer Health Tax



NEW PAYROLL TAX COULD IMPACT THE VIABILITY AND GROWTH OF MANY SMALL- AND MEDIUM-SIZED VENTURES. As part of the B.C. government’s plan to eliminate Medical Services Plan (MSP) premiums, the proposed Employer Health Tax (EHT) will require companies with payrolls over $500,000 a year to pay a 0.98 per cent tax on annual payroll. The tax, set to be introduced January 1, 2019, increases in increments based on payroll, maxing out at 1.95 per cent for payrolls over $1.5 million. Catherine Holt, CEO of Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce, believes the threshold doesn’t really protect small businesses. “A payroll of $500,000 is a micro-business with fewer than 10 employees,” she says. “We are already hearing from our members who will be looking at ways to reduce their payroll or limit their growth.”

Another major concern is that some employers will have to pay both MSP premiums and EHT in 2019. For Dave Cowen, CEO of The Butchart Gardens, which implements a minimum $15/hour minimum wage, the magnitude and scope of the tax are problematic. “The EHT will generate a 260 per cent increase over the amount of MSP premiums currently paid, with the new tax being calculated on all employees, including those not previously covered by benefits, such as seasonal staff who are dependent children covered by their parents’ plans or are exempt due to age,” he explains.   According to Cowen, in an effort to protect its labour budget,

the company is re-evaluating its capital investment plan. The short turnaround is another cause for worry, says John Wilson, president and CEO of The Wilson’s Group of Companies. His transportation business will experience a “$200,000 hit” with the EHT; an amount he says will be hard to budget and account for. He believes the tax will be devastating to business growth and job growth in B.C. “I’ve been in business for 30 years and consider myself a true entrepreneur in that I’m always looking for opportunities for growth,” he says. “This is the first time I’m having conversations about controlling growth. A lot of companies will be thinking about growth and how it could now impact the bottom line.”



Number of employees


MSP payments (None, 1/2 or full)


EMPLOYER HEALTH TAX (EHT) EHT tax table proposed: Annual BC Payroll

EHT Tax Rate

500,000 0 500,001-750,000 0.98%  750,001-1,000,000 1.46% 1,000,001-1,250,000 1.76% 1,250,001-1,500,000 1.95% Estimate of Employer Health Tax $11,680 COMPARISON OF MSP AND EHT MSP Previously Paid


Employer Health Tax


Savings / (Cost)



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THE OFFICE REFRESH Reinvigorating your office doesn’t mean committing to a full-scale renovation. An office refresh can breathe new life into the space and improve morale and productivity — and make that all-important first impression.



The concept behind Alex Banayan’s The Third Door is that life and business are like a nightclub. What does he mean by that? There are always three ways in: the main entrance, where 99 per cent of people wait in line; the VIP entrance, where the billionaires and celebrities slip through; and the third door — the entrance where you have to slink down an alley or climb over a dumpster or sneak through the kitchen. Using one-onone interviews with visionaries such as Bill Gates, Steve Wozniak, Jane Goodall, Tim Ferriss, Quincy Jones, and many more, Banayan shows how their success has one thing in common: they all took the third door.

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GO ANALOG Dubbed the analog system for the digital age, Bullet Journal (a diary/calendar/to-do list/ planner) has achieved cult-like status. Created by digital product designer Ryder Carroll, it is perfectly customizable.

EVERYTHING IN ITS PLACE Office storage solutions don’t have to sacrifice style. Denizen Storage Towers are an eye-pleasing solution that offers open displays, closed cabinets and filing spaces. Available through Graphic Office Interiors.


SEE THE LIGHT Choosing the right ceiling, table or floor fixture can make an enormous impact in the commercial office environment, says Vanessa Tom of GR Contract, a division of Gabriel Ross that specializes in office design.


“Appropriate use of lighting should be taken into consideration early on in the design process,” Tom says. “Pablo Designs creates lasting solutions that provide a lifetime of illumination … Pablo Circa Lamps fuse beauty and utility with the ultimate goal of enhancing your daily lighting experiences.”

DESIGNER CONSULTATION Iván Meade is the principal designer and founder of Meade Design Group and the Iván Meade Fabric Collection. Along with consulting local businesses on branding, Meade has received international acclaim for his work in interior, graphic and industrial design. What’s the best way to go about a quick office refresh? The easiest and most economical way is through painting — even if you just focus on a couple of accent walls. It’s a dramatic change and it can affect the energy of your space. What are the important areas? Areas where clients are going to be. A well-designed reception desk gives a really good impression. Of course, it’s not about how much money you spend but how you can create the best experience for your

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customer. A beautiful flower arrangement or healthy plants shows that you care. It’s a subliminal signal that you are also going to take care of them. What mistakes do companies make in their space? Being inconsistent with brand. It’s all about scale and proportion — bigger isn’t always better. A great way to incorporate brand is through environmental graphics with vinyls on the walls or on privacy partitions. It’s an opportunity to do something innovative and creative.

GET AHEAD OF THE CURVE In The Creative Curve: How to Develop the Right Idea at the Right Time, Allen Gannett explores the creative insights of everyone from the Broadway team behind Dear Evan Hansen to the founder of Reddit, revealing the four laws of creative success and identifying the common patterns behind their achievements.


Rick Ilich’s company Townline is credited with reviving Victoria’s northern downtown, which flatlined after the Hudson’s Bay store closed in 2002 and moved to The Bay Centre. Townline has now added 556 suites to Victoria’s housing inventory. Once Townline completes the new Hudson Place, it will bring the total to between 850 and 900 suites.



The urban impact OF RICK ILICH

Rick Ilich's development company Townline has breathed new life into the north part of downtown Victoria, not by imitating Vancouver, but by finding Victoria's own cool factor. AS THE SON of a man credited with building much of the infrastructure of Metro Vancouver, Rick Ilich spent his summers from age 12 through high school installing and repairing pipe on infrastructure projects. “You’re that scrawny kid who everyone mutters about being the boss’s son,” Ilich says. “So they have a pretty open hand at toughening you up.” Growing up in the fishing village of Steveston, he didn’t have the hardscrabble upbringing of his father, Milan, one of 10 children who grew up in poverty in northern B.C. in a home with no running hot water, according to a newspaper account of his celebration of life in 2011. Among the speakers at the service was former B.C. premier Gordon Campbell, which Rick Ilich says signified his father’s stature as a business leader, and not that his father and the premier socialized. His father’s company, the Progressive Group, focused on civil construction, especially in the early years. But those projects worked in the vicinity of residential projects, which piqued the younger Ilich’s interest. A year after high school, though, he bolted from his dad’s employ and took a job with First National Lands as a project coordinator. In 1981, he founded his own company, Townline, just as a severe economic downturn pummeled construction. “So I learned what it felt like to sit on unsold inventory,” he says. He went from building single-family homes to larger projects, such as the master-planned Terra Nova neighbourhood in Richmond in the early 1990s. In the early 2000s, Townline worked on repurposing several heritage buildings in and around Vancouver’s Yaletown. They included

1190 Homer St., a 1914 manufacturing warehouse converted to retail space and offices. Along the way, a broker talked Ilich into checking out the former Hudson Bay Company building in Victoria. “And I did what my father told me never to do,” he says. “I fell in love with it.” Townline bought the Bay site in 2004. Then in 2008 another financial crunch delayed work on Ilich’s ambitious Hudson project plans for a few years. In December 2009, the provincial government even offered to invest $32.8 million in the project but backed off on that the following year. As the economy recovered, the Hudson revitalization proceeded apace. Four of the six buildings in the current plan have been completed. The former Bay store building now houses the Victoria Public Market on the ground floor and 152 condos on the upper floors. Three new buildings — Hudson Mews, and Hudson Walk One and Two — have more than 400 rental units combined. “They’ve taken a chance on that neighbourhood and revitalized it so that it’s really thriving with a lot of retail and housing, which is important,” says Jayne Bradbury, who chairs the Urban Development Institute Capital Region and is coowner with her sister Suzanne of Fort Properties. The first of two planned towers — the 25-storey Hudson Place One — received approval from Victoria city council in April. At build out, the total cost of the entire Hudson project will approach $900 million, Ilich estimates. Ilich spoke by phone from Vancouver about the future of the Hudson project, Townline’s other interests in Victoria, his vision for the city, and why some developers receive a bad rap.

You’re proposing to build the city’s tallest building. (Chris Colbeck, Townline’s vice president of marketing, disputes that.) How do you expect to balance that with ensuring that Victoria preserves its cherished not-so-tall heritage architecture?

I think the discussion around height is a little bit of a distraction. Victoria’s character is really at the street level and that is found through a rich history of very cool buildings built in different decades. So we identify with that and we’re trying to bring much of that texture and that historic feel to what we do. What concerns might you have that the Hudson towers might become the leading edge of a slippery slope toward a downtown Victoria of skyscrapers?

I think [the city’s] planning vision is pretty strong. I just don’t think they’ll let it happen. The only way to get much-needed rental housing and housing in the city is to go up. I think there’s a rhythm and there’s a pretty strong will of council to retain your character. But your skyline will change. What potential do you see in the Hudson district for becoming Victoria’s answer to Yaletown?

I never try to compare anything in Vancouver to Victoria. If my kids weren’t in the school system over here, I’d be living in Victoria. DOUGLAS 23

It’s got its own level of quaintness, yet it’s got kind of a cool groove going on too. There is no quaintness in Yaletown. Some people say Victoria is at a major turning point between being a big town and a small city, which will lead to all kinds of creativity and tension. What’s your interpretation?

Is it changing and/or entering a new level of maturity? Yes. It’s attracting people. You’re going to get more congestion. You’re going to get some people like myself to fall in love with the place and want to live there. So it puts pressure on housing demand. This is more of an international discussion, but it’s impacting Victoria because Victoria is part of the international equation. What kind of vision do you have for the Hudson, or the city, generally speaking — and how does your vision differ from that of other developers?

We committed to bringing life back into your north end of town. … (It) was dying a slow death. We’re obviously pretty excited to have participated or even driven the changes in that north end. It’s not just another project. We have plans to spend money in that carriageway that no one’s telling us to spend. We just think it’s the right thing to do to give everybody in that area that sense of pride and individuality. Often development’s about plunking up the building and leaving.


