CONSTRUCTION AND DEVELOPMENT ISSUE
SMART AND SAVVY BUILDERS ARE CHANGING THE INDUSTRY
SHAPING OUR CITY’S SKYLINE
Matthew Jardine and Ryan Goodman of Aryze
IN THE CONSTRUCTION ZONE THE CYCLING REVOLUTION
THE INTERSECTION OF ARCHITECTURE AND URBAN DESIGN
SIDNEY’S ENTREPRENEURIAL SURGE
The Audi e-tron. The beauty of science.
Meet the Audi e-tron®. Building on decades of electric engineering, the e-tron engine outputs an impressive 360 HP and a 4,000 lb towing capacity with the added bonus of being equipped with an entirely new quattro all-wheel drive system. Redefining the electric vehicle segment, the state-of-the-art e-tron battery offers the convenience of rapid charging with levels of 80% being reached in as quickly as 30 minutes. Offering a 326 km range, the e-tron is suitable for driving to Nanaimo and back on a single charge. In keeping with the Audi unrivalled pedigree in the areas of technology, the e-tron amplifies your driving experience with the latest innovations including freespeech voice command so you can easily operate all infotainment features, hands-free. The electric revolution is here and ready to make its mark in history.
Reserve yours at Audi Victoria today.
A Division of GAIN Group
2929 Douglas Street, Victoria | 778.746.1848 | audivictoria.com European model shown for illustration purposes only. Subject to availablility. Some conditions may apply. Please call Audi Victoria for full details. “Audi”, “e-tron”, “Vorsprung durch Technik”, and the four rings emblem are registered trademarks of AUDI AG. DL4991427 #31246.
46 28 Shaping Our Skyline Sidney’s Entrepreneurial Surge
Douglas explores how this vibrant town is trying to achieve smart growth without losing its character and charm.
David Chard’s buildings are transforming the West Coast urban skyline, but the developer remains refreshingly down to earth. BY SUSAN HOLLIS
50 Victoria’s Cycling 36 Revolution is Here In the Construction Zone BY JODY PATERSON
A savvy new generation of builders are changing up the industry in Greater Victoria in exciting ways. BY KEITH NORBURY
The move to get more bikes on Victoria’s roads is inspiring an entire cyclist economy. BY JEFF DAVIES
DEPARTMENTS 6 FROM THE EDITOR
11 IN THE KNOW The smart city challenge, craftsman Jason Good, Locelle’s evolution, a V2X disruptor and a local hotelier’s big award.
18 CASE STUDY How Royal Oak Burial Park and Trapeze Communications are rebranding death. BY ATHENA MCKENZIE
20 IN CONVERSATION Erica Sangster of D’AMBROSIO architecture + urbanism talks about how architecture shapes the way we live in our city. BY DAVID LENNAM
24 BIG IDEA Natural Pod is a local company having a global impact with its sustainably made furniture. BY ALEX VAN TOL 62 LAST PAGE île Sauvage Brewing Co. isn’t your traditional brewing company. BY SUSAN HOLLIS
INTEL (BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE) 56 NEXT LEVEL Does your brand need a video strategy? BY ALEX VAN TOL 58 GROWTH When charity isn’t a smart business choice. BY CLEMENS RETTICH
60 ENTREPRENEUR Why you need a great advisory board. BY JIM HAYHURST 4 DOUGLAS
CO U NS ND TR ER UC TI ON
Right In the Centre of Entertaining
Come home to Victoria’s Inner Circle. To the sleek efficiency of contemporary, open plan kitchens. To the perfect setting for culinary expression and effortless entertaining. Where cocktails on the terrace and a full gourmet dinner are always in the best of taste. Come home to entertaining at Capital Park. A boutique collection of sophisticated concrete-built homes 1 to 1 Bedroom + Den | 583 – 718 SQ.FT. | Priced from $571,900 2 to 3 Bedroom | 812 – 1,759 SQ.FT. | Priced from $789,900 2 to 3 Bedroom + Den Townhomes | 1,448 – 1,757 SQ.FT. | Priced from $1,489,900 Now Selling Presentation Centre: 665 Douglas Street | Noon to 5pm, except Fridays 250.383.3722 • CapitalParkVictoria.com Inspired Living in Victoria’s Inner Circle
This is not an offering for sale. Such offering may be made by Disclosure Statement only. June 2019 E.&O.E. ® Registered trademarks of Concert Properties Ltd., used under license where applicable.
JEFFREY BOSDET/DOUGLAS MAGAZINE
FROM THE EDITOR
If Wishes Were Horses
Enriched Thinking™ for your family, business and future. A team-based approach for a total wealth strategy that addresses the entirety of your life. C.P. (Chuck) McNaughton, PFP Senior Wealth Advisor 250.654.3342 firstname.lastname@example.org
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I’m an animal lover who has been a caregiver to many dogs, cats and birds over the years. My family has also owned horses. I have zero tolerance for cruelty against animals. Why am I telling you this? Because after reading my column, someone will surely accuse me of lacking empathy for the carriage horses at Tally-Ho Carriage Tours and Victoria Carriage Tours. But I can’t stay silent about councillor Ben Isitt’s motion to ban horse-drawn carriages from city streets by 2023 and transition to “e-carriages” instead. Here’s my point: We must do everything we can to ensure the safety of these carriage horses and their passengers, but we also need to separate myth from reality. The reality is that in Victoria (I can’t speak to other cities), the horses owned by these two companies are not being victimized in some kind of Black Beauty scenario. They’re in good shape, well-cared-for, work reasonable hours and enjoy downtime on beautiful rural properties. That happy-pastures lifestyle is not a reality for all horses. With the high price of Island property and cost of feed, vets etc., caring for horses is a pricey proposition, something only the most dedicated people can do properly. My Facebook feed is filled with posts about horses in need of rescue or sent to slaughter because no one can afford to keep them. There are horses that really need help, but I don’t believe they are the ones from our two local carriage companies. Journeyman farrier Will Clinging told me, “[These horses] get full medical, full dental, their shoes are changed every five weeks, they get all the groceries they can eat and they live on multi-million dollar properties in Brentwood Bay.” Will is the farrier for both carriage companies. He’s also VP of the Western Canadian Farrier’s Association and well-respected in his industry. I encourage you to review the online video of his June 28, 2018 presentation to city council. Another point Will makes is that many breeds of horses actually enjoy work under reasonable conditions. They’ve been bred for it over centuries. If you’ve ever spent time with big breeds like Percherons and Clydesdales, you can see it. To these mighty creatures, pulling a carriage is no more physically challenging than me pushing a cart with my groceries. So instead of preventing Tally-Ho and Victoria Carriage Tours from doing business, why doesn’t city council work with them to create viable, less congested routes and focus on showcasing Victoria as a world leader in the ethical treatment of carriage horses? As we go to press, the issue is up in the air: A report by city staff is expected in September. The carriage companies have threatened legal action if the city tries to ban their operations. I only hope Isitt and the councillors who supported his motion — Mayor Helps and councillors Charlayne Thornton-Joe and Geoff Young did not support it — have spent time with the horses, gone on routes with them and learned their real needs before they decide. If council’s aim is to do no harm, it’s incumbent upon them to ensure they aren’t making things worse for the horses. If wishes were horses, I suspect our local carriage horses would tell you they have good lives and have no wish to be replaced by Councillor Isitt’s “e-carriages.”
2016-08-04 12:33 PM
If city council’s aim is to do no harm, then it’s incumbent upon them to ensure they aren’t actually making things worse.
— Kerry Slavens email@example.com
2921 Prior Street, Victoria
You r best life begin s w it h a hom e t ha t insp ires you.
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« UNIQUE OPPORTUNITIES
CONDOS & TOWNHOMES »
price upon request
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I N T RO DUC I N G
S601 - 737 Humboldt St., Victoria
503 - 66 Songhees Rd., Victoria
517 Fisgard St., Victoria
102-2427 Amherst Ave., Sidney
BEDS: 1 BATHS: 1 719 SQ.FT.
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BEDS: 3 BATHS: 2.5 1,800 SQ.FT.
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The premier one bedroom plus den layout in the Aria affords dazzling sunset views from its two private balconies.
Relax and unwind poolside in this resort like condominium. Located at in Songhees, Shutters offers you the convenience of privacy Natalie Zachary 250.882.2966
Steps away from downtown and the beautiful Inner Harbour, in the heart of Victoria's Chinatown.
A fabulous offering and fresh place to call home. Buying or seller? Contact me for the latest market information and service.
S I N G L E FA M I LY H O M E S »
1829 Marina Way, Sidney
2269 Compass Pointe Pl., Langford
2084 Windsor Rd., Oak Bay
687 Leeview Lane, Colwood
BEDS: 4 BATHS: 5 5,300 SQ. FT.
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Classy waterfront, custom Zebra Design home. Over 5,000 sq. ft. of seaside tranquility. Lovely quiet setting with a beautiful garden.
Stunning executive home nestled on an exclusive gated cul-de-sac. Gorgeous 180 degree mountain, city and water views.
On a quiet no-thru lane in Oak Bay sits this meticulously maintained 1959 bungalow. Complete privacy and tranquility.
Enjoy panoramic city and ocean views from this 2017 three level designer home situated on a quiet street atop Triangle Mountain.
Brad Maclaren PREC
Donald St. Germain PREC
S I N G L E FA M I LY H O M E S »
« S I N G L E FA M I LY H O M E S IN TRODUCIN G
JUST SO LD
2103 Fernwood Rd., Victoria
Saanich West Home
2921 Prior St., Victoria
8870 Randy’s Pl., Sooke
BEDS: 5 BATHS: 4 2,270 SQ. FT.
BEDS: 4 BATHS: 3 2,631 SQ. FT.
BEDS: 4 BATHS: 2 2,167 SQ. FT.
BEDS: 4 BATHS: 4 3,246 SQ.FT. 2.49 ACRES
Character Triplex in Fernwood. This Queen Anne heritage home is proudly presented to Victoria’s market of the same owner of 18 years.
Beaver Lake oasis. Warm, bright & updated "French Country" home, suite and studio. Private garden, hedges, pond & decks.
Edwardian-era home with original accents including 100-year old fir floors, stained glass and art noveau tile insets.
Just sold this property with picturesque views of the Olympics and Juan de fuca strait.
Tom de Cosson
Donald St. Germain PREC
SALT SPRING 250.537.1778
WEST VANCOUVER 604.922.6995
NORTH VANCOUVER 604.998.1623
WHITE ROCK 604.385.1840
SUN PEAKS 250.578.7773
396 Ocean Spring Terrace, Victoria
« CONDOS & TOWNHOMES I N T RO DUC I N G
307 - 100 Saghalie Rd., Victoria
607 - 60 Saghalie Rd., Victoria
202 - 1420 Beach Dr., Victoria
8 - 4630 Lochside Dr., Victoria
BEDS: 2 BATHS: 2 1,445 SQ.FT.
BEDS: 2 BATHS: 2 1,032 SQ.FT.
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BEDS: 3 BATHS: 2 1,634 SQ. FT.
Bright & stylish suite at Bayview Residences oferring a spacious floor plan & large terrace.
South East facing suite at The Encore, offers stunning views, modern design, and amenities.
A wonderful opportunity to live at the waterfront of Oak Bay. This 2-bed, 2-bath suite has water views from every main room in the condo.
Rare find, free standing one level townhome offers big bright windows, a sunroom/studio, double garage, storage, sunny patio and yard.
Sophia Briggs PREC Nancy Stratton
Nancy Stratton Sophia Briggs PREC
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« S I N G L E FA M I LY H O M E S INT RODUCING
NEW PR I CE
396 Ocean Spring Terrace, Victoria
3160 Ripon Rd., Victoria
$4,250,000 8005 Turgoose Terrace, Saanich
518 Lands End Rd., North Saanich
BEDS: 6 BATHS: 5 7,771 SQ.FT.
BEDS: 3 BATHS: 5 5,741 SQ. FT.
BEDS: 6 BATHS: 7 5,757 SQ.FT.
BEDS: 4 BATHS: 7 4,457 SQ. FT.
Beyond the extraordinary. James Bond would be at home in this setting. A 2017 smart home using the finest materials. macleod-group.com
This spectacular Uplands home is the definition of Westcoast Modern, with a sleek & sophisticated design & exquisite finishing.
West Coast contemporary house constructed to the highest standards with spectacular ocean views and everything you'd ever dream of.
Elegantly furnished main and guest house. Totalling 4-beds, 7-baths on professionally landscaped oceanfront. 250.857.0609 Logan Wilson PREC
Glynis MacLeod PREC
Lisa Williams PREC
Victoria Cao PREC
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INT RODUCI N G
4691 Westbank St., Cordova Bay
4949 Rose Lane, Victoria
3616 Crestview Rd., Victoria
745 Miller Ave., Saanich
BEDS: 5 BATHS: 4 4,041 SQ. FT.
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BEDS: 4 BATHS: 7 4,457 SQ.FT.
Ocean views and majestic parkland at your back door. Bright and airy, recently renovated with in-law accommodation.
Custom built 6 bedroom Cordova Bay family home on a large corner lot with lots of parking. A must see.
Solid 1950s Oak Bay family home nestled on private, quiet, west facing 13,586 sq.ft. gardener’s lot minutes to Cadboro Bay Beach.
Live Country Chic. Custom built in 2009 this spacious home is ideal for the modern family.
Mark Imhoff PREC
Donald St. Germain PREC
Don St. Germain
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.
Tom de Cosson
www.douglasmagazine.com VOLUME 13 NUMBER 4
We believe the ultimate measure of our performance is our clients’ success. It has guided our approach for over 30 years.
PUBLISHERS Lise Gyorkos, Georgina Camilleri
EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Kerry Slavens
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CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS Jeffrey Bosdet, Hélène Cyr, Joshua Lawrence, Belle White
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CONTRIBUTING AGENCIES Getty Images p. 12, 13, 60
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INNOVATION | DESIGN | BUSINESS | STYLE | PEOPLE
[IN THE KNOW ]
Going in-house ultimately allows us to have more control over the end product.
BUILDING BOOM It’s been another busy year for Victoria’s construction sector, and it’s being felt in all areas of the industry, including by its fine craftspeople. Look inside a luxury residential custom build in the area and chances are good you’ll find a kitchen by Jason Good Custom Cabinets.
Since starting his cabinetry business in his garage in 2005, Jason Good has expanded into a 6,000-square-foot workshop, which employs 17 people, including two designers. To speed production, Good has introduced CNC machining. “There’s so much construction,
it’s hard to get skilled staff in the shop and skilled installers,” he says. “Some of the new software gives excellent results.” He’s also focused part of his business on veneers, hiring an employee who specializes in laying up grain-matched custom veneers. The business has also
acquired some new equipment. “We’ve recently purchased new machines allowing us to do our own custom veneering,” he says, “It’s something we already have specialized in, but going in-house ultimately allows us to have more control over the end product.” DOUGLAS 11
PROSPERITY BY THE NUMBERS
YES, WE’RE STILL SMART
Number of highereducation degrees per 100,000 people in Greater Victoria.
