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B.C. Gets a Taste of Aboriginal Social Enterprise

Apr 22, 2014

(News Release) COURTENAY — B.C.’s first Aboriginal Social Enterprise Day was celebrated today with the unveiling of a symbolic logo designed by Kwakwaka’wakw artist Andy Everson, grandson of the late Kómoks First Nation Hereditary Chief Andy Frank.

Everson joined Social Development and Social Innovation Minister Don McRae at Wachiay Friendship Centre where they celebrated with Wachiay board members, elders, youth, staff, Comox Valley Art Gallery and community supporters.

Wachiay profiled several social enterprise businesses including AQ’SAAK Aboriginal Food Products Ltd. AQ’SAAK means respect for nature and is a specialty food producer of Aboriginal themed teas, chocolates and other fine products.

Cheryl Simon, a Kwakwaka’wakw business woman and traditional herbs practitioner, explained the traditional uses, history and significance behind the ingredients used in AQ’SAAK specialty products, referred to as Edible Aboriginal Legends in their literature.

The celebration of Aboriginal social enterprises also included the Gwa’wina (Raven) screen printing co-op whose young entrepreneurs practised their skills by printing the new Aboriginal Social Enterprise Day logo onto T-shirts.

Proclaiming April 22, 2014, as Aboriginal Social Enterprise Day recognizes the growth of social enterprise and the entrepreneurial legacy of Aboriginal people in B.C.

The government of B.C. has also proclaimed April 2014 as Social Enterprise Month to celebrate the expanding social enterprise sector and recognize its contribution to the strength and resiliency of B.C. communities.

Social enterprises — a form of social innovation — differ from most traditional businesses in that profits are not just used to ensure financial viability, but are re-invested to achieve, sustain and further a social or environmental purpose.

As an active member of the BC Partners for Social Impact, government works with leaders in the social innovation field to promote and support social innovation and enterprise throughout the province.

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Sooke Meadery Certified to Highest Level of Green Business Practices

Apr 22, 2014

(News Release) SOOKE — Tugwell Creek Honey Farm and Meadery is the first business in Sooke to be certified by the Vancouver Island Green Business Certification (VIGBC).
The VIGBC certifies restaurants, retail, and office-based businesses as Silver, Gold and Green, depending on the number of actions they are taking to improve the performance of their operations. The tasting room at Tugwell Creek will be receiving Green Level Certification (the highest level) for their initiatives to reduce waste, water consumption and energy usage. Owners, Bob and Dana are passionate about improving the local environment and go above and beyond to ensure a healthy ecosystem on their property.

"Sustainability at Tugwell Creek Farm and Meadery is fully integrated into the operations, our product and how we do business. This certification gives our customers an understanding of what we do behind the counter to be an environmentally-friendly company," Dana LeComte says.

At Tugwell, sustainability is about more than just LED lights and composting programs – it is about local food security and most importantly the health of bees. Bees are responsible for the pollination of ~30% of the world’s crops and their populations are declining at an alarming rate. Tugwell is participating in a Canada- wide bee-breeding program to raise queen bees that will have resistance to various pests and pathogens effectively reducing the need for pesticides. Traditionally, many pesticides and chemicals are used to control pest and pathogens in beehives.  At Tugwell, pests are controlled in the berry pasture with natural sprays made from Marigolds and Copper.  Fertilization of crops is done with manure from our animals, seaweeds from the ocean, and wood ash.

Made from local honey and berries (within 20km of the farm), the award-winning mead from Tugwell is both sustainable and delicious. Co-owner, Bob Liptrot has been keeping bees for over 43 years and making mead for over 25.

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Victoria’s third annual Earth Day Showdown includes “Nature Reboot”

Apr 17, 2014

Victoria’s third annual Earth Day Showdown includes “Nature Reboot”

(News Release) VICTORIA — ViSTA (Victoria Sustainable Tourism Alliance)  founding members Inn at Laurel Point, Harbour Air Seaplanes, and Eagle Wing Tours have submitted a challenge to local Victoria businesses to get involved in the third annual Earth Day Showdown by picking up refuse in their chosen location on Tuesday, April 22.