What do you see as your role as a developer in alleviating Victoria’s housing crisis both for homeowners and renters?

Everyone blames the developers or they blame the politicians, but I think at the end of the day we all were just a bit asleep at the switch and we didn’t see the demand building. Now we’re all scrambling to fix the gap. There is no shortage of bureaucracy and steps you have to go through to get these things out of the ground. I say that more about other areas. I think Victoria has been pretty good. But I see a chronic understaffing and I know they could use some help to process things quicker.

“I’d say British Columbia is the only place [where] I’ve experienced [that] if somebody is making money they must be doing something wrong.” Victoria city council recently rejected a purposebuilt apartment complex in Fairfield after neighbours objected. The younger councillors seemed to favour the project while the older ones had reservations, which mirrors the generational divide — young people who can’t afford high real-estate prices tend to favour more density whereas older folks who

already own their single-family homes like things as they are. What are your thoughts on that dynamic?

I think that if any city council anywhere is rejecting rental properties because of the popularity contest, they should be shamed. And that’s going to bite me, I’m sure. What do you think of the new NDP government’s proposed taxes on foreign owners and speculators?

I’m not suggesting there shouldn’t be programs, but they simply didn’t think it out very well. What impact do you think those taxes will have on your development plans, particularly for Victoria?

For whatever reason the government is pretending that the supply problem is not a problem. They’re trying to step on the demand side of it. That part is [as] naive of general economic management as I’ve ever heard. In our business, it’s not really going to affect us in any way. It’s those poor souls that have built up all their equity in their home and they’re aging out of that single-family home and they want to sell out to move and to put some money in the bank — that’s the market that’s hurting. What other plans do you have for Victoria or the rest of Vancouver Island?

We’re always looking. In addition to building our market housing and our rentals, we do


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work with a fair amount of non-profits. We have one, I think, in Langford and one just outside of Langford. We parlay our construction skill set and our project management skill set to helping these non-profits realize the equity they might have in under-utilized land. I consider ourselves a Victoria developer as much as we’re a Vancouver developer. Why, even though you’re building probably the most important asset for people, do you think property developers come in for such widespread derision?

We do business in places other than British Columbia and I’d say British Columbia is the only place [where] I’ve experienced [that] if somebody is making money they must be doing something wrong. What do you think are the biggest challenges the Capital region faces in terms of livability?

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You certainly do have traffic problems. Either you need more employment in the West Shore to get people off the highway or you need to improve the highway or have some transit. Transit’s the big one. The homeless problem, which is everywhere, needs to be addressed more aggressively. That can only happen with true partnership through different levels of government and private enterprise. What are your concerns about another economic downturn similar to 2008/2009 that stalled progress on the Hudson project?

Short of the government running out of money, even if no one was buying homes, we need a heck of a lot of rental homes built. And that’s going to come by way of government 26 DOUGLAS Client

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assistance. We’re pretty quick on our feet. We’ll shift gears. If there’s another economic downturn, which I don’t believe there will be in any short order, we’re quite happy to convert our latest condo projects to rental because we need rental. Any other plans for building in Victoria?

We are in discussions with other landowners around us and in other parts of Victoria. But, of course, those aren’t negotiations I can talk about. We do have another property on Pandora that we intend [to build] a rental tower on. What would you like to stress about your role as a property developer in Victoria?

Townline’s a significant developer in Victoria. We’ve done really good things there and I know we’re really proud of what we’ve done for that north end of town. I know your planning departments and your council all appreciate the life that’s come into that end of town, which we have been the catalyst for. I’m quite happy to wear that. We did this. This is our vision, our risk, and we’re very proud of it. ■ DOUGLAS 27




ome Care Assistance works with the guiding principle that healthspan is as important as lifespan. It provides older adults with quality care that enables them to live happier, healthier lives at home. The caliber of its caregivers, the responsiveness of its staff and its expertise in home care are just a few of the factors that distinguish Home Care Assistance and its services. “We embrace a positive, balanced approach to aging centered on the evolving needs of older adults,” says Lutgarda Mariano, Director and Owner of Home Care Assistance Victoria. Home Care Assistance specializes in personal in-home care, from daily visits to the home to round-the-clock care, to help seniors live well at home. Its services also include post-hospitalization recovery, whether transitioning directly to home after hospitalization or through a rehabilitation or medical-care facility. INNOVATIVE CARE METHODS Every Home Care Assistance caregiver is trained in the Balanced Care Method™, which focuses on both longevity and quality of life. By emphasizing healthy

“Our caregivers are the heart and soul of our company. We spend a significant amount of time recruiting, screening and training the best caregivers in the industry…” nutrition, physical activity and mental stimulation, along with a purposeful and calm lifestyle, the Balanced Care Method™ promotes overall health and the greatest independence for seniors. In addition, Home Care Assistance has pioneered the Cognitive Therapeutics Method™ by building on research that shows mental stimulation is associated with slower cognitive decline. As part of this innovative approach, Home Care Assistance will be launching its Music & Memory® program, utilizing the powerful benefits of personalized music on cognitive function. CONSISTENCY OF CARE Accountability, strong communication and support is at the heart of Home Care Assistance’s personal care service. It has


been recognized by Home Care Pulse®, an independent quality management agency, as both the Provider of Choice and Employer of Choice for 2017 and 2018. “It is our goal to continue providing the highest caliber of care to our clients through concierge level services, and to ensure their optimal wellbeing and peace of mind to their family members,” Mariano says. “Our administrative team, our case managers and our caregivers all have the same vision that I do. Everyone is working for our client. It’s not just one person, it’s a whole team. It’s really about the clients and what we do for them to ensure they live out the best quality of life possible at home.”


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ou can’t drive more than a block in Victoria or Vancouver without encountering the work of Titan Window Films. Look to the Royal BC Museum, the David Suzuki Foundation, YVR, scores of office towers, B.C.’s most securitysensitive buildings and thousands of homes and condos. For 26 years, Titan has been providing heat and light control, safety and security and graphic window film solutions to commercial and residential customers. Headquartered in Central Saanich, Titan is the exclusive authorized dealer and installer on the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island for the 3M™ line of sun control and security window films. 3M first invented window film in 1966 and remains a world leader in this technology. “Today’s window films are amazing — gone are the highly reflective silvery window films of the 1970’s,” says Titan’s president Doug Ritch, who bought Titan 18 years ago and today operates the firm with partners Randy De Bin, Ellar McKellar and a team of eight employees. One example of 3M’s leading-edge product innovation is the Prestige series, an optically clear proprietary nanotechnology. It consists of over 200 layers of polyester, yet it’s as thin as a piece of paper. Based on the cellular structure of a Blue Morpho butterfly wing, it selectively rejects up to 99.9% of damaging UV light, 97% of the sun’s heat-producing infrared light and up to 60% of the heat coming through the windows. 3M accomplished all of this without significantly impacting visible light transmission or the appearance of your home or office,” he adds.

“Our commercial and residential customers trust Titan and its 3M window films to solve issues related to sun control, security, safety, privacy and brand visuals. Our professionally trained staff provides the highest quality installation for lasting results.” Another example is 3M's latest technology, Thinsulate™ Climate Control Window Film, a unique low-e film that helps retain warmth in the winter and cool air in the summer by increasing your windows insulation value. A single pane window performs close to that of a double pane window. WHY TRUST IS TITAN’S FOUNDATION Doug and his team could easily spend hours discussing the science behind 3M. But equally important to them is talking about trust, something they’ve earned from quality-conscious 3M and which they work hard to earn from their clients, from the first consultation to the professional installation required for 3M window films to the follow through. “It begins with trying to understand the problem a client is trying to solve before we suggest solutions,” says Doug. “Whether it’s a commercial client whose tenants are roasting in an overheated building and paying exorbitant air-conditioning costs, a residential client who wants to protect


their expensive floors from sun damage, or a large organization that wants a security solution.” With 3M’s patented security film installed by Titan, a window may break if enough force is applied, but the security film will hold the glass in place, serving to delay or detract the intruder while audio glass-break sensor notifies authorities. Titan’s graphic division also offers 3M’s full line of Di-Noc™ Architecture Finishes, Fasara™ Glass Finishes and Scotchprint™ large format printing films. With in-house expertise and production capabilities, Titan can offer solutions to resurface expensive fixtures and surfaces, provide privacy or branding opportunities for your exterior or interior windows or print, and mount almost any image any size to any surface. “We’re proud to represent the most sophisticated and effective window-film products on the market — hands down — with 3M,” says Doug. “And I’d say the other aspect of what has made Titan a leader for all these years is our trained professionals. They find out what our clients care about, they make it a priority to provide the best solutions and they do what they say they will do. That’s the building block for trust.”

TITAN WINDOW FILMS LTD. Unit B-6670 Bertram Place Victoria, BC 250-652-0811 or 1-866-391-0890




armer Construction is a full service General Contractor, Construction Manager and a Trade Contractor, but it is the creation of collaborative experiences that make it stand out in the industry. “Yes, we have built buildings, but more importantly for us we have built relationships, partnerships and trust,” says president and owner Gerrit Vink. “It’s a legacy we want to continue to build from and improve upon and it is the foundation for the company moving forward.” BUILDING THE FUTURE It is these relationships that have allowed Farmer Construction to continue building and developing urban landscapes and community for more than 67 years. As a team of creative and innovative General Contractors and Construction Managers, Farmer Construction is an industry leader that has completed many institutional, commercial, residential and industrial projects. Current projects include the Victoria Press Building renovation, the Laurel Point Inn lobby renovation and expansion, and the condominium development at 989 Johnson. Special

projects include heritage restorations, such as the Customs House condominium conversion. “We are also well versed in the world of LEED and building green,” Vink says. “We enjoy working in all sectors including Industrial, Commercial, Institutional and Multi-Family.” BUILDING YOUR TEAM Whether you are building new or renovating an existing space, having a general contractor you can trust will save you time and money. Farmer Construction’s knowledgeable project managers will become reliable and dedicated members of your development team, always responsive and always cooperative. “We believe the single biggest missed opportunity in our industry is how late many owners often leave the engagement of the General Contractor or Construction Manager,” Vink says. “Early engagement results in an appropriate constructability review, value engineering, logistics planning and, most importantly, the ability to build a meaningful trusting partnership with your entire construction team.”