47.8% 14.1% Percentage of persons employed full-time in the Greater Victoria region, up 0.2% from 2017.
SOUTH ISLAND PROSPERITY INDEX 2019
VICTORIA DIDN’T WIN THE $10 MILLION FEDERAL SMART CITY CHALLENGE, BUT THE REGION STILL PLANS TO MOVE FORWARD WITH SOME VERY SMART PROJECTS.
[ HERE + HAPPENING ]
based on what we’ve learned throughout the process.” MOBILITY MOMENTUM
One the projects SIPP will move forward on is a micro-transit solution for Indigenous students who struggle to find reliable, affordable transportation to attend post-secondary schools in the region. A memorandum of understanding has already been signed with Camosun College to develop and test a solution. The other project is a partnership with ESRI, a global leader in geographic information systems (GIS), to build a datasharing platform. The platform will bring local South Island governments together with thirdparty collaborators, like BC Transit and BC Ferries, and mobility companies, like U-Bicycle and Modo. Williams also notes Montreal’s Smart Cities win in the $50-million category is also a win for Greater Victoria. The regions have formed
BELLE WHITE/DOUGLAS MAGAZINE
opes were high on May 14 as regional stakeholders from the South Island Prosperity Project (SIPP) gathered at the Songhees Wellness Centre to find out, via video-link from Ottawa, if Greater Victoria would be one of two $10-million prize winners in Infrastructure Canada’s first Smart Cities Challenge. The challenge is aimed at improving lives of residents through innovation, data and connected technology. The pan-Canadian competition was open to all municipalities, local or regional governments and Indigenous communities. While Greater Victoria lost out to Nunavut and Guelph, Bruce Williams, interim CEO of SIPP, had good news anyway: “We didn’t win the Smart City Challenge, but we’re still going to do smart things ... We received $250,000 in federal funds to develop our local residents’ ideas around improving mobility, and we now have the chance to move some of these projects forward
Percentage of employees in knowledge-based industries in Greater Victoria, up 2.6% from 2017.
Stakeholders wait to find out if the South Island Prosperity Partnership’s Smart Cities Challenge proposal was one of two $10-million prize winners.
a partnership to collaborate and capitalize on a shared approach to smart mobility. SIPP is developing the Mobility Wellness Index, the world’s first index to measure the link between human health and how people move around their city. Montreal will contribute through its analytical work on mobility using Artificial Intelligence. The index will help cities gain insight through national and international comparisons.
“Of course, $10 million would have been a big boost, but we have every intention of building on this incredible momentum.” — KEN ARMOUR, ESQUIMALT COUNCILLOR AND CHAIR OF SIPP’S PARTNERS COMMITTEE.
[ CREATIVE CHIT CHAT ]
[ CHAMPION CODE ]
[ SOCIAL INVESTING ]
PechaKucha (Japanese for chit chat) began in Tokyo in 2003 as an event where creatives share ideas, works or inspiration in a 20 x 20 format — 20 images, each shown for 20 seconds. Now in 1,000 cities, PechaKucha is a must for creative and entrepreneurial inspiration. For the July 12 event in Victoria, visit pechakucha.com.
Erin Athene of Purpose Five is VIATEC’s 2019 Technology Champion. Athene, who will receive the Colin Lennox Award at VIATEC’s June 14 gala, started the local Ladies Learning Code chapter and Flip the Switch, an event for women leaders in tech. Read about all of VIATEC’s 2019 award winners at viatec.ca.
Connect Money Impact is a one-day event designed for everyone from social entrepreneurs seeking capital to investors wanting to know how to invest for the biggest impact. This jampacked event on June 14 combines inspiration, learning and connection. Keynote speakers include Joel Solomon of Renewal Funds and Josie Osbourne, mayor of Tofino. Register at secatalyst.ca.
HOW THEY DID IT STARTUP
LOCELLE AIMS TO EMPOWER WOMEN IN STEM
WHAT BUSINESS NEEDS TO KNOW
Canada’s new trademark law comes into force June 17, with big changes including reducing the time trademarks are valid from 15 to 10 years. Learn how your business could be affected at cfib-fcei.ca
MAKING SELF-DRIVING A SAFE REALITY UVic researcher in wireless communications sees the future CHALLENGE The current system of wireless networking isn’t adequate for stand-alone, autonomous vehicles. Recent U.S. fatalities involving self-driving vehicles highlight the need for a more reliable, intelligent transportation system that can instantaneously transmit accurate information to avoid accidents, reduce congestion, improve fuel efficiency and more.
SOLUTION That could all change if Lin Cai has her way. The UVic professor of electrical and computer engineering is developing a solution to the complex challenges of autonomous transportation. The 2019 E.W.R. Steacie Memorial Fellowship recipient is working to create a safe, seamless wireless network that connects vehicles, roadside infrastructure, pedestrians and “the cloud,” which will transmit and sort all of that information for transportation systems of the future. From wearable devices to home appliances, the Internetof Things has seen huge growth. As it expands into the transportation sector, Cai is working to make sure we merge smoothly onto the roads of the future. These massive vehicleto-everything (V2X) networks must be capable of instantly transmitting speed, location, destination and driving conditions for every vehicle on the road, at any given time. “Similar to the way smart phones changed our daily lives since the first iPhone was released in 2007,” says Cai, “V2X is the next disruptive invention that will shake up many sectors of the economy and increase the global competitiveness of all industrialized countries.”
Children as young as 12 used to be able to work in B.C. with permission from parents and the government, but changes to B.C.’s labour law will raise the age from 12 to 16. Youth from 14 to 15 years old will still be able to do light work, such as stocking grocery shelves.
Retention of female employees in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields is a major issue — the turnover rate is more than twice as high for women as it is for men, and over 56 per cent of the women in the field quit their jobs mid-career due to isolation, frustration and loneliness. To address this issue, local company Locelle has developed a location-based networking platform to help women in STEM connect. The company was recently selected as a Featured Startup at Collision, a global tech conference in Toronto. “This is the perfect platform for Locelle to not only launch but raise awareness [with] companies looking to attract, engage and retain their top female talent,” says Humaira Ahmed, CEO of Locelle. “With a massive audience and people attending from over 100 countries, we anticipate the word to get out and be known as the platform that connects and empowers women in tech.” Originally developed as a B2C app, Locelle found greater success when it pivoted its business model to B2B. “We learned that a lot of our user base was coming from really big tech companies such as Microsoft and IBM, and even Schneider Electric,” Ahmed says. “We decided to go through the companies directly, [and] many of them are now offering our platform as part of their human resources package — a social health benefit.”
If you use the Point Ellice Bridge for your communte, safety upgrades will close the bridge to vehicle traffic moving eastbound from Tuesday, May 21 until the end of October.
IN CANADA, THE PROPORTION OF WOMEN AMONG THE PROFESSIONALS IN NATURAL AND APPLIED SCIENCES OCCUPATIONS ROSE FROM 19.1% IN 1998 TO 24.6% IN 2018. STATISTICS CANADA 2019
INNOVATION AT WORK
WHERE BUSINESS HAPPENS
Pre-fabricated cold form steel framing allows for maximum creativity with virtually zero onsite waste — with fast and cost-efficient production and installation.
“It’s a really great example of a third space, with its open seating that people can adapt and use as needed. If our boardroom is busy, it’s the place to go — and no one resists. It’s a great spot.” — SUZANNE BRADBURY, CO-OWNER FORT PROPERTIES
Discovery Coffee: business hot spot meets community hub Suzanne Bradbury and Jayne Bradbury of Fort Properties at Discovery Coffee’s popular patio on the corner of Blanshard and Broughton.
FASTER | SMARTER | STRONGER
Sustainable Steel Framing
Structures Ltd. 2070 Cadboro Bay Road
250.812.3875 BUILDINSTEEL.COM 14 DOUGLAS
JEFFREY BOSDET/DOUGLAS MAGAZINE
Concrete and heavy work available through
LOCAL LOVE Downtown seems to have a café on every corner but being an Island company has its advantages. “The business community supports local,” says Discovery owner Logan Gray.
COMFORT FOOD Here, doughnuts are elevated beyond the stereotypical meeting snack. All the in-house baking — including Discovery’s Yonni’s Doughnuts — is done at the company’s Discovery Street location.
PRIME LOCATION Along with Discovery’s prime setting on Blanshard Street, the shop’s front booth is a “hot commodity,” according to Gray. As Bradbury says, “There’s quite the competition for the cozy nook.”
THE POWER OF A FRESH START EACH DAY WHEN YOU WAKE UP IS AN OPPORTUNITY FOR A FRESH START. BUT THERE ARE PLENTY OF OTHER CHANCES FOR FRESH STARTS AVAILABLE TO YOU. HERE ARE FIVE WAYS TO DISCOVER THEM. BY MIKE VARDY
RETHINK YOUR CALENDAR
There are many fresh starts in your calendar, but you can also find other ideas at daysoftheyear.com. For example, June 20 is World Productivity Day, so on that day I offer something special to my audience, such as a journaling or to-do list template.
TAKE BREAKS REGULARLY
One thing we tend to sacrifice during our workday is breaks. Besides the health benefits of taking breaks throughout your day, they also provide an end to one segment of your day and a chance to start another, refreshed and renewed.
ADOPT “MISE EN PLACE” THINKING This culinary
phrase, meaning “everything in its place,” can give you a fresh start anytime you need one. Just reset your
workspace and, voila!, you have a fresh start in front of you.
REFLECT, EVERY DAY
Daily journaling is the most undervalued and underused element of time management. When you reflect daily in a journal, you can coursecorrect as needed. The clarity you’ll gain makes a fresh start possible — and full of potential.
THEME YOUR TIME Time is meant to be universally understood, but it’s not always fun. Why not personalize blocks of time by giving them themes designed to stimulate fresh-start thinking? For example, make 9 to 10 a.m. your Communication Hour (or whatever you like). In this way, you are designing your own fresh start. Mike Vardy is a writer, speaker, and productivity strategist. You can learn more about his work at TimeCrafting.com
BE COOL THIS SUMMER Our line of Canvas-brand patio furniture is the perfect mix of comfort and style.
DOUGLAS READS Is it worth swimming in shark-infested waters to surf a 50-foot, careerrecord wave? Should sex workers give up 50% of their income for added security or take a chance and keep the extra money? In her new book, economist Allison Schrager talks to a pro poker player about staying rational when stakes are high; horse breeders in Kentucky about how to diversify risk; and a military general about how to prepare for the unexpected. What you get out of it is how to measure risks and maximize the chances of getting what you want out of business and life. [Published by Portfolio, 2019]
HILLSIDE - ROYAL OAK - VIEW ROYAL DOUGLAS 15
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Back in the day, your local corner store owner would know what magazine or chocolate bar you were after as soon as you walked in. In today’s world of e-commerce, much of that face-to-face goodness is gone, but Victoria’s Appreciation Engine has created a platform that allows businesses to interact with customers in a positive, personalized way. “Our technology is trying to improve the relationship between customers and businesses,” says Appreciation Engine co-founder and CMO Annabel Youens. “Consumers have basically become just email addresses and consumer numbers, [so] leading-edge businesses are trying to figure out, ‘How do I go back to the old way of treating my customers like individuals?’” To do so, Appreciation Engine gets permission to use customers’ personal data to create personalized interactions, which could be emails or promotions, that target a client’s specific needs and wants. Whether or not companies should have access to people’s personal data is a fraught topic these days, but Youens says when a business is transparent about how information will be used, the transaction is beneficial to both parties. Appreciation Engine’s earliest clients include California’s Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, and movie-marketing company, Movio. The company recently completed BC Tech’s HyperGrowth program, a business accelerator that targets some of the fastest growing tech companies in B.C.
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DESIGN | BUILD
LOCAL HOTELIER DEFINES HOSPITALITY BELLE WHITE/DOUGLAS MAGAZINE
IAN POWELL, LONG-TIME GENERAL MANAGER OF THE INN AT LAUREL POINT, HAS BEEN NAMED HOTELIER OF THE YEAR BY THE BC HOTEL ASSOCIATION. BY SUSAN HOLLIS
he minute Ian Powell starts speaking, it’s impossible not to be beguiled. With his perfect English diction and propensity for laughter, it’s clear why the 63-year-old has had such success in the hospitality industry over the past 40 years — leading to a recent win as Hotelier of the Year from the BC Hotel Association. “I was surprised, but you know, I’ve been at this game for a while,” Powell says of the award. “It’s just good to know that what you tried to do over all those years actually worked.” Powell has been the general manager of the Inn at Laurel Point
and managing director of Paul’s Restaurant Ltd., which owns Paul’s Motor Inn, for 14 years, leaving a long career with the Fairmont chain to join the world of independent hotels in Victoria. He’s also an Anglican minister who works primarily out of Christ Church Cathedral, having completed his theology studies alongside his hotel work when he arrived on the Island in 2005. He says there’s a link between hotel management and religious service. “Our Lord’s thing was to love one another and look after one another. That is the definition of
hospitality, and in the hotel biz you are doing the same thing,” he says, with a laugh. Despite intensive renovations and a land remediation project taking place at the Inn at Laurel Point over the last year, loyal clients have still chosen to stay — something Powell credits to the quality of his staff. The boutique hotel, which boasts an Arthur Erickson-designed wing, is bringing its front-of-hotel esthetic in line with the Erickson side,
including a new lobby and hotel restaurant. It’s a coup for Powell to see the hotel at its best when renovations wrap up this fall. And with plans to retire in the fall of 2020, he’s confident the inn is set up for success. “We work orchestrally as teams of people who get things done,” he says. “If I don’t turn up for work tomorrow, things will go on. If my room attendants or my servers don’t turn up for work, to use the vernacular — I’m in the sh-t.”
BUILDING BEAUTIFUL HOMES DOUGLAS 17
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■ BY ATHENA MCKENZIE
THE REBRANDING OF DEATH With changing social norms, the slow-to-evolve funeral business is ready for disruption. Royal Oak Burial Park is considered an industry leader, and Trapeze Communications is helping them get the word out about the new ways to prepare for and commemorate death.
HAPPILY EVER AFTER 18 DOUGLAS
s Benjamin Franklin famously said, nothing is certain except death and taxes. Which could lead one to believe that marketing the funeral and memorial-service industry is unnecessary — it’s a service that everyone eventually needs, however much we try to avoid it. A typical funeral in North America usually involves some key elements: embalming for the deceased, an embellished coffin, lots of flowers and a number of other expensive add-ons. But for the first time since the 19th century, the funeral industry is seeing some big changes. “People’s funeral traditions are changing,” says Martin Aveyard, associate creative director at Trapeze Communications, who has worked with creative director Valerie Nathan on the rebranding and marketing campaigns for Royal Oak Burial Park for the past six years. “Celebrations of life are way more common now than they were 10 years ago. I think that’s where people are moving, and the funeral industry is feeling a little bit behind in terms of catching up to that public desire to not have velvet drapes and that dark gloomy atmosphere. We all want it to be a more uplifting remembrance of our loved ones.”
TO INFINITY AND BEYOND
Space flight on your bucket list? It could still happen after your life on Earth ends. The Celestis Memorial Spaceflights take cremated remains for a quick visit, an orbit of the planet or a journey into deep space.
