Page 1

small business issue

Oct/Nov 2017

special Section

NOWHERE TO RENT? Struggling to solve the rental housing crisis

Out of the deep Drowning in debt and supply-chain issues, Sitka boldly set out to save itself

meetings & Retreats

THE SHARING ECONOMY Is it really about sharing? cheat sheet to the Johnson st. Bridge saga Tracking the catch technology transforms commercial fisheries

Driving Lessons The business of saving lives on the road PM41295544

Rene Gauthier, CEO of Sitka


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Oct/Nov 2017

Contents

+

Follow us

bridge in waiting

A cheat sheet to the the Johnson Street Bridge saga

40

42 Features

32 The Sharing Economy

Powerful data-driven companies are disrupting traditional marketplaces. What does it mean for local businesses? BY Alex van tol

64 Out of the Deep

On a tenuous path to recovery, Sitka’s CEO shares the lessons learned after almost losing it all. BY shannon Moneo

72 Nowhere to Rent?

Douglas explores how Greater Victoria got into a rental-housing crunch, the economic impacts — and who is going to solve the problem. BY Keith Norbury

4 Douglas

22 Special in this issue

departments

+Meetings RetReats

6 FROM THE EDITOR 11 IN THE KNOW

2017

VancouVer Island MeetIng Planner

top Five tRends to Make YouR RetReat the one to ReMeMbeR WhY hiRing an event planneR Can siMpliFY eveRYthing tips to help You Choose a gReat venue FoR YouR Meeting

annual speCial ResouRCe guide

49

Meetings + Retreats

Our special guide explores the hottest event trends, the perks of hiring a planner and how to pick the perfect venue.

Victoria’s newest co-working space, an Island small business check-up and five minutes with developer David Chard

18 TAKE THREE

86 LAST PAGE

Saraya Hot Bread brings a taste of Syria to Victoria BY Athena McKenzie

INTEL (Business Intelligence)

Trends to drive success

79 Growth

22 THE BIG IDEA

by Clemens Rettich

A local company’s international tech partnership is a big deal for fisheries sustainability BY Pamela Roth

42 In conversation

Douglas talks to Steve Wallace, driving instructor and entrepreneurial whirlwind BY Jeff Davies

Business in a quantum world

82 workplace

The cost of workplace conflict by Amy Robertson

83 Communication

Keeping up appearances online BY Coralie McLean


~ At home with David Bouchard. ~ Inspired furnishings and personalized options with complimentary design services from our talented interior designers. 2655 Douglas St

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From the Editor

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6 Douglas

Are We Ready for Amazon-sized Dreams?

Langford mayor Stew Young has raised some hopes (and some eyebrows) with his recent announcement the City of Langford is throwing its hat into the ring to become home to Amazon’s second North American headquarters, dubbed HQ2, and the $5 billion investment it represents. We’re talking a footprint of 500,000 square feet by 2019 and an aim to eventually grow that footprint to 8 million square feet for 40,000-plus employees. I don’t enjoy throwing shade at anyone’s big dreams — and Stew Young has certainly proven many doubters wrong as he’s led Langford’s burst from fringe town to fast-growing urban centre — but seriously? His latest idea is so big that I think the South Island could sink under the weight of it. Think about it. Stretched out, Amazon’s HQ2 would eventually be bigger in square footage than Anaheim’s main Disneyland park and its California Adventure Park combined — and 1.4 million square feet bigger than the Pentagon. People-wise, it would be like importing the entire population of Vernon into Langford over the next decade. I don’t have a clue if Langford really stands a chance against competing cities like Chicago, San Diego, Denver or Tucson (whose plan to send a 21-foot cactus to CEO Jeff Bezos to influence their bid was rejected by Amazon). And I don’t doubt Stew Young’s ability to get things done. But I do doubt the ability of our region as a whole to handle an entity as massive as ... given our current rental crisis Amazon when it comes to our infrastructure and price of real estate, what do and human-capital capacities. we think will happen when we are Does anyone seriously think the McKenzie faced with the influx of thousands Interchange will cure our highway congestion woes? Can the Pat Bay Highway handle of employees earning tech the increased traffic to #YYJ? Do we really salaries that average $100,000? think Amazon employees will want to sit on a BC Transit bus on Highway 1 to get into downtown Victoria when other cities offer rapid mass transit? And how will Amazon find enough employees, not just in tech but also in support areas like construction and food services? Both sectors are already struggling to find staff. And given our current rental crisis and price of real estate, what do we think will happen when we are faced with the influx of thousands of employees earning tech salaries that average $100,000? So is Langford wasting its time by putting in a bid? Here’s the kicker: I don’t think so. Stew Young has proven himself a savvy strategic operator. No doubt, he knows full well the public-relations power of Langford’s bid as an economic-development signal that Langford is definitely open to bigger opportunities. Whether or not Amazon chooses Langford for its HQ2, we need to acknowledge that Greater Victoria as a whole hasn’t really dealt all that well with growth — any growth. Almost 10,000 people have moved to the Capital Region since 2015 and look at the impact that has already had on our region’s resources and infrastructure. Amazon or no Amazon, it’s time to get our regional house in order because people are coming. — Kerry Slavens kslavens@pageonepublishing.ca


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

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Spacious 55+ garden suite condo in the southeast corner of the building. Newly renovated and located in the Gorge Neighbourhood. Melissa Kurtz 250.508.5325 VICTORIA 250.380.3933

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OUR LOCAL EXPERTS

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Sotheby’s International Realty Canada, Independently 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.


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Spectacular views in Cordova Bay. Mountain & ocean views. Recently remodelled. Sophia Briggs 250.418.5569 Nancy Stratton 250.857.5482 «SINGLE FAMILY HOMES NEW LISTING

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Impressive South West facing Penthouse by CONCERT Offers Spectacular Views. Sophia Briggs 250.418.5569 Nancy Stratton 250.857.5482

This luxurious condo in Ten Mile Point's pristine Wedgewood Estates community boasts sensational views of the city.

Starter or investment property in this emerging area. Only minutes from downtown. Mid to upscale finishings compliment.

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Sotheby’s International Realty Canada, Independently 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.


DDW_9591_V1_TC_Ad_X1a.pdf

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2016-09-30

4:45 PM

WE GET TO KNOW OUR CLIENTS OVER MORE THAN EMAIL

www.douglasmagazine.com Volume 11 Number 6 Publishers Lise Gyorkos, Georgina Camilleri

Kris Wirk, Partner

Editor-in-chief Kerry Slavens

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deputy Editor Athena McKenzie Associate Editor Karin Olafson contributing Designer Janice Hildybrant

Contributing Writers Jeff Davies, Gillie Easdon Coralie McLean, Shannon Moneo, Keith Norbury, Clemens Rettich, Amy Robertson, Pamela Roth, Alex Van Tol

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Contributing Photographers Dean Azim, Jeffrey Bosdet, Dirk Heydemann, Boomer, Jerritt, Jo-Ann Loro

Isn’t your inbox full enough? We provide professional advice on a personal level, communicating with you to understand your needs and find you money. Call 250.220.7311 or visit ddwca.com

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Cover Rene Gauthier, CEO of Sitka, in Tofino. Photo by Dean Azim.

Ideas and opinions expressed within this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of Page One Publishing Inc. or its affiliates; no official endorsement should be inferred. The publisher does not assume any responsibility for the contents of any advertisement and any and all representations or warranties made in such advertising are those of the advertiser and not the publisher. No part of this magazine may be reproduced, in all or part, in any form — printed or electronic — without the express written permission of the publisher. The publisher cannot be held responsible for unsolicited manuscripts and photographs. Canadian Publications Mail Product Sales Agreement #41295544 Undeliverable mail should be directed to Page One Publishing Inc. 580 Ardersier Road, Victoria, BC V8Z 1C7

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Innovation | Design | Business | Style | People 

[In the Know ]

“Victoria is ready for more. So many people want a place to belong, but have not found the right fit.” — Tessa McLoughlin of Club Kwench on the need for co-working spaces

Victoria’s culture club

Jeffrey Bosdet/Douglas magazine

by Gillie Easdon

Co-working — the act of independent professionals sharing workspaces — has become more than a trend. In fact, it may simply become the way people work as the number of self-employed professionals grows. Canada alone saw 91,500 self-employed positions added to the job market last year, according to Statistics Canada. Victoria has embraced coworking, welcoming venues from Fort Tectoria to The Dock, Spacestation and The Watershed. The latest co-working space to launch here is Club Kwench, which opened its doors in August at 843 Fort Street and bills itself as a social club with co-working facilities. “Co-working is the foundation, or rather the launching pad, but it’s not the whole thing,” says Club Kwench founder/ owner Tessa McLoughlin, who previously managed The Watershed. “Club Kwench creates community and is really a culture club ...” At 5,600 square feet, Club Kwench features 60 social/ floating desks and 15 dedicated desks priced from $200 to $500, two meeting rooms and four “phone booths” (solo meeting rooms for private calls and meetings). Each of its three floors has a different feel. The main floor is more social, and the other floors allow for more focus and productivity. Club Kwench tenants include Joe Collins, principal at Avalon Accounting, who says he likes being part of a collaborative community of people from a wide range of professional fields. “I get to work with people without the office politics!” he says. “Best of both worlds.”

Douglas 11


Small business checkup

Shining the spotlight on small business

Small Biz Boom

9 in 10 Canadians in the private sector work in an SME (10.5M people)

On Vancouver Island

Paulina Cameron

V

Futurpreneur Canada Director Says Vancouver Island is a Top Place for Business

ancouver Island has become a go-to destination for young entrepreneurs, according to Paulina Cameron, a chartered professional accountant (CPA) and director of Futurpreneur for B.C. and the Yukon. Cameron says the Island’s lifestyle, affordability and proximity to Vancouver’s communities and resources are some of the reasons it is so geographically desirable. “Of course, every region has its challenges too,” Cameron says. “One of the things we see on [the] Island is a really big divide between the northern and southern parts of the Island in terms of what resources and ecosystems exist.” During the upcoming State of the Island Economic Summit on October 25 and 26, Cameron will host a session on entrepreneurship and how small businesses can access opportunities and support. “There are so many government programs that sound complicated or are hidden,” she says, noting that the Economic Summit and other events are great ways to discover more about business-friendly programs and meet the people behind organizations like Futurpreneur.

Fast-growing mobile app company FreshWorks was one of last year’s 10 to Watch Award winners.

B.C. ranks 1st in Canada

in terms of small

“... There are a lot businesses per of resources out there capita, with and entrepreneurs do themselves a disservice when they don’t proactively small businesses look for them.” Cameron also per 1,000 people. encourages small-business The national owners to seek peer average was 70.3 mentorship and to reach Source: BCStats, 2016 out to other entrepreneurs who have followed the same path. “The myth of the lone wolf entrepreneur is disappearing,” she says. “It doesn’t empower or enable anyone. We’re really seeing our entrepreneurs craving community, connection and collaboration.”

Source: bdc.ca

October is Small Business Month in B.C., providing opportunities to network, learn new skills and connect with customers.

83

Local connections Oct 1 Nominations and voting opens for the 2018 Small Business BC Awards. sbbcawards.ca Oct 5 The 2017 Nanaimo Business Expo is the Island’s largest small business expo. nanaimochamber.bc.ca Oct 11 Taking your Business Online with Ecommerce is the first of Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business Month seminars. victoriachamber.ca/events

Douglas 10 to Watch Awards Know a new Vancouver Island business that deserves to win a prestigious Douglas magazine 10 to Watch Award? Maybe it’s your business!

Oct 24 Small Business BC is on the road in Nanaimo with a Small Business BC Popup. smallbusinessbc.ca

Deadline for 10 to Watch nominations: November 15, 2017 Visit douglasmagazine.com/ 10-to-Watch-2018/

Oct 25 Introduce your business at the Victoria Chamber’s Small Business Month Member Networking Breakfast. victoriachamber.ca/events

Simon Desrochers

National Network

12 Douglas

Oct 15-21 The Business Development Bank of Canada’s (BDC) theme for its 38th Small Business Week is “Future-proof your business: Adapting to technology and demographic trends.” A Facebook Live event on October 16 will explore the challenges facing entrepreneurs. bdc.ca


Small business forecast

Mike Delves MNP, Mid-island Business Initiative

Local stakeholders on the region’s economic future Catherine Holt

Kim Smythe

CEO, Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce

president & CEO, Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce

“For 2017, Victoria continues to have one of the lowest unemployment rates and best economic forecasts in the country. When people are optimistic and spending money, it translates into opportunity, and we have seen many small businesses open and existing ones expand. It also creates challenges such as: trying to hire and keep staff when housing and childcare are expensive and scarce and there are many other job opportunities ... That said, small businesses generally prefer the problems caused by being too busy to the alternative!”

“Small business continues to be the heartbeat of Nanaimo’s economy, holding about 90 per cent of the city’s total business licences. There has been an uptick in startups and entrepreneurial activity reflecting a larger, national trend. Vancouver Island University is graduating international MBAs who are, more and more often, exercising their entrepreneurial energy to work themselves into the economy. The region’s alluring quality and cost of living attributes are a big attraction to startups, entrepreneurs and small business in general.”

“Even with increased real estate prices, our cost of living remains low compared to Vancouver and other larger centres, so we are attracting people, adding to our labour force and contributing to economic growth … As housing prices continue to climb, affordability may become an issue. We have also yet to see what the implications are of systemic changes such as increased minimum wage and changes to taxation of private corporations.”

Emilie de Rosenroll CEO, South Island Prosperity Project

“Small businesses in the region are going to see an upside from our steady growth rate, which the Conference Board of Canada says is forecasted to stay in excess of two per cent a year into 2019. There will be much more construction in the region, which should turn into solid employment and increased consumer confidence ... there will be ongoing pressure to increase wages to stay competitive and attract talent.”

Local App is a Memory Keeper Ever wished you had an attachment to plug into your brain to keep favourite stories and photos? Now Victoria entrepreneur Keith Wells, founder of SendtoNews, North America’s leading sports-video content and advertising platform, has gone one better with ImbueApp. With ImbueApp, bring together special memories, from the voices of children and grandparents to family stories, photos and info about heirlooms — all in one place. Available on the App Store, October 15. imbueapp.com

Douglas 13


LIFT Aims to Elevate mid-Island Entrepreneurs

Five minutes with David Chard by athena Mckenzie

by Karin Olafson

Chard Developments in Victoria Total number of developments: 6 completed, 1 under construction and 1 pre-sales  Condominium buildings: 6

Jeffrey Bosdet/Douglas magazine

 Commercial: 1 office renovation  Rental buildings: 1 building under construction

David Chard, president and CEO of Chard Developments

W

ith Victoria’s vacancy rate at less than 0.5 per cent, David Chard’s latest downtown building, Yello on Yates, is stirring up even more interest than usual. “What really makes it unique is that it is a purposebuilt rental project,” Chard says. As president and CEO of Chard Developments and past chair of the Urban Development Institute (UDI) Capital Region, Chard has made a significant impact on Victoria’s skyline, from the 14-storey Juliet condominium on Douglas St. to the luxury 11-storey Sovereign condominium on Broughton St. Yello, located at 819 Yates St., marks Chard’s seventh project in Victoria in the past 14 years.

Chard Developments’ newest build, Yello on Yates, features 209 rental units and is expected to be ready in the spring of 2018.

You are now completing construction of Yello on Yates, which adds 200-plus units to Victoria’s rental inventory. Any insights about the rental market here and its challenges? Rental is a real challenge in Victoria, in B.C. and in Canada — it’s actually been a challenge to produce a significant amount of rental since the 1970s. That is the major attribute of this project. Affordability is the real challenge [when it comes to rentals], especially today with construction costs increasing. They’ve been increasing rapidly over the past 12 months, and from what we see they will continue to do so for the next 12 to 24 months. For rental, that is a real challenge.

What would you like to see happen in Victoria with construction and development? It is happening, and I will take that down to the City of Victoria. I’ve been very involved with the UDI — and the UDI and the City have a great relationship where we have both tried to assist each other on how we can improve and ensure that more development can occur to help the housing situation. I give full marks to the City of Victoria in that they have listened to how they can help — and they are helping.

Who do you see as the target market for Yello? We figure [Yello] will be very attractive to the high-tech sector because there is a shortage of accommodation. High-tech workers can be somewhat transient. They might come in for six to 12 months, and they don’t want to buy. The one thing I continually hear is that it’s hard to find accommodation in Victoria. We’ve got 209 units, and that seems like a lot as we build it, but we think

Do you have a vision for the future of Victoria’s skyline? I wouldn’t say it’s [our company’s] vision; I would say it’s the vision of the City and the residents. We have always stayed within the Official Community Plan (OCP) and the downtown plan. Our buildings are within the height of those very important documents. We feel we are fulfilling the vision that is set forth in the OCP and the downtown plan.

14 Douglas

Growing up in the Comox Valley, Hans Peter Meyer noticed a trend. While many locals recognized the Valley as a desirable place to live, they had trouble finding jobs and soon moved elsewhere to grow their careers. Simply, the region kept losing talent to bigger hubs like Vancouver. Meyer wanted to change that. Inspired by the Vancouver tech startup scene, in 2015 he founded LIFT, a company dedicated to supporting local businesses and economic development from Nanaimo to the Comox Valley. LIFT creates a networked community for its members, hosting entrepreneur events, facilitating business-development workshops, using social media to tell stories about local entrepreneurs and implementing a collaborative approach to marketing the local economy and businesses.

those 209 units are going to disappear quickly when we bring this to market. Lil Worker Safety Gear

Just under three years old, LIFT has more than 125 members and has already seen big successes. LIFT member James Flawith of Lil Worker Safety Gear has been nominated for a Small Business BC Award and will be pitching his high-visibility children’s clothing on CBC’s Dragons’ Den on October 12. Looking forward, Meyer hopes LIFT grows to the point that it exports the concept to other regions. “When we share information and ideas, we create more opportunities for everyone,” he says. “We’ll grow stronger as an entrepreneurial region.”