“We have the knowledge and experience to work collaboratively as part of the Owner’s Consultant team from project conception to completion.”

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owichan, a place that offers adventures for foodies, nature and art lovers, and daring spirits. Take a drive through the idyllic countryside on two wheels or four, stop for a tasting at a local winery, peruse art galleries, or enjoy a farm to table meal at a local bistro. Take in an evening picnic on a sun-drenched beach followed by a moonlit kayak trip; this undiscovered paradise has something for everyone, yet is only a short drive from Victoria. Cowichan boasts over 800 farms, 18 wineries, two distilleries, two craft breweries, two cideries, Canada’s first tea farm, a motor sport circuit, endless outdoor experiences, and accommodations that range from luxury yurts to mountaintop boutique resorts all set within some of the most stunning natural landscapes in the country. The region takes its name from Quw’utsun’ — an Indigenous word that means “the warm land” — and the First Peoples knew what they were talking about. Cowichan is located in Canada’s only maritime Mediterranean climatic zone and is home to the warmest yearround temperatures anywhere in the

“Travelers to scenic Cowichan will discover pastoral country roads, pristine beaches, rivers, lakes, forests, and breathtaking trails. They will also experience an abundance of local food, drink, art, culture, and unique shopping.” country, making it ideal for growing things, including an incredible variety of food and an unmatched quality of life. Cowichan’s increasing number of wineries has yielded regular comparisons to the Napa and Barossa Valleys, and legendary foodie, James Barber, once referred to the culinary hotspot as “Canada’s Provence”. When it comes to experiences in the region, food and drink are just the beginning - unique attractions, worldclass fishing, spectacular bike trails for all levels, and some of the most beautiful hiking trails on the Island. Don’t forget


your camera - you will want to capture the amazing scenery, including the Kinsol Trestle - a must for awe-inspiring scenery and engineering. Getting to Cowichan is easy and the trip can be an adventure of its own. Driving north on Highway 1 from Victoria, there are countless stops that could easily turn your day trip into a two or three-day road trip. Or for a truly Island experience, take the quaint (cash only) BC Ferries’ boat from Brentwood Bay on the Saanich Peninsula to Mill Bay just 20 minutes south of Duncan. Cowichan also is part of the Pacific Marine Circle Route, which is quickly becoming one of the most popular touring routes in Canada. Come to Cowichan and Discover what lies beyond…

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Using milk from grass-fed cows in the Comox Valley — and a lot of heart and soul — Tree Island Gourmet Yogurt has taken their boutique artisanal yogurt business into the big leagues.


Scott DiGuistini, co-owner of Tree Island Gourmet Yogurt, at Birkdale Farm in the Comox Valley. The 92-year-old heritage farm raises grass-fed Ayershire dairy cows who supply the milk for Tree Island products.


DiGuistini and Merissa Myles decided to launch a yogurt-making business, they were told by more than one critic that they would fail. After all, the couple would be going head to head with the big boys of yogurt, like Danone, Dairyland and Olympic. They quickly proved the doubters wrong. Since shipping their first batch of yogurt in January 2013, their company Tree Island Gourmet Yogurt now stocks the shelves of more than 200 retailers across Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands and the B.C. Mainland. And since receiving Canadian Food Inspection Agency certification in February 2017, which opens the door to the entire Canadian market, they now also ship to retailers in Alberta, Ontario, and Quebec. And in that time they have grown from a husband-and-wife operation, with two helpers, to a thriving food processing firm that employs 22 people and processes 350,000 litres of milk annually. DiGuistini says they are on track for half a million.

ENTREPRENEURIAL DNA “We had a five-year business plan and we met that in three years,” DiGuistini tells me on a sunny April afternoon at Tree Island Gourmet


Yogurt’s headquarters, found on a leafy acreage next to Highway 19A in the community of Royston, a few kilometres south of Courtenay. On one side of the gravel driveway is a twostorey cottage where the couple first lived with their young family and which also doubled as an office. When the business expanded to the point that the home office overtook the home, it forced a move to a separate house nearby on the ocean side of highway 19A. On the other side of the driveway, employees in a small bio-secure plant produce yogurt in flavours like Milano Espresso, Coconut Lime, Orange Blossom and Cardamom, and Prairie Berry. Dip a spoon into a tub of Tree Island’s Honey yogurt and your palate might pucker a little, especially if, like a lot of consumers, you’re accustomed to the super-sweetened stuff that populates most grocery store shelves these days. But Tree Island’s product is creamy and rich — and it sells. DiGuistini and Myles both say they have entrepreneurship in their DNA. Tree Island’s genesis occurred when the couple toured Europe, assessing job offers in DiGuistini’s academic discipline of microbiology. That’s when they were introduced to what he calls “real yogurt,” made with whole milk in the French style that leaves a thin layer of cream on top. It was an epiphany that led them to the Comox


SIX YEARS AGO, when Scott

At Tree Island’s production facility in Royston, the company is producing their new special edition coffeeflavoured yogurt created with coffee gurus Milano Coffee CMX Valley and Milano Coffee Vancouver.

From small beans to big business

Valley, partly for its welcoming and vibrant food and farming scene, and partly because it seemed like a good place to raise kids. DiGuistini applied his scientifically trained mind to making that wonderfully simple stuff called yogurt, which is produced from two ingredients, milk and bacterial culture. And Tree Island uses real milk, not the powdered milk that is often used as an ingredient in yogurt — and that’s one of the market differentiators of Tree Island’s product. “We wanted to build a boutique product that would connect with the consumers,” DiGuistini says.

HEART, SOUL AND BUSINESS Between parenting and bootstrapping, launching the new business was a challenge at first. DiGuistini and Myles dug deep into personal savings, tapped family and friends, and secured some support from Community Futures Strathcona to help cover building and equipment costs. By the time they had acquired, installed and retrofitted equipment to meet provincial standards, they were broke, but they had a small plant ready for inspection — a process that DiGuistini says was painfully slow. After a six-month wait, they finally got their permit and were ready to start making yogurt and generating much-needed cash flow.

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Project funding from a number of government agencies, including Agriculture and AgriFood Canada and the Investment Agriculture Foundation, as well as a Local Producer Grant from the Texas-based Whole Foods further aided Tree Island’s growth. However, heart and soul and the ability to recognize and play to one another’s strengths are key to the business’s success for DiGuistini and Myles. They’ve have found that balance, a one-two business punch that’s helped production grow roughly 1000 per cent since its first year of operation. DiGuistini is the selfdescribed risk taker, the guy in the yogurt plant tweaking systems; Myles, who in her previous life worked for the YWCA in community economic development, focuses on the front end — orders, shipping, marketing, payroll and other administrative details. And as much as Tree Island’s success depends on heart and soul, for DiGuistini and Myles, it’s also about confidence, conviction and business smarts. Operating in the black is obviously key. But DiGuistini and Myles are as focused on profitability as they are on helping to change the way consumers think about and value nutritious food, and also how they relate to the farmers who produce it and the entrepreneurs who add value to it.

successful, a crucial victory for DiGuistini and Tree Island has developed strong ties to local Myles given the current lack of any certified producers, sourcing milk from Guy Sims, a organic dairy farmers on the island. “Now we second-generation farmer who raises pasturecan tell the farmer’s story,” DiGuistini says. fed dairy cows at Birkdale Farm on the Comox Tree Island also took a critical look at their Peninsula, and honey from Big D’s Bees Honey packaging and, in 2015, became the first in in Black Creek. Canada to use dairy containers reinforced with And the couple doesn’t shy away from cardboard and made with 50 per cent less plastic advocacy. Canada has a tightly controlled (the plastic in their containers is BPA-free) than supply-management quota system for dairy, standard yogurt’s plastic packaging. which gives farmers both price and market, and And rather than outsourcing distribution, a policy of no antibiotics and growth hormones DiGuistini and Myles chose to keep it in-house; in fluid milk; however all milk — whether another hallmark of their attention to detail and from pasture-raised or factory-fed cows — was quality. lumped together. “It helps us maintain relationships So DiGuistini and Myles joined with retailers and also ensures a movement working with thenour yogurt arrives at the shelves agriculture minister Norm Letnick fresh,” DiGuistini says, noting that and the BC Milk Marketing LESS PLASTIC Board to implement increased THAN STANDARD YOGURT’S PLASTIC “traceability” and to support PACKAGING innovation within the supply management system. This would enable processors like Tree Island to source milk from farmers raising pasture-fed dairy cows that produce milk richer in Omega3s, beta carotene, and CLAs (conjugated linoleic acid) than the milk from corn-fed cows. This, in turn, allowed these farmers to fetch a premium price for their milk. The couple’s lobbying efforts were


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fresh yogurt packaged at the Royston plant on a Wednesday is trucked cross-country and on the shelves at Slater Street Market in downtown Ottawa the following Tuesday morning.

MANAGED GROWTH The entrepreneurial couple’s forwardthinking approach and community-agriculture philosophy has made their company a darling of the Vancouver Island’s small-scale food sector. It’s also what first caught the attention of Ali Ryan, head chef at Spinnakers Gastro Brewpub and president of the Island Chef’s Collaborative (ICC.) Tree Island was one of the first small producers to apply for a $10,000 zero interest microloan, which ICC offers with the support of Van City Credit Union. According to Ryan, since then Tree Island and the more than three dozen chefs that belong to ICC have had a “close and mutually supportive relationship.” “I have had the pleasure of having Scott and Merissa’s Greek yogurt on my menu for three or four years now,” Ryan says. “Their yogurt is the perfect example of how the quality of locally, sustainably and sensitively produced food is just better, both in taste and nutrition.” “As early champions of grass-fed dairies, sustainable packaging and whole foods,” he says, “I think Tree Island has been instrumental to the growth of the Island’s artisan-food industry.”

“Their yogurt is the perfect example of how the quality of locally, sustainably and sensitively produced food is just better, both in taste and nutrition.”