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For our first green burial campaign, we wanted to make the point that the body is the most natural substance there is. 3
GREEN BURIAL Royal Oak Burial Park is a not-for-profit corporation, established in 1922 by the District of Saanich and the City of Victoria. It offers comprehensive burial, cremation, funeral and memorial services and is considered a leader in modernizing the industry, including its green burial services. Green burial is when an unembalmed corpse is placed into a biodegradable container or shroud and buried directly in the ground. Nature does the rest. Its growing popularity is driven by concern about the environmental impact of burying corpses pumped with toxic embalming fluids, and a desire to cut the massive amount of unnatural resources used in traditional burials. “Many of us are already living our lives with very strong green values, particularly here on the Island,” says Nathan. “Royal Oak Burial Park was the first in Canada to offer green burials. For our first green
burial campaign, we wanted to make the point that the body is the most natural substance there is. We are an entity of nature ourselves, and we are, of course, completely biodegradable. There are a lot more inquiries and demand for green burial services now, and this campaign was picked up for a marketing textbook.”
RESPECTFUL IRREVERENCE Some of Trapeze’s campaigns for Royal Oak — especially those for its not-for-profit status and green burial options — sought to bring in an element of thoughtful humour. “It’s always something we have to be cautious of,” says Aveyard. “Being a little bit irreverent to get noticed but without being disrespectful. It’s a fine line to balance those concerns.” Other campaigns were a little more serious in tone, such as the ones around preplanning — a growing movement within the funeral industry.
1 In the first quarter of 2019, 17 per cent of all lots sold at Royal Oak Burial Park (ROBP) (including pre-need and at-need) were in the Green Burial areas; and 28 per cent of burials/ scatterings were green. 2 Each campaign addressed different concerns around end-of-life needs, from highlighting the option of green burial to respectful ways to keep cremated remains.
UNDER THE DEEP BLUE SEA
If burial at sea seems more relevant to your interests, your “cremains” can become part of one of Living Reefs’ three artificial reefs off southern Vancouver Island.
Instead of leaving the decisions regarding arrangements to loved ones in the depths of grief, many people are making these choices themselves and pre-arranging and pre-paying for their services. Nathan says that her agency’s creative emphasized that loved ones could then focus on more important matters. “Our pre-need sales and numbers are up,” says Crystabelle Fobler, executive director of Royal Oak Burial Park. “People are educating themselves. And we’re getting inquiries from younger groups; not only younger people in their 40s and 50s, but even individuals in their 20s and 30s are looking into green burial options for their parents and even themselves.”
3 The park offers several options to memorialize loved ones, including traditional inground interment, above-ground interment, green burial and scattering. 4 This print ad makes the link between conscious lifestyle choices and choosing green burial. 5 Currently in development, ROPD’s “Let’s Talk About It,” series will host the community for casual conversations about death.
ASHES TO ASHES
Andvinyly, a U.K.-based company, will press your ashes into a vinyl record with customized tracks. Its business tagline? “Live on from beyond the groove!”
IN CONVERSATION ERICA SANGSTER, PRINCIPAL AND ARCHITECT, D’AMBROSIO ARCHITECTURE + URBANISM
DESIGN MIND D’AMBROSIO architecture + urbanism is widely considered one of
the city’s most thoughtful, innovative architecture firms. As the firm’s well-known principal Franc D’Ambrosio prepares to step back from operations to focus on design, he’s shifting the spotlight to longtime colleague and architectural kindred spirit, Erica Sangster. BY DAVID LENNAM
PHOTO BY JEFFREY BOSDET
rica Sangster can probably thank her mother for her career choice. Newly minted as a partner and principal with Victoria’s D’AMBROSIO architecture + urbanism (though she’s worked for founder Franc D’Ambrosio for 17 years), the 46-year-old architect has fond recollections of snooping around real estate open houses with her mom on weekends, soaking up how rooms were designed and houses were structured. Strong in math and arts at school (she attended SMUS, got her undergrad in engineering physics at Queen’s and her masters in architecture at Harvard), Sangster’s work on projects like The Atrium and 1515 Douglas Street, is the result of seeing eye-to-eye with D’Ambrosio, creating places and spaces that activate the street, engage the public and suggest architecture is not separate from urban design. “Our philosophies align,” says D’Ambrosio, “as does our dedication to a profession which we see as having a fiduciary role in society, ecology and culture.” D’Ambrosio praises Sangster’s architectural and organizational skills and compliments her work as thoughtful and articulate. “In architecture, we finish each other’s design sentences.” Sangster will start to take over the day-today company business as D’Ambrosio looks to dedicate more time to designing projects. “It’s been such a gradual evolution of my relationship with Franc and my role in the firm,” she says. “Franc is very generous in giving people opportunities.” 20 DOUGLAS
Douglas talked with Sangster about women in her industry, city planning, and architects’ responsibility for public good. I can list numerous famous male architects (Rem Koolhaas, I.M. Pei, Arthur Erickson, Frank Gehry, Frank Lloyd Wright, Buckminster Fuller, etc.), but I can’t name a celebrated woman architect. Does architecture have a gender-equity problem?
Zaha Hadid is pretty much the only one … I am hopeful that it’s changing right now. I think it’s because it’s been recognized that there is such a huge drop-off of women from school to working as architects (as much as 50 per cent). Maybe it’s just the way that we see the famous architects as being these sort of celebrities. Maybe the women practitioners, for some reason, just haven’t been in the spotlight as much. That’s not saying they’re not doing the work and making an impact. Vancouver architect Marie-Odile Marceau posed the question: “Is the mind of a female architect different from the mind of a male architect?”
I don’t think the mind is different. I think it might be more of the perception by society around architects, which is a holdover from the past when opportunities were more limited for women. This is changing as more architects are from practices that are non-traditional, more interdisciplinary and collaborative. I’m hopeful that more diversity in practice forms will go hand in hand with more diversity of successful architects. What about in your own practice?
Our practice is a fairly traditional studio, but we have a level of flexibility that helps with the work/life balance for both men and women in
our office. Generally, I see gender being less and less of an issue, especially as we work with more women engineers, and we’re starting to see more women in the construction trades. Why don’t we design cities for women, not just men?
It’s not just women [we should design for]. It’s children, it’s seniors, it’s refugees and immigrants, people with disabilities ... There’s a movement now to take into account making everything more accessible for everybody. There’s also a movement away from architecture as an icon … to an idea about helping our cities be more vibrant, more sustainable and how city supports community. In an interview in our sister publication, YAM, former Victoria city councillor Pamela Madoff suggested there’s nothing admirable, architecturally speaking, in our downtown. Do you agree?
Comparing where we’re at now from when I grew up, how many surface parking lots do I remember from when I was a kid that are now buildings? I’m super excited about how vibrant downtown Victoria is now. I remember when everything shut down at six o’clock! It was like a ghost town in the evenings … The densification of the city, which has been very rapid in terms of all these new residential buildings, [is] really important in terms of bringing vitality to the city. Whether they’re architecturally inspired or not, I think we’re building fabric here, and how those buildings meet the ground and relate to the sidewalk is really important. Madoff also said developers should not be leading the conversation about urban planning and design.
I do agree, absolutely. The City should be
“Our practice is about how every building in the city makes a contribution to the city, because we don’t look at architecture as being separate from urban design.”
Erica Sangster at the D’AMBROSIOdesigned Reliable Controls’ HQ in Victoria. The LEED platinum building is a showcase in energy efficiency.
taking direction on that. And part of it is [as] Franc [D’Ambrosio] says, we shouldn’t be developing in a leapfrog way. You need to have a cohesiveness of direction for the city, so you’re not setting the direction one project at a time in an isolated way. Your partner, Franc D’Ambrosio, has said Victoria is not a city of towers. It’s a walking, cycling town, more like Copenhagen than New York. Do you think we’re getting away from that with unchecked growth?
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The City put a lot of work into their Downtown Core Area Plan, which, at a high level, is intending to demand an appropriate response at the street level and provide for setbacks to make sure that we don’t end up overshadowing the streets in a burdensome way, and don’t end up with towers so close to each other that they’re not really livable buildings anymore. The City has put guidelines in place to try to protect the quality of life in the city while we densify ... and I think that’s working quite well. Franc also said a great building lasts a century, not 20 years. Is that driving the way you do things?
Absolutely. I think that has a couple of aspects, one being sustainability. I wouldn’t say we’re pushing our projects to the absolute, most sustainable, limit that we could. We’re pressing on the boundary. We’re doing the most we can for the market. What’s your thought on the Inner Harbour being little more than parking lots?
It’s such a key part of the city, so when we talk about vitality, that’s bringing in a vibrant mix of uses where you’d have civic space, a cultural centre, park space. We’ve done a scheme for a public market on the waterfront. I know we’re all impatient for something to happen, and it is an eyesore, but part of me thinks when it does happen, we’re going to have the benefit of so much more awareness around resilience, and a more serious commitment to sustainable design. I’m hopeful it will be worth the wait. What should architecture be focusing on at the moment? Affordable housing, sustainability, climate change?
I think those are the main ones. Definitely sustainability and, on the West Coast here, affordable housing. Reconciliation is another part as well. Is there anything unsatisfying about contemporary architecture?
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I wouldn’t say it’s with our own work. We’re lucky to have really great clients that allow us to create buildings we think are exciting. If there’s one thing I wish Victoria was better at, it would be designing in a contextual way that’s not mimicking our heritage. What is “contextual fit” and how does it apply to Victoria’s built form?
It’s a driving factor for us in terms of building
the fabric of the city. Not to say that we want our buildings to be invisible, but in some ways we want them to feel like they are inevitable, like that’s what should have been in that place. Are architects responsible for the public good?
Yes, I think we obviously have a responsibility to our clients, but along with that, there is responsibility to do no harm, and we try to not only accomplish all the goals of our clients, but also have a positive impact on people just passing by. Can truly “green” buildings be successful within today’s commercial market?
It appears to be the case. Our buildings like The Atrium and the new one by City Hall are examples. The new one by City Hall is LEED Platinum targeted, so it’s going pretty far. LEED’s been really great as an education program and successful as a brand, but our building codes now are catching up in large part. Everyone’s going to be required to design office buildings to be very efficient, energy wise. Do we need to be aware of making places, rather than just making structures?
Absolutely. Part of why we’re architects and not video-game designers is we get our satisfaction out of making real places that take on their own lives, by virtue of people occupying and the sun playing on them. They become places when they’re real. We don’t get satisfaction out of just ideas on paper. Is there an architect who you hold in esteem?
Probably the architect that I look to most frequently would be [American architect] Louis Kahn. His work is very geometric, very pure. What’s your favourite architectural style?
I come from pretty serious modernist training. I think the modernist approach to expressing tectonics and functionality is still a useful vocabulary for me. Folded into that is my focus on urbanism and human scale, which contextually kind of tempers it a bit and that comes from working in Victoria. Historian Beatriz Colomina wrote that “Architecture is deeply collaborative, more like moviemaking than visual art,” but is rarely acknowledged as such.
It’s so collaborative … really most of what we do is work with people. It’s mostly relationships and communications, especially on commercial scale projects. I’m not going down there and building a single thing. There’s so many people involved. We’re more of a director than a maker. Do you have a dream project, maybe where money is no object?
[Laughing] I don’t know if there’s something wrong with me, but money [being] no object would be my total nightmare. I just have an innate sense of economy that makes me really uncomfortable. ■
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BIG IDEA ■ BY ALEX VAN TOL
IT’S ONLY NATURAL Twenty-first century learning demands spaces that are more interactive and more collaborative than the traditional “sage on the stage” model and more sustainable too. One of the Island’s best-kept secrets is Natural Pod, a local company having a global impact with its long-lasting, sustainably made furniture for educational settings and workspaces.
FROM TOYS TO TABLES After welcoming a second child and as their kids grew older, the couple’s company shifted focus. By 2010, they had started looking at ways to incorporate untreated wood, with its natural antibacterial properties, into the classrooms of their children’s daycare and preschool. Other parents and educators were interested in the 24 DOUGLAS
solutions that Natural Pod proposed. “We cared about what the children were engaged with, how it moved and what it was touching,” Bridgitte says. “And when you walk into a learning environment ... how do we create a space that’s inspiring?”
he wanted to be a journalist at first, then a dancer. Then she did degrees in communications and marketing psychology, and started working for a tech company. Shortly thereafter, it occurred to Bridgitte Alomes that she would rather perish. “I am not a nine-to-five individual,” says the Australian-born entrepreneur. “I’m not a good employee. I need to move, I need to have access to nature, I need to be able to go outside and choose if I want to stand up, sit down and move around, be on the floor or whatever it may be.” Plus, she wanted to find work with greater purpose. So she and her then-husband, architect Allan Alomes, started their own business. Inspired by the birth of their first child, the company — named Natural Pod after the “peas in a pod” that make up a family or a class — launched around 2007 as a toy company with a commitment to healthy and sustainable play choices. “It was really from a grassroots perspective of looking and researching and finding these toys and working with local craftspeople to create certain things that worked for us,” Bridgitte says. All the products they developed upheld Natural Pod’s key commitments to environmental sustainability.
“They’re looking at the insects, the environment, the plants, the fauna, the water. The students are going to be a part of actually designing their learning environments and their furniture, and prototyping that ...”
Fast forward to 2019, and Natural Pod has over 200 items in their product line, manufacturing more than 75,000 products a year, shipping them to preschools and grade schools, universities and workplaces around the world — pretty much any environment where creative play, learning or collaboration are encouraged, and where healthy, sustainable choices are a priority. From one of Harlem’s first
eco-preschools to the Yukon Wildlife Preserve, Natural Pod has partnered with thousands of institutions to create educational environments that promote and facilitate real-world skills in a way that actually supports deep learning. This small Vancouver Island company is providing just-in-time solutions to an education sector that’s changing by the day. Unlike classrooms from just a decade or so ago, we no longer accept that the ideal classroom is one where children sit in rows. Rather, children are meant to learn by doing and exploring, by collaborating with teachers and peers, by finding their own “right space” in a learning environment. DESIGN THAT SURVIVES The company’s early commitment to sustainable, healthy products has held — and even strengthened under Allan’s design direction. The untreated wood that forms the tables, benches, light tables and play structures are a pleasing, neutral colour that allows for the passage of time in a way that, say, an orange vinyl chair from the 70s just can’t. This means they last longer because they don’t go out of style. All of Natural Pod’s products are made from FSC-certified materials and are ethically manufactured on Vancouver Island, in a beautiful building way off in the forests of Cobble Hill. “Good design comes back to thinking about how to mindfully use the material to its fullest,” Bridgitte says. “We wanted to be able to do that locally: to be able to know where it came from, what it’s made of, who’s making it ... We wanted to have full transparency, because there’s a lot of questions around: Where does it come from? and What is it made of?” Every Natural Pod product has more than one purpose too, allowing for maximum usage in the learning space and easy repurposing when the time is right. A bench becomes a balance beam; a shelf becomes a ramp. Items are flat-packed and shipped with a lowcarbon footprint. Each product is recyclable and
JEFFREY BOSDET/DOUGLAS MAGAZINE
Bridgitte Alomes of Natural Pod at the companyâ€™s Cobble Hill warehouse.