New for 2014 will be a special gift for Victorians – each clean up team will be leaving behind a Nature Reboot Kit, comprised of a flower pot with plants (provided by the City of Victoria Parks & Recreation department) and some ‘planted’ bonuses provided by each team, sprouting from the pot. Each team will post a photo of the location of their Nature Reboot Kit on the ViSTA Facebook page (www.facebook.com/ViSTAvictoria) to encourage followers to search for their whereabouts.

The winners of the competition (the top team to pick up the most refuse in a one-hour window) will be awarded the coveted ‘Golden Garbage Award’ presented by Mayor Fortin. All refuse and recyclables collected during the challenge will be responsibly recycled and disposed of by Ellice Recycle Ltd. using separate bins for garbage, mixed fibres (paper/cardboard) and mixed containers (tin/plastic).

While not required, the majority of teams dress up, ranging from corporate wear to themed-costumes. For the past two years, Eagle Wing Tours adopted a Neptune and mermaid theme, bringing attention to their task of cleaning up the beach along Dallas Road.

Why: To help raise awareness about Earth Day (Tuesday, April 22, 2014), local businesses are encouraged to sign up for the Earth Day Showdown, helping to keep their neighbourhood clean by picking up refuse over the noon hour.

When: Tuesday, April 22, 2014
10 to 11 a.m. – Nature Reboot Kit assembly and pickup by teams at the Robert Bateman Centre
Noon to 12:59 p.m. – refuse pickup (businesses across Victoria to compete in one-hour challenge)
2 p.m. – awards ceremony (top collector named and given coveted Golden Garbage Award – awarded to Eagle Wing Tours in 2013)

All Nature Reboot Kits will be assembled on site in front of the Robert Bateman Centre from 10 to 11 a.m. Participating businesses select their desired location to pick up refuse, including:

  • Laurel Point Park
  • Dallas Road waterfront (Clover Point to the Breakwater)
  • The beach in front of the Delta Victoria Ocean Pointe Resort & Spa

Awards ceremony will occur on the front lawn of Inn at Laurel Point

Additional information:

  • To compete in the contest, businesses count the number of pieces collected (for example, one cigarette butt equals one piece).
  • Victoria’s Ellice Recycle will responsibly dispose of all refuse collected during the pickup challenge.
  • Earth Day is the world’s largest and most celebrated environmental event. Each year, more than six million Canadians join 1 billion people in more than 170 countries in staging events and projects that address local environmental issues.
  • Earth Day was first launched in 1970 in the United States as an environmental awareness event (the first International Earth Day was celebrated in 1990). In Canada, Earth Day has grown into Earth Week and even Earth Month to accommodate the influx of environmental-related events and projects.
  • For more information: https://www.facebook.com/ViSTAvictoria
  • Follow #CleanUpYYJ for real-time tweets during the event and awards presentation.


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Kenmore Air Spring Seat Sale Starts Today

Apr 16, 2014

(News Release) VICTORIA – Kenmore Air, a Seattle-based airline today announced their annual Spring Seat Sale for travel between Vancouver Island and Seattle now through June 16, 2014.

Save $50 $US per person on seaplane flights between Victoria’s Inner Harbour and Seattle’s Lake Union, as well as on wheeled-aircraft flights between Nanaimo Airport (YCD) and Seattle’s Boeing Field.

Kenmore Air also provides convenient ground shuttle transportation between our Lake Union and Boeing Field terminals to Sea-Tac International Airport for connections to all US and International destinations.

The scenic 45-minute seaplane flight from Victoria or the 1-hour flight from Nanaimo Airport is fast, convenient, and stress-free! There are no big airports to get through, there’s no need to show up hours before your flight, and there are no long waits at customs.

Seat Sale tickets available at KenmoreAir.com or by calling toll free 866-435-9524. The last day to purchase Spring Seat Sale tickets is May 12, 2014 and seats are subject to availability.