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These are busy times for DiGuistini and Myles. Their cell phones ring constantly and a steady stream of couriers and trucks pull up the driveway at their Royston plant. The week of this interview they clocked record sales to date, all at a time when they were producing their first line of fruit yogurts, made from organic Okanagan peaches, Fraser Valley strawberries and berries, including Haskap berries, an obscure but healthy native to the boreal forest that’s cultivated in Saskatchewan. Production has nearly outstripped the capacity of their current plant; however, they’re keeping quiet about future expansion plans. “It’s in the works,” Myles says. “I guess our approach from the start has been ‘managed growth.’ All of our accounts have happened organically and by word of mouth.” And for a growing enterprise like Tree Island, advertising doesn’t get much better than positive word of mouth. ■

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Where Are the Women? Construction has traditionally been considered a male bastion where only a rare few women could succeed. Despite some big shifts by government and business, women still make up only a pittance of the workforce. Douglas sets out to discover why. BY JODY PATERSON

Amy Carr, a certified Red Seal sheet-metal worker at Lewis Sheet Metal, welds a filter frame for a ventilation system. Carr entered the trades after completing the Women in Trades Training Initiative (WITT) at Camosun College. She is an advocate for women in the trades and is a member at large of Build TogetHER BC. This April, she received a Construction Leadership Award from The B.C. Construction Association (BCCA). 38 DOUGLAS





– Since 1993 –


environment for women. The business case for f wishes were horses, as the old saying moving away from an “old school” culture is goes, a woman wanting to work in construction would be riding high right certainly there, notes Fairley. now. With a major labour gap looming “The mayors, architects, engineers and over the industry, the fervent wish to planners are women now,” says Fairley. “If a see more women in the sector goes all the way man is going to keep his old-school attitude, his up to B.C. Premier John Horgan. business is going to be left behind.” But it’s going to take way more than wishing. SEXISM AND STIGMA Women have integrated into many “nonBut while an old-world-male culture affects traditional” professions in the 40 years since the retention, the challenges of turning a girl’s United Brotherhood of Carpenters welcomed its thoughts to construction in the first place start first B.C. journeywoman, but construction isn’t long before she’s on the job. one of them. In this province, in Canada, and People interviewed for this article identified in much of the industrialized world, women factors that start getting in a girl’s way well still account for barely three per cent of the before she’s old enough to consider what she construction workforce. wants to be when she grows up, and continue “You hear all the time that there’s a labour shortage in construction,” says Katy Fairley, vice relentlessly into her schooling, training, and workplace experiences. president of business development at Kinetic For starters, it’s still most likely to be Dad Construction and founder of the Women in who does a little woodwork on the side when Construction initiative for the Vancouver Island a girl is growing up, and he may not even Construction Association (VICA). “Well, you’re think about inviting his daughter to join him. never going to change that when 50 per cent Trades are a key entry point of the population is virtually for many construction-related missing from the industry.” professions that a woman might What’s the problem? Just find rewarding, but the girl who about everything, as it turns never has the opportunity to lay out. From attracting women her hands on a piece of wood isn’t into construction careers to likely to know that. keeping them there once “I got into it at an early age they arrive, significant and because my parents moved our systemic barriers exist on family from Slovakia and my dad every front. Constructionwas renovating the house we related professions such bought here,” recalls Dana Styk, as architecture and urban who owns FineColors Renovation planning are at least on track “YOU HEAR ALL THE Services. “I wanted to help, but my for equity — about a third of TIME THAT THERE’S A dad resisted. It wasn’t until he saw working Canadian architects LABOUR SHORTAGE IN that I was good at it that he let me CONSTRUCTION. WELL, and 45 per cent of urban YOU’RE NEVER GOING work with him.” planners are women — but TO CHANGE THAT Meanwhile, trades continue the industry overall remains WHEN 50 PER CENT to be stigmatized as a “dumping resolutely male. OF THE POPULATION ground” for people who aren’t “There are multiple layers IS VIRTUALLY MISSING smart enough to go to university, of barriers, challenges, FROM THE INDUSTRY.” says North Island College teacher structural issues, cultural — KATY FAIRLEY, and certified carpenter Rob Laird. norms, organizational issues, VP, KINETIC CONSTRUCTION Despite wages higher than many interpersonal considerations, service and office jobs that people attitudes,” says Tara Fong, end up with after graduating university, the manager of the Canada Job Fund for B.C.’s trades remain undervalued by parents and Industry Training Authority (ITA). “There isn’t other adults in a young person’s life, including one reason, there are all these reasons.” teachers and career counsellors. Happily, efforts are being made to change “I picked trades because I’d been in Asia that. The province has committed $1.8 teaching English and hated it, and saw both of million to attract and retain women in trades. my sisters graduate from university and end Committees and initiatives dedicated to the up with office jobs. I didn’t want any of that,” problem are in place at secondary schools, says Jeannie Briggs, a cabinet maker with trades-training institutes and industry Morinwood construction firm. “But it hasn’t organizations. been easy. I’m a total feminist, but I’m not Perhaps most importantly, local women working in the industry say they’re already oblivious to the fact that men and women are seeing a major shift in workplace culture, which different. Trades are men’s culture.” insiders say lags 10 or 20 years behind other Then there’s the state of high school shop industries in providing a safe and welcoming classes. They’ve been a low priority in B.C. for

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decades, says Randy Grey, president of the B.C. Technology Education Association representing B.C.’s 800 high school shop and tech teachers. Trying to enthuse kids about trades in large, elective classes with no more than $15 or so per student for supplies is a tough sell for any gender, says Grey. “In my district, very few girls go on to apprenticeships,” says Grey, career program coordinator for the Comox Valley school district. “But if they do, and they make it through their apprenticeship, they get jobs. They’re good.” Those are big ifs. Camosun College is rightly proud of the impact its Women in Trades Training (WITT) initiative has had in boosting female construction apprentices to eight per cent at the college. But less than two per cent of women apprentices in Canada complete their training. That hasn’t changed in 20 years. The issue is often financial, says Jayna Wiewiorowski, a former WITT coordinator. “For both genders, having to come out of work for seven to 10 weeks of school every year for four

years and not getting paid for it is a real problem,” she says. “Employment insurance may only cover 55 per cent of their gross apprenticeship wages. That’s a significant hardship.”

Advice from the Front Lines


What advice do women in construction have for girls and women considering a career in the sector? Here’s what five women in the local industry had to say:

Donna Hais

Dana Styk

Cheryl Hartman

Even once they’re on the job, women are notable for not staying long. For some, it’s the workplace harassment and bullying that does them in, a recognized component of trades culture that affects both women and men. “The culture on site is still very gruff, like being a woman on a fishing crew,” says Donna Hais, a partner at R.W. (Bob) Wall Ltd. in Nanaimo. “We monitor what we can as employers, but we can’t be on all of it.” For others, it’s the absence of family-friendly workplace policies. Construction has long had a rigid work day of 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. that doesn’t fit the needs of anyone juggling work and family. Nor is it common to accommodate pregnant workers or new moms returning to the job. “I missed my son’s first day at school because of work,” recalls Cheryl Hartman, an electrician and

Owner of R.W. (Bob) Wall Ltd. “Construction is a great place for women, and a fantastic career. I wouldn’t be anywhere else.”

Home renovations specialist and owner of FineColors Renovation Services

Journeywoman electrician and now chief estimator at Brewis Electric

“If it’s what you love, be strong and carry on. Ignore the male domination and how they are. Try breaking out on your own to work for yourself.”

“The higher in authority or position you get, the less the insults come.”

Jeannie Briggs

“It might not be for them. There’s a culture in the industry that I love: the bluntness, the say-it-andmove-on style. If that suits your personality, it can be a great job.”

Cabinet maker at Morinwood “You have every right to be there, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Know your rights, know your harassment policies.”

Katy Fairley VP of business development, Kinetic Construction


Jeannie Briggs is a cabinet maker and safety officer at Morinwood, a firm that specializes in interior finishes on institutional construction projects. “People keep telling me I’m blazing trails,” says Briggs. “I just want to go to work.”

now chief estimator for Brewis Electric who chairs VICA’s Women in Construction initiative. Briggs recalls a former employer who wouldn’t order safety equipment in womenappropriate sizes, reasoning that it was a waste of money given the scarcity of female workers passing through the job site. “People keep telling me I’m blazing trails,” says Briggs. “I just want to go to work. I hope my niece can go to work in construction 10 years from now and not worry about any of this.” To say that change isn’t possible in the industry “would be like giving up,” says Fairley. Indeed, those on the front lines of the struggle say the culture has changed a great deal in recent years. Hartman points out that in the past year alone, Brewis went from having one journeywoman in the field to having six. “That’s huge,” she says. With B.C. expected to need 15,000 new construction workers by 2025, Vancouver Island Construction Association CEO Rory Kumala says “now is about as good a time as there has ever been” for women. “So how will we take down the barriers and seize the opportunity to adjust our practices to allow women to work in this industry?” he asks. In the workplace, change starts at the top, says Briggs. Ten years in the industry, she joined Morinwood last year and says it has been a breath of fresh air to work for a company with strong anti-harassment policies and the willingness to follow through on them. “A young girl just started here the other day who is lovely and gentle, and I know she’ll be OK working at Morinwood,” says Briggs. 42 DOUGLAS

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provides a similar opportunity for women to test their interest and aptitude. Construction can be a great career for women, says Kumala. The “vertical opportunities are limitless,” paving the way to careers as supervisors, estimators, industry reps, project managers and self-employment. The money is good, with average earnings of $1,200 a week, beating out jobs in health care, education and real estate. The work is rewarding and creative. “I think if there’s a message I want out, it’s this: We shouldn’t question whether women belong in the trades. They do,” says Kumala. “The work is accessible and achievable. So let’s get on with it.” ■

At the school level, Laird likes the ACEIT program. It not only lets grades 11 and 12 students complete the first year of their apprenticeship while still in high school, but continue on to further training as an integrated cohort. “It’s easier for a young woman to be in a college class with the young men she already knows from school,” says Laird. “It can be an intimidating transition for women otherwise.” Early introduction to trades through programs such as the ITA’s all-girl go-kart summer camp give pre-teens a chance to dabble in carpentry, welding, sheet metal, automotive work and more. A 12-week trades-sampler program at Camosun and other B.C. training institutes

Women in Construction



Number of certifiable trades recognized in B.C.*



Number of job openings due to retirement and economic development expected in the B.C. construction industry through 2027.**


Percentage of Canadian women ages 18 to 34 who reported in a 2008 Construction Sector Council survey of almost 2,000 women that they never received any information on trades while in grade school.