Natural Pod’s modular furniture can be configured to best suit class needs, including intimate spaces for reading and play, and areas for collaborative learning or group projects.
LEARNING IS ONLY NATURAL For Bridgitte, Natural Pod offers a way to create non-hierarchical learning spaces where all students can feel equal, worthy and valued. Equally important is the way educators feel when they enter the learning spaces each morning, because they are the experts who are guiding the change-makers of the future. “We want a space of beauty, a space of reverence,” Bridgitte says. “We want a space where children can feel and connect back to nature, because they’re in those learning environments more often than in their homes — and often it’s the learning environments that they’re in where they connect the most.” It’s safe to say that Natural Pod was one 26 DOUGLAS
beyond having chickens in the school garden. “It’s really thinking about all the different elements and the true engagement of sustainability at all levels,” says Bridgitte. “[The furniture] is only one element of many different elements that truly make up a really engaging, healthy, sustainable environment. How do we help to foster and create that sense of understanding in their learning environments?”
100 per-cent compostable at the end of its lifecycle. But the best part of the process is actually when the furniture arrives at its destination, says Bridgette. “The intention is that it’s installed by the community, by the teachers, the parents and the students, so they have a better way of understanding how to care for the product,” she says. “We believe and feel that the life expectancy will be longer because it’s appreciated in a deeper way.”
of the first on the scene in today’s education transformation. In her role as board president of the Green Schools National Network (GSNN), Bridgitte explains that she is now working with GSNN partners in Virginia to develop a school rooted in biomimicry. “They’re looking at the insects, the environment, the plants, the fauna, the water,” she says. “The students are going to be a part of actually designing their learning environments and their furniture and prototyping that — creating their learning environment from the ground up, to create this truly integrated holistic approach, including the curriculum.” It’s an expansion of the building process that goes beyond LEED certification — and way
PREPARING FOR BRIGHTER FUTURES As education changes to allow greater flexibility and choice in learning, Natural Pod is well poised to cocreate learning spaces that support problem-solving, collaboration, creativity and ecosystem learning, among other 21st century skills. We tend to forget that learning comes naturally for all of us, and that we need only to support young people on their journey of discovery rather than control their movements, dispense units of knowledge into their heads and then test them on what they remember. Today’s world needs people who can work together, make decisions, take strategic risks, and think. As the pedagogy changes, so does the built environment. And Natural Pod is right where it needs to be to spearhead the change. ■
SIDNEY S ’ ENTREPRENEURIAL SURGE BY JODY PATERSON
Victoria Distillers moved its operations to the Seaport Place waterfront in Sidney in 2015.
ere you to set out to create a perfect community from scratch, charming Sidney by the Sea just might be what you’d end up with. A walkable downtown. A public waterfront done up right. Locally owned stores and loyal customers. It’s got that feel of an old-timey town updated for a modern era — one with cheese flights and fancy gins, but also boutique owners who remember your tastes and a bakery that still produces the kind of donuts your greatgrandmother used to buy. As if all that isn’t perfect enough, the town is just across the highway from some 70 thriving manufacturing companies providing 3,000 skilled jobs. It’s home to a clutch of clean tech
companies that are producing emission-reducing fuel systems, building unmanned robotic boats to collect ocean data, and finding new ways to collect real-time environmental data. Sidney is also the enviable centre of the Island’s largest transportation hub, which puts 10 million people a year onto the town’s doorstep. “Sidney punches way above its weight,” says Mayor Cliff McNeil-Smith, owner of Tanner’s Books. “We’ve got a main street that’s seven blocks from the highway to the waterfront — flat, sidewalks, all widened 25 years ago, pedestrianfriendly. We’ve got a complete community with all the services.” The town also has long-standing businesses still going strong after decades, and residents
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SIDNEY BY THE SEA SET OUT TO ATTRACT ENTREPRENEURS WITH ITS START UP SIDNEY CAMPAIGN. DOUGLAS EXPLORES HOW THIS VIBRANT TOWN IS AIMING FOR SMART GROWTH WITHOUT LOSING ITS CHARACTER AND CHARM.
renowned for being fiercely loyal customers who value “local” above all. And it’s got a funky new vibe courtesy of a new generation of young, savvy entrepreneurs choosing to start businesses in Sidney. “We were looking for the right location with the right community behind it because that’s what makes a successful business,” says Jessica Sommers, who opened The Farmer’s Daughter fromagerie and wine bar on Sidney’s main street last summer. “It was a leap of faith, but it has really worked out.”
solid downtown where locally owned businesses still prevail and plenty to do on your days off? Almost, says local business consultant John Juricic. He works extensively with the many manufacturing companies quietly operating multi-million-dollar global export businesses across the highway from Sidney, on leased land that’s mostly in North Saanich and managed by the Victoria Airport Authority (VAA). Attracting skilled tradespeople who can afford to live in the area — and thus become a new generation of Sidney shoppers — is a major concern for those companies. “It’s a tale of two cities,” says Juricic, owner of Harbour Digital Media and former executive director of the SidneyNorth Saanich Industrial Group. “When I hear Beacon
ALMOST THERE Might this just be the dream combo — an authentic small town where there’s good work nearby, a family vibe, a
“Sidney is a rare beast: a livable small town with an economic powerhouse in its midst,” says Juricic. “That makes it all the more important to resolve the housing, transportation and trades-training issues that hinder economic growth in and around towns like Sidney all over the Island.”
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CLOCKWISE: Jessica Sommers and Tom Dai, owners of The Farmer’s Daughter, a cheese shop, wine bar and bistro; David Curtis, president and CEO of Viking Air; Sablefish Puttanesca from Sea Glass Waterfront Grill; Devon Bird, owner of MODEN Boutique, a clothing store aimed at women between the ages of 30 and 65.
Street retailers say they need more people, I want to remind them, ‘Well, they’re right over here.’” Only a quarter of the 3,000 workers with jobs in the manufacturing district actually live nearby. The rest commute, and more than half of them — 1,100-plus workers — commute from the West Shore. “It’s extraordinary to have the smallest of cities with these global companies right across the highway,” says Juricic. “That’s the question I see for Sidney’s economic development: How do we get those people driving straight into town instead of turning right onto the highway when it’s time to go home?” Maintaining Sidney’s charm also hinges on getting future development right. The controversial Sidney Crossing development isn’t proceeding. Many feared the impact on traffic and Sidney’s downtown of that 100,000-squarefoot commercial/retail proposal. The airport authority is still looking to lease the four-hectare site at Pat Bay Highway and Beacon Avenue where it was to be built.
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SIDNEY BY THE NUMBERS
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10 million Number of annual travellers arriving through the Swartz Bay ferry terminal, the airport and the Anacortes ferry from Washington State
Number of times the main street was closed last year for family activities
Total square mileage of the town
Number of business districts in Sidney: the downtown core; the manufacturing district on Victoria Airport Authority lands; the marine-service district along Harbour Road; and home-based businesses
Number of licensed businesses just in the 21-square-block downtown core
A mere kilometre away at the former Sandown racetrack, the District of North Saanich has issued a call for expressions of interest for an agriculture-themed development. That project will bring new commercial interests and increased traffic. McNeil-Smith characterized his decisive win in last fall’s civic election as an indicator that Sidney residents want carefully managed growth. His campaign platform called for a moratorium on five- and six-storey developments and more public consultation on big projects like Sidney Crossing. “There needs to be better community engagement on these,” he told local media at the time. SETTING THE STAGE Devon Bird remembers a day trip to Sidney from Victoria as one of the fun activities she did with her mother when she was a kid. “Sidney always functioned as a ‘destination’ that wasn’t far away. My mom and I would shop at the clothing boutiques, get something to eat, walk around the downtown,” recalls Bird. Those fond memories were on her mind when she opened MODEN Boutique in Sidney in December. “I knew from my own experiences that there was a bit of a gap in women’s clothing for ages 30 to 65,” says Bird, former merchandizing manager for Saje Natural Wellness in Vancouver. “I was trying to create a store that my mom and I would shop at. In Vancouver, you have to open already polished. In Sidney, it’s more organic, and people are so encouraging.” Attracting new entrepreneurs like Bird was a key goal for the Sidney Business Improvement Association (Sidney BIA), which wrapped up a three-month “Start Up in Sidney” campaign at the end of March. “We wanted a specific project to start shifting the conversation [to] Sidney being a place to open your business,” says Sidney BIA executive director Donna Petrie. “We wanted to fill brickand-mortar vacancies. Our budget includes support for destination marketing and putting a spotlight on the region, but our main focus is to bring footsteps into Sidney from elsewhere in Greater Victoria.” Those footsteps are definitely on the rise, says Colleen Hay, owner of Sidney Bakery, which has operated on Beacon Avenue since 1903. The bakery has been in her husband Mike’s family since the 1940s. She worked there first as a teenager, but can’t remember the last time she saw a “slow day” of the kind she recalls from those years. “Now, we are so, so busy every day,” says Hay. “We’re practically the last of a kind.” For downtown retailers, lack of parking is a major concern. The town has responded by opening 180 free parking spaces near the
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highway for people who work downtown, freeing up parking spots on the main street for customers. Sidney also appears ready for a new hotel, says Petrie; the Mary Winspear Centre has a hall that holds up to 900 people for a conference, but there aren’t hotel rooms for them all.
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Donna Petrie, executive director of the Sidney BIA, says the organization’s Start Up in Sidney campaign was designed to encourage new or established businesses to set up in the town.
NEW GENERATION, NEW NEEDS The town’s demographics are changing too, with new needs for a younger population emerging. People over age 65 still make up 41 per cent of THE MAHRT INVESTMENT GROUP the population, but younger people with families Independent Thinking Fiduciary Relationships are moving in and need daycares, affordable housing and different kinds of recreation, arts #230 1515 Douglas Street, Victoria and culture. 778.746.7620 firstname.lastname@example.org Such needs are why the Sidney Crossing development had “a thousand per cent” support on the west side of the highway, says Juricic. The development company Omicron scrapped the project in October, however, citing rising construction costs and the expense of building Business Division 710 Redbrick Street a pedestrian bridge across the highway to meet the Mahrt Investment group One block south of Mayfair Mall rezoning requirements. Independent Thinking Fiduciary Relationships Affordable housing and transportation are For 32 years, The Mahrt Investment Group has been entrusted to provide clients with comprehensive 250.595.5212 investment and wealth management strategies, helping them meet their present andmajor future financial goals. throughout the region. But concerns Putting Family Back on the Balance Sheet.needs for workers in the manufacturing district #501 740 HILLSIDE AVE | VICTORIA, BC | V8T 1Z4 OFFICE: 778.746.7620 | email@example.com are particularly dire. Commutes are far, and bus service doesn’t match with work schedules. Transportation issues are also major challenges for commercial trucks delivering to companies on the Peninsula — home to half of all the manufacturing on Vancouver Island. “A lot of those trucks are going to the Keating industrial park, and having to turn left across contact your insurance broker today! the highway to get there,” says Denny Warner, executive director of the Saanich Peninsula Chamber of Commerce. “Everything we receive on the Island comes by truck. How can we accommodate that better? Where can trucks park overnight? Right now, it often ends up being at our information centre at the side of the highway. They’re not supposed to park there, but there’s nowhere else.” These issues aren’t for Sidney to solve on its own. Affordable housing and transportation are regional issues, notes Juricic. Ensuring that the “global juggernauts” in manufacturing can continue as powerhouses of the local economy visit: ought to be a regional concern as well, he says.
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INVEST IN MEANINGFUL CAUSES, NOT IN MEANINGLESS FEES Building affordable workforce housing “is not the kind of thing you get a developer to do on their own without government support,” adds Warner. “They’re not going to do it for sub-market rates. So it’s really about identifying land where it’s possible to make that happen. Is there existing land for higher density? Building costs and land costs are high, so we have to look at increased density. But people on the Peninsula don’t like to talk about that.” FEW COMPLAINTS Victoria Distillers president Peter Hunt relocated his previously-family-owned business to Sidney from Esquimalt in 2015, after local developer Grant Rogers introduced him to a quirky building that Rogers owned on the Sidney waterfront. At different periods of time it had been a conference centre, a restaurant and a “scratch patch” retail centre for Mineral World, but the only retailer who wanted it at that moment was a dollar store. “Grant knew the town would kill him if he brought in a waterfront dollar store,” laughs Hunt. The unusual space has turned out to be a great fit with a distillery that now exports seven kinds of spirits globally. With local and international tourism to count on in the summer, and manufacturing and exporting to occupy the winters, Hunt has few complaints beyond a wish for “a little more foot traffic” in off months to bring more people into the tasting bar. But being an Island-based manufacturer is not without challenges, says Hunt. “We have to bring in all our raw materials on the ferry and ship off-Island. It does add costs, but the extra amount it costs us is worth it because we have the story of being from Victoria, that identity. Where we’re from is important.” Epicure, a mother-and-daughter herb and spice manufacturing business now poised to go
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international, started locally and wants to keep it that way, says CEO Amelia Warren. The company has a professional relationship with FedEx to address transportation pressures, filling empty FedEx trucks and planes with Epicure products as they make the return trip to Vancouver after deliveries on the Island. Viking Air Limited, a proud Canadian aircraft producer, is also locally owned. Company president and CEO David Curtis acquired the type certificates of legacy deHavilland and Canadair aircraft — the intellectual property required to produce and certify aircraft — and set the stage for record growth in recent years, from 125 employees in 2007 to over 500 today, says Dom Spragg, Viking’s vice president of strategic planning. “I’d say there are at least 20 stories right around us of businesses that have been operating for a long time but are now seeing hockey-stick growth, because the modern economy lets you add a lot of value globally from wherever you are,” says Spragg. “Like Viking, these businesses started out small and now employ dozens to hundreds of people.” Finding, transporting and housing all the skilled workers that such growth requires is a significant challenge, however. “The bus schedule is not conducive to our shifts,” says Spragg. “As a company, we can end up going way out of our expertise trying to address problems like these. It’s not necessarily Viking’s battle to fight if there is political will to help.” Warren says Epicure has difficulties attracting employees because of the commute. “We recently increased our starting wage to $15 and have always offered a gas subsidy for hourly home-team members to offset transportation costs.” Mayor McNeil-Smith chairs the Capital Regional District transportation committee, and points out that BC Transit has added eight more buses to its Peninsula routes and plans an additional 700 hours of service to the Swartz Bay ferry terminal. “But yes, everybody would like better transit,” he adds. CAUSE FOR REFLECTION Sidney is a rare beast: a livable small town with an economic powerhouse in its midst. That makes it all the more important to resolve the housing, transportation and trades/training issues that hinder economic growth in and around towns like Sidney all over the Island, says Juricic. “These are not municipal issues,” he says. “They need a lot of reflection, and the answers won’t be the same for everyone. Fundamentally, our region lacks any ability to deal with these big challenges. But if we don’t have the discussion, we’re going to lose some of these manufacturers. Alberta calls.” ■
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IN THE CONSTRUCTION ZONE A savvy new generation of builders are changing up the industry in Greater Victoria in exciting ways. ● BY KEITH NORBURY ● PHOTO BY JEFFREY BOSDET
On a Bernhardt Contracting job site, you’re more likely to see the Victoria company’s name emblazoned on an electric car than on a vehicle more traditionally associated with construction. Two of the three vehicles in Bernhardt’s fleet are all-electric Smart cars. The third is a diesel-powered Mercedes van. “I’ve been harassing Mercedes to get me an electric version of it,” quips Mark Bernhardt, who started in construction about 16 years ago and has been running his own firm for a dozen years. Almost 40, Bernhardt considers himself a millennial/ genX-er. That makes him a youngster in an industry grappling with an aging workforce and straining to keep pace with technological advances and regulatory changes. It also positions Bernhardt on the leading edge of a new generation of upstart Victoria builders — like Matty Jardine and Ryan Goodman of Aryze Developments — that is coinciding with a changing of the guard at established firms like Durwest Construction Management. “The nice thing about construction is that it does have a relatively low barrier to coming in,” says Bernhardt, who has eight employees. “In the early stages, I was able to hire the expertise that I needed and then learn and take courses. I’ve been taking courses since I started.” AN ECO-FRIENDLY SHIFT The electric cars mesh well with Bernhardt’s focus on what he calls high-performance building. That includes installing vehicle chargers on all of its projects. Originally from the Okanagan, Bernhardt earned a science degree at the University of Calgary. Upon graduation, he did impact assessments for oil and gas pipelines. Now, he applies similar methodologies he learned in that field to his construction projects. “When we do that, we come out with energy as our biggest cost,” Bernhardt says. “Not only is it our biggest cost, but it’s also the easiest thing to fix.”