M AGA Z INE ’S

9th annual 10 to Watch Awards

CALL FOR NOMINATIONS

TO WATCH

Know a NEW BUSINESS worth watching? The Douglas 10 to Watch Awards shine a spotlight on the best new businesses on Vancouver Island. Now in their 9th year, these prestigious awards provide the publicity and positive

PAST WINNER: Toque Catering

PAST WINNER: Llamazoo

PAST WINNER: Studio Robazzo

PAST WINNER: Angela Coté Consulting

“rocket fuel” that startups (three years old or less) need in those critical early years of enterprise. Nominate your own business or a business you think is worth watching.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF BEING A WINNER? • The credibility of winning a well-recognized award and recognition at an exclusive awards gala in front of an audience of hundreds of the Island’s business movers and shakers

>

NOMINATE A NEW BUSINESS

• Positive exposure to 120,000+ Douglas readers

Go to douglasmagazine.com/10-to-Watch-2018/ for details and rules. Nomination deadline: 5pm on November 15, 2017.

• Featured in the April/May 10 to Watch issue of Douglas magazine (30,000 copies in circulation) and on douglasmagazine.com

LEAD SPONSOR

douglasmagazine.com/10 -to-Watch-2018/


BC Scores New Seattle Trade Office

Annual Checkup for Victoria

British Columbia companies, especially those in the tech sector, are poised to gain greater access to U.S. markets and investors thanks to the opening of a new B.C. Trade and Investment Office in Seattle this September — the result of an $800K investment by the B.C. government. The office will be headed up Troy DeFrank, former trade commissioner at the Consulate General of Canada in Seattle.

For the past 12 years, the Victoria Foundation has conducted an important community checkup that measures the vitality of our region, identifies concerns and supports action on issues that are critical to our quality of life. The result is Victoria’s Vital Signs®, an in-depth magazine-style report. This year’s Victoria’s Vital Signs® focuses on the theme of belonging and barriers, and how our policies, social structure and systems set the tone for our region. Almost 1,500 people

Many Canadian Businesses are Looking to Check Out in Next Five Years, Says BDC Study The challenge? Who will fill the gap they leave?

60%

Percentage of Canada’s SME owners who are 50 or older, nearly double the proportion of the overall workforce

Nearly

4 out of 10

Canadian entrepreneurs are likely to leave their businesses within the next 5 years without acquiring another one, up from 1 in 3 in the mid-2000s. The main reason: retirement

50%

intend to sell or transfer their business to someone outside their family

25%

see family succession in the cards

20%

expect to wind down their business and sell its assets

Source: “The Coming Wave of Business Transitions in Canada,” 2017, based on a BDC and Nielsen survey of 2,500 Canadian entrepreneurs.

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16 Douglas

were surveyed about how everything from housing to the economy to environmental sustainability impacts their quality of life. For further information, visit victoriafoundation.bc.ca

40% Percentage of Canadian business owners who expect to sell to outside buyers within the next 5 years and who have done little or nothing to spruce up their financial reporting. Most have also not taken action to maximize cash flow in anticipation of a sale.


Save the Date BC Growth Opportunities Tour Friday, October 13, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Delta Ocean PointE Resort

Businesses looking for made-in-B.C. tech solutions will visit Victoria on October 13 as part of a six-cities-in-seven-weeks BC Growth Opportunities (BCGO) tour. The tour aims to connect local innovators with potential clients seeking unique homegrown technology solutions. bcic.ca/events/bc-growth-opportunities

for two days of keynote presentations, panels, seminars, networking and a business trade show, plus the annual release of the influential State of the Island Economic Report. viea.ca

restore refresh renew

Leading the Way November 15, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Ogden Point Cruise Ship Terminal

The 2nd annual Leading the Way conference is an info-packed full day for professional women in science and technology, hosted by Island Women in Science & Technology (iWist). This year’s theme focuses on Paying it Forward: The Role of a Champion. iwist.ca

Innovate 2017: Manufacturing & Leadership Showcase October 24, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Camosun Interurban Trades Education & Innovation Complex

Soho Victoria summit

Derek Ford

This full-day event brings together leaders from a number of sectors who are interested in the future of manufacturing on Vancouver Island and B.C.’s coastal regions. The conference, with a focus on building capacity and connections, showcases regional initiatives, creates dialogue and engages leaders in solutions to workforce and productivity challenges faced by manufacturers in the region. harbourdigitalmedia.com/events

State of the Island Economic Summit

SOHO Victoria Summit

October 25 & 26 | Vancouver Island Conference Centre, Nanaimo

January 26, 2018, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Victoria Conference Centre

Now in its 11th year, this summit is widely considered Vancouver Island’s key networking and business event. Hosted by the Vancouver Island Economic Alliance, the summit draws 600plus business leaders from throughout the Island

The SOHO Summit focuses on helping small and home office (SOHO) business owners to succeed by empowering them to manage and grow through workshops, one-on-one advice, peer collaboration and networking. sohovictoria.com

Tourism on the Move Douglas tracks some major HR changes in the Island tourism industry

After 17 years as CEO of Tourism Vancouver Island, Dave Petryk retires on December 1. Under his leadership, Tourism-VI earned a reputation for innovation, developing an award-winning stakeholder business model and achieving destination marketing accreditation through Destination Marketing Association International. Petryk and his wife, Sandra, will retire to Thailand, where they plan to “wear out their golf clubs.” TourismVI seeks to recruit a new CEO in the coming months.

805 Fairfield Road Victoria, BC V8V 0A7

Karen Elgersma is the new executive director of Tourism Cowichan. Most recently with Tourism Victoria, Elgersma is well known as the former producer and host of Shaw TV’s Go Island, and was a full-time journalist for Shaw Media for over 18 years.

Miranda Ji has been appointed by Tourism Victoria as VP of Sales for the Victoria Conference Centre (VCC) and Business Events Victoria (BEV). Ji is responsible for developing strategic partnerships and ensuring revenue and room-night targets are met. She was promoted to this position after exceeding targets in her role as director of sales for VCC and BEV.

T 250.595.3888 W www.clinic805.ca Follow us:

Douglas 17


By 2019, mobile advertising will represent

72%

56%

Business Trends to Drive Success

of all traffic online comes from smartphones or tablets, as opposed to desktops or other connected devices.

of digital ad spending.

87

Take three

average number of hours that people spend per month browsing on their smartphones. SOURCE: digital.com

Douglas Reads

Transform Your Marketing As Donald Miller writes in Building a Story Brand, “Customers don’t generally care about your story; they care about their own. Your customer should be the hero of the story, not your brand. This is the secret every phenomenally successful business understands.” The creator of the StoryBrand process — a popular online tutorial — guides readers through the seven story points that all humans respond to and helps business owners understand the real reason customers make purchases. Miller’s methods demonstrate how to simplify a brand message so people understand it — and how to communicate powerfully in online and print collateral. 

As you look to 2018, these top three trends can supercharge your business strategy — and keep you ahead of your competitors.

1

Mobile users Go Micro A massive 82 per cent of shoppers reach for their smartphones to conduct research while in a store or considering a purchase, according to a recent Google study. These mini fact-finding intervals are called “micro-moments,” and according to Google they are essential to any business’s mobile strategy. The key to winning micro-moments is: 1) anticipate them and be there when they occur; 2) be relevant to consumers’ needs in the moment and connect them to answers they’re looking for; and 3) be quick because mobile users want to “know, go, and buy swiftly.”

82%

of shoppers turn to their devices to help them make a product decision. – Google 2017

Business Lingo

Moat: common term in Silicon Valley pitch presentations, used to describe a company’s (or product’s) competitive advantage that would be the undoing of competitors. (Trend watchers blame the popularity of Game of Thrones for the use of medieval imagery in business jargon.)

Mobile Apps for your small biz 18 Douglas

All-In-One NetSuite for small business is a one-stop shop that enables you to run applications for financials, customer relations and e-commerce in the cloud. And it’s scalable, so it can grow with you, unlike many entry-level software offerings. netsuite.com

Team Players Collaborate on documents with Zoho Docs, which allows to you to store, share and manage all your business files on the cloud. Changes made to a document in the shared folder will sync across all devices, both in the cloud and on a desktop, so your team is updated as you work. It also allows you to share information without worrying about file size. zoho.com


Sign Me Up

2

From cosmetic boxes to video streaming to underwear-buying clubs, subscription commerce isn’t going away. According to a study from Hitwise, this market has grown by 3,000 per cent since 2013. The benefits of this model for small businesses include simple pricing, inventory management, customerrelationship building and retention. Some businesses, such as Vancouver-Island based Church and State Wines, employ a hybrid model, offering a subscription service that includes customer perks, such as special winemaker’s notes, a vintage report and full tasting and pairing notes for each wine included.

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It’s not news that video is popular and that social media is becoming even more video oriented. What does this mean for your small business? Video marketing on social media could make a difference in 2018. Facebook is gaining momentum as the top-ranking video platform, and Instagram is also upping its video appeal. But before you get carried away with creating an epic movie, a 2017 video-marketing-statistics study by wyzowl.com showed 95 per cent of consumers believe a video should be less than two minutes long.

Handy HR Managing human resources is one of those small-business tasks that often gets relegated to “when I have a moment.” Bamboo HR lets you conduct applicant tracking, benefits administration and performance reviews all from a handheld device. bamboohr.com

Help Desk It’s a 24-7 life, which means your customers could be looking for assistance at any time. HappyFox, a help-desk software solution, allows you to support your customers anywhere, anytime, anyplace. Its customizable interface means your help desk will provide a cohesive brand experience. happyfox.com

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School of Business Continuing Education Douglas 19


BUILDING COMMUNITY, ONE GAME AT A TIME

www.victoriaroyals.com

IT’S GAME DAY — a late fall afternoon in Victoria, warm and blue-skied. At the downtown corner of Blanshard and Caledonia, traffic moves in a steady stream past the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre (SOFMC), the region’s largest entertainment venue and home to the WHL’s Victoria Royals. A thirty foot poster of Royals players, celebrating a win, is draped on SOFMC’s exterior wall. As with all large venues, though, an impressive exterior means much less than what happens inside. In the case of this building, what happens inside has wholly transformed Victoria’s entertainment landscape since opening night, more than twelve years ago. The 7,006 seat arena with 26 luxury

suites is busy. It is home for the Royals, of course, but it is much more than that. “People forget that it was less than fifteen years ago that we all had to go to Vancouver to see big acts,” says Jeff Harris, Royals Assistant General Manager and head of Communications. Harris has been here for over a decade, through the early days of the ECHL Salmon Kings, and currently plays a key role in shaping the Royals.“Now we take it for granted that when Elton John, or Aerosmith, or Jerry Seinfeld, or Cirque de Soliel goes on tour, that we’ll see them here in Victoria. That doesn’t happen without this building.” Graham Lee is the man behind GSL Group, who not only had the reins in


A d v e r t i s i n g f e at u r e

“We deliver special experiences to the people of Victoria so that everyone wins. Royals Hockey is a key part of that.” — Royals franchise President and GM, Cameron Hope

building SOFMC, but also continues to operate it. A subsidiary of GSL owns and operates the Royals hockey team as well. “It feels like a big family run operation, and that’s how we like it,” says GSL Sports and Entertainment head Dave Dakers. “Graham felt that Victoria was overdue for a modern venue, and for higher level entertainment.” The idea, according to Dakers, was that if you provide a great platform, the entire community should benefit. The Victoria Royals Hockey Club has begun its seventh season as the primary tenant at this new Barn on Blanshard. In the short existence of this Western Hockey League franchise it has become one of the league’s most successful organizations, both on and off the ice.

The team captured the Scotty Munro Trophy in 2016 as the WHL’s best team during the regular season, and has also been awarded the League’s Scholastic Team Award and the WHL Sales and Marketing Award. Also, 10 Royals have been drafted by NHL teams. The Royals franchise is led by President and General Manager Cameron Hope. He came to Victoria in 2011. “Graham’s vision was simple and clear, and from our first phone calls and meetings I was hooked,” Hope recalls. “He sees the Royals and the WHL in the context of a larger vision. His focus is on this community, and what we do can do as a group to help build it, in every way. We deliver special experiences to the people

of Victoria so that everyone wins. Royals Hockey is a key part of that.” Royals attendance continues to climb, and there are more season ticket holders yet again this season. In just seven seasons, nearly a million fans have already have enjoyed the WHL hockey experience at SOFMC. Signage space inside the arena is at capacity, and the rink-boards are filled with the logos of national and local businesses who leverage the unique opportunity to brand into the excitement. “We’re proud of what we do, and the support we enjoy is so gratifying. The big crowds, the great hockey, and it all builds on itself, and it puts a smile on the faces of our fans, sponsors and partners,” says Hope. “That’s why we do this.”


the big idea BY Pamela Roth Photos by Boomer Jerritt

Tracking the Catch A Victoria company TaKES its commercial fishing technology to the next level by forming a strategic partnership with a global leader in electronic monitoring. It’s a move seen by many as a big win for fisheries sustainability around the world.

At 4:30 am, Wes Erikson puts on his fishing gear and heads to the deck of his 42-foot vessel to begin cutting 300 to 400 pounds of bait. Usually it’s salmon, but sometimes octopus and squid are placed on the 2,000 hooks that troll through the waters of the Hecate Strait north of Vancouver Island — an area known for its strong salmon and halibut fisheries, violent storms and fragile glass-sponge reefs more than 9,000 years old. By 1 p.m., Erikson and his team are hauling halibut on board, along with rockfish and ling cod, depending on how good the fishing is that day. It’s a routine the 51-year-old commercial fisherman, based out of the Comox Valley, will repeat for the next four to eight days and one he hasn’t missed since his first fishing season at six years old. 22 Douglas


Archipelago’s electronic monitoring technology is used in some of the world’s most challenging climates, including British Columbia, Alaska, the Gulf of Mexico, the South Pacific and the Indian Ocean.

More than

30,000

sea days are recorded by Archipelago’s electronic monitoring technology each year.

Archipelago has more than

600

electronic monitoring systems deployed in fisheries around the world.

Douglas 23


Celebrating Environmental Leadership November 16 6:00pm to 10:30pm Inn at Laurel Point

Tickets available online through Ticket Rocket ecostarawards.com

“Every day is different, so it’s really cool in that sense. I just love the variability of it. You can go to the same spot every year and just catch different things and different sizes of fish,” says Erikson. “It’s the only place in the world where I know exactly what I’m doing all the time. I love working so hard that you don’t know if you’re going to make it through the day and falling asleep just completely exhausted.” Commercial fishing in B.C. has changed considerably since Erikson’s childhood, when anyone who had a boat and a strong back could make a living in the industry. With conservation concerns increasing around the world, B.C’s groundfish fisheries came under pressure from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N. as well as sustainability lobby groups, to increase the scope of its catch-reporting process. In 1996 came the implementation of 100-percent monitoring on all vessels in the province’s fleet. Given the lack of technology at the time, the only way to do this was with onboard observers (biological technicians trained to go to sea). But the observers were costly (more than $600 a day) and couldn’t be taken on small vessels for multiple days. Electronic monitoring was seen as the only option, even though many fishermen didn’t like the idea of constantly being watched.

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Knowing they needed cameras positioned in such a way to monitor fishing activity and identify fish species, the province’s commercial fishing industry envisioned what they needed for electronic monitoring. That vision was conveyed to Victoria’s Archipelago Marine Research (AMR), which had been providing at-sea observer and dockside-monitoring programs for three decades. The company stepped up in 2000 to help develop an at-sea electronic monitoring (EM) system that consists of a computer with multiple sensors, a GPS and video cameras that are placed on various parts of the vessel to record fish being pulled out of the water. The footage and data collected is then analyzed in the AMR office to figure out what was caught and where. Logbooks are audited against the video footage and then compared to the offload. Six years after they initially developed the technology, AMR’s EM program was implemented on the B.C. groundfish longline fleet, with each operator buying their own system. It has since expanded beyond Canadian borders, but not yet to the Canadian east coast due to different management issues there. Although the adoption of its EM solution was a success for AMR, the company found itself grappling with the dual role of delivering a tech product while trying to provide the marine and environmental services, which formed the core of its business. “We realized that the investment in product

development is a constant, and it’s never-ending and it’s expensive,” says AMR biologist and VP of monitoring technologies Howard McElderry, who helped create the technology. “It really comes down to an incompatibility between products and services. For the product to really excel, it needs to be carried by an expert product manufacturer that has the ability to reach a global market — and that’s not us.” The solution came this spring when AMR formed a strategic partnership with Marine Instruments — a Spanish company with world-leading expertise in research, design and high-volume manufacturing of marine electronics. McElderry expects the partnership will take AMR’s operations and technology to the next level, noting the innovation of Marine Instruments, which makes satellite buoys that tuna boats use to fish, along with unmanned vehicles in the water to collect data. “[At AMR] we’re biologists at heart,” says McElderry, adding that every fishery has different issues. “We understand the importance of good information from these commercial fishing operations and we understand societal needs for ensuring public trust. There isn’t a real cookie-cutter solution to monitoring fisheries. It’s all guided by very unique characteristics to the fisheries and their issues. That’s what we’re good at.”

Answering the Big Questions According to McElderry, the fundamental question officials want answers for is: what’s being removed from the ocean? The best place to get that information is on the boat when the harvest is taking place, since not everything that’s caught comes to shore. The data collected from EM technology can also help biologists understand how healthy the stock is, allowing the right decisions to be made for more sustainable fishery practices. AMR’s technology, which has gone through four or five different versions and costs about $10,000 for the entire system, is now being used by 250 vessels in B.C. and about 200 in Australia and Alaska. The company’s president and CEO, Shawn Stebbins, believes that over the next decade, with the help of Marine Instruments, a large number of fishery jurisdictions around the world will adopt the EM technology as it continues to advance. “It [the technology] has changed things considerably. These guys now, they can fish for a much longer period of time and they can maximize the economic return for their fishery,” says Stebbins, noting there used to be a race for fish, but changing to the catch-share system in the early 90s allows fishermen to go out whenever they want to catch their share of the quota and fish when the market is right. The technology was the cost-efficient method of providing the monitoring that enabled the catch-


How AMR’s Electronic Monitoring Systems Work on Fishing Vessels

Monitoring and reporting is a tool to support and improve the management of a fishery, by providing verifiable information on fishing activities and assessing the performance of fishery management plans.

share management system to be implemented. “The objective of most monitoring programs is to produce trusted data that can be used to manage the fishery, and every fishery has its own issues,” he says. “It’s an independent data source so that the users aren’t questioning who collected it and why.”