Percentage of female constructiontrades apprentices surveyed by the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum who grew up in families where one or more parent worked in construction.



Percentage of growth from 2001 to 2015 in the number of women working in skilled trades in B.C.+

Percentage of certified tradespeople in B.C. across all trades who are male.+

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LANGFORDâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S SUCCESS By Paul Willcocks


From its revitalized core to its thriving retail environment to its new housing and community facilities, Langford is getting things done.


EVEN LANGFORD’S FIERCEST CRITICS agree the municipality gets things done. In two decades, the capital region’s ugly duckling has turned into a swan, lauded for its growth and community transformation. While other municipal governments seem to march through molasses, Langford is an outlier. “We had to be,” says Stew Young, mayor for 25 of the 26 years Langford has existed as a municipality. “I grew up through the shitty times,” says Young. “We were basically the Dogpatch of the region.” Back then, young people raised in Langford were leaving to find jobs and opportunity.

Clockwise from far left: Langford Lanes, located in City Centre Park; the Casa Bella development of 30 townhomes and 68 condominiums; Goldstream Avenue temporarily closed for a STOMP performance; the region’s only Costco store; Bear Mountain bike park; a member of Wounded Warriors Run B.C. at the Langford Legion; 900 Degrees Wood-Fired Pizza; Entering Langford before its current development; Strachan Trail at Florence Lake.

Until 1992, Langford had been part of the Capital Regional District. It had more in common with up-Island resource communities than its southern neighbours. Sawmills, a concrete plant and industry had provided jobs. But they had vanished by the early 1990s, and Langford was struggling. It’s been a remarkable turnaround. The numbers tell part of the story. Langford’s population in 2016 was 35,342, more than doubling in the last 20 years. That’s 10 times the CRD growth rate. The number of occupied houses, condos and apartments also more than doubled to 14,178, again more than 10 times the regional increase in housing.

But a drive through the community also tells a big story. Thousands of new homes in planned subdivisions, retail of all kinds, from big boxes to small local businesses, a revitalized core on Goldstream Avenue, green spaces, parks, sidewalks, sports facilities — it’s a community transformed. “People look around and remember what it looked like in 1992, and what it looks like today, and say ‘they’re making pretty good decisions,’” says Councillor Denise Blackwell, who has spent 28 years on city council. So how did Langford do it? Here, Douglas takes a look at seven secrets of Langford’s success.


“I grew up through the shitty times. We were basically the Dogpatch of the region.”


Langford Mayor Stew Young was elected as a councillor in 1992 and has served as mayor since 1993.

1 Move boldly and quickly

“We weren’t doing enough as politicians to improve our city,” says Young, reflecting on the early years. Jobs were coming much too slowly and the small tax base made it hard to add the elements that would attract families, like sports fields, public spaces and sidewalks. So in 1994, Young started calling anyone who might be able to bring jobs to the community. “I phoned the president of Costco,” he recalls, “and they thought it was a prank call.” The retail giant faces a rough ride in many communities, and had already been rejected by Sidney and Central Saanich. But Young saw the chance to gain 200 jobs. Langford’s warm welcome led to the construction of the region’s only Costco store in an underdeveloped area north of the TransCanada Highway. Other major retailers and new housing followed. Because of that growth, the provincial government committed to highway improvements and the municipality could afford to extend services into the area. Since then, there has been more than $1 billion in construction on the north side of the highway, says Young — a huge increase to the tax base. It was a controversial move. Established retailers were worried about the effect on their businesses and protests over Costco’s construction on wildflower meadows led to arrests. Other municipalities fretted about the impact on traffic if residents drove to Langford for big box bargains. 46 DOUGLAS

But Costco’s decision launched Langford’s efforts to increase revenues and become a family-friendly community. Boldness isn’t just about development. This year, Langford council — already facing a 4.5 per cent property tax increase — decided to add another two per cent for additional police and firefighters to respond to the opioid overdose crisis, the coming legalization of marijuana and public safety. “When there’s a need, you have to fill it fast,” says Young. It’s too easy for elected officials to use consultation and studies to put off decisions indefinitely or avoid responsibility, Young says. Boldness just makes sense, he says, in a way that suggests he’s baffled by slower-moving neighbours. “How can you go wrong with being bold on affordable housing?”

2 Develop a shared vision

Sitting in the Fountain Diner in Langford’s revived downtown listening to Young, you could easily think that it’s a one-man show. It often sounds like he’s Langford’s owner, not its mayor. “I run the city like a business,” says Young, who started with one garbage truck and now has a diverse collection of businesses under the Alpine Group — including the diner, home of the Alpine five-pound burger challenge. Finish it in 30 minutes, and it’s free. The perception is fuelled in part by Young’s style. “I float ideas,” he notes. “I try to be the cheerleader.”

But Councillor Blackwell says council and the community are fully involved. She chairs the planning, zoning and affordable housing committee, and notes Young has never questioned its decisions. And the committee — like all six committees advising Langford council — is dominated by citizens, with two councillors and six community representatives. And Langford’s council, unlike others in the region, has avoided internal battles. Three of the seven members have been in office since the municipality was created in 1992, and the newest member has been on council for a decade. Voters share their vision for the community. That vision emerged out of desperation in the municipality’s early years. Langford needed jobs and development to attract families — and that was the singular focus of council. Frank Bourree, owner of Chemistry Consulting and vice chair of the South Island Prosperity Project, says Langford’s success rests in part on developing a clear goal. “It was about driving family growth — a brilliant vision.” With that over-arching objective in place, it was easy to make decisions. Langford also works to refresh the vision. Public input comes from annual retreats with councillors, staff, representatives of the business community and developers to set priorities as part of the budget process, Young says. The municipality does larger planning exercises with Avi Friedman, a McGill University architecture professor and housing guru — “one of the top 10 style setters who will most influence the way we live in the next quarter century,” according to Wallpaper magazine. (“I’ve got the best guy in the world,” Young says.) Friedman, who has been working with the municipality since 2004, says Langford has balanced consultation and action. But while other municipalities are trapped in endless consultations and studies without ever reaching decisions, Langford acts. “Many of the surrounding communities could not keep up with Langford’s vision,” Friedman says And despite concerns, citizens have a voice, he says. “The democratic institutions in Langford are such that citizens can voice their opinions,” says Friedman. “When you see someone who is re-elected again and again, it seems that his citizens like what he does.”

3 Build partnerships

There is a certain “let’s make a deal” quality to Langford. If developers are willing to put up

money for an infrastructure project — like a bridge or road — it becomes a priority. Young says the partnerships were a matter of necessity when Langford had little money to spend and allow the municipality to get more done with limited resources. Business partnerships have let Langford do 10 times as much in developing infrastructure, he says. But it’s not just about deals with developers. Last year, Langford reached an agreement with Metchosin — the anti-Langford in terms of its attitude to development — and the Scia'new (Beecher Bay) First Nation. Beecher Bay transferred land to Metchosin, which in turn transferred land to Langford for an industrial park. All three partners will share in the revenues as the park is developed. “Groundbreaking,” says Young, and a “winwin-win” agreement. And an opportunistic way to set the stage for more businesses in the community. “They are business people — they know how to negotiate, they know how to reach a deal,” says Bourree.

4 Slash bureaucracy and delays

The 2008 global economic meltdown was bad news for Langford. The municipality had bet on development to fund its renewal plan, and the

“We’re a city, and I’m focused on Langford — a regional body is secondary to me,” says Young. “A regional body can make decisions that hurt Langford.”

global crisis threatened to snuff that out. Langford responded by eliminating building permit fees for residential construction and offering a 10-year tax holiday for new federal and provincial office space and rental accommodations. They promised clear answers on subdivision proposals within 30 days and 48-hour building permit approvals. “Don’t think I’ll ever take two years for a rezoning,” Young says. Delays cost money, discourage investment and — when it comes to housing — reduce affordability, he says. Langford has branded itself as a place where things get done quickly. “The biggest barrier to affordable housing is at the municipal level,” says Young, where delays and uncertainty add costs to projects. Friedman describes Langford as a “driven city,” one with a strong entrepreneurial bent

willing to make quick decisions. “Many of the surrounding communities could not catch up with Langford’s vision,” he says. Jayne Bradbury of Fort Properties chairs the Urban Development Institute Capital Region. “Langford does have a reputation for being very quick in approvals and in welcoming creative growth,” she says. Developers regularly praise the municipality’s ability to give quick decisions. It’s not all positive. Victoria Councillor Ben Isitt acknowledges the renewal in Langford, but wonders about the costs of high-speed development. “I don’t think there’s been enough attention to protecting the environment in Langford as the community developed,” he says. “Had they chose to develop in a more sensitive way it would have serviced the residents better.” “What some people call red tape, others view as regulations that uphold the public interest,” Isitt notes.

5 Long-term plan, short-term goals

Langford’s “brilliant vision,” as Bourree describes it, was a matter of necessity. The initial focus on jobs, development and attracting families has provided a framework for decisions for more than two decades. But at the same time, the municipality has


set short-term goals — develop a stadium, push for a college or university campus, spruce up the main street. Young says Langford balances a long-term vision with short-term objectives. “I like to set goals two years out,” he says. Young says he hears from citizens when they don’t like a decision — including in the Fountain Diner. “I believe in the face to face.”