Bernhardt’s recent projects include acting as a “passive house” consultant and envelope contractor on the Charter Telecom commercial project in Langford. He is an unabashed proponent of the BC Energy Step Code, which the provincial government introduced in 2017 as a voluntary standard within the B.C. Building Code. His website even plays up its Step Code certifications, and its capacity for doing blower door tests and providing EnerGuide ratings. “I know Langford isn’t pursuing the Step Code, but they’re getting the highest tier of Step Code, regardless, right in their city,” he says. For others, however, the Step Code is anathema. The Victoria Residential Builders Association (VRBA), for example, has advocated strongly against it. Casey Edge, executive director, voices a litany of complaints. They include that it isn’t mandatory, enabling individual municipalities to skip any or all of the steps. “And there’s no mentoring, education and training for it,” adds Edge, citing estimates of an average of $80,000 in additional costs for a new home built to step five of the code. Edge would rather see a program to retrofit older, draftier homes because new homes are already highly energy efficient. “So an older home will have anywhere from 10 to 40 air changes per hour,” Edge explains. “A new home will have, let’s say, three air changes per hour. And the Step Code reduces that from three to one. Why wouldn’t you do a retrofit program for older homes and reduce them from 40 to 10?” Bernhardt, who is also president of the Canadian Home Builders’ Association’s Vancouver Island (CHBAVI) chapter, disagrees. “And it’s not an us versus them,” he says. “It’s not a renovator versus new builder argument. It’s both. And we need to do both now.” CHANGES IN CUSTOMER DEMAND Energy efficiency has become a priority for home DOUGLAS 37
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purchasers, Bernhardt adds, citing the 2018 CHBA’s Home Buyer Preference Study. Another is affordable housing. Aryze Developments is aiming to build “missing middle housing” in infill neighbourhoods like Fernwood and James Bay. “Most great cities have this kind of shallow density outside the core. It’s where all the action happens. It’s usually where all the cafés and restaurants are, in neighbourhoods right outside of downtown,” says Ryan Goodman, who became a partner in Aryze in 2011, fulfilling a dream he and Matthew (Matty) Jardin had since their childhoods in Kamloops. Aryze even drafted a covenant on a project at 430 Parry Street that designates two of the 11 units at 15 per cent below market value in perpetuity. Aryze is making that covenant available to any other developer to apply anywhere in the capital region. “... we think it’s an innovative way to deliver affordability within these projects that aren’t specifically affordable,” Goodman says. TIMBER AND TABLETS Aryze is a millennial-owned business with most of its 27 employees in their mid-30s. Among its projects is the proposed Speed Avenue 12-storey mass timber-frame building it is working on with Mike Geric Construction and D’AMBROSIO architecture + urbanism. Goodman says the project is currently in the development permit process. He anticipates construction of the underground parkade to begin later this year. B.C.’s Building Code was recently amended to allow wooden structures of up to 12 storeys, double the previous limit. “The benefit of mass timber is that it’s a way more efficient way of building,” Goodman says, adding that, “the panels are actually built off-site and they’re brought in and installed by a small team, whereas concrete is all site-built. Mass timber buildings are also way lighter than concrete buildings.” It will be the first mass timber project Aryze has taken part in. However, an Aryze affiliate — Mill Bay-based Kinsol Timber Systems — recently finished its work on Langford’s Charter Telecom building. “From what we’ve seen, they’re about 25 per cent faster to erect than a comparable concrete building,” Goodman says, adding that concrete construction is one of the greatest contributors to greenhouse gases in the world, whereas timber actually sequesters carbon. New technologies are making construction efficient in other ways. Where a site superintendent used to carry around rolls of blueprints, hundreds of those drawings can now be loaded onto a tablet computer, says Devon Kray, VP of business development with Durwest Construction Management. “There’s a detail on a drawing on the screen;
you circle it with your finger and you send it to the architect with a question or a request for information. It’s pretty neat really, all the various options and programs you can select from,” says Kray, whose father co-founded Durwest in 1979 and is still president, but he’s handing off responsibilities to his son. A MARKET OF NICHES In recent years, Durwest has built several prominent institutional and commercial projects on Vancouver Island, including Songhees Wellness Centre, Sidney Pier Hotel & Spa and projects on Bear Mountain. “Victoria is kind of a funny market where certain builders may find a niche with certain projects or a certain type of project for a period of time,” Kray says. “For us, our portfolio remains a bit more diverse.” Current Durwest projects include expansions at Victoria and Nanaimo international airports, and a new learning-teaching auditorium at Royal Roads University. In the works for later this year is the new Nigel House in Saanich.
Capital Regional District Wastewater Treatment Project — $765M. This ranks 63rd on the list of Canada’s Top 100 infrastructure projects compiled by ReNew Canada magazine. A consortium, Harbour Resource Partners, is designing, building and financing the McLoughlin Point wastewater treatment plant, according to the CRD website.
Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt A and B Jetty Recapitalization — $430M. This is the only other Victoria project on the Renew list (ranking 94th, although the list erroneously places it at 63rd). The project manager is Westpro with engineering by SNC-Lavalin and major construction by Scansa Construction and Pomerleau.
The 25-storey Bayview Place Tower 4 is the latest office-
commercial project by Focus Equities. Victoria City Council approved the 183-unit project last fall. Construction is planned to start this year, with completion scheduled for 2022.
The 176-unit, 25-storey Hudson Place One is now under construction on the site of the former downtown Hudson’s Bay store. Developed by Townline, the project is slated for completion in 2020.
The proposed 23-storey, 235unit Hudson Place Two is the final phase of the multi-tower Hudson District constructed on the site of the former Hudson’s Bay store.
At 20-storeys, The Yates on Yates by Chard Development is now being built by Campbell Construction. The 118-unit tower is due for completion in 2020.
The 20-storey Vivid at the Yates, also by Chard and being built by Campbell Construction, is scheduled for completion in 2021.
Two towers at 989 Johnson Street, a project by Cox Development, will offer 206 units in two buildings of 15 and 17 storeys. Farmer Construction is the builder. Completion is slated for 2019.
A 16-storey, 166-unit tower is proposed for 979-983 Pandora Avenue. Developer Townline expects work to start in 2020 with completion in 2022.
The 15-storey Tapestry tower at 701 Belleville Street from developer Concert Properties is scheduled for completion this year.
The $85 million McKenzie Interchange project on the Trans-Canada Highway should open to free-flowing traffic by this winter and be completed next summer. It is a civil infrastructure project.
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Durwest has about 45 full-time employees, which remains constant throughout the year. “Then on any particular project, depending on the size of it, and depending on what’s required from our forces, we could have as many as a dozen guys on one particular project,” Kray says. STILL QUITE STRONG Durwest is among the nearly 460 members of the Vancouver Island Construction Association (VICA), which serves the institutional, commercial, industrial, civil and multiresidential sectors. That’s unlike VRBA and CHBA-VI members, who concentrate on the residential sector. VICA members include such Island construction heavyweights as Farmer, Kinetic, Knappett and Campbell, plus businesses that support construction such as lawyers and accountants. The construction market is strong, particularly for multi-family residential, with
most regions of the Island having low rental vacancy rates of around one per cent, notes VICA CEO Rory Kulmala. “Demand is driving need,” he adds. “The great thing about the market is it’s reacting and being responsive to the need. And our contracting community is mobilizing and making it happen.” VICA announced this March that for the second straight year Vancouver Island had set records for construction employment and building permit values in 2018. Employment rose 3.8 per cent to 35,700 workers, while building permit values increased nine per cent to $2.45 billion. Fourth quarter permit totals for the Island dropped 16 per cent compared with the third quarter, however. Kulmala attributed that in part to a softening of real estate prices. Kulmala notes that during Vancouver’s housing bubble, many people opted to “cash in their chips” and move to the Island. “Now, with the softening in Vancouver, we’re seeing the same thing happen (here),” Kulmala says.
A custom timber-framed home by Kinsol Timber Systems
developed a 7,000-word affordable housing covenant adaptable for any municipality in the capital region, says Aryze partner Ryan Goodman. The covenant designates two units of a strata in perpetuity as “below market value,” defined as 85 per cent of fair market value.
SOLVING THE BOTTLENECKS Kulmala shares some of the same concerns as VRBA’s Casey Edge about Greater Victoria’s various municipal bureaucracies and the impacts they have on the costs of projects and getting them off the ground. “There’s a fairly broad difference across the CRD on how they’re handled,” Kulmala says. “You look at Langford, they get building permits out, development permits out very quickly. It’s a very attractive environment to build.” Another challenge for the industry is getting enough qualified tradespeople. “If we need to hire a crew for a new project and if all our guys are busy, which everyone is, it’s a real challenge to find a carpenter,” Kray says. “Most of our hires that we have coming into the company now, they’re guys coming from Alberta.” Phil Venoit, president of the BC and Yukon Territory Building Construction Trades Council, says one way to address the shortage would be for the provincial government to employ
VANCOUVER ISLAND HAS PLENTY OF COMPANIES DOING AMAZING THINGS IN CONSTRUCTION, INCLUDING THE FOLLOWING: Abstract Developments, Verity Construction and Limona Construction: “They’ve always been trying to create an affordable housing product,” says Casey Edge, executive director of the Victoria Residential Builders Association. “And they have to continually adapt to the multiple regulations, fees and
costs that the governments keep coming up with.” Houle Electric and Canem Systems: “Both of them are very innovation oriented,” says Phil Venoit of the BC and Yukon Territory Building Construction Trades Council. The electrical contracting
market “is changing dramatically and moving into a whole bunch of new products that we wouldn’t have thought of 10 years ago. You’d see them in a sci-fi movie and go, ‘Wow, that would be really cool if you could do that.’” For example: “Glass that changes from clear to opaque by dimming a switch … essentially it changes a window to a wall.” Aryze Developments: In collaboration with a lawyer, it has
Kinsol Timber Systems: This Mill Bay company — whose shareholders include the owners of Aryze — specializes in timber structures, such as the rebuilding of the historic Kinsol Trestle. The company, which has a 12,000-square-foot carpentry workshop at Bamberton, employs purpose-built software that integrates with computer numerical control (CNC) processes, in designing its timber structures. Kinsol is also a big fan of building information modelling, or BIM. “By designing in 3-D space, we can overcome the challenges associated with connection detailing for complex geometric shapes and structures that have a high number of individual components,” says Goodman. RedLine Glass: “They’re focusing on how to improve glazing systems and wall systems for higher efficiencies,” says Rory Kulmala, executive director of the Vancouver Island Construction Association [VICA].
its new community benefits agreement on more projects. “It comes with a mandatory apprentice ratio, and right now we use it so far on highways and bridges,” Venoit says. “But we don’t find a lot of sheet metal workers or plumbers and pipefitters on a highway.” The agreement, which the NDP announced in July 2018, is controversial. VICA and the British Columbia Construction Association have both expressed concerns. “It is imperative that all construction projects in B.C. are open to all companies, both union and non-union, without binding them to a prescribed labour agreement,” Kulmala said in a news release at the time. That dispute aside, Venoit says B.C.’s union and non-union sectors typically get along. “It’s very hard to find a project today where all trades are union on one job,” says Venoit. One key difference is pay, with non-union workers earning about 25 per cent less than their 8,000 union counterparts on the Island, Venoit says. Even for non-union firms like Durwest, Arzye and Bernhardt, the pay for trades compares favourably with other vocations. Starting wages are $18 to $20 an hour, rising to $40 or $50 for a highly skilled journeyman carpenter. As baby boomers retire, the industry worries not enough younger people are entering the trades, despite the promising pay and prospects. ATTRACTING A NEW GENERATION For Bernhardt and for Goodman at Aryze, it’s all about creating unique work environments that appeal to the youth cohort. Construction just needs to shed its “alphamale dominated” tradition in which a recurring message is to do things in certain ways because that’s the way they’ve always been done, says Goodman. “I don’t think that really flies with the younger workforce, who have different expectations over the culture and the workforce,” he says, adding that his company, which has a lot of women on its diverse team, treats its people with respect, “the way that we would want to be treated ourselves.” Meanwhile, Edge of the VRBA proposes universities and colleges — and high schools — add carpentry and other trades as electives to academic programs. He believes it will reduce the stigma associated with trades and encourage even more bright young people to learn construction skills. Despite the challenges, the outlook for the Island’s construction industry looks bright. Bernhardt expects his slice of the business to keep growing. He is already planning on more hiring over the next year. After that, he anticipates demand levelling off but remaining steady for the next five years. Perhaps by then Mercedes will make that electric-powered van he’s been wishing for. ■
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A BETTER WAY TO DEVELOP, DESIGN AND BUILD
he vision for Omicron evolved from a long dinner conversation between colleagues. The issue they were trying to address was fairly simple — how to maximize efficiencies in the design-build process to create a better experience for their clients — and their solution was unique. What the building industry lacked was an integrated approach that would to unite engineers, designers, architects and builders under the same roof to deliver a quality, timely product. Today, the company has over 135 industry professionals who bring a blend of skills and technologies to residential, building renewal, mixed-use, institutional, industrial, and commercial projects across Western Canada. On Vancouver Island, Omicron’s current projects include a new Marriott Hotel in Nanaimo; the multi-phased, mixed-use Eagle Creek Village development in View Royal; a 19-acre mixed-use employment centre in Colwood; and the conversion of Harbour Towers, a James Bay hotel, into a 219unit market rental building, set to open in the fall of 2019. “People realize rentals are needed, and this covers quite a broad spectrum of suite types,” says Doug Vincent, one of Omicron’s principals, who is overseeing this conversion. “There’s a diverse mix ranging from studios at 300 square feet, to penthouses at 1,400 square feet. This makes the building desirable across a range of demographics.”