The Greater Good Back on Erikson’s vessel, the water is calm and music is playing in the background as fish start

coming out of the water. They’re lifted onto the deck, then thrown down the fish hole and packed with ice. Erikson often forgets the cameras are there, monitoring the fish being pulled from the water. He says the technology has been positive for the industry and has fundamentally changed the way he and other fishermen do business. The only downside, he notes, is that the data doesn’t show how effective fisheries have become at avoiding certain species. “Monitoring fisheries is good for everybody,

no matter who you are. Fishermen can prove themselves innocent; environmental organizations can’t just hurdle accusations at us. We have the data to show what’s really going on, and fisheries managers have data for proper stock assessment,” says Erikson, who bought his own fishing vessel at the age of 19. “These cameras track exactly where we are, what we’re doing, what we’re catching. It’s actually eliminated illegal fishing acts within the monitored commercial fishing community.” ■

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Douglas 25


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VIEA

Special Supplement

11th Annual State of the Island Economic Summit Vancouver Island Conference Centre, Nanaimo, B.C.

It is said the only constant in life is change, and that’s particularly true when it comes to the economy. And it’s a change that you will see reflected in the data presented in this year’s State of the Island Economic Report produced by the Vancouver Island Economic Alliance (VIEA). The annual report — VIEA’s third — is one of the reasons the organization has come to be regarded as a rock-solid base from which to identify emerging trends, discuss relevant issues and share ideas, and promote partnerships for the benefit of the Island

economy ... from Victoria to Port Hardy, Nanaimo to Tofino and the Northern and Southern Gulf Islands. For over a decade, VIEA has been actively engaging leaders across the Island to support positive change in our communities. This includes bringing together stakeholders to improve transportation, to grow and diversify value-added manufacturing, to promote products “Made on VI,” to increase retention of graduating college and university students and to expand the Island’s export capacity.

Dirk Heydemann

living in a sea of change | October 25 & 26, 2017

Douglas 27


Would it surprise you to know that the Vancouver Island population is growing at a rate only slightly lower than in Greater Vancouver? Or that 19 per cent of home-buyers on the Island in 2016 came from there? And would it shock you to hear that Victoria experienced the second greatest decline in housing affordability in Canada after Toronto between 2016 and 2017? Did you know that Vancouver Island produces 13 to 14 per cent of B.C.’s GDP? Or that log-and forest- product exports from Vancouver Island increased 18 per cent last year? So where do you look when you want accurate, easily accessible information about the state of the regional economy? Where can you learn about trends, potential opportunities and challenges that can impact you, your business and your life? The Vancouver Island Economic Alliance (VIEA) has what you’re looking for in the latest edition of its State of the Island Report. VIEA has been presenting the State of the Island Economic Summit since 2007. Along the way it asked, “Well, what is the state of the Island economy?” The organization quickly realized that

VIEA Project Updates In any given year, along with its annual Summit and Economic Report, VIEA puts its collective energy and expertise into a number of projects that benefit the Island economy. Its current project list includes: › Completion of an industry assessment and business-case development for Island-made wood products with the goal of increasing demand. › A point-of-sale pilot project with three major grocers to help increase distribution of Islandmade/Island-grown food products. › An application to the federal government to have Vancouver Island designated as a Foreign Trade Zone Point in an effort to increase its regional export capacity. › Hosting a Conference Board of Canada event; co-hosting the Island Aboriginal Business Match event; and partnering with Vancouver Island University to present the National MBA Games with over 500 participating students from 19 universities. › Presenting the first Island Wood Forum and Showcase on November 30 at the Cowichan Exhibition Park to problem-solve with industry stakeholders and to raise awareness amongst designers, architects, engineers and builders about wood products being manufactured “in our own backyard.”

Make a Difference. Partner with VIU.

“The Economic Alliance is all about bringing stakeholders together so that we, as an Island community, can take full advantage of opportunities and actualize solutions to nagging problems. It’s never easy, but it’s always rewarding making progress one deliberate step at a time towards an increasingly vital and sustainable Island economy.” — George Hanson, President, VIEA

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viu.ca

28 Douglas

#MatterHere


the only way to answer that question was through extrapolation from global, national and provincial statistics. It also recognized that all available data was embedded in documents best used to treat insomnia! Out of this was born VIEA’s annual readerfriendly, 50-page, pocket-sized, data-driven, infographic-laden State of the Island Economic Report. The Economic Report covers many sectors and even delves into areas where reliable, repeatable data was not available until VIEA put its collective ear to the ground for editorial content to give a sense of what may be trending and how. When you read through the 2017, third annual State of the Island Economic Report, you’ll see that Vancouver Island is not exempt from national and international trends, and that the region is suddenly tracking significant changes in population growth, labour-force participation rate and housing prices. For instance, according to VIEA’s 2015 Economic Report, the benchmark house price for single-family homes on Vancouver Island had risen by 4.2 per cent to $335,400. That increase was reflected across the Island with the exception of a decrease of 6.3 per cent in Port Alberni. The following year, the benchmark for the Island had increased by 11.0 per cent, and

Praise for the State of the Island Report “This is a sophisticated publication with valuable statistical data that allows organizations access to the type of information that is necessary to develop a strong business proposition. The industry analyses are especially insightful in understanding the diverse industry sectors that form the basis of the Island economy.  From my personal experience, the Island is full of bright thinkers, collaborators and problem solvers, who are committed to working together to identify both the challenges and the opportunities to ensure sustainable growth for generations to come.” — Lois C. Yates, Partner GLDPartners, Global Logistics Development Partners LLC

esCARGOt LOGISTICS?

visit www.pathbc.ca Douglas 29


though it was thought these numbers would cool somewhat in 2017 — surprise — VIEA’s upcoming Economic Report will show that from 2016 to 2017 (June to June) the Island benchmark rose by 18 per cent to $444,500. What stands out is that while the benchmark rose by 16 per cent in Victoria, it also rose 18 per cent in Duncan, 19 per cent in Nanaimo, 21 per cent in the Comox Valley, 19 per cent in Campbell River — and an even more surprising 20 per cent in Port Alberni! Population growth is also taking some unexpected turns. The 2015 Economic Report indicated the average annual increase to the Island’s population between 2010 and 2015 had been 0.5 per cent. The 2016 report noted the Island experienced population growth of about 1.0 per cent, with growth of 1.0 per cent in the Capital Region, 0.7 per cent in the Cowichan, 1.7 per cent in Nanaimo, 0.6 per cent in Comox and 1.9 per cent in Strathcona — and population losses of -1.2 per cent in Waddington and -1.7 per cent in Alberni-Clayoquot. Fast-forward to 2017 and we see that the Island’s population grew by 1.3 per cent. That may not seem like much growth, but when you look at the actual numbers in the Capital Region, it translated into 1,198 new

Housing―Benchmark Single Family Home Prices* IN JUNE 2017 (GROWTH COMPARED TO 1 YEAR AGO)

19%

21%

15%

19%

20%

Campbell Comox Parksville Nanaimo Port Valley Qualicum River Alberni

18%

16%

Duncan Victoria REB**

18%

Vancouver Island Source: Vancouver Island Real Estate Board Monthly Statistical Package June 2017, Victoria Real Estate Board Statistics Package for Media June 2017

Source: Vancouver Island Real Estate Board Monthly Statistical Package June 2017, Victoria Real Estate Board Statistics Package for Media June 2017 *The benchmark for single family home is a composite of one-storey homes (where the bedrooms, kitchen and dining rooms are on the same floor and the utility room and laundry room are generally located below ground) $ 691,100 +16%floor(s) and a and two-storey single family homes (characterized by distribution of bedrooms on the upper kitchen, living room and other day-to-day rooms on the main floor). This benchmark does not differentiate between attached and detached home. (source: MLS Home Price Index Methodology – Benchmark Descriptions) **Victoria includes : Victoria, Victoria West, Oak Bay, Esquimalt, View Royal, Saanich east, Saanich West, Sooke, Langford, Metchosin, Colwood, Highlands, North Saanich, Sidney, Central Saanich, ML Malahat and Area, GI Gulf Islands

30 Douglas


citizens in 2015 followed by another 3,886 in 2016 and 4,815 in 2017. Put in perspective, four times as many people moved to the Capital Region in 2017 than in 2015, and Nanaimo welcomed twice as many new residents (1,712 in 2015 and 3,438 in 2017) over the same period. What is reflected in these changes are opportunities in business, health care, construction — and the steady upward climb of Vancouver Island’s working-age population and workforce-participation rate. With this and other information at your fingertips, VIEA’s Economic Report is a tool to help you

take advantage of those opportunities and to make plans for the future based on solid information. A big part of my job as Employment and Media Coordinator is ensuring NVIATS First Nations membership knows about all labour-market information on the Island. The VIEA Economic Report is instrumental to our organization as NVIATS refers back to it throughout the year. The layout and visual presence of the report is easy to use and easy to translate to our clients. — Tawni Wilkins, North Vancouver Island Aboriginal Training Society

What else might you discover in this year’s report? If you are one of the delegates attending the 11th annual State of the Island Economic Summit, you’ll find out on October 25 and 26 at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre in Nanaimo when you receive your own hard-copy edition, as well as a summary of the State of the Island Economic Report highlights with MNP economist Susan Mowbray. To register for the upcoming Summit, and to read the archived 2015 and 2016 reports, or to learn more about VIEA membership and the organization, please visit viea.ca.

Giles Newman, VIEA Economic Report Committee

About VIEA As the only non-government, nonprofit organization that embraces the economic interests, opportunities and challenges of an entire region, the Vancouver Island Economic Alliance (VIEA) is entirely funded by memberships, sponsorships, project-specific grants and through events such as their annual Summit. Members hail from all over Vancouver Island and receive discounts for VIEA events, have their corporate profiles included on viea.ca and receive periodic e-news informing them of issues and opportunities that may be of interest. Membership fees are made affordable through a sliding fee scale and fit the budgets of individuals, small business, local government and corporations.

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The sharing Economy Powerful platform-based corporations are disrupting the traditional base of business — but some local companies are pushing back and calling for a level playing field. by Alex Van Tol

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Is it really about sharing? Douglas 33


all it the platform economy, the on-demand economy or even the access economy — but don’t call it the sharing economy. With powerful data-driven businesses such as Uber and Airbnb flipping our established way of doing business on its head, many critics say the “sharing” part of the equation has gone by the wayside. Instead, critics say, these new companies are seriously disruptive forces to the way things have been done for decades, taking advantage of the proliferation of mobile devices to unlock value via the web for would-be buyers in arenas that previously were managed by traditional bricksand-mortar corporations. Take Airbnb, for example, which enables homeowners to use the Internet to broadcast availability of their empty rooms, apartments or homes to a global audience, where before there were only the classifieds. And Uber, which allows everyday drivers to offer a quick, webpowered convenience to short-haul travellers. Until recently, taxis mostly filled that niche. Dozens more platform-based corporations have entered the fold in the last several years, from a website that matches heavy industrial equipment with users in other parts of the country to a program that helps busy families

C

34 Douglas

connect with neighbours who’ll cook for them. At the root of all these web-driven platforms is the notion that if you’ve got extra goods or talents other people might want, the Internet gives you a way to sell them. The Stress of market shifts The market has always shifted in response to consumer demand. Big-box stores would never have arisen if shoppers hadn’t crowded onto the “more! faster! cheaper!” bus. It’s what drives real estate pricing too. And so it is that human interest has steam-powered the increase in ride sharing, home sharing and, increasingly, experience sharing. Shoppers love competitive pricing and the idea of having more power and personal customization in their buying decisions. Add to that the fact that research shows millennials prefer access over ownership, and experiences over possessions, and you have a recipe for a fast-shifting marketplace. “I think some of the benefits are new business opportunities,” says Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps. “Capitalism is by its very nature a disruptive force. Innovation is disruptive; it always is.” Helps points to shifts such as early- 20thcentury changes that saw the horse-and-buggy roll over to the car economy. “I think there’s a huge opportunity for repurposing and retooling

and reskilling,” she says, “not just in Victoria but in Canada.” New rules for short-term rentals Nevertheless, in September, Victoria City Council approved new rules designed to curtail shortterm rentals of fewer than 30 days. The decision affects new developments in transient zones — mostly located in downtown Victoria, where many hotels and B&Bs are found. The move was largely cheered by hoteliers, but received criticism from developer David Chard on several points, including its failure to grandfather in developments in the planning stages, its impact on housing affordability and the effect on market stability. Council was also criticized by some residents who felt the rule change didn’t go far enough. But short-term rental does have advocates, including Victoria resident Rita [last name withheld], who signed up with Airbnb after several hair-raising experiences with long-term tenants (including one who sold her appliances while she was away). “I am very passionate about what Airbnb has provided to neighbourhoods,” she says. “People who stay downtown generally don’t have cars. They stick to downtown restaurants and pubs, they check out downtown tourist attractions


and shop in downtown stores, which is great, but if you put an Airbnb in a residential area, I have a restaurant, a pub, a breakfast place and a shopping centre with smaller businesses that people now go to because they’re staying in the neighbourhood. The money is being evenly dispersed in the city ...” But this kind of pinches traditional hospitality businesses, doesn’t it? Ian MacPhee noticed Airbnb entering the space during his time as owner of Abbeymoore Manor B&B (he and Ann Mosher sold the bespoke mansion last spring), but said he didn’t feel the pinch like other hotels, partly because the B&B segment was smaller and less competitive, and partly because Abbeymoore’s reputation buoyed sales. “As we sold it,” he says, “the owner was walking into what was going to be the most amazing year we’d ever had for sales. Having said that, I can tell you I have strong relations with all the innkeepers in town and several

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Who else is taking action? Tofino requires short-term rental operators to get a business licence; hired a data-mining company to search postings on Airbnb and VRBO, then fined people who weren’t complying.

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Nelson has been examining a requirement for short-term rental operators to acquire business licences. New York as a “one host, one home” policy. The city even slapped a Lower East Side woman with a fine of $1.2 million for operating shortterm rentals across three different buildings. London is considering capping room nights and licensing options to cover building/fire inspection costs. San Francisco has, after years of litigation, finally twisted Airbnb’s arm far enough that the company has agreed to help the city register residents as short-term vacation hosts (because not enough people were voluntarily registering with San Francisco authorities).

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of them are complaining vehemently [about Airbnb].” Many properties have seen a dramatic drop in business and, in contrast to Rita’s assertion that short-term rentals bring benefits to residential neighbourhoods, MacPhee says B&Bs like his have unfairly suffered criticism from neighbours blaming them for parking congestion instead of nearby — and nearly invisible — Airbnb suites. MacPhee experienced concerns, too, around housing affordability for his staff. “When you go to rent an apartment, they’re harder to find because the $800-a-month bachelor pad now rents for $100 a night. It’s so hard to find accommodation for your employees that you’re at risk of closing your business.” One of his key staff was forced to settle in Metchosin, he says, and drive to work in Rockland every day. But, according to some hoteliers, the problem for the hospitality industry is bigger than Airbnb. “We don’t have to single out Airbnb,” says Hotel Grand Pacific General Manager Reid James. “If we start with the Internet and online travel agencies like Expedia and Hotels.com, that has changed our world significantly. It’s just an online purchase, but it takes control of our rates and inventory, and it’s changed it forever.” The platform economy is a constantly evolving

opponent whose presence is shifting the game — and fast. “We’re used to competition,” says James. “Hotels open and close all the time, but we want a level playing field.” To level the field, industry experts say shortterm rental providers on platforms like Airbnb (valued at $31 billion) and VRBO (estimated at $3 billion) should pony up their fair share of taxes. In B.C., the hotel tax hovers around 17 to 18 per cent, with a sliver going to Tourism Victoria and other destination marketing organizations that promote the region (and from which short-term rental operators benefit). “Hotels pay commercial property tax, which is a higher rate than residential property tax,” says Tourism Victoria CEO Paul Nursey. Add to that the GST and PST hotels collect, plus Food-Safe training and payroll deductions and the like. “Airbnb gets a free ride, and not only that, I don’t want to be pushing people out of their homes. My employees need places to live too.” It’s a sentiment echoed by Eric Ney, a downtown strata owner who’s been leading the charge at City Hall to change the way strata properties are being rented out as shortterm vacation homes. Ney and his colleagues, including housing advocate and urban planner Victoria Adams — whose white paper “Home

Truths: Implications of Short-term Vacation Rentals on Victoria’s Housing Market” was released last January —have lobbied to see the City get rid of transient accommodation as a permitted use. They also want the city to stop issuing business licences to strata owners who turn around and rent their (typically vacant) properties to vacationers. “So anything that’s residential should be right-zoned to allow residential and not any other use,” says Ney. Failing that, he says, the City should at least uphold the Strata Property Act as set forth by the Province, which stipulates that strata lots are for residential and not commercial purposes, and/or put in place an opt-in process for strata owners who, given a majority interest by other owners within their building, can then proceed with short-term renting. A fight to the death? While Airbnb has disrupted hotels and housing, Uber (valued anywhere between $12 billion and $63 billion) has been idling on the shoulder, waiting for the green light to move into B.C. Whereas the fee-based residential car-sharing service Modo works on a cooperative model — closer to that sharing we were talking about earlier — Uber, when it arrives, will deliver a direct blow to the taxi industry, according to critics.

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“Some of our shareholders have been trying to sell,” says Mike Westeroth, operations manager for BlueBird Cabs in Victoria. “One fellow here who’s 76 years old has been trying to sell his taxi going on a couple years now, and nobody seems to be willing to purchase his taxi so that he can carry on with his retirement.”

“They are so technologically advanced and amazing that they are making this so possible. From a competition perspective they’re tough. I’d hate to be a taxi driver.” Ian MacPhee, Former B&B Owner, speaking of Airbnb and Uber

It’s different than it was just a few years ago, when competition was stiff for a limited number of taxi licences. While the B.C. government has promised taxi drivers some perks along the lines of investment for on-board accident-prevention devices and ride-hailing apps, it feels like too little and much too late for Westeroth. “It doesn’t really level the playing field,” he says. He’s not opposed to competition, he says, as long as everyone’s operating by the same

rules. But the taxi industry doesn’t even know how many Uber-licensed cars are going to be allowed on Victoria streets, he notes. “Right now in Victoria we do pretty good,” says Westeroth. “We get our taxis to our customers generally on average in seven minutes. I don’t know how many extra cars the city can bear so that everybody can make a reasonable living.” It’s a big concern in a fast-shifting industry, where a sexy, much-hyped competitor serves up the same product with a precise, data-driven one-two punch. “Everything is kind of up in the air,” says Westeroth. “We just don’t know what to do.” MacPhee says he had the opportunity to use Uber during his recent travels in the U.S. “They are so technologically advanced and amazing that they are making this so possible,” he says, speaking of both Airbnb and Uber. “From a competition perspective they’re tough. I’d hate to be a taxi driver.” trouble for EXPERIENTIAL TOURISM Besides the accommodation and transportation industries, critics say another industry in need of checks and balances relates to rogue recreation providers that are increasingly popping up on the scene, many touting their services online.