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6 Be prepared to fail

Young bristles a bit at the idea that Langford’s willingness to fail was a factor in its success. “I hate failure,” he interrupts. “Failure means we didn’t do our homework.” But what about the Langtoria Greenline bus, I ask, a taxpayer-subsidized commuter service Langford launched in 2016 that didn’t attract riders and was shut down after 10 months? “That was not a failure,” Young says. “I call them tests.” The experiment — which cost taxpayers up to $60,000 — established that a service could work if HOV and bus lanes allowed a faster commute, Young says. “Do HOV and a bus lane and I will put that bus in.” Whatever you call them, Langford has been willing to take risks and accept the reality that sometimes — as with the commuter bus — they don’t work. “Everyone fails sometimes,” Young says. You need to do the research, consider the risks and listen to people, he adds, but it can be worth taking a chance on a new idea. And to acknowledge when what looks like a great idea doesn’t work. “Kill it fast,” says Young. “We should be able to make a 180-degree change — and take it on the chin.” The approach appears to run through the organization. Langford’s staff, Young says, are empowered to make decisions without constantly looking over their shoulders. “If we get it right 95 per cent of the time, that’s good,” he says. Mistakes — if the idea is well thought out — are part of the process.

7 Put your community first

The capital region is an odd political beast, with its 13 municipalities and regional district board. Regional interests can clash with community self-interest. But not in Langford. “We’re a city, and I’m focused on Langford — a regional body is secondary to me,” says Young. “A regional body can make decisions that hurt Langford.” Council has a regional focus when the issues are truly regional, he said, and cooperates with neighbours when it make sense. Langford and Colwood collaborated on their



Langford easily surpasses the other municipalities in population growth. Housing affordability and amenities are a major factor in attracting families to the municipality. POPULATION 2011  2016


LANGFORD 29,228  35,342


SOOKE 11,435  13,001


VIEW ROYAL 9,381  10,408


ESQUIMALT 16,209  17,655


CITY OF VICTORIA 80,017  85,792


CENTRAL SAANICH 15,936  16,814


HIGHLANDS 2,120  2,225


POPULATION 2011  2016


COLWOOD 16,093  16,859


SIDNEY 11,178  11,672


SAANICH 109,752  114,148


NORTH SAANICH 11,089  11,249


OAK BAY 18,015  18,094


EAST SAANICH 1,709  1,689


METCHOSIN 4,803  4,708


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official community plans, recognizing that a coordinated approach would benefit both. And Councillor Blackwell notes she’s been active in the CRD for two decades, including as board chair and chair of the committee dealing with the sewage treatment issue. Langford has played a positive role — and often led, she says. But Victoria Councillor Geoff Young says the regional impact of local decisions need greater consideration. Langford’s retail development, for example, has hurt retailing in other communities, he says, and meant other infrastructure priorities have suffered. “A lot of the reason that its shopping is successful is because the provincial government has built freeways to support them.” And Bourree says Langford should now take a larger role in the region. “It’s time for Langford to start to participate with other municipalities in the South Island Prosperity Project,” he says. The project works to help businesses grow or move to the region. “Langford needs to play a role and market the whole region.”


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It’s been a winning formula for Langford. But new challenges are coming, because of the growth and transformation. Young says he and councillors rely on face-to-face meetings and conversations in the community to keep up with citizens’ concerns. But while that was possible 20 years ago in a community of 14,000 people, mostly long-term residents, it’s more challenging as Langford marches to a forecast population of 47,000 ten years from now. Especially with most of the population new residents who are less likely to know their mayor even if they do frequent the Fountain Diner. Langford’s council has also had the advantage of working with a blank slate when it comes to developments like Bear Mountain and Westhills. There were few neighbours to object to rezoning, greater density or the noise and congestion of construction. But as Langford has grown, so have the number of people with a stake in maintaining the status quo in their neighbourhoods. Councillor Young says Langford is likely to experience some of the same challenges as Victoria and other neighbours. “It’s relatively easy to rezone new, fresh land,” he says. But the process becomes more difficult — and slower — as communities develop and more people are affected by decisions. Meanwhile, Young says Langford is on track to become a regional centre, larger than Victoria. “I don’t want to be like everybody else,” he says. “At the end, the job is to understand what the public wants and get it done.” ■


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BEWARE of Backlash

How Smart Businesses Deal with Online Negativity BY SHANNON MONEO


In these times, when online petitions can

secure over 50,000 supporters in a week and consumers who feel wronged tell their stories to eager media outlets, businesses bear the wrath. Echo chambers, clicktivism and viral bandwagons can snowball so minor problems become an avalanche of bad press, outraged customers and bottom-line hits. How does a beleaguered business stay profitable while under pressure?


avid Labistour does not make important decisions quickly. The CEO of Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) prefers to assemble facts and avoid knee-jerk reactions, even with public pressure. “These days, people want decisions instantly,” Labistour told Douglas. In February, Labistour felt the pressure after Edmonton resident and MEC member Sarah Latha started a petition calling on MEC to stop selling anything from Vista Outdoor, a company that also owns Savage Arms, one of America’s largest manufacturers of semiautomatic guns, Her impetus? The Parkland, Florida shooting where 17 students were killed with an AR15 rifle, made not by Savage Arms, but by American Outdoor Brands. Latha did not like that about 40 per cent of Vista’s profits come from gun sales and that Vista is “enmeshed” with the gun lobby. Because MEC is a co-operative — run by its five-million-plus members — that espouses ethical business practices, Latha believed MEC had to take aim at the gun industry and stop selling the following Vista Outdoor products: CamelBak, Giro, Bushnell, Bollé, Camp Chef and Jimmy Styks. More than 54,000 people soon threw their support behind an American issue involving a business that does not have an U.S. outlet. Two weeks after Parkland, on March 1, CEO Labistour posted an open letter to MEC members explaining that orders would be suspended for the five Vista brands and that MEC would examine what corporate social responsibility entails. Still, MEC was soundly criticized for taking three days to make a decision, in the wake of Latha’s steamroller petition. Was there a tipping point for MEC? Labistour admits he didn’t put a lot of stock into the petition. Instead, he examined thousands of online comments that flowed from the issue.

“We looked at the social media conversations,” Labistour says. Stakeholders and suppliers were also consulted. “There was lots of passion around it. It was not black and white.” But some did not want to cut ties with Vista. “There was a lot of criticism of our decision in Canada,” Labistour says. And the irony that Canada has a strong record on gun control did not escape him. But MEC, whose brand was built on trust and social goodness, had to act. “We wanted to be a catalyst for more sensible gun control,” he says. Despite being in the cross hairs, MEC left room to maneuver, not slamming shut the Vista door. The American company’s products could be sold again by MEC if Vista changes, Labistour says. In today’s global economy, supply chains are so intertwined that someone somewhere will find something they don’t like, he says. Even so-called ethical funds can be suspect. Deep research into companies often exposes unpalatable findings. In fact, businesses like London Drugs, Sport Chek and Canadian Tire sell some of the products that got MEC into trouble, but the online backlash was all but silent for those companies. To avoid future customer grief, MEC is spending six months to delve into the ownership and connections for the roughly 90 brands it sells. Calling it a monumental job, Labistour says MEC hired an audit company to look deep into its supply chain, a job which should finish early in the fall. “We want to make the ownership transparent. Then it’s up to the consumer to decide whether they’ll shop in our store,” he says.

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IN THE CROSSHAIRS David Dunne is fully aware how companies are held responsible for their supply chain, which starts with the transformation of natural resources and ends when a finished product is in the customer’s possession.

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A professor and director at UVic’s Gustavson School of Business’s MBA Program, Dunne recalls how Loblaw’s Joe Fresh brand suffered after 1,130 Bangladeshi workers died in a clothing factory where Joe Fresh goods were made. And when British Petroleum was pilloried internationally following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon incident that killed 11 people and spewed almost five million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. Both companies handled their crises poorly, he says. The recipe for a successful response is to do it relatively quickly. “You need to respond fast when things are happening,” Dunne says. “Things go viral very quickly.” But on the flip side, jumping in too soon, before all facets are well understood, can be a problem. Knowing when to “go live” with a credible response relies on plans being made in advance. “It makes a lot of sense to have discussions when there is not a crisis,” Dunne advises. “Part of the process is asking who are we, what do we stand for, what is important to us.” Get strategies into place before problems hit. In the case of MEC, while the gun issue was largely an American problem, it could not be ignored by a company that has “values” at its core. “You come across as being unsympathetic,” Dunne says. “You’re seen as a faceless, corporate machine.” It would’ve been dangerous for MEC not to respond. Yet, while a good segment of MEC members did not want to suspend Vista sales, Dunne advises that MEC had to stand behind its principles. “It’s not about just selling more stuff. It’s about, how will we conduct ourselves? You have to be able to sleep at night.”

THE LONG VIEW Thanks to today’s social media juggernaut, frivolous, vexatious and even false claims are made by customers. Yet Dunne says even erroneous or trivial beefs can have an effect on business. “Take the long view. Who’s most loyal? Deliver what’s promised. Stuff comes and goes,” he says. It’s the solid brands that withstand slings and arrows. Coincidentally, in 2016 and 2017, MEC was ranked number one in UVic’s Gustavson Brand Trust Index that surveyed 294 companies in Canada. The survey’s goal is to understand why consumers trust certain brands. Rounding out the top five in 2017 were CAA, Costco Wholesale, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts and IKEA. MEC also claimed the number-one spot as Canada’s most reputable company in the 2017 Reputation Institute’s RepTrak survey. A Royal Roads University communications and culture professor says that customers alone aren’t waiting for responses. So are government



132103131-7 CLIENT: UVC DESCRIPTION: MBA print ads

account executive:

art director:


creative director:


studio artist:


business development at Royal Roads, says all businesses must listen to their clients because demands change over time. And even if social media gets it wrong or propagates lies, it’s influential and cannot be ignored. “All organizations need to be constantly monitoring clients,” he says. “That’s because the marketplace evolves.” His example? Blockbuster was once a blockbuster business. But it didn’t foresee online services like Netflix. By not paying attention, it failed. Sears is another example. Tremendously successful in the 1940s to 1960s, it was caught sleeping by the Amazons of the

world, Márquez says. While MEC’s bottom line may be hurt by the Vista veto, Márquez believes the company is living up to important considerations. MEC has preserved its brand’s identity and reputation by acknowledging members’ concerns. It’s also upheld corporate ethics by being truly responsive to society, environmental and shareholder concerns. As Labistour says, “It was something where our organization could not stand by idly.” Yet he cautions that not all public pressure is meaningful. “If we action everything, we look like Don Quixote.” ■

A company like MEC — a valuesbased organization — is more susceptible to criticism by virtue of having ethical standards. regulators, suppliers and influencers. “It’s a very tricky environment for companies to operate in,” says Geo Takach. “It’s about relationships. Social corporate responsibility is also important.” If a company is perceived as doing the “right things,” it’s usually good for the bottom line. But a company like MEC — a values-based organization — is more susceptible to criticism by virtue of having ethical standards. Contrast MEC with a company like Barrick Gold or Kinder Morgan, where shareholder profit is all important. “When you bring values to the forefront, you may be expected to right the wrongs of the world,” Takach says. “But those well-served by the status quo don’t want you to examine it.” Which means some companies can get away with more. At MEC, shoppers not only want cool stuff and great gear; they’re also concerned with community values and fairness, Takach says. While some were exasperated by MEC’s lag in saying “hasta la vista” to Vista, Takach says a company can only respond as quickly as resources and values allow. “Anyone can make a claim, so verification is important. Yes, there were 50,000 clicks on a petition, but are we getting feedback from other media?” he asks. MEC handled its response well, Takach says, despite taking 72 hours. “I don’t know if people fully appreciate how many forces businesses have to respond to.” By contrast, immediate responses are expected in cases of natural disasters, such as an earthquake, he adds. “Issues don’t go away.”