As one of the largest integrated development, design and construction firms in Western Canada, Omicron handles everything from real estate strategy to architectural drawings, to construction management and project handover. This 360-degree approach means seamless, streamlined management of clients’ needs and goals. The fact that 80 per cent of the company’s clients are repeat customers speaks to the quality of product delivered by Omicron’s team. “We’re extremely busy on Vancouver Island — and we’re diversifying,” says Omicron director, Peter Laughlin, who has managed the company’s Victoria developments for a decade. “We’ll continue to serve our corporate clients with design and construction services, while expanding on the real estate development side.” The benefits of this integrated process, says Laughlin, include time and cost savings, one single point of contact, and access to all real estate professionals under one roof.
As a visionary company, Omicron continues to evolve. They invest in leading-edge technology and software that allow clients to digitally experience their project before it begins. From virtual reality to shared online client dashboards that provide project status in real-time, Omicron continues to employ innovative solutions for better, more efficient project delivery. “We can sit down with a client and literally walk them through their space from end to end,” says Laughlin. “Show them the lighting and wall systems, look in the mechanical room, walk through the kitchen — it takes a lot of the guesswork out.”
The fact that 80 per cent of the company’s clients are repeat customers speaks to the quality of product delivered by the Omicron team. Driving Innovation
The conversion of the Harbour Towers hotel into The James at Harbour Towers has also benefited from the company’s use of technology and innovative solutions. With a client trying to decide whether to invest in a hotel renovation or convert to long-term living spaces, Omicron did a complete building assessment to help the owners plan and budget for each option. Once the decision was made to create rental units, Omicron handled the conversion. “We had a eureka moment when we decided to cut an L-swath through the hotel’s 2-storey convention space to create an inner courtyard with apartments opening onto it,” says Vincent. “This allowed for 44 new naturally lit units in what was previously windowless space, and 8,500 square feet of new, open air space.” For more information, visit jamesbayliving.com. Support for The James at Harbour Towers is widespread — Victoria’s mayor and council and neighbourhood associations are eager to see more rental units brought to market — and Omicron is delivering. An idea sparked by dinner table conversation now offers a better experience — and creative solutions — to all who experience Omicron’s approach to complex design and build challenges.
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SHAPING OUR As David Chard’s buildings change the West Coast urban skyline, the developer remains refreshingly down-toearth. Douglas talks to Chard about his approach to business and building, his secrets of success and his next moves. BY SUSAN HOLLIS PHOTOS BY JEFFREY BOSDET
hen Chard Development broke ground on its most recent project in downtown Victoria — the 20-storey Vivid at the Yates — developer Dave Chard had already logged countless hours on and around the lot determining how it could best fit into the surrounding community. He did this despite already knowing this part of the city better than most. He’s worked here in a range of capacities for 25 years, creating some of Victoria’s better known buildings, including the 14-storey Juliet on Johnson Street, the 11-storey Sovereign condominium project on Broughton Street, and the 16-storey Yello on Yates, a purposebuilt rental building. “We try to start with a vision — what’s the play?” Chard says. “Will it be low rise or high rise? Rental, condo, office or mixed use?” “We consider the current zoning and what is permitted under the existing Official Community Plan (OCP),” he continues. “Does our vision for the site fit within the OCP? While we generally don’t like to stray too far from the OCP, making a project viable often does require us to push the limits a bit.” The title real estate developer brings to mind all sorts of images — not all of them flattering. But anyone who creates livable, usable spaces in an urban area is also critical to the shape of that city. And while some developers seem cut from the
DAVID CHARD, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR AND FOUNDER OF CHARD DEVELOPMENT
SKYLINE pages of an Ayn Rand novel, others, like Chard, are socially conscious, aware of their impacts on land and people. As a businessman, Chard has the ability to focus wide on the overarching goals of a project, while keeping the minute details in play. He’s conservative in his approach, which he says has helped keep his projects viable year after year. With no major career mistakes to speak of, he laughs when asked what he would have done differently. “The big thing is being able to manage through the different economic cycles. So the biggest mistake is I should have bought more properties 10 years ago but certainly couldn’t afford to do so,” he says. “Basically we’ve tried to do one project after another but haven’t been in a position to do multiples. We complete one and start another. We’ve been relatively conservative that way.” With seven downtown-area Victoria mixed-use buildings under his belt, two under construction and one in the planning stages, Chard operates as a merchant developer, building and selling his mixed-use condo and rental projects one after another — often to repeat buyers. Chard’s community-first approach has seen his company create some 1.3 million square feet of residential and commercial space in Victoria and Vancouver. To date, Chard Development is on track to nearly double its portfolio of completed commercial and residential development by 2021 — an achievement he is proud of, but his satisfaction seems to stem from providing homes rather than returns on investment. “A big one for us is we have mainly sold to Victorians,” says Chard. “We’ve been able to really strengthen our brand that way and we have so many repeat buyers that I find it rather humbling.” ABOVE AND BEYOND Karina Sacca is a Victoria lawyer who bought commercial space from Chard at 834 Johnson Street in 2013. When she first toured the space, it was Chard himself who showed her around. When the building’s strata council held its first
few meetings, Chard was at the table. “It felt like he had taken some pride of development, not just as an investment, and he certainly has been a presence in this building,” she says. Sacca adds that when issues arose at a neighbouring property (844 Johnson Street), which was purchased by the Province in 2016 as a supportive housing facility for a group of people — many of whom were deemed hard to house by social workers — that had been living in downtown’s tent city, Chard became active in the neighbourhood’s civic politics. He advocated for his building’s residents at a local and provincial level. By 2018, Chard and his team had organized and facilitated an emergency neighbourhood meeting for residents, workers and business owners that was attended by Victoria’s mayor and council, plus representatives from the Vancouver Island Health Authority, BC Housing and the police, with the goal of making positive changes to the neighbourhood. “He’s a really positive voice for his purchasers and what he sees as the community,” she says. “I think he wants to make sure he’s helping to create a positive space, not just in the buildings but in the community those buildings are going to house.” THE BEST PLACE Though based in Vancouver, Chard cut his building teeth in Victoria, a city he knows well from a childhood spent sailing out of the Royal Victoria Yacht Club while competing as a member of Vancouver’s Hollyburn Sailing Club racing team and in Swiftsure’s spring races. He continues to sail today with his wife Naomi and three adult children whenever possible and hosts an annual “boat day” summer sailing party for employees. But it was those initial experiences on the waters around Victoria that led him to explore the city. Simply put, he continues to invest in the communities here because it’s a place he feels comfortable in. “You can get to know the contractors, sub trades, city people,” he says. “It’s small enough that you walk down a street, you recognize someone who has worked on your project.”
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to take calculated risks as my father always has done, but I am looking to continue to diversify our company and make strategic partnerships, like we have with Vivid with BC Housing. We’ve been able to do that through a creative financing deal,” he adds. The collaboration with BC Housing on the Vivid project will provide 135 homes for below appraised value for those whose income typically makes it a struggle to get into the market. “I still need to deliver the returns required by my partners to invest money into the project,” Byron says. “If these are pension funds or individual investors, I still owe them the return for the risk that they’re taking. However, by doing different partnerships and doing different deals with BC Housing … we are able to reduce the amount of risk with our projects and therefore reduce the amount of profit we deliver to our partners. And they fully understand that when they invest, and they see the social conscience that we work with.”
That personal touch has built long business relationships, and Chard’s reputation for quality on his projects means contractors and tradespeople are eager to work with him. Wayne Farey is a second-generation general manager and operations manager of Victoria’s Campbell Construction, which often works with Chard on its projects. “Where he shines is he takes things into his hands to find a solution to resolve things, and it’s an approach that’s very hands-on and it’s very effective and it saves us time in construction,” says Farey. “He’ll push to get something resolved quickly, and you don’t see that a lot with other developers, as things get lost in the shuffle. He’s still very hands-on, and you have to commend him for it.” A LOOK BACK, AND FORWARD David Chard first launched his development career in Calgary in the late 70s and early 80s, followed by a stint in the shopping centre development industry with behemoths like Marathon Realty and Burr Properties. He launched Chard Development in 1994 as a fee-for-service company that developed stores for Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) across Canada. He also leveraged his experience in the mall development world to land contracts to build shopping centres for The Bay as they expanded their Zellers chain. After that, Chard saw an opening in the residential market in Victoria and broke ground on the Corazon building on Cormorant Street — the first residential building to be created in the north end of downtown in over a decade.
BYRON CHARD, PRESIDENT AND CEO OF CHARD DEVELOPMENT
And while some developers seem cut from the pages of an Ayn Rand novel, others, like Chard, are socially conscious, aware of their impacts on land and people. “In the development industry, you have to go with the flow as quite often things work in cycles,” says Chard. “I thought there was an opportunity for residential, and it was actually in Victoria where we started to do all residential development. That was in 2004. Since then, we’ve done one project after another there.” After a decade of building in Victoria, Chard took his company’s residential development skills back to the Vancouver market in 2014. The company now splits its workload between the two cities equally, and since 2013 the senior Chard has shared his workload with his son Byron, 30. A chartered accountant who gained experience south of the border while specializing in real estate files for Ernst & Young in Dallas, Texas, Byron initially had no plans to join the family business, but says he was drawn by the success of his father’s business and the amount of knowledge his father has to share. 48 DOUGLAS
“I think the thing I’ve learned the most is the integrity he holds with relationships,” Byron says. “That he cherishes each relationship. He treats everyone with the utmost respect in all of his relationships, and one thing I’ve learned is that we are in the people business.” Byron took over as Chard Development’s CEO and president on May 9, with Dave moving into the role of executive director and founder in order to spend more time with his wife and grandkids. When asked if he plans to make any significant changes to Chard’s business model, which typically sees the company carrying more equity than the average developer per project, Byron laughs and points out that as an accountant he’s careful by nature, and that the business’s success can be attributed to cautious management over the years. His philosophy? Why mess with what works? “We’re in a risky industry and we’re going
THE LANDSCAPE OF SUCCESS After a quarter century in business, it’s fairly easy to take the temperature of a company like Chard Development because its sterling reputation spans sectors, not just decades. The company has made a very public impression in Victoria because their focus has not been solely on developing spaces, but in shaping landscapes for people of all walks of life — seniors on fixed incomes, first-time buyers, those in the market for high-end condos — and the company will continue to deepen its roots here. Chard Development is currently in the predevelopment phase at a site in Old Town and at another close to the border of Harris Green and Fernwood. They plan to continue to provide a diversity of housing and development types within the city. As Sacca observes, Chard’s contributions also go beyond an investment. “When you walk up and down the streets you can see so many of the buildings he has built,” she says. “I think that for him, it’s not just a matter of building [on] the raw land and making the capital investment. I think that for him he must look around and be really happy and proud of the communities he’s creating.” ■
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Claudio Costi, owner of La Tana Bakery, says the new bike lanes make it much easier for him to do his business deliveries by bike.
Victoria’s CYCLING REVOLUTION is here Bike economics are impacting how we live and do business. ■ BY JEFF DAVIES ■ PHOTOS BY HÉLÈN CYR
Victoria’s bike lanes have been scapegoats for all that ails our city, but the move to get more bikes on the road is inspiring an entire cyclist economy, from developers to bike shops, bakeries and bike-thru food venues. Could it be true that cycling lanes benefit more than just cyclists?
o glimpse the new cycling economy in Victoria, take a stroll, or a pedal, down Harbour Road in Vic West, past the shipyard and condos, to the building that houses Caffé Fantastico and its neighbours, Fol Epi Bakery and Trek Bicycle Store. “Probably at least 50 to 60 per cent of our business comes from cyclists,” says Harriet Carter, a keen cyclist and manager of the deli that Fantastico added to its café three years ago. “The bridge and bike lanes had a big impact on our business. It’s probably increased about 15 per cent.” The café and deli do a brisk business catering to cyclists. That might surprise cycling critics who blame bike lanes for downtown parking problems, the tighter squeeze for buses and emergency vehicles and the construction disruption. The cycling network has been one of Mayor Lisa Helps’ most controversial initiatives, and the ensuing pushback was one reason she was hounded off Facebook. But do a little digging, and you’ll find plenty of supporters. Carter says Vic West now feels more
connected to downtown: “It feels a little more of a community now because of the cycle lanes.” Next door at Trek Bicycle Store, owner Troy Woodburn agrees. “It’s a great spot, right at the entrance to the Galloping Goose. Lots of traffic back and forth.” Woodburn says new bike shops and rental outlets are popping up around the city. When he learned Fantastico wanted to add a bike store to its complex, he jumped at it. It will be his third summer in the new location, and it’s paying off. “Definitely more people buying bikes or riding bikes to work now because of the bridge,” he says, noting his niche market in electric bikes. They’re popular, he says, among people “who used to be on bikes but got a little timid or scared or can’t ride them as well as they used to.” SPOKES OF EXPANSION Across the new Johnson Street Bridge, meanwhile, businesses on Pandora Avenue see hundreds of cyclists pass by on the new bike lanes. Veteran cycling activist and former city councillor John Luton
The City’s figures confirm there are more cyclists using the bike lanes: the numbers on Pandora Avenue nearly tripled from 570 average trips a day in June 2016 to 1,422 in July 2018 after completion of the bike lanes.
looks on approvingly. The old bridge with its narrow, slippery-when-wet metal deck, was “an insurmountable barrier,” for many cyclists, Luton says. The new bridge, meanwhile, “is the single biggest investment in cycling infrastructure in the history of the city. Commuter cyclists have to get in and out of the city, so the bridge was the broken link.” The bike shop at Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) backs onto that busy stretch of Pandora a block from the bridge. “We’ve had a ton of extra business over the past year, especially this spring,” says Zach Peters, a bike mechanic at MEC. “Business is booming ...” Down the block at La Tana, an Italian bakery, owner Claudio Costi couldn’t be happier; he makes his deliveries by bike. With the new bike lane,“it’s much easier. It’s faster.”