Along with the “stay local” vibe goes a new “play with the locals” vibe, where locals offer to take visitors out on potentially risky experiential excursions that historically have been left to the pros. Whale watching, kayaking, hiking, you name it — it’s part of the movement to experience a destination on a more authentic (and often cheaper) level. “Basically the whole tourism industry is being amateurized, where there’s no insurance, regulation or training,” says Nursey. Where operators like Ocean River, Springtide and Oak Bay Marine Group labour under consumer protection laws, rigorous training and stringent safety standards, this new brand of off-the-cuff guiding threatens the legitimacy of Victoria’s tourism industry. “Anybody who has a boat can take people out,” says Ben Duthie, operations manager at Prince of Whales, a whale-watching company. “It’s a huge risk from a liability standpoint and a guest standpoint to go out with someone who’s potentially uninsured and doesn’t have the knowledge to handle anything that might happen.” Duthie — whose company is a member of the cross-border Pacific Whale Watch Association and as such is guided by strict regulations around both human and cetacean safety — has

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Douglas 37


witnessed firsthand people in private boats roaring through pods of whales. Equally worrisome is the possibility that these small operators will mushroom, unregulated and largely uncatchable, to a point where they begin to undercut businesses before they even know it’s happening. “This is definitely new, but I would not take the perspective of the naive and sit and wait,” he says. “Airbnb has shown how powerful it can be in transforming the landscape of an entire industry.” He points to the analyticsdriven behemoth’s recent hiring of top product managers who know the tourism market well. “These individuals have worked for TripAdvisor and other organizations that have big data sets to work with,” he says. “They’re moving employees over to grow their own competencies. We’re not feeling it yet; it’s still early stages.” Globally, tourism is growing by five to seven per cent a year, but if Victoria doesn’t change its course, experts warn we could become just another Venice or Barcelona, overrun by madding crowds bent on experiencing the WestCoast lifestyle. managing the unstoppable Nobody reasonably expects to be able to stop an avalanche once it’s started, and many Victoria businesses are smart enough to innovate in the face of the platform economy. But while some industries can adapt nimbly to the challenge posed by platform interlopers, others need legislative backup. “We do not want to operate in the grey economy space,” says Nursey of Victoria’s commitment to offer sustainable, high-yield experiential tourism. “We want to be a legitimate business which is counted, which contributes its fair share of tax at all levels and gives back to the community.” And he wants the same for platform players, which means it’s up to governments at all levels to regulate these industries appropriately. “I think too much market intervention isn’t a good thing,” says Mayor Helps. “There needs to be a balance. I think the direction the provincial government took with Uber is a fair and balanced approach. They spent a lot of time with the taxi industry and with people who were in support of Uber. Not everyone’s going to love it, but I think the approach they took is balanced.” While she feels over-regulation gets in the way of innovation, Helps agrees checks and balances need to be put in place, as long as they don’t stifle economic opportunity and creativity. “We want to make sure that we have a nice balance,” says Paul Nursey, “where residents and tourists can coexist.” And perhaps that sounds a lot like the way sharing is actually meant to be. ■ 38 Douglas


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A Bridge in Waiting A cheat sheet to the Johnson Street Bridge saga

DESIGN DETAILS

Climbing Costs

Traffic Load 2017

30,000

About crossings a day, including vehicles, local transit, pedestrians and cyclists. More than 4,000 pedestrians and 3,000 cyclists use the bridge to access downtown each weekday.

The cost as of June is now estimated at

Bridge Type The new bridge will be the largest single-leaf bascule bridge in Canada (and one of the largest in the world). Its unique feature is its lack of a central axle. “The bridge is supported only on the perimeter of the rings,” says project director Jonathan R. Huggett. “The purpose of getting rid of the central axle is to allow better access for the public to see the working of the bridge from underneath.” The London Docklands has a similar bridge, “but it’s not nearly as big as the Johnson Street Bridge and it does not have the complete ring that the Johnson Street Bridge has,” Huggett says.

$105M 

2012

Cost grows to

$92.8M

when building contract is awarded to PCL Constructors Westcoast in 2012 

The City of Victoria is paying a little over 60 per cent of the total bridge replacement costs. (The Government of Canada is also providing funding.)

2009

Original cost in 2009 estimated at

$63M

Down to Specs Counterweights balance the bridge, allowing for the smooth upward swing of the deck span as it opens. The new bridge has three counterweights: a large one under the road deck, which connects between the two rings, and two weights on top of the rings. “PCL won’t put the ballast into the counterweights until they lift everything and assemble it,” Huggett says. “The

A 900-tonne-capacity crane called

“the Beast” from Vancouver-based Dynamic Lift will be used to put it all together.

July 24, 2009 Council awards a contract to MMM Group Ltd. to project-manage the replacement of the 85-yearold bascule bridge.

nine-Year Bridge: a timeline Nov 2010

Apr 23, 2009

Aug 12, 2010

Council decides to replace the bridge and gives approvalin-principle.

City councillors vote to replace the bridge rather than refurbish. All except Coun. Geoff Young support replacing the bridge.

2009 40 Douglas

2010

After rigorous local debate, in a referendum citizens approve by 61% to 39% (a 4,000-vote margin) the City of Victoria’s borrowing of up to $49.2 million toward replacing of the bridge.

2011

2012

Jan 7, 2013 City signs $63-million fixedprice contract with PCL Constructors to replace the Johnson Street Bridge by the spring of 2016.

2013


Waste Award

The new bridge  will provide a wider channel than the existing bridge to better accommodate marine traffic  will be painted grey and lit with blue architectural lighting at night  will have three vehicle lanes  was designed by Wilkinson Eyre Architects

The old bridge will be removed and the steel recycled where possible.

The Johnson Street Bridge project was singled out by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation as a money-waster, earning the organization’s 2017 Municipal Teddy Government Waste Award.

More than 50 per cent of the new bridge will accommodate pedestrians and cyclists, including onroad bike lanes, a multi-use trail for pedestrians and cyclists and a dedicated pedestrian pathway.

counterweights are large hollow structures. They are eventually filled with a mixture of lead, steel plate and concrete.” Putting it All Together The final shipment of steel pieces arrived in Victoria in late September and included the bridge deck structure and the pedestrian and multi-use pathways. A 900-tonnecapacity crane called “the Beast” will be used to put it all together. “The larger crane allows PCL to assemble all of the bascule span on dry land before it is lifted in place,” Huggett says. “That will include the walkways on both sides.”

Jeffrey Bosdet

Each steel ring is approximately 50 feet in diameter and weighs approximately 290 metric tonnes without ballast in the counterweight.

Marine channel width 42.9 metres, from inside fender to inside fender

The lower counterweight weighs 160 metric tonnes prior to ballast installation.

Steel bascule span 45.9 metres

Aug 22, 2017

Jul 2014

June 15, 2017

Significant flaws in steel fabrication by Jiangsu Zhongtai Steel Structure in China lead to PCL pausing the project. Deadline pushed to December 31, 2017.

Completion of the bridge is pushed back again due to delays in steel fabrication in China. Estimated new opening date is March 30, 2018.

2014

Sept 30, 2015 The original deadline for completion of the bridge.

2015

2016

2017

The first shipment of steel for the new bridge arrives at the Point Hope Shipyard in Victoria. Sept 17, 2017 The final steel shipment arrives from China, including the 46-metrelong bridge deck span.

2018 Douglas 41


In conversation with steve wallace ■ BY Jeff Davies ■ photo by jeffrey bosdet

Driving Lessons Douglas talks to Steve Wallace, the ex-politician/driving instructor/sports fanatic/entrepreneurial whirlwind who says what he thinks, damn the torpedoes, and, as the owner of Wallace Driving School, says he’s in the business of saving lives.

S

teve Wallace sports a wide-brimmed hat, a blue windbreaker and a grin as we set out in a car bearing the logo of Wallace Driving School. We stop in Esquimalt where his student, a Syrian refugee, lives. The young man, Jawdat Belal, is one of more than two dozen Syrians getting lessons from Wallace. The instructions are free for heads of privately sponsored refugee families. “Signal right and show me how good you are, and don’t scare the heck out of Jeff, right?” he tells his 17-year-old student as we head out. Wallace’s trademark hat, to say nothing of his constant wisecracks, gives him a bit of a cowboy air, perhaps befitting someone who rode in from the Cariboo a decade ago to relaunch his business in B.C.’s capital city. He’s been a driving instructor for more than 40 years, starting in Quesnel’s school system (he’s a certified teacher) and then setting up his own business, which now serves Victoria and Vancouver Island. He’s also well known in political circles, having served as mayor of Quesnel from 1990 to 2002, as president of the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) and even once running provincially for the B.C. Liberals. Today both Wallace and his vehicles with their bright-green logos are familiar sites around Victoria. “He’s the best,” Belal says of his instructor. “I feel good, yeah. It’s very nice since I start driving with Steve. I’ve started to get better and better.” Belal hopes to get his driving licence to help him attend classes at Camosun College. Looking serious, he says little as he surveys the road and traffic conditions, hanging on every word from Wallace. “No one-hand stuff,” Wallace chides him. “Don’t give me that Syrian [driving] stuff. Give me the old Canadian stuff. Look back. Now bring it back ... more, more, more ... and stop. Pretty good.” 42 Douglas

And so it goes. In a one-and-a-half-hour lesson, Wallace covers the fundamentals of driving, while also touching on politics, baseball, hockey, philosophy, business, cars, tires and family. Halfway through the lesson Wallace asks Belal, “How’s your dad doing? Good? Did his health problems get straightened out? On your gas … See the light?” Certainly it’s a less intimidating environment than the Syrian teenager would have encountered in his hometown of Aleppo, the war-torn city where he lived before his family came to Canada a year and a half ago. Wallace is sensitive to the unique driving challenges they face. “The people that come out of Aleppo who I teach, the mature people like Jawdat’s dad, they’re looking for the tops of buildings for snipers. They’re looking for IEDs (improvised explosive devices),” he says. “If the road is disturbed they don’t want to go over that section of the road because they figure it might blow up.” His student, who he notes should be able to pass his driving test after a few more lessons, says driving in Canada is all about following the rules: “In Syria there are no rules.” Passionate Approach So why is this veteran driving instructor offering his services free of charge to refugees? Wallace credits his upbringing in Montreal: “My mother was the eldest of 11 kids, right? And she said, ‘Don’t ever refuse somebody who really needs your help.’” But someone who has known Wallace for 30 years also sees this as the work of a savvy businessman. “I am not going to impugn his motives, but that is a very wise business promotion tactic,” says former Fort St. John mayor Steve Thorlakson, who, along with Wallace, used to hold court for the media at UBCM conventions in the days when they were both involved in municipal politics. “Everybody down [on the Island] is to the left of Joe Stalin,” Thorlakson says of his perception of B.C.’s capital city. “I genuinely


Wallace’s trademark hat, to say nothing of his constant wisecracks, gives him a bit of a cowboy air, perhaps befitting someone who rode in from the Cariboo a decade ago to relaunch his business in B.C.’s capital city.

Douglas 43


commend him, but I also recognize the cleverness of the business benefits he derives as the result of his not entirely altruistic heart.” He describes Wallace as bright, articulate, creative and adaptable, “so it doesn’t surprise me that he is doing that with his business in Victoria.” And there’s no doubt Wallace’s approach is working in what one of Wallace’s mentors, Josie Briton, describes as a fiercely competitive business. Briton is the owner of the North Shore Driving School in North Vancouver and Burnaby. She says Wallace is someone who is “always thinking of progress and touching all parts of the industry. He’s a very, very devoted, very passionate fellow towards driving schools.” As for Wallace, he notes that his business has taught more than 25,000 people to drive, including the grandchildren of some of his first driving students. Business Meets Sport He’s also big on community. His business sponsorships include the Royals and the Grizzlies hockey teams, and the HarbourCats baseball club. A sports fanatic, he’s out almost every night, turning up at baseball, hockey, soccer and lacrosse games. There’s even a small baseball bat tucked down by the seat of

44 Douglas

“The people that come out of Aleppo that I teach ... they’re looking for the tops of buildings for snipers. They’re looking for IEDs [improvised explosive devices]. If the road is disturbed they don’t want to go over that section of the road because they figure it might blow up.”

his car. It’s just there, Wallace tells me, in case the car is ever immersed in the water and he has to break a window to escape. At a recent HarbourCats game, I sit next to Rick Town, one of the instructors who works for Wallace and one of his old friends from their days at the University of Manitoba in the early 1970s. Town notes Wallace’s “largerthan-life” personality and his support for the community and sports. “Every time he walks by any group of people at all, people gravitate towards him and give him high-fives. That type of flamboyance translates into a really caring, giving aspect of his life.” A flamboyant driving instructor? It hardly fits the stodgy stereotype — that of a middle-

aged fellow with a conservative jacket and tie, sitting ramrod straight in the passenger seat, clipboard in hand, unsmiling. At the HarbourCats game, I notice Wallace is constantly on the go. He starts the evening at the game greeting folks at the gate, then sits behind home plate, moves a few rows back with us for a while and also finds time to work the crowd, burger in hand. He’s anything but one-dimensional. Case in point: While you’d think a driving instructor might not be a big cycling supporter, John Luton, a long-time cycling advocate and transportation consultant in Victoria, says Wallace is a keen supporter of Bike to Work Week and recreational cycling. In fact, Wallace and Luton have waged annual cyclist-versusmotorist commuting challenges that Wallace writes about in his Times-Colonist column. “Others have blinders on about cyclists being uniformly scofflaws and parasites on the transportation system, and Steve is much more balanced, so he is refreshing in that respect,” Luton says. Wallace happily accepts all the compliments. He says he’s doing a lot of things that set his business apart from the pack. “The key thing with us is the instructors have to be the best in the business,” he tells me in an interview in his downtown Victoria


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office. “We choose them for success in parallel pursuits.” Wallace Driving School employs about 15 instructors. One is a former captain in the navy, another is a former deputy police chief, one has a day job as a senior bureaucrat, one was a semi-pro baseball player, another a soccer coach and yet another, like Wallace, is a former municipal politician and UBCM president. “We want people who have had stellar performances in a related field,” Wallace says. “They can tailor their instruction to individual students, readily spotting those with special needs. They’re also people who have skin in the game. The majority of our instructors own their own vehicles and they own their own business and they exclusively contract with us.” an eye on the future Step into the office of Wallace Driving School and you enter a world with some of the latest in driver-training technology. In fact, it’s more a classroom or computer lab than an office. Wallace’s wife, Joan, a shareholder and adviser, says, “Steve is the strategist. He’s always planning ahead.” She holds a senior position with the Driving Schools Association of the Americas (something Wallace himself has done in the past), and they attend conventions throughout North America, keeping abreast of the latest innovations. “Joan is the tactician,” Wallace responds. “She will say, ‘That’s a great idea.’ And I will turn to her and say, ‘How do we do this?’” Today, Joan demonstrates the “Intoxiclock,” which tells drivers how long it would take to burn off a couple of drinks. There are also simulators that judge drivers’ reaction to hazards on the road. Then there’s the Promethean Board, which projects street scenes from London, Paris, Rome, or, for that matter, downtown Victoria, on a screen so students can plot their moves. And, of course, there are tests, including Distract-A-Match, a distraction test that requires students to match brightly coloured foam pieces to shapes on a board, without using the same colour twice, and simultaneously counting backwards from 100. The first time I try it, I fail with flying colours, hesitating 15 times, losing points, finishing with zero. The second time, I try it while wearing “drunk goggles,” which distort the images. This time I actually pick up the pace: “86-85-84-83…” I feel bewildered as I count. “Green twice!” Wallace snaps. “Look at him go. That’s fantastic. You drive better drunk, man!” I still end up with zero. At the end of my visit, I’m left wondering if I could pass any of these tests or even get a


driver’s licence today. The courses here can cost up to $1,200 for the “full-meal deal,” which is the ICBC Graduated Licensing course that Wallace says is the best in North America. If students fail their driving tests the first time, Wallace takes them in hand and offers more instruction free of charge until they pass. He says there are still driving schools that have rote instruction. “They don’t teach driving; they teach testing, [they] charge lower rates and don’t offer the Graduated Licensing course.” The Proof is in the Driving Ultimately, though, Wallace’s success rests on the success of his students.

The Quotable Wallace

A few weeks after our interview, he calls me to let me know young Jawdat Belal passed his driving test. He is obviously pleased, having taken the young man under his wing last year. “He’s very happy,” Wallace says of Belal. “He made only two minor errors. It’s like getting an A-minus on the test.” How good a driver is Belal? “He’ll be good,” says Wallace. “He’s probably driven illegally in a war zone ... So he had all these traits of someone who had been driving illegally because of the nature of where they were.” Whoever he is teaching, ultimately Wallace

says he’s in the business of keeping people alive on the road. “If you have the most life-threatening activity known to mankind,” he says about driving, “and you have someone who is less than the best to do it, are you out of your mind? Why don’t you just get your dad to do the appendectomy on the kitchen table, or get the knife out and do a root canal for you — because they have about as much expertise doing that as they do teaching driving.” And with that, he’s off to teach another lesson, a true believer in his mission to make the roads safer for everyone. ■

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On older drivers being reassessed at the age of 80: “Our seniors are under attack for no good reason … Everybody else gets tested on their record, but only seniors are discriminated against on the basis of what might happen in the future. Just because you have a poor memory doesn’t mean you can’t drive. It’s like giving somebody a buoyancy test and telling them they can’t swim.”

On why he doesn’t think newly licensed drivers should be required to display an ‘N’ on their vehicles: “It’s a matter of personal safety for young girls being in a car and not having to walk 10 blocks through a sketchy part of town. That is why I am vehemently opposed to the display of the ‘N’ on the back of cars, because I think it exposes young girls’ safety when they are driving alone at night. No other jurisdiction in the world has it.”

On cyclists and their role in the transportation system: “We are in the cycling capital of the world and there’s a bunch of reasons why we want to encourage cyclists. I tell drivers, ‘When you see cyclists, be happy. That’s one less car on the road.’ The guy is in shape, probably a reduction in medical expenses and so on. They’re out there. You have to protect them.”