CONSTANT ATTENTION Pedro Márquez, vice-president of marketing and DOUGLAS 55




Tall cities and tall tales.


Founder culture can put your business at risk.


Is email overload driving you crazy?


The view from Vista 18 at the Chateau Victoria shows high-rises lining the area known as Humboldt Valley. Proponents of highrises say that with Victoria’s water-locked locale and increasing population pressures, the smartest way to go is up.


Tall Cities and Tall Tales With the allowable height of new buildings in Victoria moving up and up, our columnist asks: How can we retain what we love about our city while accommodating the housing needs of a fast-growing population? 56 DOUGLAS


ere’s the thing: If you took every residential tower approved by Victoria City Council over the last five years — and those in the approval queue — and laid them end to end, they would stretch the length of the Pat Bay Highway in a wall of concrete from James Bay to Schwartz Bay. OK, it’s a fake fact, but it’s fun to think about. But these are the kinds of fake factoids that are ever-present in the fevered discussion of the anti-height movement. And make no mistake: fear of heights has a long history in Victoria. For a very long time (sometime after the Songhees people were relocated from where the Legislature now stands, but definitely before View Towers hit the ground), the accepted view has been that

no building in our city should be taller than the tallest Sitka spruce, which at that time was 20 metres. But time marched on, perspectives changed, we started measuring things with lasers and not trees, our population grew, economies diversified and suddenly we found ourselves thinking the city had the potential to be cool enough for young creatives and techies. So lo and behold, we started stretching skyward. This, of course, resulted in hushed and earnest coffee-shop and street-corner conversations about height limits, design guidelines, shadow studies, density and floorspace ratios. And back in 2011 when the forecasted growth for metro Victoria was another 20,000 citizens by 2041, it seemed like we had lots of

time to decide on height. But now it looks like we might hit that total 10 years early. So it’s time to revisit, revise and maybe even add a little reverence to the conversation.

RESPECTFUL YET ADAPTABLE We live in a beautiful city. Our streets connect and cross without a passing thought to grid patterns or alpha-numeric sequencing. We kind of like it when tourists can’t figure out that the road system is less science and more art. Our roads conform to the granite contours of our Island city. They all converge at the sea. We can walk the streets and never be far from the sights, sounds and smells of nature. Naturally, those experiences locate us and define our connection to place. However, everything adapts and evolves — and the question now becomes “How do we hold on to our love of place while embracing change and growth?” How do we keep our sense of reverence, our love for our city and its evocation of that magical intertwine of natural and built form, while opening up to a changing skyline? This is the challenge we all face. It’s the challenge we offer to the developers, architects, landscape designers and every profession that puts a hole in the ground for the purpose of building skyward and making a profit. It’s a challenge of process. Sadly, we only really focus on the question of building form and height through the permitting and approval process. It’s a process designed to extract the negatives — issues, concerns, potential mitigation and, too often, compromise — further fuelled by a recent screaming headline of a building breaking the height barrier. What we need instead is a process open to possibility, inspiration and appreciation for the unique attributes of our city and how we experience it. We need to come together to consider growth, public spaces, transportation, pedestrian walkways, public art, natural spaces and other urbanist principles which lead to that elusive “greater than the sum of the parts” calculation. That’s not a conversation confined to a 60-minute city council meeting.

ASKING THE RIGHT QUESTIONS So who can bring us together to passionately discuss our unfolding future in a way that results in buildings we can embrace from top to bottom? So that we can hear in detail from the developers about how building height frees up room on the ground and how the top of the building pays for the bottom, offering market affordability? We need to ask important questions like: Has increasing density actually led to more green spaces, more active public spaces and more walkable neighbourhoods? There are many topics to be researched and discussed. Like all urban development topics, height is a connected topic. So maybe while the developers are looking skyward and performing detailed cost calculations on “floor/ space ratios” and such, they may want to consider investing to support public dialogue, at least as much as they try to buy their way into our hearts through sponsorships and charities. Developers, with their stores of research and data on population density, are in the ideal position to update our vision for the city. And they have the incentive to do so. One idea: developers could design and host a collaborative public visioning process that brings everyone to the table. Of course, I also recognize that developers are some of the most fiercely independent people around, so if working together is expecting too much, another idea is for the City of Victoria to create a competitive process where developers could present their ideal visions for Victoria’s downtown. The winner would get the thing they desire most — bonus density. It‘s time to be bold, not just in design but in discussion — so whether you fear height or see the value in growing taller, it’s important we don’t limit the conversation to the forced and blunt process of approvals and permits. Don’t cave to risk aversion. Engage us, inspire us, and show us how tall can be beautiful, so that we don’t default to a “mini-Van” sensibility — just like Vancouver but 20 stories shorter. Paul Corns is keenly interested in the connection between people and place. His work focuses on community engagement and development. He has worked in private, public and university sectors.


THE NEWEST, TALLEST BUILDING In April, Victoria City Council approved Hudson Place One, a Townline Development condo tower at 777 Herald Street. When complete, the 26-storey building will top the height of the city’s current tallest building — the 21-storey Promontory condo tower in Vic West. Although 777 Herald was originally envisioned by the developer as a 29- or 30-storey building, the developer lowered the height after concerns from City Hall. The latest plan shows Hudson Place One as 25 storeys, plus penthouse rooftop decks that the City says brings the total to 26 storeys.

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Why Founder Culture Can Put Your Business at Risk (and How to Avoid It) At a certain stage of business, a founder has to make the move from “me” to “we.” Failure to do that, often because of ego, insecurity or fear, may suck the air of out a business and put it at risk.


o often in business, and in life, what got us here won’t get us there. The very forces that propelled us to success at one stage reverse their impact and become our biggest obstacles in the next. That’s especially true when it comes to charismatic, convincing, driven Type A founders who like to be in complete command of the process. Typically, successful founders bring their businesses into being through sheer force of will. Their mistake is believing that same approach will always work — that what made them successful so far will be the gift that just keeps giving. So how is it that everything can suddenly seem like it’s going to hell in a handbasket? To figure that out, let’s look at what happens at various stages of business. Many consultants divide business growth into five stages: Stage 1 Development Stage 2 Startup Stage 3 Establishment Stage 4 Expansion Stage 5 Maturity/Exit

it surface as sexually inappropriate behaviours, or unbridled temper. The result is a toxic, sexualized and fear-saturated (and famously often misogynistic) culture. But even in the startups that never make the news, founder egos damage enterprises. This manifests as micromanagement; the unconscious habit of hiring people just like themselves; or using charisma and fear to create echo chambers where everyone says “yes” even as the bus is going over the cliff. All of these are symptoms of a stale-dated founder culture. The perp list of founders we can point to includes Uber’s Travis Kalanick, Nasty Gal’s Sophia Amoruso, Miki Agrawal of Thinx, or Snapchat’s Evan Spiegel. Or more locally, let’s not forget Lululemon’s Chip Wilson. For every celebrity founder failure, there are thousands of unknowns who never broke the surface of the water — and who, through their bad behaviour and lack of self-knowledge, tanked their startups at the doorway to Stage 3. Most of these business still exist despite the behaviour of their founders, but you can bet some rethinking had to be done to save the companies. Before Stage 3, failure can happen for many reasons. Maybe the business was a stupid idea, or it was under-capitalized, or it failed to pivot More than on time. Most of these failures aren’t anyone’s fault — it’s just Darwinian evolution doing its job. of startups fail, But after that point, after the due primarily to Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is self-destruction proved out, and after the investors rather than and the customers have declared competition. their love, the failure is only one STARTUP GENOME REPORT ON PREMATURE SCALING, 2011 person’s fault: the founder.

Assuming a new business survives Stages 1 and 2, the greatest threat to its survival is during the transition to Stage 3, the establishment phase. In a successful transition, the hand-off is a seismic shift in culture: from me to we, and from adrenaline to systems. In volume and complexity, the activities of the enterprise at Stage 3 exceed the ability of one person, or even a small group, to manage. What’s required at this point is a complete redesign, if the founder’s ego allows for it. And on that “if” the whole thing often crashes down. The greatest evidence of an unhealthy founder culture is an infatuation with bad behaviour (often confusing it with meaningful individuality or creativity). Sometimes we see



THREAT OF SUCCESS So let’s analyze one of the biggest problems that can arise at the threshold of Stage 3. It’s bitterly ironic, but that threat is success itself. Why, you might ask, is success a problem? The reason is because of human psychological

Uber Travis Kalanick Described as headstrong and combative, Kalanick was kicked out of his CEO job at Uber Technologies. During his tenure, Uber’s corporate culture involved much infighting and backstabbing.