And he feels more comfortable biking downtown with his 14-year-old daughter. He can’t say how many of his customers arrive by bike, but business year-over-year has been increasing by 20 per cent. Nearby, at Habit Coffee, owner Shane Devereaux is embracing the changes. “We’re growing up finally. With that, and the [housing] density, we’re seeing more and more people moving around downtown with means other than a car … We’ve seen nothing but positives.” Luton says all those cyclists travelling downtown are bound to have an effect on restaurants and cafés, “because they’re hungry all the time. It’s like the 5,000-calorie-a-day tourist. Do the math.” Oh, and those cyclists get thirsty too. There’s a Victoria Ale Trail that features craft breweries and pubs and encourages cyclists and walkers to drop in for a pint. Spinnakers, the oldest brew pub in Victoria, has long been a convenient stop near the harbour. Now the craft-brewing industry is blossoming — or rather foaming
— and cycle tours are pulling in at places like the new Phillips’ tasting room on Government Street. And it’s not just downtown that has benefited. Cafés catering to cyclists have sprung up in recent years along the major cycling routes. The Nest on the Galloping Goose Trail and Harvest Road beside Mitchell’s Farm Market on the Lochside Trail are two examples. Tom Croft views the bike lanes through a business filter; he was a banker, then a realtor, as well as an Oak Bay councillor. The last two years he was working, he often did so by bicycle, even cycling to open houses and hauling his signs in a trailer. Now retired, Croft stays in touch with the industry. He says cycle-ability will increasingly figure in buyers’ choices. “People want to come here to live. And people actually want to take advantage of our climate, so cycling and walking and a healthy lifestyle is what they’re coming for.” At Victoria City Hall, Sarah Webb, manager of sustainable transportation planning and DOUGLAS 51
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and a 2011 study found a moderate decline in business on Hornby Street. But now Charles Gauthier, the president of the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association, says his members have learned to embrace cycling as a mode of transportation and have even partnered with a cycling organization to improve bike facilities. There have been no new studies to measure the economic impact, but in April the city did release a survey that shows a big increase in the number of people who walk, cycle or take transit; they now account for 52.8 per cent of all trips.
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Gauthier, meanwhile, sees businesses moving
Gotham These are early days for the cycling network, in to serve cyclists. “We’ve seen that there are and business leaders point out there are no and communication people of all ages using the separated bike lanes. Gotham is used for all Edward Jones advertising, collateral figurescopy. yet for any net readability, gains in economicit is recommended They feel more comfortable pieces. It is primarily used for body For not toand safe in them. activity due to the new infrastructure. But And I would say that, eight years later, it’s a go below 9 pt. on 13 pt. Preffered disclaimer style is 7 pt. ofon there’s plenty of research on the impact bike8 pt. book weight.
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Fol Epi’s Dockside location is a popular destination for cyclists using the Galloping Goose Trail.
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good thing, but it did take a while for us to lanes on other cities as diverse as Toronto, Los adjust to that.” Angeles, London, Portland and Vancouver. In Victoria, the construction of the bridge There are some common themes: The proposals and bike lanes It are is partalso of a broader strategy tables, charts, and copy heavy documents. often encounter push back from downtown meant to tap into demographic trends, as service businesses worried about losing parking spaces industries expand, the population ages and more and vehicular traffic. people downsize and move into condos. The But according to CityLab, a U.S. website that goal is to encourage people to live and spend researches urban issues, the studies “all reach a their money downtown, not just to see it as a similar conclusion. Replacing on-street parking place to work before driving back to the burbs. with a bike lane has little to no impact on local “It can’t just be a ramp to the freeway to get business, and in some cases might even increase out of town,” says Jeff Bray, executive director of business. While cyclists tend to spend less per the Downtown Victoria Business Association. shopping trip than drivers, they also tend to MOBILITY AT THE FOREFRONT make more trips, pumping more total money Victoria’s cycling network is also part of the into the economy over time.” City’s long-term mobility strategy, dubbed Go One study in Toronto, which looked at Victoria, launched in January. The goal, in the impact in 2017 after a bike lane was the words of Mayor Lisa Helps, “[is] to help built along Bloor Street, found that cycling eliminate congestion, pollution and greenhouse nearly tripled as a travel choice from seven gases, while still allowing people the freedom to per cent to 20 per cent. Visitors were 48 per move and access the things they love.” cent more likely than before to spend $100 or One of the people overseeing Go Victoria is more, and most merchants reported a higher Jeffrey Tumlin, a transportation strategy director number of customers than before the bike with the firm Nelson\Nygaard Consulting lane’s installation. It concluded: “These early Associates of San Francisco. He performed a indicators point to a positive, or at least neutral, similar role in developing the cycling network in impact of the bike lane.” Vancouver. In Vancouver, meanwhile, the construction of There’s an urgent tone to Tumlin’s narrative: bike lanes also ran into stiff opposition. Some downtown merchants didn’t renew their leases, “Change is coming to you whether you want
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development, bubbles with enthusiasm when she talks about the new bike lanes in Victoria. “The numbers tell us that more people are riding more often,” she says during an open house at City Hall surrounded by schematics showing new infrastructure. “Some people are riding to work. Some people are out on the weekends. Some people are taking new trips shopping or going to school. For us, it’s encouraging.” Indeed the City’s figures confirm there are more cyclists using the bike lanes: The numbers on Pandora Avenue nearly tripled from 570 average trips a day in June 2016 to 1,422 in July 2018 after completion of the bike lanes. On Fort Street, meanwhile, the number of cyclists rose from just 246 average trips a day in 2014 to 823 in July 2018. Meanwhile, an electronic bike counter on Harbour Road, at the start of the Galloping Goose Trail, registers about 2,500 hits a day in peak season, with a record of 3,800. “Our target from our official community plan is to have 70 per cent of all trips to work by transit, walking and cycling by 2041,” says Webb. The latest figure, from the 2016 census, is 52 per cent.
it or not,” he said during a panel discussion in Victoria in January. “We will not be asking your community what it wants. We are going to be asking your community what it needs and to help us make the difficult choices when you can do one thing or another but not both.” But Tumlin told Douglas it’s up to the City to make the decisions. “Basically, the City has a call to action to address its role in climate leadership, its role in making the city safe for everyone and its role in attracting and retaining young talent.” Tumlin says Victoria already has an advantage over many other cities. “It has a compact size and a highly functional downtown, as well as functional commercial districts that were all laid out on the streetcar lines from the early 20th century. So that network is really perfect to support high levels of biking, if the right facilities are provided. And those are facilities that attract families with children, older adults, women with groceries — not just facilities that are aimed at 28-year-old men in Lycra.” Still, it’s the sort of talk that may rile commuters who fear change is being forced. “Cycling advocates have traditionally been a very vocal group in Victoria,” says Catherine Holt, CEO of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce. “I think this rubbed some people the wrong way, especially if this is not a realistic way for them to get in and out of downtown.” Yet Holt, a cyclist herself, welcomes the increased activity downtown and the low commercial vacancy rate. “We have the potential for Victoria to become one of the great cycling cities of the world — like Copenhagen or Amsterdam.” OVERCOMING CRITICISM Talk to any cycling advocate in Victoria these days, and at some point the enthusiasm about the new bridge and bike lanes may be tempered with a defensive tone. Oh, they’ve heard all the arguments all right, that the bike lanes are a “costly folly,” as one critic fumed in an op ed in the Times-Colonist. On social media, meanwhile, the debate has often been venomous. “I’ll continue to drive as close as possible to douchebag cyclists who are occupying my lane of the road when it suits me,” says one motorist in a Reddit forum. “And when they get hit, with dashcam footage of a clear and safe bike lane right next to them and a good lawyer, I’m sure that the law will interpret it my way, and I’ll collect damages.” The bike lanes are often portrayed as a sop to spandex-wearing zealots, to car haters and tree huggers, encouraged by a handful of flaky politicians hungry for votes from an entitled minority. And there’s always someone keen to post a photo of an empty bike lane. “Modern politics is about turning people into tribes,” laments cycling activist and
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transportation consultant Todd Litman. “It’s a reflection of the nastiness of current politics where we as bicyclists are supposed to be, you know, an arrogant, pushy subgroup.” Supporters like Litman and Luton all say the cycling network isn’t meant to pressure anyone into cycling. It’s simply there to provide an inexpensive, safe, eco-friendly and healthy transportation option for those who were reluctant to cycle downtown in the past. Litman has a master’s degree in environmental studies and now heads an organization called the Victoria Transport Policy Institute. He can cite studies showing that cycling and walking are far healthier than driving, that bike infrastructure costs a fraction of that of highways and parking spots, and that there are big savings, not just for taxpayers, but also for individual cyclists. Those savings can go back into the economy, whether it’s for essentials like housing or a night on the town. “You don’t have to be an environmentalist,” Litman says. “You can be a selfish tightwad and choose to bicycle.” He and his wife helped finance their children’s education with their savings from not owning a car. It is, he argues, a rational decision to choose the transportation mode that favours your economic interests. Cycling activists bristle at the idea they’re asking commuters to subsidize their travel choices. They argue they’re the ones subsidizing car travel, since City bylaws require developers to provide parking spaces, even when they’re building condos or apartments for residents who may not own cars. That policy “drives up costs enormously,” says Edward Pullman, president of the Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition. Building cycling infrastructure, on the other hand, “gives you much more spending power.” Caught in the middle are those in the business community, particularly the business leaders who have to keep all sides happy. One prominent businessman politely asked me to turn off my recorder before confessing he thought it was unfortunate the debate has become so negative. He actually likes some of the initiatives coming from the much-maligned city council. It also poses a big challenge for the tourist industry. “Our job is to look forward,” says Paul Nursey, the CEO of Destination Greater Victoria. “There is absolutely no doubt that the construction in and around downtown is having a negative short-term impact. Visits to our Visitors’ Centre right in the heart of all the construction downtown are down 25 per cent year over year. I know a lot of the businesses around that area are seeing significant decreases. That being said, I think we definitely view cycling as being one of many experiences that are beneficial to us in the medium to long term.”
It’s all about offering visitors a diversity of choices, says Nursey. “The most successful destinations have lots of things for visitors to see and do, and cycling is part of that mix. The destinations that rely on just one thing are the ones that are least resilient and aren’t able to bounce back from any kind of change in consumer tastes.” Jeff Bray of the Downtown Victoria Business Association (DVBA) sums it up. “We had members who were vehemently opposed to the bike lanes, and I heard from them. And I had members strongly supportive of the bike lanes, and I heard from them.” Bray has had to strike a balance — not unlike someone riding a bike in traffic. His organization didn’t take any position, pro or con. But it does advocate for better consultation and engagement. He thinks it’s paying off, and City Hall is doing a better job of seeking input as it proceeds with building bike lanes on Wharf Street and planning for those on Vancouver Street. As Bray notes, downtown Victoria wasn’t a healthy place just 10 years ago. “It was quiet because there just wasn’t anything happening. And it as very hard for local businesses to make a living …. You’d be dodging tumbleweeds coming down the street at your back.” Now it’s a very different scene. While some may decry downtown’s crowds and the construction, the panhandlers and the parking problems, the business vacancy rate has dropped from 13 per cent to 4.1 per cent in six years. And the city’s unemployment rate of 3 per cent in March was second only to Guelph, Ontario as Canada’s lowest. “Change is never easy,” says Bray, citing the old nostrum. BUILDING WITH A NEW VISION Several others interviewed for this story quote another familiar line: “If you build it, they will come.” Put developer Robert Jawl firmly in that camp. His family firm has just moved into new quarters with a commanding view of Douglas Street and City Hall. The choice reflects both the company’s faith in the downtown economy and its belief that residents welcome new transportation choices. “We’ve made a strategic judgment that we want to invest heavily in the downtown core, and we believe that in the South Island this is the focal point for economic dynamism, retail activity, cultural and social amenities,” Jawl says. The Jawls’ new complex at 1515 Douglas Street includes two storage rooms with space for up to 210 bikes for those who work there. There is also a bike share program. Not only that, on the main floor there’s fashionable dobosala cantina, which opened last year, offering Indo-Pacific cuisine and a “ride
thru” for cyclists on the go. Owner and chef Kunal Ghose says when he heard about the cycle lane being built on Pandora, “I figured, why not? Why not make it easier for people on their bikes to pick up dinner on the way home?” As business leaders and cycling advocates alike point out, the main beneficiaries of the cycling infrastructure may be cost-conscious workers in the service industries, not the hard core cyclists with the expensive clothing and bikes. Suzanne Bradbury is co-owner of Fort Properties, which owns the block at Fort and Blanshard that includes a variety of businesses, such as the city’s oldest Starbucks as well as fishhook restaurant. The stores and restaurants in the neighbourhood sometimes have a tough time attracting and holding staff, as young people are often put off by the cost of housing and of owning a car. Bradbury heard all the complaints about the bike lanes — the finger wagging, she calls it. But she says the overall impact on her properties has been a good one, and the street feels safer. “We have no vacancies,” she says, something that wasn’t the case a few years ago as antique stores closed and their businesses moved online. Today, she adds, “We have really strong tenancies there. I would say the street feels more like an urban downtown; it’s not just a traffic sewer sucking traffic up Fort Street, three lanes of cars going one direction. It’s a lot more crossthe-block traffic with people on foot. I like the change in the feeling of the block.” A LIFE CHANGER Back at Caffé Fantastico in Vic West, three cyclists — Norah Macey, Brenda Boyd and Andy Millard — suit up for an overnight jaunt to Sooke. They’re all retirees, and all are licensed and insured drivers as well as cyclists. All have e-bikes, those electrically-assisted bikes favoured by seniors. “I’ve got 16,500 kilometres on it, which astounds me,” says Macey, a retired accountant. “It doesn’t feel like that much. I just ride it and go everywhere on it, and I don’t use my car at all unless I absolutely have to. The e-bike has changed my life.” Boyd agrees. “I can ride my bike downtown and go to a store quicker than I can drive my car downtown and park it and go to the store. I can put two panniers (saddle bags) on it and a front basket, and I can put, oh, probably 40 pounds of stuff in it.” Millard, meanwhile, says when he was driving his car the day before, he got caught in a traffic jam on the Pat Bay Highway: “I kept thinking the whole way in, ‘I wish I had my bicycle.’” ■ Full disclosure: Jeff Davies has a road bike, a mountain bike and a 4x4 pickup, all well used.
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Mark Planiden (left) and Cody Graham of Media One shooting a clip in Strathcona for their client Microsoft. Along with working with large corporations, the company has created videos for small businesses.
BY ALEX VAN TOL
Does Your Brand Need a Video Strategy? The explosion of streaming services like Hulu, Netflix and Amazon Prime points to the obvious: Video is a much-loved mode of storytelling for the 21st century.
ast spring, I willingly sat through an entire twominute ad on YouTube. While usually I perch breathless, waiting for the “skip ad” message to show up as I watch YouTube, this time was different because,
enjoy retirement, flying his own airplanes because of prudent retirement saving. It was a wonderful ad: full of emotion and story, aspirational music, interviews and B-roll of the man puttering in his workshop. I liked it so much that I tweeted it — which is exactly what CIBC wanted me to do. I was one of hundreds of perpetrators in the ad’s climb to 2.53 million views and counting.
THE POWER OF VIDEO not even five seconds into the ad, a major national bank had gently snared me in its web of emotional heartstrings. As I watched, I learned about a man who, after years of building airplanes for others, was able to
Your video story — like CIBC’s — works to convey your particular belief system, both internally for your employees and outward into the world. As the fastest-growing segment in marketing, video is one of the most powerful ways to get
your story across to your audience. Here are a few more reasons why video is a next-level idea for your business: Better emotional connection. A video sells your product or offering by reaching viewers’ emotions. “If it’s shot well, and if the story comes through and you connect with somebody, you’ve made the connection that actually matters,” says Cody Graham, founding partner and executive producer of Media One. Humans are notoriously led by our feelings. We make decisions based on emotions. Sometimes they’re impulsive and irrational. Sometimes they’re sound. But they’re rarely taken in an emotional vacuum.