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users) must have a positive experience. The three key ingredients of a successful guest experience are:

› The guest must find the experience simple. › It must be quick. › And it must work intuitively. Moduurn software platform meets these requirements, satisfying guests in a range of ages, from millennials to baby boomers, including everyone in between. Another key element that makes Moduurn unique is that it provides each business with a Native APP that they promote. Moduurn supplies the template and you supply the branding. As a business owner, you invest in your brand and it is important that your mobile ordering APP is a reflection of your business. Moduurn’s goal is to become the number one choice for mobile ordering worldwide. It provides you with a risk-free, end-to-end solution. This inexpensive, contract-free has proven to pay for itself with only 4.25 orders on average per month after food cost. It’s simple: if Moduurn’s solutions do not work for your business, you should not pay.

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Meetings +Retreats

2017

Vancouver Island Meeting Planner

Top Five Trends to Make Your Retreat the One to Remember Why Hiring an Event Planner Can Simplify Everything Tips To Help You Choose a Great Venue For Your Meeting

A n n u a l S p e ci a l R e s o u rc e G u i d e


Jeffrey Bosdet/Douglas magazine

Songhees Seafood & Steam Food trucks add a fun twist to your retreat’s food and drink.

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The Top Five Trends

to Make This Year’s Retreat the One to Remember By giving your team a unique shared experience, you’re setting them up for increased camaraderie — and productivity.

W

hether it’s your company’s seasonal social day or your planning session for your 2018 strategic vision, your whole team needs to find the proceedings memorable. Ensure your event is inviting and exciting by taking advantage of the latest trends in meeting planning.

1 Unusual Venues Lots of companies are taking their retreats out of the usual corporate spaces and going for more unpredictable locations. From sailboats to wineries to racetracks to farms, these venues offer the opportunity to spark creativity in new surroundings. To make this concept even more memorable, some companies keep the venue a secret, only revealing the location of the “‘pop-up retreat” to their staff on arrival. This can create an anticipatory experience and provide another element for staff to bond over.

Take advantage of the Island’s location and host your retreat on a sailboat

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Bubble Soccer Victoria

Do’s & Don’ts of Your Retreat DON’T assume you know what’s best for everyone. DO get your team’s input during the planning stages. DON’T force your employees to do anything that they don’t want to do. DO encourage staff to get out of their comfort zones. DON’T use the retreat to introduce new policies. DO decide what the desired outcome should be. Fostering cooperation? Increased camaraderie? Simply rewarding hard work? DON’T leave any take-aways behind. DO follow up with staff and check on the status of any action plans that came out of the retreat.

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2 Unique Catering

4 Charity Outings

It’s no surprise that food can play a major role in forging tighter bonds between employees — to break bread with someone is to affirm trust, confidence and comfort — but it may play an even bigger part than many leaders suspect. A recent study from researchers at Cornell University found that employees who ate meals together had significantly better performance at work. Participants in the study said a major aspect of dining with their colleagues was the camaraderie that developed in the workforce as a result. To really go above and beyond, many companies are experimenting with their catering options. Think food trucks, customized tapas-style stations, oyster bars and even specialized long-table dinners. The goal here is to offer variety, excite the palate and deliver a unique culinary experience for your team to really enjoy.

To foster team spirit and give back to the community, many companies look to volunteering initiatives and charity fundraisers. These activities not only create meaningful shared experiences, but they can also address other retreat goals, such as team building and increased motivation. Be sure to choose a cause that’s aligned with your business values, and encourage all of your staff to participate. From food banks to animal shelters to working on a home build, there are plenty of worthy organizations that can benefit from your company’s help — and you get to take all that good karma back to the office.

3 Immersive Activities

While smartphones were once discouraged at retreats, many companies now realize phones are just another tool in creating an engaging experience. Live video streaming is incredibly popular and, in addition to encouraging staff to share updates, can serve as a marketing tool after the event. In fact, it could be argued that the popularity of video and its value on social media has led to many of the previous trends, from interesting locations to compelling activities. If you look at the biggest trends in venues, entertainment, catering and tech, they also connect back to one major theme: engaging your staff. A memorable retreat is a great tool for improving morale and creating a working environment that can give your team a major boost.

Recently, there’s been a big move for retreats to include bespoke, unique activities designed to entertain and engage staff. Creative learning sessions, such as cooking classes and art workshops, can encourage patience and active listening. Higher-intensity activities, such as motorsports or bubble soccer, can foster confidence, controlled risk taking and friendly competition. With today’s big focus on health and wellness, there are also many activities focused on self-care and mindfulness, such as yoga, meditation classes or luxury spa treatments. To get the most out of your retreat, identify any skills or outcomes you want to target with your activity.

5 Video Advantage


Sidney, The Shortest Distance to Far Away Sidney is a meeting planners dream. It offers multiple options for meetings and conferences of almost any size. Located next to the beautiful Salish Sea, Sidney venues have been shown to increase attendance, inspire participants and make event planners look like super stars.

Features of the Mary Winspear Centre • The Charlie White Theatre (seats 310) is known as one of the premier community performance theatres in the province • 8100-sq.-ft. Bodine Hall, (seats 900), complete with an 18-ft. vaulted ceiling and wood beams, performance stage, drop screen, lighting and sound system • 5,000-sq.-ft. outdoor courtyard, large commercial kitchen • Intimate executive style boardroom • 2000-sq.-ft. gallery space perfect for exhibitions and receptions • 4 breakout rooms offering natural lighting, 9-ft. ceilings, attractive flooring, accent walls and wet bars • Catering services available on-site, off-site catering also permitted

Sidney Off-site Venues, Accommodations & Amenities • Over 300 hotel rooms in Sidney •V  ictoria Distillers, located along Sidney’s waterfront. Perfect for meetings and receptions from 2 to 150. Group tours and tastings available. • Aquarium available for private dinners and cocktail receptions amongst the displays • Outdoor activities including whale watching, fishing, kayaking and standup paddle boarding • Over 300 unique shops and services info@distinctlysidney.ca | www.distinctlysidney.ca

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Jo-Ann Loro/Douglas magazine

Brink events: Douglas 10 to Watch

Lewis & Sears: Viea State of the Island Economic Summit

Photo caption Canadian Outback Adventures: Cardboard boat building challenge

Why an Event Planner Can Save You Time, Money and Stress It might be tempting to DIY when it comes to planning a business event, but there’s a lot more to carrying off a successful event than meets the eye — and some very compelling reasons to hire an event planner. 54 Douglas

I

t all seems so simple — you’ll plan and execute your company’s next event yourself and save so much money. Besides, how tough can it be? Order the food? Book a venue? Set the agenda? But before long, you’re overwhelmed and somehow over budget, despite your best intentions. Next time, seriously consider working with an event planner. Here’s why:

You’ll Save Time Because event planners are pros, they make it look easy — so easy, in fact, that many business owners decide to try and save a few bucks and do it themselves. But planning an event, even a small retreat, actually takes loads of time. From choosing the right menu to suit a wide variety

of diets to finding a venue, organizing staffing, dealing with suppliers, setting up, taking down — chances are, by the time your event arrives you’ll be overspent, both time- and budgetwise. Good event planners are worth their weight in gold. Give them your vision, your criteria and your budget and they will present you with an event plan and keep everything on task to realize your vision for an event to remember.

TiP When seeking out event planners, consult your network for leads and always ask for references. You want someone with a track record of success. When hiring, be as specific as possible about your “must-haves” so you’ll receive the service and result you want.


The Parkside Hotel & Spa Conveniently located just two blocks from the Provincial Legislature and downtown inner harbour, The Parkside Hotel & Spa adds pleasure to any business trip. We’ll help you make planning a breeze with refreshing options to energize your delegates. Let us take care of all the details for you.

Meeting Spaces • Urban Ballroom, your group will be fully engaged with natural light pouring in from floor-to-ceiling windows. • City Club Lounge, offers panoramic city and ocean views from the eighth floor, with outdoor patios and gas fireplaces. • The Parkside Theatre, features comfortable executive style seating for 29 guests and a 132-inch screen with surround sound for any presentation. • James Bay Room, perfect for seminars, meetings and dinners for up to 40 guests. • Executive Meeting Room, an ideal space for smaller gatherings, seminars or breakout groups.

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You Might Even Save Money Top-notch event planners generally know the best suppliers and sometimes have access to special deals because of the volume of business they bring or the supplier relationships they’ve formed. They also know the going rates for event venues and how to negotiate to get the best deals on everything from catering to audiovisual equipment to tent rentals.

Horror Escape

Increasingly popular for team building, “escape rooms” engage everyone in solving a series of puzzles to “unlock” the door.

Tip Many people are afraid to give event planners a budget up front in fear that they’ll “spend it all because they can.” This is counterintuitive. Knowing the budget allows the event planner to pre-plan and do the best job possible within your budget. Be sure you know from the start how the event planner bills for his or her services and what is included in that price. Is it an hourly rate or a fixed price? Get it in writing for your benefit and theirs.

You Can Focus on What Really Matters Many business owners decide they may as well use the team power they already have to plan and manage an event. It’s not a great

idea. Not only does it add extra work for you and your team, it means you all end up on a steep learning curve trying to figure out what qualified event planners already know and can do better — and faster.

Tip Follow the adage “Do what you do well and hire others to do the rest.” Event planning is a special skill.

Your Event Will Look Professional Bringing an event together, especially on a large scale, is a unique talent. Event planners understand how to plan the stage setup and lighting, strategize seating for the best interactions and how to ensure your audiovisual presentations go off without a hitch. And, importantly, they are experts at selecting the right decor to reflect your brand and the mood you want to set.

Tip Hire the right planner for your type of event. Someone who is exclusively a wedding planner might be great for nuptial events, but if you are hosting an ultra-corporate event or business retreat, you want someone who understands the dynamics of business events and corporate expectations.

Every Meeting is Unique. So are we. Whether you’re hosting a seminar, conference or intimate professional gathering, The Westin Bear Mountain Golf Resort & Spa offers more than 10,000 square feet of unique and flexible meeting space, as well as a dedicated planning team, revitalizing food and beverage breaks and amenities such as golf and spa that ensure that attendees can be at their best.

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The Long Table Series makes long-table dining totally portable, bringing the tables, the chef, the bar and the staff to unique locations.

They Know How to Mitigate Issues and Do Damage Control Let’s say your venue mixed up the times and left you half an hour short, or the florist doing centrepieces forgot the order. Event planners usually work with contingencies and have quick access to the resources and people to solve many issues that may come up. They also understand all of those annoying but important details, like liability insurance, Food Safe needs and liquor laws.

Tip Ask questions about contingency plans in advance. You want to know your planner can think on his or her feet, and that backup is available, if needed.

You’ll Actually be Able to Enjoy Your Own Event Managing your own event is a more-than-full-time job, one likely to leave you stressed and too exhausted to mingle meaningfully with your guests. That means you miss opportunities to make essential connections. Leave that task to a pro so you can be fully present.

Tip Assign a point person to be available during the event itself to help answer any questions from your planner or suppliers. That way, you can be present for your guests and maximize your ROI.

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The Psychology of Meetings Pros and Cons of Seating Arrangements Rectangle

U-Shape

Pro: Ideal for commanding authority, this setup is a corporate standard.

Pro: Excellent for training because of the clear sitelines; good for dialogue.

Con: Seats at the table ends dominate, the rectangle setup is adversarial and team conversation is dififcult.

Con: Limited seating; the two sides of the table may feel in competition.

Fishbowl

Pro: A good format for discussions within a large group; lessens distinctions between speaker(s) and audience. Con: It can feel overwhelming to more introverted audience members.

classroom

Pro: Good for larger audiences where a focus on the presentation is key. Con: People at the back may not feel as engaged in the presentation; group discussion is limited.

Round

semi-circle

Pro: Everyone is in an equal position; great for collaboration and problem solving; relaxed format.

Pro: Good for informal presentations where some audience participation is required.

Con: No leader; limited seating.

Con: Takes more space than classroom seating; focus stays on speaker.

theatre

hybrid

Pro: A semi-inclusive format, ideal for educational presentations and performances. Con: More distracting than classroom seating.

Pro: Accommodates technology for virtual as well as physical attendance. Con: The high-tech needs of virtual attendees can prove distracting to those who are physically present. Source: Convene

Tips To Help You Choose a Great Venue For Your Meeting Picking the right meeting venue will help ensure your attendees leave feeling inspired and encouraged, rather than drained and overwhelmed.

F

luorescent lights, beige walls and poor acoustics don’t make for inspiring or productive meetings. To make sure your meeting achieves all the goals you’re setting, pick a venue with an ambiance that will inspire creativity and communication.

The Look of the Space Matters Holding a meeting in a venue that is plain and uninspiring in the hopes that it will improve

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concentration is a myth. Instead, choose a venue that is well-decorated and in keeping with your brand, as this can improve creativity. If the room is limited in terms of décor — you can’t repaint a room you’ve rented, after all — do a little decorating yourself by bringing in some potted plants. Research has found the presence of plants can boost creativity, reduce stress and prevent drowsiness. Another option to elevate the décor of your meeting room is to add centerpieces to the tables. This could be as

simple as artfully presented branches or wood chips, or as extravagant as bouquets of flowers.

Make Sure There’s Natural Lighting Try to avoid booking a meeting in any venue that has harsh lighting. A study published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology in 2014 found that dimmer lights lend to a calmer office space. By contrast, bright lights (including fluorescent lights) are found to increase emotional intensity. If possible, arrange a venue that has windows


Distinct Inspirational Meeting Spaces, One Central Location With eight penthouse suites on two dedicated floors, a multi-purpose meeting room with natural light, a classic cocktail lounge and private harbour-view dining options, the Chateau Victoria Hotel & Suites offers refined, professional meeting and entertainment spaces guaranteed to leave a lasting impression. Impress your team with our prime downtown location, complimentary parking, and recently renovated surroundings. Please contact group sales or visit us online for more information on our dedicated service and competitive pricing. 250-361-5663 meet@chateauvictoria.com www.chateauvictoria.com/business

The Pedaler Cycling Tours and Rentals “I thought of that while riding my bicycle.” – Albert Einstein on the Theory of Relativity Riding a bicycle sharpens thinking, elevates mood and melts away stress. Add tasting stops and puzzles enroute, or a longer excursion to experience our rural beauty, and you have the perfect recipe for an active, rewarding event. From start to finish, we customize our guided cycling tours to suit any group, ensuring a unique and memorable experience. Our large fleet of stylish, comfortable bicycles makes everyone feel like a local. Special clothing not required, and we provide the wicker basket. 778-265-RIDE (7433) 321 Belleville Street www.thepedaler.ca | sales@thepedaler.ca

Tigh-Na-Mara Seaside Spa Resort & Conference Centre Reconnect at Tigh-Na-Mara Seaside Spa Resort & Conference Centre for inspiring meeting spaces inside and out. Discover our unique 22 forested acres beside the ocean, 10,000 sq ft of flexible meeting space, banquet facilities, award winning Grotto Spa and a dedicated sales team who understand the importance of face to face meetings in the perfect location to spark creativity, inspire collaboration, and promote productivity. Experience Tigh-Na-Mara’s legacy of service excellence, inspiring location and why your success is our business! 250-248-1802 sales@tigh-na-mara.com  www.tigh-na-mara.com

Best Western Emerald Isle For amazing Vancouver Island accommodation, look no further than the delightful seaside town of Sidney, the perfect home base for an exciting adventure or relaxing retreat in the Greater Victoria area. The Best Western Plus Emerald Isle Hotel features contemporary rooms, outstanding hotel amenities and unbeatable value. Pet friendly and close to the Victoria International Airport and BC Ferries terminal, the hotel has an onsite restaurant and is steps from the Mary Winspear Centre, the ideal venue for personal, corporate and community events of all sizes. 2306 Beacon Ave, Sidney BC 250-656-4441 www.bwemeraldisle.com

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Meeting Tip Set an out-of-office autoreply for when you’re in your big meeting. That way, you can focus on the attendees and won’t feel compelled to constantly check messages — and anyone trying to reach you won’t feel like they are being ignored.

where light can be adjusted with blinds or shades. Otherwise, a room with dimmable lights is ideal.

Think About the Layout of the Room The layout of the meeting room will affect productivity. Consider how tables and chairs are arranged, as this can influence both creativity and how attendees interact with one another. For example, if there is a keynote speaker, position chairs so everyone is able to see and hear the presenter without having to crane their necks. If the meeting involves work in small teams, make sure it’s possible to move chairs around so people can collaborate in smaller groups.

Make Networking Easy If your meeting is bringing together people from different businesses and organizations, make it easy for them to network. Ensure there’s at least one main space for all the attendees to mingle. That might be one room with complimentary coffee and snacks where attendees can gather, or it might simply be the opportunity to move chairs around to create an open space and encourage congregation. This will also bring a little movement to the meeting, which can improve the overall experience. Research has found that movement can help individuals learn more quickly and retain information more easily.

Make Sure All the Extra Equipment You Need is Available Make sure your venue has access to reliable, high-speed Internet and provides all attendees with the network and the password. This will make it easy for attendees to connect to research what’s being discussed, check email between discussions and share social media posts related to the event. Other equipment you’ll likely need includes microphones, video equipment and projectors. Choosing a venue for your meeting is not as simple as finding a room with a table and a few chairs. Spend the time searching for a welldesigned, well-lit space that meets your needs, and you’ll be rewarded with a productive and inspiring meeting.

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Three Effective Team-Building Exercises These exercises offer real value to a company — and aren’t likely to cause eye rolling. Your next team-building event doesn’t need to include “trust falls,” where attendees fall back and hope others catch them. Here are exercises for the new age of meetings: Exercise: 1 The A Penny For Your Thoughts

What You Need At least one coin for each member of the team and a container to hold all the coins. No coin can be older than the youngest member of the team. How It Works All the coins are collected in the container. One by one, each team member picks a coin out and reads the year that coin is from out loud. Then, they share something important or memorable that happened to them in that year. Why It’s a Useful Team-Building Exercise This exercise is a fun ice-breaker that helps team members get to know one another. Plan this exercise to loosen everyone up before a big meeting. Exercise: 2 The Organizational Jenga

What You Need Jenga blocks each marked with the various departments in your company. The number of labeled blocks should reflect the makeup of your company. For example, if 20 per cent of the company is administrative, 20 per cent of the Jenga blocks should be marked as such.