Nasty Gal Sophia Amoruso In 2016 , Nasty Gal filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Although Amoruso had stepped away from the company she founded at 22 years old, her out-of-control spending, management style and lack of focus were cited as contributing factors. Thinx Miki Agrawal Agrawal, whose management style was described as aggressive and retaliatory while she was CEO of Thinx, also faces sexual harassment charges from a former female employee.

Snapchat Evan Spiegel From micromanaging to obsessively focusing on his company’s original offering, Spiegel’s actions have been blamed for costing his company time and money, as well as slowing growth.

Lululemon Chip Wilson The outspoken founder and former CEO of Lululemon generated a lot of bad press for the fitness brand when he blamed the sheerness of Lululemon’s yoga pants on women’s body types.

biases such as optimism bias, false causality or survivor bias. Together, they can be summarized in one statement: “I behaved this way. I am successful. I am successful because I behaved this way. Therefore, if I keep behaving this way, I will continue to be successful.” At the start of Stage 3, the implications of this are that the more successful the founder, the less likely they are to believe they need to change anything. The celebrity founders listed above are bright people. Tens of thousands of lesser but also-very-bright founders have failed in their own spectacular ways for the same reason: they mistook a cult of personality for effective management. They just never made it into Gawker or Huffington Post.

GETTING REAL, GETTING COHESIVE Here are some tips on how to successfully emerge from founder culture:

Get over yourself. It doesn’t matter how smart you are, or how successful you’ve been in taking your business this far, the complexity of managing a workforce, of competitive market forces, of dealing with Murphy’s Law, eludes even the brightest and the hardest-working founders. Only a team knitted together with trust can navigate all of these complexities. Here’s the new rule: You are no longer the hero of your story — your team is. Build trust. It isn’t just the founder who can be taken out by the complexities of scaling a business. When trust is missing, a whole team will fail. We know trust is present when information flows freely. No silos, no selfprotection. That kind of open-channel rapid communication can only happen when there is complete trust between all decision makers. Build a community. Ensure the level of trust required for speed-of-light decision making by bringing the right people on board. Many founders do a poor job of this: we hire people like us; we hire because we are desperate. Work with professionals to build valuescentered high-performing teams. You are building a community to carry your business into the future. Serve the internal customer. The fabled founder CEO of Southwest Airlines, Herb Kelleher, understood that if we serve our employees, they will serve our customers, generating profits for our shareholders. It is about understanding the right sequence of service. With a workforce, the focus must shift to the internal customer: those in our organization who receive work from others in the organization. In a publication, for example, an editor is the writer’s internal customer. When those internal customer relationships flourish, there is a much greater likelihood of creating real value.

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Balance improvisation with structure. Improvisation — the ability to make rapid decisions with less-than-complete information — matters. But to create something that doesn’t wilt in the midday sun, you need structure: written values, goals, performance metrics, procedures, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems and other operating software. High-value enterprises integrate fluidity and creativity with structure and consistency.

BECOME UNNECESSARY In founder culture, the founder is the culture. It is a personality cult. And this is a recipe for failure. For your business to thrive, build a collective culture. The path to success is built in part on your own redundancy. ■ Clemens Rettich is a business consultant with Grant Thornton LLP. He has an MBA from Royal Roads University and has spent 25 years practicing the art of management.




Is Email Overload Driving You Crazy? Email is convenient and quick, but we’re drowning in it. And until Artificial Intelligence sorts it out, it’s up to you to get a grip.


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“Darlene just came up to me at a mixer and we started talking about business right away. She said I need to meet you and this is what we need to do.” SHAUN CERISANO Manager of Philanthropy B.C. Children’s Hospital Foundation DARLENE HOLLSTEIN General Manager The Bay Centre 250-383-7191 60 DOUGLAS

frequency you choose, avoid leaving your email emember when email wasn’t a thing? app open all day. That makes it too easy to fill From those halcyon days of the late those transitional moments between tasks with 1990s to now, everything has changed. a quick check. Chances are you’ve felt agitated, scattered If the content is something your team and unproductive at the end of a day when you members need a response on, ask them to tell spent too much time in your inbox. you that up front. In 2012, McKinsey Global Institute published “I have my project managers put in the research showing that up to 25 per cent of an subject line Priority, Please read or Need average worker’s day is sucked into the email vortex (that may not have been McKinsey’s feedback by end of day,” says Bauman, who exact language). receives over 100 messages every day. “It helps According to psychologist and journalist me break through the clutter and see what my Daniel Goleman in his newest book, Focus: team needs first.” The Hidden Driver of Excellence, email may not only be a time sucker, it can HOW TO SAVE AN HOUR A DAY erode our focus, and that leads to other problems. 8 minutes “The onslaught of incoming data canned responses 4 minutes templates leads to sloppy shortcuts, like triaging learning search emails by heading, skipping voicemails techniques and skimming messages and memos,” he writes. “It’s not just that we’ve developed habits of attention that make 29 minutes us less attentive, but that the weight saved by 3 minutes of messages leaves us too little time checking your address book simply to reflect on what they really email less often automation mean.” Your attention is the most valuable 11 minutes thing you have. Apportion it accordingly. 5 minutes

MAKE YOUR GROUND RULES CLEAR You teach people how to treat you by the way you interact with them. If you respond immediately to an email — or late in the evening, or on Sunday — you’ve just shown your recipient that you’re available at those times. “The only reason people are going to expect me to get back to them right away is if I set that expectation,” says Ashley Bauman, senior project director with Rennie Marketing Systems. Since Bauman’s day is typically spent working face-to-face with clients or her team, Bauman puts an hour into answering emails before she gets to work, another hour after her workday is finished, and again before bed. “I’ll also check when I have gaps in my day,” she says. For some people, it works better to devote 10 minutes to email every hour. Whatever

timely responses/ follow-up reminders

unsubscribing from spam/mailing lists


And if a team member needs to connect with her on something that’s time-sensitive, she tells them to pick up the phone. “I find in this day and age we are so resistant to just calling,” Bauman says.

FIND A SYSTEM TO HELP YOU STAY ORGANIZED If you want to feel less inundated, it’s up to you to take action. For Kevin Albers, CEO of the M’akola Housing Society, getting to a place where email wasn’t overwhelming took time. “Up until this year I used my inbox as a way to drive and schedule my work,” he says. “I spent a lot of time opening emails, reading them, closing them and marking them unread because I hadn’t dealt with them.” Sound familiar?

When he finally recognized how much anxiety this was causing him, Albers looked for another solution. He spent some time researching, reading white papers about best email practices. Now Albers makes a decision on every message he opens: Can I deal with this in two minutes? Then I’ll do it. For items that will take longer, he puts it into his schedule. “By the end of the week,” he says, “my inbox has to be empty.” Ah, inbox zero. Imagine?

THERE’S PROBABLY AN APP FOR THAT Still find you can’t do it all yourself? Or maybe you’re not so excited about waking up at 5:30 a.m. just so you can wade through your inbox. Look around in your current email program for filters to sort your incoming mail; Gmail and Outlook have them, and it’s easy to find instructions online. Taking it up a notch, you can try a dedicated email management program. Google Inbox lets you process each incoming email as a task, and it works on both desktop and mobile. The Sortd app lives inside your Gmail, like a skin, expanding your inbox into list-like columns that let you prioritize your emails; you can also add to-dos. And if you’re up for a challenge, The Email Game (for Gmail) actually gamifies the work of emptying your inbox.

A FEW MORE TIPS Unsubscribe from promotional emails or newsletters that you don’t actually read. This lessens the psychic burden of a stack of emails in your Updates folder. is a free tool that will handle all of your unsubs for you. Ask that you be left off CC loops unless you need to have your hands in something. (And for your part, don’t CC or “reply all” if you don’t need to.) If you’re really getting washed out with email, hire help. When franchise consultant Angela Coté recognized she was drowning in email as she built her business, she brought an assistant on board. “At first it felt uncomfortable to have someone in my inbox,”

she says. “It’s like letting someone be in your bedroom!” But the peace of mind — plus her assistant’s reassurance that everyone feels that way in the beginning — has proven worthwhile. “Email is so distracting,” says Coté. “It’s like, ‘Oh, look, SQUIRREL!’” And finally, let go of the idea that you need to have everything under control. Give yourself permission to not get it all done. As Richard Carlson wrote in his 1997 bestseller Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff, your in-basket will still be overflowing on the day you die. ■ Alex Van Tol works with organizations to focus their brand story, and writes about business for Douglas magazine.


12 requiring

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attention later


71 emails



Tofino Towel Co. follows a one-percent model of business, donating one per cent of profits to Vancouver Island non-profits.



Glendon Evans


Devin Sorenson knew he couldn’t let a good thing go. Back in 2008, while Sorenson was enrolled in the Bachelor of Commerce and Entrepreneurial Management program at Royal Roads University, his student team won a business-case competition judged by a panel of business professionals in British Columbia. The idea? A round beach towel conceived of by Sorenson and his father during a late-night brainstorm. A round towel meant more room for belongings and put an end to constantly having to adjust one’s towel to be in the sun. “The judges thought we could be the next Lululemon,” says Sorenson. “But it was just an idea on paper. The team had never gone through the manufacturing process, so it didn’t develop beyond that.” Five years later — after marrying a woman from Australia and travelling there to meet her family — he discovered a round towel at a beach boutique in Byron Bay. Inspired to revisit his business plan, Sorenson learned no one in North America was offering a round beach towel. At the time, Sorenson was working with Glendon Evans, who encouraged him to pursue the concept. Evans found the only manufacturer of round towels in the world, at that time, and the two worked together to create Tofino Towel Co. “I grew up on Vancouver Island and the brand is based on the West Coast lifestyle that we like to live,” Sorenson says. “[Our brand] got found through social media and we have great sales representation, so we were able to lock down the Canadian market right away. We ended up in 200 stores across Canada in six months.” The market has now become hypercompetitive, with other round towels available in Canada — but Sorenson and Evans know they have a unique offering. “We collaborate with local artists, such as Roy Henry Vickers, and West Coast brands to keep our brand fresh,” Sorenson says. “Our products are original, versatile and functional works of art.”

Devin Sorenson



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