STEPS TO CREATING A
PLAN FOR IT Video works best when it’s part of the big picture plan. Think your marketing plan through so you’re not trying to cram video in as an afterthought. FIGURE OUT YOUR TAKE-AWAYS Ask yourself what are the top three takeaways you want your viewers to walk away with after watching your video. Craft it accordingly. KEEP IT SHORT N’ SWEET If you’re making a corporate video for your website or social media, 90 seconds is the magic number for you to keep people’s attention and convey your information. You can go longer for videos with characters, a longer story or a particular point. KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE And know where they sit on your sales funnel. You can go longer once you’ve got them sliding toward a deal. Kano Apps made a great video for people who apply to work for the company. Even though it’s five minutes long, someone interested in learning more about the company (and already far down the “employment funnel”) will stay put and watch the video, because they want that detailed information.
Accessibility of information. What would it look like to condense your 300-page annual report into a 10-minute video for your employees or shareholders to watch? It would look like a great way to help people understand what your organization has accomplished over the past 12 months, and gain a deeper resonance with your brand offering and message. Making complex information accessible to everyone is what has placed Khan Academy and TED Talks at the top of the heap when it comes to cramming a lot of information into a teeny tiny — and memorable — bucket.
START YOUR JOURNEY
You control your message. This is huge for business. With video, you have the opportunity to craft your story to deliver the exact message you want viewers to take away. It gives you a level of control that you don’t have in a television interview. A well-shaped video that tells a compelling story makes it easy for your audience to share that story with others, either on social media or through conversations. That’s the silver business bullet we call word of mouth.
SO IS VIDEO RIGHT FOR YOUR BUSINESS? Are you in business? Do you offer a product or service? Do you have a story? Okay, then. End of section. While large organizations like RBC, BC Hydro and TELUS have hefty budgets for visual storytelling, it’s different for small to medium-sized enterprises. If hiring a media production company is too costly, you can go it A WELL-SHAPED alone or with wellVIDEO THAT TELLS A timed assistance COMPELLING STORY from a freelance MAKES IT EASY FOR videographer (e.g. YOUR AUDIENCE TO calling in the cameras SHARE THAT STORY only once you’ve got WITH OTHERS … your story developed). THAT’S THE SILVER Similar to web design, you can make it as BUSINESS BULLET complex and costly as WE CALL WORD OF you want it to be. MOUTH. If cost is an issue, shoot and produce the video in-house. This is very useful for social media posts, which depend on regular scheduling. If you have the beans to invest more, do sit down with a media company to work out how video fits into your strategic branding. My favourite local video at the moment belongs to Caorda Web Solutions, which offers up an informative, fun, in-house-produced video right off the top that gives you a great sense of the company’s team and its work. Businesses that use video content for marketing enjoy 40 per cent more organic web traffic than those that don’t, plus research shows information retention rates of up to 95 per cent (versus 10 per cent for reading). This information, along with all of the reasons I listed above, make a pretty compelling argument for video. So get rolling. ■
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Alex Van Tol works with organizations to shape and communicate their brand stories. From real estate to tech, she uncovers what makes organizations tick — and what can help them grow.
BY CLEMENS RETTICH
When Charity Isn’t a Smart Business Choice Here’s a controversial idea: What if your business took the money it puts into charity and invested it instead in increasing employee wages, sourcing local resources and more training? Would the results then benefit the entire community? You decide.
hen I started my professional journey as a business advisor, a lot of my first clients were main-street retail businesses on southern Vancouver Island. One morning, years ago, I was sitting behind the reception desk at a hair salon, walking through procedures with the salon’s service manager. A young person came in and approached the desk. He said he was with a local school sports team and was looking for donations. He had a pledge form for a fundraising activity. After politely telling the young man that the business had already exceeded its budget for community giving for the month, the service manager told me this was not the first time she’d had to deliver the bad news — the budget was gone. It wasn’t even the middle of the month yet. Over the past decade, I’ve heard this story over and over: Main-street businesses are sitting ducks. Their locations make them easy pickings, and the perception that every business owner is wealthy like Jim Pattison allows not-for-profit and community organizations to feel justified in asking for donations. The owner of an independent coffee shop I once spoke to said that if she agreed to every request for support, for cash and for in-kind services, it would consume three times her
net profits. And she felt terrible every time she had to say no. Which was almost every day.
WHERE’S THE PROOF? I can’t find any evidence that giving is good for business and for small business, in particular. The online content about small-business giving focuses overwhelmingly that it’s not only good for the community, it’s good for business. The thought is that generating positive sentiments on the part of employees and the buying public outweighs the hit on cash flow. The argument is that
people like to work for, and buy from, businesses that give. A lot of the content I found points to a rise in employee engagement in the corporate world when organizations have active causes they support. But while that may be true for big corporations like Apple, it’s important to remember that Apple runs on a different plane and scale than the main-street shops in our towns and cities. In fact, even when it comes to big corporations, the content out there fails to establish a causal relationship between levels of community giving and employee retention or market share. Notably, the content mostly focuses on “cool” things this company or that company has done. It all feels good, but has little substance once you start to dig. My next concern is the conflation of the idea that “giving is good for business.” I’ve never been comfortable with that argument because it mixes two psychological and ethical spheres that have an uncomfortable relationship at best: the profit
motive and altruism. The whole point of altruism is that it’s about doing the right thing without strings. Being altruistic because there is a benefit to you is an inherent contradiction. Businesses exist to create value in exchange for a benefit: profit. A business has a responsibility to create value for its direct stakeholders: its customers, employees, suppliers, the economy of the community it functions in and its shareholders/ owners. Every ounce of effort and creativity, every moment and every dollar should be put into growth; into creating value for its customers, into contributing to the wealth of its community by becoming a thriving, generous employer who creates economic prosperity. Every dollar given by a business Instead of giving cash donations, consider supplying your expertise to a charitable organization that uses a sharing-economy model, such as Habitat for Humanity.
The whole point of altruism
is that it is about doing the right thing without strings. Being altruistic because there is a benefit to you is an inherent contradiction. in a traditional charitable transaction is a dollar removed from that investment. That dollar is often inefficiently spent outside the community and is removed from the investment base locally.
WHAT SHOULD BUSINESSES DO INSTEAD? Here are some suggestions: INVEST in your employees (who will then invest in their communities) by paying a living wage or better. INVEST in training and consciousness-raising around gender and racial equity.
INVEST in sourcing inputs that might demand a higher cost of goods but are better for the planet, may be locally produced and aren’t manufactured in sweatshops. INVEST in recapturing things like waste and packaging to reduce your impact on the community’s landfill. Every dollar a business invests with this mindset is worth 10 dollars given away in charitable donations. Invest in what you are good at in the first place: creating value by doing what you do best. I suggest to do otherwise is false charity.
If you have to divert resources from the best community-valuecreation machine you have — your own business — consider some of the more creative options available these days. I’m a big fan of what organizations like Habitat for Humanity and HeroWork are already doing: Using a sharingeconomy model that leverages unused cycles in existing assets to create new value. These organizations take waste and put it to use. In Habitat for Humanity’s case, they literally stock their ReStore shelves with construction waste, from old doors and window frames to lighting fixtures and shelving. Back in the day, this waste would have ended up in a landfill. Instead, it is leveraged through thoughtful redirection and upcycling. This organization essentially asks the same question I’m asking: Are you better to ask a carpentry business for a hundred dollars to build a house — or to contribute an hour on a
Saturday to help build a house? We don’t have space to unpack the differences between the two economic models here, but it’s a simple fact that the latter is a far more efficient use of resources. I’m asking that we completely re-look at our own businesses, and businesses in our community, as value-creation engines.
MOVING FORWARD It’s hard to say no when a worthy cause comes knocking. But you are in business and more than anyone you should be good at understanding how to manage a high-ROI investment. The money you reinvest in your own business, with a triple-bottom-line mentality, will create far more value than handing it over to someone else to manage. ■ Clemens Rettich is a business consultant with Grant Thornton LLP. He has an MBA from Royal Roads University and has spent 25 years practising the art of management.
BY JIM HAYHURST
Why You Need a Great Advisory Board (and How to Build One)
Entrepreneurship can be a lonely, exhausting pursuit, especially if you feel you have no one you can turn to who is exclusively on your side. That’s where a board of advisors comes in.
few months back I met with a passionate young entrepreneur. He was moving at light speed toward his big idea, but he was stumbling on some fundamentals. Like many of his peers, he was close to exhaustion from trying to manage a myriad of seemingly life-or-death daily decisions that all appeared urgent but to which he was only able to give passing attention. His frenetic pace was clearly unsustainable. So I asked him my standard one-two punch: “What do you do to recharge?” followed by, “Who do you go to for advice when you have big questions about your business?” His answer to the first question? “I watch Gary Vaynerchuk motivational videos that pop up in my feeds. I think that helps.” His answer to the second question a few minutes later? “Uh, I guess it’s Gary Vee … and now you?” We both chuckled awkwardly. Hearing it said out loud, he realized how ridiculous it sounded. Putting aside any judgment of Gary Vee (I won’t argue with his marketing abilities), and the fact that the entrepreneur and I had known each other for only 20 minutes, it was clear my young friend was missing something. And so I gave him the most valuable piece of advice a cup of coffee can buy; advice that I was given early in my career by one of my most influential board members, mentors and now my good friend Greig Clark: Build an advisory board.
FIGURE OUT WHAT YOU’RE MISSING Clark is one of the most impactful Canadian entrepreneurs you’ve never heard of. But I guarantee you know the company he founded. You probably see it — or some variation of it — in your neighbourhood every single day. In fact, you may have even worked for Greig’s company (or one of its many imitators) to pay your way
through college. Which is what Greig did when he founded College Pro Painters in 1971. Early in the College Pro days, Greig relied on random bits of advice from assorted people. As the company grew, people were happy to throw ideas his way, and he soaked them up. (He was still a student after all.) He soon saw the flaws in this
SEEK YOUR BLIND SPOTS
Advisory boards should not be mirrors. Look for values alignment but find people who bring a different perspective or expertise. If you’re great at sales and marketing, go find your opposite in finance and systems.
ALL ABOUT THE ACTION Send your advisory board the business update before each meeting. (That’s just homework.) Then come with three to four problems that need tackling. Every meeting should end with actions for which you are now accountable.
ad hoc approach: He spent a lot of time updating them and listening to their ideas. But there was no structure or accountability on either side. As he told me recently, “It occurred to me I just might be missing something. One can get in a bubble pretty easily.” So Greig made a decision. He identified three people — his old boss at General Foods (for the business sense); a former
PUT A PRICE ON IT Most great advisory boards include compensation. Payment (in the form of shares, options, retainers or meeting fees) makes it real and leaves no room for hiding on either side. As Greig Clark of College Pro Painters says, “One good suggestion and it pays for itself.”
TO CONSIDER WHEN BUILDING AN ADVISORY BOARD
3 EMPATHY IS EMPOWERING Great advisory board members know what it’s like to run a company. Having people with both the empathy and strategies to cope with the demands of entrepreneurship is a potent formula to tap into.
LOOK FOR VALUES ALIGNMENT BUT FIND PEOPLE WHO BRING A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE OR EXPERTISE. IF YOU’RE GREAT AT SALES AND MARKETING, GO FIND YOUR OPPOSITE IN FINANCE AND SYSTEMS. university classmate who was at McKinsey (for strategy); and a clinical psychologist who had consulted for the company (the people side) — and got a commitment from them to meet with him quarterly to review plans and results, ask tough questions and offer strategic insights. “Red meat stuff,” as he calls it.
GET PEOPLE ON YOUR SIDE An advisory board is different from a board of directors in one significant way: An advisory board doesn’t have legal responsibility for the company and, therefore, can only make recommendations not decisions. As such, an effective advisory board can sometimes liberate a board of directors (and the CEO) by delineating governance and operational/personal advice more clearly. And if you don’t have an active board of directors, an advisory board can be even more critical. An advisory board is primarily there for you, the entrepreneur. And often, that’s what you need. Terry Doyle is the former co-chair of C100, a community of influential Canadian tech executives in Silicon Valley. In this role, he sees some of the most promising entrepreneurs in the world, who have everything at their fingertips except someone they can talk to openly. “Everyone in the Valley is on display all the time,” says Doyle, who has sat on a number of advisory boards. “Sometimes people think they can’t be honest about what’s not working. Especially here, or in Victoria where it’s also a fishbowl, entrepreneurs need a safe outlet. Advisory boards are perfect for that.”
AL’S BUSINESS TIP FOR SUCCESS “Satisfied employees are as important as happy customers. Employees are best-equipped to promote the integrity of your company’s brand.” Al Hasham, President of Maximum Express
DO YOURSELF A FAVOUR There have never been more options for entrepreneurs to access advice, from peer forums and meetups to online courses and podcasts. Each has its time and place, its merits and value. Yet in our ever-more frantic business environment, you’d be well-served to seek out the Greig Clarks of your world. (And don’t worry, Gary Vee will find you.) ■ Jim Hayhurst is a trusted advisor to purpose-driven organizations and leaders. He is currently active in six companies and social impact projects that elevate Victoria’s reputation as a hub of innovation, collaboration and big thinking.
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BY SUSAN HOLLIS
ROCK BAY’S ÎLE SAUVAGE BREWING BRINGS SOMETHING OLD — AND SOMETHING NEW — TO VICTORIA.
At île Sauvage Brewing Co., many of the beers make use of fermentationderived flavours, dry-hopping and local fruit refermentations.
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“If you just yell them out to me, I’ll pour them.” From a tap mounted next to 20 others on a wall of white herringbone tile, Stephane Turcotte pours a red hibiscus-flavoured sour beer into a fat-bellied glass and sets it beside another — this one filled with a clear, light yellow brew with scents of ginger and pineapple. He carries on, filling various vessels for customers sitting along the bar at his high-ceilinged Rock Bay tasting room for île Sauvage Brewing Co. As the name suggests — île sauvage is French for wild island — this isn’t the place for anything regular. “We are big beer nerds,” says head brewer Turcotte, who along with partners Ian Ibbotson and Adam Gresley-Jones, opened île Sauvage in early 2019. BEYOND NORMAL Dedicated to the art of sour beer in the Orval tradition of French-speaking Belgium, île Sauvage focuses on uncategorical beer flavours achieved by a handful of specific techniques not associated with the average beermaking routine. These include long fermentation processes; the use of wild yeast and house-mixed bacterial and lacto cultures and the addition of flavours like rosemary, coriander and sea salt. Everything is blended to taste. “We’re not just making your normal lagers and pale ales,” says Turcotte. “Everything we’re making has a twist.” Most île Sauvage beer is brewed in third-use oak wine barrels. The bacteria and yeast used to sour the beer provides a range of unpredictable outcomes, some as willful as the wild hand of Mother Nature. Because of that, île Sauvage’s business model is focused on being a tasting room, rather than a production centre, though some of their signature beers are sold in select liquor stores in Victoria. “Beer is best consumed where it’s made. That is where it tastes best, and it’s also the most environmental,” says Turcotte, a level-three advanced cicerone (the beer equivalent of a sommelier). “It’s the ideal way to brew and serve beer — at the brewery.”
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