How It Works Divide the company into equal teams and distribute the blocks evenly. The kind of structure the teams must build is specified and they are given a set amount of time to build. Then, teams remove one block at a time from their structure, trying to avoid destroying the whole thing. Why It’s a Useful Team-Building Exercise This exercise demonstrates the importance of every department in your company and the necessity of teamwork in a functioning business. Exercise: 3 The Scavenger Hunt

What You Need A list of items to find.

How It Works Divide your company up into equal-sized groups. Each team gets a list of items that they need to locate and bring back to the office in a set amount of time. The team that finds the most items on the list wins. Scavenger hunts can be themed, and teams can get as creative as they wish. Why It’s a Useful Team-Building Exercise This exercise is a good way to encourage creativity, problem solving and working cooperatively with others.


Degrees Catering Conference Rooms Degrees Catering operates the Cadboro Commons Conference Centre, located on the scenic University of Victoria campus. Our setting provides the perfect backdrop to enjoy our West Coast inspired cuisine. Featuring seven unique meeting spaces, our facilities are available for meetings, conferences, banquet dinners, corporate seminars and weddings. Our comfortable and spacious meeting rooms are well equipped with natural light, audio-visual support and flexible seating arrangements. If you’re hosting an event in one of the many buildings across the UVic campus, we can bring our first class catering services directly to you.

Catering Services As a full-service catering department, you can expect the same attention to detail and exceptional service whether you’re planning an event on or off campus. Our menus give plenty of delectable choices for every event, every dietary requirement and every budget. Catering to your needs, our consultants work with you to ensure smoothly run events and warm hospitality for your guests. Degrees Catering offers fast, convenient deliveries, Victoria-wide.

Amenities • Audio-visual equipment and services • Centrally located between the airport, ferries and downtown • Lots of onsite parking

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C R A F T E D M E E T I N G S. R E D E F I N E D. The Oak Bay Beach Hotel – where custom craft beer tastings, bespoke barrel-aged cocktails and blended teas are just the beginning.

Meeting planners have long been searching for unique ways to make their events memorable. Allow us to elevate your event experience by customizing a Crafted Meeting with our carefully curated menu of offerings.

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Directory Meeting and Conference Facilities Hotels and Resortsi Victoria City Centre Bedford Regency Hotel bedfordregency.com Chateau Victoria Hotel & Suites chateauvictoria.com Coast Victoria Harbourside Hotel coasthotels.com Delta Victoria Ocean Pointe Resort & Spa deltavictoria.com Fairmont Empress (The) fairmont.com/empress Harbour Towers Hotel & Suites harbourtowers.com Hotel Grand Pacific hotelgrandpacific.com

Quality Inn Waddling Dog Victoria Hotel qualityinnvictoria.com Ramada Victoria and Convention Centre victoriaramada.com

Qualicum Beach

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Qualicum Beach Inn qualicumbeachinn.com

Crag X Indoor Climbing Centre cragx.ca

Courtenay/Comox

Craigdarroch Castle thecastle.ca

Sandman Hotel Victoria sandmanhotels.ca/hotels/victoria

Best Western, The Westerly Hotel & Convention Centre thewesterlyhotel.ca

Sidney Pier Hotel & Spa (The) sidneypier.com

Coastal Trek Resort coastaltrekresort.com

Sooke Harbour House, Coastal Retreat sookeharbourhouse.com

Crown Isle Resort & Golf Community crownisle.com

Westin Bear Mountain Golf Resort & Spa (The) bearmountain.ca

Kingfisher Oceanside Resort & Spa kingfisherspa.com Old House Village Hotel & Spa oldhousevillage.com

Deep Cove Chalet deepcovechalet.com deVine Wines and Spirits devinewines.ca Goward House Society gowardhouse.com Harbour Air Seaplanes harbourair.com Hatley Park National Historic Site hatleypark.ca Horticulture Centre of the Pacific hcp.ca

Victoria Executive Centre VECmeetingspaces.ca Victoria Public Market victoriapublicmarket.com Vista 18 Westcoast Grill and Wine Bar vista18.com Zambri’s zambris.ca VANCOUVER ISLAND BC Forest Discovery Centre bcforestdiscoverycentre.com Fairwinds Golf & Country Club fairwinds.ca Parksville Community & Conference Centre parksvillecentre.com

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Tsa-Kwa-Luten Lodge capemudgeresort.bc.ca

Inn at Laurel Point laurelpoint.com

Salt Springs Spa Resort saltspringspa.com

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Magnolia Hotel & Spa magnoliahotel.com

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Best Western Tin Wis Resort tinwis.com

Marriott Victoria Inner Harbour marriottvictoria.com

Best Western Cowichan Valley Inn bestwesternvancouverisland.com

Black Rock Oceanfront Resort blackrockresort.com

Olympic View Golf Club olympicviewgolf.com

Oswego Hotel (The) oswegovictoria.com

Honeymoon Bay Lodge and Retreat honeymoonbayretreat.com

Vancouver Island University Deep Bay Marine Field Station viu.ca/deepbay

Clayoquot Wilderness Resort wildretreat.com

Orca Spirit Adventures orcaspirit.com

Parkside Hotel & Spa parksidevictoria.com

Oceanfront Suites at Cowichan Bay oceanfrontcowichanbay.com

West Coast Expeditions westcoastexpeditions.com

Long Beach Lodge Resort longbeachlodgeresort.com

Pacific Institute for Sport Excellence piseworld.com

WildPlay Element Parks wildplay.com

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Hotel Rialto hotelrialto.ca Hotel Zed hotelzed.com Huntingdon Manor Gatsby Hotel bellevillepark.com

Paul’s Motor Inn paulsmotorinn.com Premiere Suites premieresuitesvictoria.com Royal Scot Hotel & Suites royalscot.com Strathcona Hotel strathconahotel.com Swans Hotel & Brewpub swanshotel.com Union Club of British Columbia (The) unionclub.com Victoria Regent Waterfront Hotel & Suites victoriaregent.com Greater Victoria Accent Inns Victoria accentinns.com Best Western Emerald Isle bwemeraldisle.com Brentwood Bay Resort & Spa brentwoodbayresort.com

Villa Eyrie Resort villaeyrie.com Duncan Travelodge Duncan travelodge.ca/property/travelodgeduncan Nanaimo Best Western, Dorchester Hotel dorchesternanaimo.com Coast Bastion Hotel coasthotels.com

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Painter’s Lodge painterslodge.com Sonora Resort sonoraresort.com Off-site Venuesi Alix Goolden Performance Hall vcm.bc.ca/alix-goolden-hall

Inn on Long Lake innonlonglake.com

Ambrosia Centre on Fisgard ambrosiacatering.ca

Vancouver Island Conference Centre viconference.com Parksville

Beach Club Resort (The) beachclubbc.com

Prestige Oceanfront Resort prestigehotelsandresorts.com

Dolphins Resort dolphinsresort.com

Howard Johnson Harbourside Hotel hojonanaimo.com

Four Points by Sheraton Victoria Gateway fourpointsvictoriagateway.com

Oak Bay Beach Hotel (The) oakbaybeachhotel.com

Best Western - Austrian Chalet bwcampbellriver.com

Greater Victoria

Beach Acres Resort beachacresresort.com

Lodge at Weir’s Beach (The) thelodgeatweirsbeach.com

April Point Spa Resort & Marina aprilpoint.com

Grand Hotel Nanaimo (The) thegrandhotelnanaimo.ca

Comfort Inn & Suites comfortvictoria.ca

Howard Johnson Hotel Victoria hojovictoria.com

Campbell River

Pacific Shores Resort & Spa pacific-shores.com Quality Resort Bayside qualityresortparksville.com Sunrise Ridge Waterfront Resort sunriseridge.ca Tigh-Na-Mara Seaside Spa Resort & Conference Centre tigh-na-mara.com

Kildara Farms kildarafarms.webs.com Legacy Art Gallery legacygallery.ca Mary Winspear Centre marywinspear.ca Merridale Estate Cidery merridalecider.com IMAX Victoria imaxvictoria.com

Royal BC Museum royalbcmuseum.bc.ca Royal Roads University royalroads.ca Saanich Commonwealth Place saanich.ca

Qualicum Beach Civic Centre qualicumbeach.com Quw’utsun’ Cultural and Conference Centre quwutsun.ca Vancouver Island Conference Centre viconference.com Vancouver Island Motorsport Circuit islandmotorsportcircuit.com

Conference and Meeting Support Services AudioVisual/Streaming Bigtime Special DJ, Photobooth & AV bigtimespecial.com BT Media btmedia.ca DL Sound & Lighting dlsound.net

St. Ann’s Academy National Historic Site stannsacademy.com

Four Frames Photo Booth fourframesphotobooth.com

Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre sofmc.com

Freeman Audio Visual freemanav-ca.com

Sea Cider Farm & Ciderhouse seacider.ca Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea salishseacentre.org/rentals The 4o7 4o7.com

Sensational Sound sensationalsound.ca Sound Advice soundadvice.bc.ca SW Audio + Visual (AV) sw-online.com

Art Gallery of Greater Victoria aggv.ca

The Pedaler Cycling Tours thepedaler.ca

Bard & Banker bardandbanker.com

University Club of Victoria (The) club.uvic.ca

Bird’s Eye Cove birdseyecovefarm.com

University of Victoria/Carsa uvic.ca/carsa

Bread and Butter Catering breadandbuttercatering.ca

Blue Grouse Winery bluegrouse.ca

Unsworth Vineyards unsworthvineyards.com

Castro Boateng Catering castroboateng.com

Butchart Gardens (The) butchartgardens.com

Vancouver Island Technology Park vitp.ca

Charelli’s Cheese, Delicatessen & Catering charellis.com

Butterfly Gardens, Victoria butterflygardens.com

Victoria Conference Centre victoriaconference.com

Cheryl’s Gourmet Pantry cherylsgourmetpantry.com

Canoe Brewpub Restaurant and Marina canoebrewpub.com

Victoria Conservatory of Music vcm.bc.ca

Custom Gourmet customgourmetchef.com

Church & State Wines churchandstatewines.com

Victoria Curling Club victoriacurlingclub.com

Degrees Catering degreescatering.ca

Vosh Video Vision voshvideovision.com Caterers


Food for Thought Catering foodforthoughtcatering.net

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C&C Party Rentals ccparty.ca

Grand Vista Tours and Events grandvistatours.com

ProSpeakers prospeakers.com

Galloping Gourmet Catering gallopinggourmet.ca

Always Invited Event Rentals alwaysinvited.org

Gala-Van Party Shop gala-van.com

Strategic Initiatives Inc. strategicinitiatives.ca

Geffen Gourmet Catering geffencatering.ca

Black and White Event Rentals bwparty.com

Decorate Victoria decoratevictoria.com

Lewis & Sears Marketing and Events Management lewissears.com

Island Culinary Service islandculinaryservice.ca

De.Signs Nanaimo designsnanaimo.ca

Pedersen’s Rentals pedersens.ca

Joe the Bartender joethebartender.com

Douglas Signs Ltd. douglassignsltd.com

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Garside Signs & Displays garsidedisplays.com

Scene About Town Party Event Rentals scene-about-town.com

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Insite Display insitedisplay.com Island Displays islanddisplays.com MiniMax Media minimaxmedia.com

MacGillivray & Associates macgillivray-associates.com Monica Powell Event Management monicapowellevents.ca National Speakers Bureau nsb.com Shelly Petersen Event Design weddingwire.ca

Smashing Glasses Event Rentals smashingglasses.ca

Smart Events smartevents.ca

Triple T Party Rentals tripletparty.com

Tides Adventure Group tidesgroup.com

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Triple T Consulting & Events Management tttconsulting.ca

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Bring Your Meeting to Victoria It’s easy to become a local host. Business Events Victoria will provide you with all the tools and resources you’ll need to make it happen. Simply send an email to localhost@tourismvictoria.com or fill out the form at TourismVictoria.com/LocalHost

Victoria Conference Centre Located in the heart of Victoria’s scenic Inner Harbour and adjoining the world-renowned Fairmont Empress hotel, the Victoria Conference Centre is the city’s largest conference facility, built to be energy-efficient and environmentally sustainable. Accommodating conferences of up to 2,000 attendees, we provide flexible and bright meeting space for a wide range of conference programs, large corporate and incentive events and trade shows. • 73,000 total square feet of flexible meeting space • 15,000 square foot divisible ballroom with 23-foot ceilings • Stunning naturally-lit atrium featuring gallery quality original Coast Salish art • Crystal Garden offers additional 25,000 square foot space in iconic heritage building • 400 fixed-seat lecture theatre with translation booths • 21 multi-purpose meeting rooms • World-class catering provided exclusively by Fairmont Empress Hotel • On-site audio visual team • In-house client services team on site throughout your conference www.tourismvictoria.com/meetings

BUSINESS EVENTS

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Out of the deep When a credit union called Sitka’s loan in 2015, the west coast clothing and lifestyle brand cAme close to shutting down forever. But its CEO Rene Gauthier didn’t want to give up on the company he co-founded. Against the odds — and despite advice to close shop — Sitka is on a tenuous path to recovery. By Shannon Moneo photo by Dean Azim

“Making responsible goods isn’t easy,” says Rene Gauthier. “If it were, everyone would be making it this way. However, knowing we’re making an improvement to the second dirtiest industry in the world makes the financial challenges worthwhile.”

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You could say Sitka’s financial breakdown began in mid-2014 when, over three days, a dozen Sitka staff locked themselves in a room for some bona fide soulsearching. “We wanted to find out what our purpose was. In the process we realized our product didn’t align with the vision and values of our employees,” recalls Rene Gauthier, co-founder, co-owner and CEO of Sitka, the internationally known Victoria clothing and outdoor-product retailer. And so began the plan to live up to Sitka’s vision as a company that sells ethically made, responsible, long-lasting products that reflect the wild and pure Pacific Northwest. Little did Gauthier and former partner and cofounder Andrew Paine know that their decision to chop Sitka’s manufacturing contracts with Asian companies and grow sales with Canadianmade goods would have major implications. “We put some lines in the sand and said we’d move all production back to Canada by the fall of 2016,” Gauthier, 36, recalls, adding that they completed the move by the spring of 2015. As well, another line drawn included that the clothing would be made of 100-per-cent organic cotton and natural fibres. “We dove into that, but we underestimated what happens when you change your supply chain. We went all in. It was extremely hard to find Canadian products,” recalls Gauthier. Once upon a time, the needle trade flourished in Montreal, Toronto and Winnipeg (the latter, incidentally, where Gauthier grew up). But by 2014, finding quality Canadian manufacturers proved difficult and time consuming. As well, Canadian products cost more to buy, which led to slimmer profit margins for Sitka. Marketed as a West Coast company, Sitka sold Asian-made goods to Canadian, U.S., European and Asian boutiques and outdoorgoods stores. “The problem became, we couldn’t meet the needs of our retailers,” says Gauthier. “We couldn’t find Canadian manufacturers. As well, making clothing responsibly is more expensive, explains Gauthier.

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Natalie Helm

“You can make clothing using 21st-century slave labour in foreign countries — with no care for the impact the production has on people and environment — for much cheaper. And we know this because we’ve been part of this ‘status quo’ ... but when you make products the way we do now, there’s a much higher cost.” Another factor is that retail prices are typically double the wholesale prices, says Gauthier, so to keep their product costs as reasonable as possible for their end customers, Sitka decided to cut out its wholesale division. “By doing this, it meant we could still sell a sweatshirt for $150 instead of $300 to the end customer.” The problem was that in 2014, half of Sitka’s roughly $4-million in annual sales came from its wholesale arm. Soon, half of Sitka’s revenue evaporated, but expenses stayed the same. A tactical error worsened Sitka’s cashflow problems. “We made this change in the middle of our growth plan,” Gauthier admits. He and Paine were planning to open stores in Western Canada and U.S. west coast states. They had lined up expansion financing from investors and got a loan from Island Savings Credit Union. But the credit union only supplied a portion of the loan, Paine says.

Rene Gauthier, with his dog Bandit in his backpack, cycles past Sitka’s Government Street location. While the store has a smaller footprint than the previous Yates St. locale, the more central location has proved bigger for business.

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ARE YOU A GROWTH-ORIENTED COMPANY LOOKING FOR NEW WAYS TO SCALE-UP YOUR BUSINESS? SOUTH ISLAND PROSPERITY PROJECT (SIPP) has assembled a team of Senior Business Advisors and created the BusinessConnect program. This qualified team will provide you with the knowledge and networks you need to take your business to the next level. THE CHALLENGE & THE RESULT: A CASE STUDY We worked with JSF Technologies to restructure their staffing model so they could make more informed and effective decisions. As a result, the company was able to hire some new team members who have become instrumental in supporting JSF Technologies’ record-setting sales over the last two quarters. JSF Technologies CEO Valerie Foster says, “SIPP helped us to stress-test our strategic plan for success, a process which helped us identify some key gaps. JSF Technologies is a growing business that is better positioned today as a result of our engagement with SIPP.” HOW WE CAN HELP

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That meant Sitka didn’t have enough money to purchase goods in time for seasonal sales. “You can’t sell bikinis in the winter,” Paine says. “We were left with excess old stock.” And without sales revenue, there was no money for new products. By late 2015, the pair realized they wouldn’t be able to make loan payments. The credit union called the loan; Sitka couldn’t repay it and, as Gauthier says, the situation began to snowball. “Things got very crunchy. There were some super-tense days.” Adding to the pressure was that at the end of 2015, Paine stepped aside.

“I’d been doing the same thing for 13, 14 years. I decided I wanted a change,” Paine, 37, says. He took his childhood passion for making fishing tackles and, with his wife Nancy, started AP Tackleworks, a Victoria-based lure company. Paine remains a Sitka shareholder. In November 2015, Sitka filed a repayment plan. The court and creditors agreed with the proposal, which would help Sitka avoid bankruptcy. Total debt was $3.5 million to secured and unsecured creditors, according to Sitka’s trustee. Secured creditors were owed $2.9 million, unsecured creditors, $517,329, and there were shareholder loans.

BDC is where you need us to be: right here in Victoria. As the only bank devoted exclusively to entrepreneurs, we’re here to give you the financing and advice you need to steer your business in the right direction. To contact our Victoria Business Centre, email Chris Boissevain, Business Centre Manager at chris.boissevain@bdc.ca. Or call 1-888-INFO-BDC.