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BBB Issues Tips on Protecting Yourself from the "Heartbleed" Bug

Apr 16, 2014

(News Release) VANCOUVER ISLAND — Unless you’ve been vacationing on a tropical island for the past few days, you’ve likely heard of the “Heartbleed” bug, a computer security vulnerability that can reveal the contents of a server’s memory and expose private data such as user names, passwords and even credit card information.

The Heartbleed bug exploits a flaw in the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) of popular open source software called OpenSSL. SSL is the standard security technology that establishes an encrypted link between a user’s web browser and the server where a website is hosted. It is used to secure numerous kinds of data transfers, including email, instant messaging, social media, and business transactions. Encryption is essential to Internet security.

The flaw, discovered on April 7 but apparently in existence for two years, means that attackers can copy a server’s digital keys and use them to impersonate servers to decode communications from the past (and, potentially, the future).

The Canada Revenue Agency has become a victim of this bug. 900 Canadian Social Insurance Numbers are known to have been stolen. For details click here.

BBB suggests the following recommendations to protect yourself:

For businesses: BBB recommends that businesses immediately check to see if their website(s) use Open SSL or have been vulnerable. One way to check, recommended by tech/media website CNET, is a tool developed by a cryptography consultant. If vulnerability exists, businesses should work with their IT department or computer professional to install a more secure SSL on their websites.

For systems administrators: Systems administrators should follow the advice of US-CERT, the Computer Emergency Response Team. Although this information comes from the U.S. government, it is applicable to systems in other countries.

For consumers: CNET has also published a list of the top 100 websites, which it is updating regularly as it checks for vulnerabilities and repairs. Consumers can check this list or use the tool mentioned above to see if websites they regularly use are free of problems, or have fixed vulnerabilities.

It’s also imperative that consumers change passwords on all sites, particularly those that retain personal identifying information. Change your password after confirming that the site is not vulnerable or has fixed its SSL.

The “Stop. Think. Connect.” campaign offers the following suggestions to protect your identity:

  • Secure your accounts: Ask for protection beyond passwords. Many account providers now offer additional ways for you verify who you are before you conduct business on that site.
  • Make passwords long and strong: Combine capital and lowercase letters with numbers and symbols to create a more secure password.
  • Unique account, unique password: Separate passwords for every account helps to thwart cybercriminals.
  • Write it down and keep it safe: Everyone can forget a password. Keep a list that’s stored in a safe, secure place away from your computer.
  • Own your online presence: When available, set the privacy and security settings on websites to your comfort level for information sharing. It’s ok to limit how and with whom you share information.

BBB also suggests choosing passwords that are phrases (for instance, ilovetofish) and making each letter O into a zero to make the password more complex. Look into password management software to help you keep track of really “long and strong” passwords.

BBB’s servers do not use Open Source SSL. All of its websites have been checked and found to be free of vulnerabilities.


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Mazda Canada donates new minivan to help train Camosun’s Automotive students

Apr 16, 2014

(News Release) VICTORIA — George Benda, Service Training Instructor for Mazda Canada, officially handed over the keys of a 2013 Mazda 5 Minivan to Camosun’s Chair of Mechanical and Metal Trades Ray Fischer as a contribution to the college’s Automotive Service Technician program, this month.

The sporty minivan has front-wheel drive and a 2.5 litre, inline 4 cylinder engine. The Mazda 5’s exterior was slightly damaged in transport, but the engine and transmission are in pristine condition. The vehicle retails at approx. $25,000 brand new.

“We thank Mazda Canada for this generous donation,” says Fischer. “Having newer vehicles on site really helps our students to practice their new skills with the knowledge that they can work on the latest in automotive technology. This gives them marketable, practical skills and confidence to be successful out in the industry.”

Forty-six students are currently taking Camosun’s Automotive Service Technician program: 16 second-year apprentices and 30 Foundation-level students. The 30-week long Foundation program gives students the skills to become automotive service technician apprentices. It covers the tools, equipment and techniques required to repair automotive systems like brakes, exhaust, front-ends and more. It also provides students with accreditation toward their first-year of apprenticeship training.