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Brock Smith knows Sitka’s story well. A marketing and entrepreneurship professor at UVic’s Gustavson School of Business, Smith taught Gauthier and Paine, both of whom are UVic grads. He recalls reading the marketing plan for Sitka back in the early 2000s. “They have what it takes to come back. Their fundamentals are strong,” he says. “What they had was an ill-fated expansion.” The number-one reason businesses fail, Smith says, is because they don’t have enough operational cash flow. In Sitka’s case, it tried to finance its expansion without enough working capital. The Sitka spiral downward began when it used cash on hand to finance operations and growth. “Their experience flags the caution for small business. Expansion is tricky. You need to think of strategy, think through appropriate expansion. Sitka could have had a lessambitious strategy. They could have held off,” Smith says. Making it worse, he says, was that lenders like the credit union are very risk averse and typically don’t provide additional fundings. As Gauthier looks back, he says, “Something happens when a loan gets called. You do all you can. You look under every rock.” Adds Paine, “You get really lean.” One of the Vancouver stores was closed and, nearer to home, they realized that the large Yates Street store, selling a substantial amount of non-Sitka brands, wasn’t necessary. “We closed Yates and opened Government Street, next to Trounce Alley, the next day,” Gauthier says. The new location opened in December 2015, just in time for Christmas shoppers, who were welcomed to a store stocked with Sitka merchandise. “There’s much higher foot traffic. It’s cheaper rent and a tighter space,” Paine says. Sitka also laid off staff. At its height, Sitka employed 50 people, and during early restructuring, 10 employees. Today, there’s roughly 20 staff. “It was crazy hard. Many of my best pals were employees. We had conversations where I said, ‘I can’t pay you this week,’” Gauthier recalls. But by late July 2017, the debt to secured creditors was paid, plus nearly half of the debt Sitka had agreed to pay to unsecured creditors, Gauthier says. He anticipates Sitka, with help from Victoria resident Mark Gittins and other investors, will be out of the woods sometime in 2018, with the debt eliminated. “It seems to be going really well,” Paine says. “We definitely feel confident in our plan.” While the once towering Sitka was chopped down in size, deep roots remain. “I had a lot of advice to end it. I told myself, ‘I’ll show you,’” recalls Gauthier. “That gave me extra motivation


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not to quit. I don’t know how to give up. “It seems in those dark times, I’d see a sign from the universe,” he says. It could’ve been someone wearing a T-shirt with the iconic Sitka trees or spotting one of the just-as-iconic surfboards. Through his never-say-die attitude, Gauthier’s come to realizations. “I feel like in the last two years, I actually learned about business. Fail fast is huge,” he says. After launching Sitka, the company enjoyed almost 100-per-cent growth each year over the first dozen years. As trailblazers who had tasted financial success, the partners had no reason to think their expansion plans and bid to sell allCanadian goods could possibly fail.

Gauthier says he has found joy in running a business that can honestly say it represents the values it advertises, unlike copycat companies that sell products made far away yet tout the Pacific Northwest lifestyle.

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70 Douglas

“When I started, I was a 20-year-old. It was all going my way,” Gauthier recalls. But, as Smith says, what “fail fast” actually means is fail early while the business is still small and losses won’t be crushing. “The issue with early success is you develop shortcuts that allow you to make decisions quickly,” he says. Sometimes those snap decisions are based on biases and past instances where things worked well. But quick choices can be faulty. “Success can make you complacent and you don’t do your homework,” Smith warns. Today, a Sitka tagline is, “Leave it better than you found it.” While proud that Sitka’s living up to its goal of selling Can-made goods, even adding a kids’ line earlier this year, Gauthier admits the situation is not “sweet and rosy” because financial challenges remain. But as an entrepreneur who tumbled from his delectable perch, Gauthier says he has found joy in running a business that can honestly say it represents the values it advertises, unlike copycat companies that sell products made far away yet tout the Pacific Northwest lifestyle. “Why the heck be just a clothing company? We can do better. We can educate people about their choices. Over the last couple years, we were walking a fine line. Would we make it or not make it? Through it all, we stayed true to our values.” ■


DOUGLAS BUSINESS snapshot

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72 Douglas


Nowhere to Rent? 57.2%

66%

of Greater Victoria business the owners surveyed believe current shortage of housing is making it difficult for them to attract employees from outside of Victoria. 19.2% are unsure and 23.6% said this was not a difficulty.1

of Greater Victoria business owners surveyed indicated they’ve had to raise salaries in order to attract staff and management due to the region’s low unemployment rate and the higher cost of housing.1

$912

26%

Average cost of a one-bedroom suite in Greater Victoria in 2017, a $22 increase over the second quarter of 2016. Two-bedroom suites increased from $1,160 to $1,188 2

of Greater Victoria business owners surveyed noted the shortage of housing is having a serious or significant impact on their ability to attract and retain workers. In total, three-quarters of respondents believe the shortage is having some level of impact on their ability to recruit and retain talent.1

SOURCES: 1) Chemistry Consulting Group survey of 250 Greater Victoria business operators from 10 sectors, mid-July to mid-August 2017. For full report, visit chemistryconsulting.ca 2) Colliers international

Douglas explores how Greater Victoria got into a rental housing crunch, the economic impacts ... and the steps being taken to fix it. by Keith norbury

A

fter almost a year of working remotely from Vancouver for the Victoria tech startup Checkfront, Alex Mereeb was offered a position at the company’s head office, starting July 1, 2016. He made several trips to the capital to scout out a home but couldn’t find a onebedroom apartment downtown at a price that fit his budget. “... I decided to just rent a temporary place that I found online, a furnished apartment, and stayed there,” said Mereeb, a sales manager of Checkfront, which provides a cloud-based booking-management system for businesses around the world. “I was hoping that it would be a couple of weeks after I moved that I would find a place but it turned out to be way harder.” He eventually found a home in August, a Quadra Village studio costing $890 a month. “I just wanted to get it over with at some point ...” says Mereeb, who turns 30 in October. “I had to lower my expectations a lot too.” It’s a situation Checkfront CEO Jason Morehouse and other business owners have struggled with as they recruit new workers to their growing enterprises in booming Victoria. The city’s current rental vacancy rate of 0.5 per cent means few housing options for new hires. “I know there’s a lot of buzz around growing particularly tech in the downtown core, but I see the housing component as a tricky one,” Morehouse says. His team of mainly millennials seeks homes close to work and within walking distance of coffee shops, bars and microbreweries — all things that VIATEC, the organization leading the local tech industries’ marketing efforts, has been promoting, Morehouse points out.

Housing on the Way The good news is that for the first time in three decades, new market-rental apartment buildings are being built en masse in Victoria in addition to hundreds of units of social and subsidized housing. According to the real-estate website Citified.ca, 2,340 rental units were under construction this summer in metro Victoria, with another 2,980 in planning. Of those, 527 units are being built downtown, with another 948 planned for that precinct. “If all goes well, in about two years, the rental vacancy rate should be back to about three per cent as opposed to the 0.5 percent that it is right now,” says Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps, who estimates a third of Douglas 73


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the buildings under construction downtown are for rental. For businesses and their employees seeking homes, those units can’t be built fast enough. “We’ve got six or seven postings online right now for open head counts, and we’re looking outside of Victoria,” says Morehouse. “I know a lot of companies are trying to attract experienced talent from other markets, be it Toronto, Vancouver. But if they can’t find housing, it’s kind of a moot point.”

Multi-sector crunch

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74 Douglas

It’s not just the tech sector that is feeling the crunch. Ironically, companies building the new rental housing are also having troubles with their employees finding places to live. Rory Kulmala, CEO of the Vancouver Island Construction Association, estimates that the association’s approximately 430 members are short 200 to 300 workers in Greater Victoria alone. It’s not the only factor causing a shortage, but it’s a big one. “One of the evaluating factors is: are there places for these people to live? And the answer is no, or they’re just not available,” he says. A company might bring in a worker from up-Island for the short term. “But are you going to bring somebody from Alberta to live here? You might find that a pretty hard stretch,” he adds. Construction is also competing with all other economic sectors for scarce housing. “If you can get more houses or more accommodations built,” Kulmala says, “does it give a bit of a relief valve? Yeah, it starts making Victoria attractive again to move to and it gives construction companies an ability to attract new entrants to Victoria.” And while the construction sector is managing to keep up with the frenzied pace in Victoria, which Kulmala says is record setting, firms are straining their resources. “In some instances, it means it might take a little bit longer for projects to get done,” Kulmala says. If companies have enough workers, they can accelerate the pace of construction because they can put more people on the job. “You can only make a worker work so long before he says, ‘I’m only doing my shift and I’m going to go and enjoy my life,’ kind of thing,” Kulmala says. His solution isn’t barracks style-housing for workers, an idea Victoria’s mayor has floated. While he does give her credit for outside-thebox thinking, he wonders if previous councils couldn’t have prevented the rapid shrinking of the vacancy rate, which he admits caught him by surprise, had they processed development permits in a more timely manner. “Five or six years ago, when these were in front of councils, what were they doing to drive development?” Kulmala asks. Then again, he doubts the current boom will last after major projects like the McKenzie


Avenue interchange and the region’s longawaited sewage treatment plant are completed. “At some point, things are going to get quiet and we’re not going to need 15,000 construction workers in our region,” he says. “We’re going to need 12,000.”

you’ve Chosen the road less travelled…

How Did We Get Here? In 15 years, Victoria hasn’t had a vacancy rate higher than 4.1 per cent back in 1996, according to Canada Housing and Mortgage Corporation (CMHC) figures. From 2004 to 2008, the rate averaged 0.5 per cent. The highest it has been since then is 2.8 per cent in 2013. While many people are confident the rate will rise in the next few years as new rental units are completed, concern remains widespread that it won’t be enough to ensure a healthy supply of rental stock. Among the measures Victoria city council has taken is a six-month moratorium on apartment building demolitions in order to devise a strategy for ensuring tenants aren’t “demovicted” and affordable housing isn’t lost. Critics of that move include policy consultant Tex Enemark. In a recent article on The Tyee, he wrote, “when silly municipal councils stop demolitions willy-nilly, they compound the problem.” Enemark, who worked for CMHC in the early 70s, blames Canada’s rental housing woes on changes in federal tax treatment of rental properties that began in 1972. Two decades later as a deputy minister in the B.C. government, he helped revamp B.C.’s Residential Tenancy Act, including relaxing strict rent controls that proved “a disincentive to be a good landlord,” he says in an interview with Douglas. He has a lot to say about rental-market economics. The following snippet from his remarks does as good a job as any at capturing his position: “... they want to treat rental housing, private-sector rental housing, as though it were a public utility. Well, it’s not a public utility and if it doesn’t make economic sense, nobody will build it.” Among the defenders of Victoria’s moratorium is Kelly Newhook, executive director of the Together Against Poverty Society, which believes housing is a human right. Newhook doesn’t buy the argument that the city’s stock of 50-year-old apartment buildings is deteriorating into squalor. She’s visited a friend who lives at the Beacon Arms, the complex that sparked the moratorium, “and it’s actually quite a beautiful building,” she says. Nor does she agree that creating more market-rental stock results in a trickle-down effect of affordable units becoming available as more affluent renters move to high-end rentals. Mayor Helps, meanwhile, clarifies that the moratorium doesn’t apply to rezonings or applications. But it has acted as a “wake-up call” for everyone concerned, including developers.

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Douglas 75


“Now everyone is awake and we’re all in the same boat, pulling the paddles in the same direction towards solutions,” she says.

The impact of Airbnb Victoria councillors have also acted on concerns about the impact of short-term rentals, such as Airbnb listings, on the long-term rental housing stock. On September 21, city council approved new regulatory rules for short-term rentals and an enforcement strategy, along with disallowing short-term rentals of less than 30 days in transient zones. These zones permit hotels, motels and bed and breakfasts — and make up much of downtown. Frank Bourree, president of Chemistry Consulting and GT Hiring Solutions, calls the regulations a good first step. “We’ve been facing this challenge of ridiculously low vacancy rates here for a few years and it’s just gotten more and more severe as a result of the property values driving landlords to opt for the Airbnb option, where they can generate more money,” says Bourree, who estimates that the region has more than 1,700 Airbnb listings (Airbnb estimates 1,500). Bouree would also like to see short-term rentals contributing to the hotel/tourism tax and maintaining appropriate insurance to protect renters.

76 Douglas

Problems with Policy Enemark says Canada’s rental-housing woes could be largely solved if the federal government rolled back its tax treatments on rental properties to what they were in the 50s and 60s when many of the country’s rental apartments were built. Among the more damaging changes was dropping “a very attractive tax shelter” of 10 per cent annual depreciation on wood-frame buildings to five and then four per cent. The government also removed “rollover” provisions exempting rental-building owners from being taxed on their profits if within the calendar year they reinvested those profits in rental housing. “By doing away with rollover, which was the biggest catastrophe of them all, you remove liquidity in the market,” Enemark says. Subsequent federal initiatives, such as the controversial Multiple Unit Residential Building (MURB) program, did replicate some of the eliminated incentives, which meant rental apartments were still being built into the late 70s. But by the 80s, MURB had morphed into a tax boondoggle and the program foundered. Subsequent tax changes — such as the introduction of the GST, which discriminated against landlords — stripped investors of any incentive to finance rental housing. In the late 90s, Enemark examined the

impacts of these collective policy decisions on Victoria’s rental housing market and calculated that it added $113 to the monthly cost of a rental apartment compared with that of a similar motel unit. Nearly 20 years later, the cost has likely doubled, he figures.

Finding a Business Case Despite the still-unfavourable tax treatment, investors are discovering a business case, in Victoria at least, for financing construction of new market-rental housing. The reason, notes Saanich architect Paul Hammond, is simple: vacancy rates are low and rents are rising. “But it doesn’t mean those rents are going to be affordable,” Hammond says. “They’re going to be market rents.” His firm, Low Hammond Rowe Architects, has designed several rental complexes, both market and social housing, in recent years and has several more in design. Hammond has even seen cases of developers switching in midstream from a condo project to a market-rental project because of the high rental demand. Until this spring, a 36-unit building that Hammond’s firm designed for Empresa Properties on Burdett Avenue was wending its way through rezoning as a condo project. But Empresa has ditched that plan and is preparing to return to Victoria council with a proposal for


a rental building of potentially a few more units, says Empresa president Karl Robertson. “There’s so much demand for a product like that, it’s a good long-term investment to hold on to,” Robertson says. Empresa is also applying to CMHC for a grant in exchange for setting aside 10 per cent of the units as affordable housing, Robertson says. “That it’s coming back with rental is awesome because that really is the demand,” Helps says. The uptick in building rental units began in 2012 with historically low interest rates, a situation she doesn’t expect to last forever. “So my fear is we’ve got to get as much rental built in this time as we can,” Helps adds.

Divergent Interests Such proposals often run into public opposition. A high-profile example is the plan to redevelop Christie Point in View Royal. Council recently approved a rezoning proposal by Toronto-based Realstar Group to build 473 new rental units to replace 161 apartments built in the 60s on a peninsula that juts into Portage Inlet. Among the opponents are the Portage Inlet Protection Society, which worries development will despoil a bird sanctuary, and Christie Point Advocates, which argues that compensation offered to tenants wasn’t generous enough, according to news reports. Realstar has offered new units at existing rates to residents who have lived at Christie Point for at least 10 years, as well as cash to the other residents. View Royal Mayor David Screech, who cast the deciding vote, says the existing buildings need replacing. He says he understands “the pain of the people who have to move” and that local governments need to do everything in their power to help them obtain housing. However, he adds, the leading argument against Christie Point’s redevelopment has been from people who simply don’t want change. “To me that’s just not an acceptable argument,” Screech says. “There you have a private landowner. How can you possibly tell them that you’re not going to allow them to change their property at all and, in fact, you’re going to require them to essentially provide social housing — by not changing?” As the owner of Greggs Furniture & Upholstery in Victoria, Screech has witnessed the impact the city’s rental housing crunch has had on his 13 employees. “It’s probably their number-one concern, with what we’re able to pay and keep our business viable: that they’re not going to be able to afford housing close by the store,” he says. Because Canada has a shortage of trained upholsterers, he has recently been emailing a potential hire in Mexico. “But obviously I would be responsible to find him a place to live, at least short-term,” Screech says. PROOF#

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An Entire Region Affected Nor is the rental crisis restricted to downtown Victoria. Employees at manufacturing plants near Victoria International Airport have so much trouble finding housing nearby that three-quarters of them commute to work, mainly from Langford, notes John Juricic, owner of Harbour Digital Media and executive director of the Sidney-North Saanich Industrial Group. The group represents about a dozen companies, such as Viking Air, Scott Plastics and Nicholson Manufacturing, that collectively employ about 3,500 people. Their biggest problem: lack of affordable housing for workers.

78 Douglas

“It is an under-the-radar barrier to business development in the region,” Juricic says. “It is maybe the most significant barrier.” Many salvos are chipping away at that barrier. They include rental townhouses nearing completion on Tsartlip First Nation’s land on Stelly’s X Road. Called The Meadows at Brentwood Bay, the project’s units were slated for occupancy this spring and summer at monthly rents of $2,000 to $2,200. Closer to the region’s core, View Royal recently approved two new apartment blocks, Screech points out. And downtown, in the last two years, Vancouver-based Townline has leased 394 rental units on the former site of

the old Hudson’s Bay building in Victoria. In late July, Chard Developments had a “topping” ceremony for Yello, a 209-unit, purpose-built rental apartment tower on Yates Street. And the Azzurro, a Greater Victoria Rental Development Society project on Blanshard Street, was making appointments for rental viewings at press time. Rents for Hudson Walk One started at $1,395 for a one-bedroom, up to $3,295 for a penthouse, says Chris Colbeck, Townline’s VP of sales and marketing. Rents are similar for Hudson Walk Two, the third rental building on the site, now fully leased. At the time Townline was planning the first of those three buildings, Hudson Mews, the company was considering developing more condos, which it had built earlier on the site. “And we made the business decision that there was a bigger demand at the time [for building market-rental units ]which we were accurate on,” Colbeck says. He admits, though, that Townline’s nearly 400 new units haven’t “put much of a dent” in Victoria’s rental vacancy rate, although he adds that’s it’s encouraging that more rental stock is finally being built. Aside from the market-rental projects, a lot of social or subsidized rental housing is under construction or in design in Victoria. Architect Hammond says much of that is made possible by the federal Liberal government delivering on its promise to provide money for affordable housing, which landed with B.C. Housing, a provincial commission that reports to the minister responsible for housing. The Greater Victoria Housing Society (GVHS) and Pacifica Housing each have hundreds of units either built or about to be built. GVHS has 765 units at present, including some, like the Townley, that are non-subsidized. Another 275 units in four projects in the works will push the society’s inventory past 1,000. Meanwhile Dean Fortin, Pacifica’s executive director, said it has 150 units in the pipeline on top of about 1,200 already occupied. “There are long lists of people waiting for affordable housing,” says Fortin, who estimates Pacifica’s vacancy rate at 0.02 per cent. A former Victoria mayor, who lost to Helps in 2014, Fortin won’t comment on what former council colleagues are doing to address the housing crunch. But he does share the optimism of Helps. “The larger piece is this: Victoria is a very desirable place for people to come,” Fortin says. “So I think this challenge is going to be with us for a long time. Having said that, I don’t think we should be discouraged in trying to meet it. Let’s go build housing.” ■


INTEL

[business intelligence ]

79 Growth

Doing business in a quantum world

82 workplace

The cost of workplace conflict

83 communication

Keeping up appearances online

jeffrey bosdet/douglas magazine

David Logan (left) and Ole Schmidt are co-owners of Duttons Property Management + Boutique Real Estate Sales in Fairfield. Despite their firm’s large portfolio, they operate their business nimbly, with the responsiveness and innovation of a smaller company.

Growth by Clemens Rettich

Doing Business in a Quantum World Once upon a time, we lived in an either/or world of business thinking. That binary thinking is no longer relevant or good enough for people and businesses to succeed.

W

e live in the 21st century, but we talk like we have barely left the 19th century. So why does this matter? Because the language we use doesn’t just reflect our thoughts — it also shapes our thoughts. Many of our mental models, and the

language that describes them, have outlived their usefulness and are limiting our ability to grow. Take binary code, for instance. It sounds modern because computers, which are actually a collection of switches, use it. But depending on when you start counting, it’s

either from the 9th century BC (I Ching), the 17th century (German mathematician Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz), the 19th century (English mathematician George Boole created Boolean algebra with its yes/no operators in 1847) or the 20th century (Claude Shannon, an MIT grad student, realized in 1937 that Boolean algebra worked beautifully with electrical circuits). The upshot is that something that still sounds modern is actually ancient — and mechanical. Then everything changed. In 1998, our world stopped being mechanical and went down the rabbit hole. That was the year of the first quantum computer. That was the year something could be 1 and 0 at the same time, or something different altogether. And it was the year black and white stopped being a useful way to think. We’re all still catching up. Douglas 79


Here are three examples of how, 20 years in, we’re still trapped in an industrial-age, binary way of thinking that no longer works and stunts our growth as entrepreneurs and humans.

brand doesn’t fit any traditional binary model of “this or that.” And she isn’t moving through any funnel.

The Broken Machines

• Your customers are your partners. Design your interactions accordingly.

■ Broken Machine #1: The Funnel In marketing, “funnel “ is the word we use to describe the process of starting with lots of prospects, narrowing them to a few leads and narrowing them down again to deals. A clean, mechanical process. The flaw in this machine is that it describes a linear journey with one point of entry and no exit except a sale. Put simply, it’s like a trap. The fish travel in; they don’t travel out. That journey ended in the 20th century. Friending and unfriending, liking and trolling, abandoned shopping carts, retargeting, inbound marketing — all of these things point to one truth: the customer journey is no longer linear. What I mean by this is that the modern customer is actually more like a quantum particle than a fish. These particles can be in two places at once, their paths unpredictable and circular. In fact, they aren’t even just customers anymore. With their access to social networks and the intersection of personal and corporate branding, they have become hybrids: customersuppliers. The YouTube star talking about your

Implications

• Community building is a business model. Build a marketing system that makes it possible for humans to connect and create community. • Tinder, where you swipe right to approve of a date prospect or left to disregard that person, isn’t a business model. In a modern business model, you want to create options for people to engage with your business other than just buying. Why? Because less than 10 per cent of your potential market is ready to buy right now, but you still want to keep them engaged. If you don’t offer them other ways to engage with you and get value, they’ll just slip out the side door. No one wants a relationship with someone who only wants one thing. • Go for the second date. See beyond the sale to repeat sales and referrals. When your aim is a long-term relationship, something circular and synergistic, you’ll stop treating people like fish in a funnel trap and more like quantum particles.

e h t l l i w e r

whe

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■ Broken Machine #2: The Assembly Line Formal education, careers, social standing and relationships: things used to go in straight lines. The universe was cause and effect: get a degree, get a good job. It was safe, comfortable, linear and black and white. But we don’t live on assembly lines anymore. Today, nothing guarantees anything else. It might be Brownian motion, or an M.C. Escher drawing, or wabi sabi, but it isn’t an assembly line. We’re at the edge of a new world of just-intime, drop shipping, 3D printing, computer trading, Uber and Airbnb (infrastructure businesses without infrastructure), free MBAs, bitcoins, M-Pesa (financial transactions without banks or even accounts) and bearded men in plaid who can’t operate a chainsaw. There is no guaranteed B after A. Implications •T  here’s no more gold watch. Assume most of what you learn will have a half-life of a year or two. •P  ractise “beginner mind.” Run your business like Amazon’s Jeff Bezos: act like every day is day one. My version: on day one, you have nothing and know nothing; on day two, you get comfortable and assume you’ve got this; on day three, you’re dead. Instead, wake up every morning assuming nothing

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and taking nothing for granted, or you will get comfortable and never see day four in your business. ■ Broken Machine #3: The Balance Balances are machines built for a binary world, a place where things are this or that, black or white, now or later, good or bad. Balances reflect and create binary thinking: employee or employer, work or life, right or wrong, right or left, here or there, customer or supplier. As we enter the age of quantum computing, we’re reaching the end of a time when binary thinking is useful. Now, things and people can be more than one thing at once, or one crazy new thing, neither apple nor orange but the only fruit of its kind, unique and beautiful. Implications • Employer or employee? How about neither? Humans have been in civil societies for 5,000 years. We’ve had employees for about 300. It was a phase; we’ll get over it.

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• Weekday or weekend? Prepare to replace the work/life model. Another product of industrialization, its end has come. If a human can’t find joy in it, a robot will be designed to do it. Growth and success will belong to those who understand that creativity and the creation of beauty are the industries we will return to. We don’t need weekends from that. • Have cake or eat cake? Create an unbalanced life — a creative, entrepreneurial life. Solve problems, create delight. Make a difference and make money. When you are both consumer and producer, when DIY is not just a hobby but a life, having your cake and eating it too doesn’t pose a problem anymore. The World After Machines We are entering a world where chat bots are already talking to each other in languages humans don’t understand, where computing in parallel universes is not science fiction, where the biggest threat to Canadian manufacturing is no longer off-shoring to other human beings but to robots. Even “sacred” white-collar jobs like accounting and legal work will be done by robots and software within a decade. Amazon is delivering groceries to hotel rooms. So who will thrive in this new era? Businesses that create value with employees and customers as partners and businesses that create trust and community through real leadership and delightful, creative experiences. It’s time to stop dividing the world into 0s and 1s. Opportunity is neither here nor there — it’s everywhere. Clemens Rettich of Great Performances Group has an MBA in Executive Management, with 20 years of experience in education, management and small business.

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workplace by Amy Robertson

2) Keep an open mind and be curious. Try to understand what is important to the other person and how they feel. Instead of making assumptions, ask questions. Try to avoid questions that include “why” as they can be perceived as judgmental or challenging. A simple option is to say, “Tell me more about this.”

It Ain’t My Fault Workplace conflicts cost Canadian employers billions in lost productivity, absenteeism and litigation fees. That’s why many employers are turning to mediation as a path forward.

S

ean and Jason* have worked together for years. More often than not, they’ve worked at the same level in the company, though in recent years Sean has reported to Jason. It’s not unusual for them to have their differences, and the HR manager knows more than she would like to about their dynamic. But then things really escalated a year ago when Sean felt that Jason threatened him. Sean was livid and launched a formal complaint of bullying and harassment. Partway through the investigation, both Sean and Jason were given the option of mediation to resolve their issues, but this would mean putting the investigation on hold. Both men reluctantly agreed to try mediation. Why Mediation Matters Workplace conflicts sometimes make me think of a song by the country-music duo Brothers Osborne called “It Ain’t My Fault.” It’s a catchy tune that speaks to the human tendency to assign blame to others when things go wrong. Mediators are neutral, so their role is not about assigning blame. The focus is not on who is right or wrong, but on what can participants agree to going forward. This is such an important shift and a big part of why workplace mediation is a quick, creative and relatively inexpensive way to resolve issues that come up between people at the office or in a working group. That’s especially true when compared to some alternatives like a workplace investigation or an adjudication process where a finding of fact, as well as an assigning of blame, is central to the process. The cost can be significant, and a lot of people describe the aftermath of an investigation as worse than before it took place. That said, there are circumstances where alternative processes such as investigations or adjudication are warranted. Mediation can also be effective for groups that are not necessarily in conflict but want a collaborative process to determine how decisions will be made or to clarify group roles and responsibilities. Causes and CostS of Conflict So how does conflict in the workplace start? Most often it’s because of a miscommunication between two or more people, a breakdown in a working relationship or problems arising from

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poor performance evaluations. These scenarios can lead to challenging team dynamics, claims of bullying and harassment and reduced productivity and work performance. In my research, depending on the study, however, I consistently found that in Canada workplace conflict costs up to billions each year. While this typically includes direct costs such as sick days, absenteeism, grievances and litigation, this research does not always include the indirect costs of conflict such as decreased productivity when people avoid working on a project because they are also trying to avoid a conflict between another colleague or group. In fact, a CPP Inc. U.S. study of workplace conflict in 2008 found that most employees

3) It can also be helpful to talk about the impact the conflict or circumstance has had on you or someone you know. This will be less likely to trigger defensiveness in the other person. 4) Acknowledge that there is more than one solution to every issue or obstacle, so be flexible and think of at least two ideas or suggestions to move things forward. 5) If you cannot agree on what has happened in the past, shift your focus to what you can all agree on to go forward. If all participants follow what they agree to (which is more likely when they create the terms together), it can do a lot to repair a relationship and rebuild trust over time. what really counts If you or your HR department are unable to manage the conflict on your own, mediators

5

Ignoring Policies or Regulations

Personality Clashes

Common Workplace Conflicts

1

Poor Communication

2

5

Work Style Differences Unfavourable Feedback

3 spent 2.8 unproductive hours each week due to conflict situations. This does not include the amount of time managers spend trying to manage conflict. How to Get on Track As a mediator, here are my five tips to help people share information, understand different perspectives and, hopefully, get back on track: 1) Determine three things you each want the other person to hear. Take turns without interrupting and really listen to each other. Anticipate hearing something you do not agree with and be prepared to focus on what they are saying anyway without reacting.

4 November 4 to 10 is Conflict Resolution Week in B.C.

can be an important part of moving things forward in a positive and constructive way. The dialogue may be intense, so some people like the idea of having someone impartial to both or all participants to prepare and guide them through these tough conversations. According to Mediate BC’s 2016 Business of Mediation Survey, mediators help to resolve all of the issues in 86 per cent of workplace files, and 82 per cent of participants said they were satisfied with the process, while 79 per cent were satisfied with the outcome. A Deeper Understanding So what happened with Sean and Jason? Was Sean bullied? Mediators will make no such


determination. Sometimes bullying could have occurred and sometimes there are personality differences at play. During the mediation process, both participants learned more about the reasons behind certain decisions — things they had not known previously. Suddenly, Sean realized he was not overlooked for promotions, as he once assumed. Other things came to light, including the fact that Sean did not totally trust Jason and had been feeling bored and under-utilized at work. Jason knew of a new position that the company wanted to fill and he had previously not considered Sean because he had no idea Sean was up for a new challenge. Sean agreed to withdraw his complaint and effectively stop the investigation, and Jason agreed, with permission from his boss, that Sean would take some training and start in a new position in the company in a few months. Sean would no longer report to Jason when he started the new role. Both Sean and Jason felt relieved and no longer dreaded the idea of going to work. It doesn’t always matter who is at fault — most people say that feeling heard or understood is more important. This is particularly true when the participants need to continue working together in some way. All relationships have their challenges and it is common to find conflict in a project team or working group, between colleagues or between a manager and an employee. How you choose to handle the conflict going forward is what really counts. * While this example is representative of workplace mediation, certain elements were altered to ensure confidentiality, which is a critical component of any mediation. Amy Robertson is a Mediate BC civil and family roster mediator in Victoria.

communication by Coralie McLean

Keeping Up Appearances How to avoid having a blemished, or even beaten-up, online reputation.

I

t’s no secret that in today’s world, information travels faster than we can fathom. How much information and how fast? At any given minute on Facebook, for example, users post more than 500,000 comments, update nearly 300,000 statuses and upload more than 130,000 photos. Per minute! And that’s just Facebook. There are also texts, Tweets, Snaps, Instas, live videos, Yelp comments, Google reviews … you get the idea. Douglas 83


From the latest trends to news headlines, and from celebrity gossip to backtalk about you or your business, word travels fast — and if you’re not careful, your reputation can be lost in seconds. (Just ask United Airlines.) Given that, a reclusive life on a deserted island may sound appealing, but ignoring social media altogether isn’t recommended. Done right, it’ll grow your business and boost product or service awareness, and ultimately increase sales.

Prevent the Bad So what should you do? Bad things will happen and scandals will surface, but with the right tools, you run a better chance of remaining unscathed. Here are my six quick prevention tips to have a solid presence online while staying a step ahead of a blemished reputation:

seem polished, but did you Google them? Did you search their social-media channels? If they have a bad rep online, it’s only going to muddy your company’s reputation.

➊ Hire the right people.

1) Research hashtags before using them to fully understand their context

Those candidates from your recent interviews

Adidas sent a marketing email to customers who completed the 2017 Boston Marathon with the subject line: “Congrats, you survived the Boston Marathon!” — inadvertently recalling the horror of the 2013 bombing. The company quickly apologized for its unfortunate choice of words, but not before much outrage on social media.

➋ Train your social-media team on these three key items:

Example DiGiorno Pizza tweeted #whyistayed You had pizza in September 2014, only that hashtag was going viral because of the domestic-abuse incident involving NFL star Ray Rice and his wife, who stayed, and not because he had pizza. 2) Know how to properly source and credit images or purchase stock photography. Example A young American Apparel employee once took to social media during the 4th of July celebrations and shared an image she found after briefly searching for “fireworks.” Only the image was of the 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger explosion. Yikes. 3) Have a team to monitor engagement as well as to remove scheduled posts if they are no longer relevant or worse, completely inappropriate.

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Example During the horrific 2012 movie-theatre shooting in Aurora, Colorado, a scheduled tweet from American Rifleman (@NRA_Rifleman), the official journal of the NRA, went live saying, “Good morning, shooters. Happy Friday! Weekend plans?” I have no words.

➌ Looking for an influencer for your

company? Don’t just rely on one; have many. If the reputation of one of them goes in the tank, you can divert attention to the others. Example Jared Fogle was the Subway spokesperson for years after losing more than 200 pounds, which he attributed to eating the chain’s sandwiches. In 2016, he pleaded guilty to child pornography charges and was sentenced to more than 15 years in prison.

➎ Change your social-media passwords often.

Example A tweet was sent from the official @KitchenAidUSA account with more than 80,000 followers after President Obama was first elected. It read, Obamas gma even knew it was going 2 b bad! ‘She died 3 days b4 he become president’. #nbcpolitics While KitchenAid didn’t say this was the work of a disgruntled employee, this is an example of something I often see with former employees who still have access to passwords.

➍ Run all your ads past a diverse audience before going live.

Example Nivea recently launched a paid Facebook ad for its Invisible for Black and White deodorant, targeting women in the Middle East. The image of a woman in white included the wording “White is Purity” with the caption “Keep it clean, keep bright. Don’t let anything ruin it, #Invisible.” Needless to say, it didn’t go over well.

➏ Have a social-media policy.

A social-media policy helps you establish accountability within your organization, it helps with brand consistency, and it can help protect you from potential legal issues. Here are a few questions to consider when building or revising a social-media policy:

› Who can post on your company’s behalf? › Is there an approval process before posting? › Do employees need to disclose where they work?

› Can they comment on posts after hours from their own accounts?

› Where do you source your stock images and how do you source facts?

› What happens if someone violates this policy?

So yes, things can get nasty online, but remember that you’re only human. As you’ve read here, some of the largest companies have made mistakes — and you will too. Don’t let it discourage you from taking full advantage of the many benefits of social media. By using the tips I’ve provided, you can stay one step ahead of most organizations and keep your solid reputation in tact. Happy posting!

Coralie McLean is the founder and director of LivelyCo.

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Last Page

Spicing up Victoria by athena mckenzie

“Canadians love lentils,” Ibrahim Hajibrahim says with a laugh when asked which of Saraya Hot Bread’s six Syrian food products is the most popular. Hajibrahim and his wife, Ranim Khochkar, created their food business in May, just months after arriving in Victoria as refugees from war-torn Syria. Their company, Saraya, is named after Khochkar’s family’s village, which experienced heavy bombing. Saraya Hot Bread’s traditional Syrian recipes include lentil fingers, dolma, hot bread (bread stuffed with spices and red peppers) and muhammara, a red-pepper and walnut spread. One business challenge has been importing the specialized ingredients, such as a particular Mediterranean pomegranate molasses and dried red pepper, from a farm in Turkey.  Other challenges, such as obtaining the necessary licences and finding donated space in a commercial kitchen, were overcome with the help of Karen Short, a volunteer with the Harbour of Hope Refugee Assistance Society.  Short also helped the couple set up distribution through the deli section of several Red Barn Market stores, including Oak Bay, the first location to pick up Saraya. In fact, Hajibrahim can still be found there many mornings offering samples.   “It’s immigrants and newcomers who bring new foods to a country,” he says. “Many people here haven’t tried anything like it before, but 90 per cent of the people who try it like it and buy it. This gives us confidence. “Sometimes, I worry it won’t be continuous — that there will be a wave of business but then it will settle down,” he says. “But as sales continue to go up, it makes me want to work harder.” 

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While Ibrahim Hajibrahim — who operated his own pharmacy in Latakia, Syria — hopes to eventually practise as a pharmacist in Canada, he is focused on growing Saraya Hot Bread and pursuing an opportunity to purchase a small commercial kitchen.


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