“We can’t run our trades programs without the generosity and support of industry partners like Mazda Canada,” says Fischer. “Our program budgets are extremely limited and there is a high cost to acquiring these vehicles for training purposes. Close partnerships and wonderful donations like these help us provide Camosun students with the best and most up-to-date training in the industry.”

The Camosun College Foundation is currently raising funds and equipment for all of Camosun’s Trades Training programs.

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New Victoria Based Bike Company

Apr 16, 2014

(News Release) VICTORIA — Locally-based company, Lochside Cycles announced on “date” that it will be launching its trendy brand of vintage and city-inspired bicycles in Victoria and online this spring. Lochside is set to be the first Victoria-based company of its kind to capitalize on the thriving commuter cycle scene, offering a wide range of bikes from fixed and urban to Dutch-style cruisers.

Founders of the company, brothers Brian and Richard Kirk, and their long-time friend, Jeff Zamluk, are hoping to seduce Victorians with their sleek line of simple and stylish rides. But even before diving head first into the complicated process of cycle design, the trio spent many long nights discussing the necessities of urban riding and what they wanted their company to offer consumers.

“We want to get more people on bikes and make riding a painless experience for everyone,” said the company’s youngest proprietor, Richard. “But we also want to design bikes that are stylish…something people are proud to show off, and can get excited about each time they go for a ride.”

It wasn’t long before the boys of Lochside Cycles decided to bring their company to life. Paying homage to the city in which they reside, the threesome resolved to name their project after the picturesque Lochside Regional Trail, a former railway line turned commuter-favourite that stretches all the way from downtown Victoria to Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal.

“We had to give a nod to the beautiful area we live in. The trail is a personal favourite of ours, so it only made sense to personify it by bringing it to the local market…after all, Victoria is the cycling capital of Canada,” said Kirk.

In their first year, the company will be focusing on providing buyers with quality bikes at affordable prices starting in the low $400s that are easy to use, efficient and attractive. The founders hope that the countless hours of meticulous mechanical design and thoughtful styling will afford them a competitive advantage both at home and across Canada. Currently, the company is offering shoppers 8 different models, casting a wide net and appealing to a large assortment of casual and serious riders. And so far, the triad of young entrepreneurs is feeling encouraged by the response they have received from customers and local shops in Victoria and across the province.

“The local interest in our brand, to its name and to the design of our bikes has been truly overwhelming. At the moment we are dealing with local bike shops, but we also want to grow our business on a national stage, while remaining true to our roots and to the whole concept behind our company. We think the future is bright.”

The bikes are currently available for purchase on the company’s website and will soon be available in local storefronts across Victoria the province including North Park Bikes, Fairfield Bikes, the Broken Spoke, and Reckless Bike Stores. For more information about Lochside Cycles, visit their website www.lochsidecycles.com.

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Island Beltone & JC Scott Eco Design Associates Offer Solutions to Those With Hearing Loss

Apr 15, 2014

(News Release) VICTORIA – Restaurants pose unique challenges for those who are hard of hearing, where noise can often result in missed conversations, miscommunication with servers, and a disappointing evening, but designer JC Scott and Island Beltone owner Jeff Germain have a number of solutions to the problem of finding a location that works for enjoying a great meal out.

When choosing a place to eat when you’re hard of hearing, or joining someone who is, a few simple steps will help to ensure that the experience is more enjoyable for all members of the party. Everything from the reservation process to the seating location can help ensure that the conversation surrounding the meal isn’t missed.

If at all possible, it is better to make a reservation in person at the restaurant. This way, you will be able to see the space and determine where the best location to dine within the restaurant would be. Choosing the right space to sit is as easy as requesting to be seated in a booth instead of a table, in a carpeted area instead of a tiled space, and in a lower level of the restaurant should there be multiple floors or levels. In summer months, it is often easier to hear conversation on the patio than inside the restaurant, depending on the ambient street noise. The most important thing to remember is that it will always be louder in a restaurant than at home, but adjusting your hearing aids to match the space is possible.

“One of the most difficult things for anyone who has experienced hearing loss – even those with hearing aids – is to both hear and participate in conversation in a busy restaurant,” says Jeff Germain, owner of Island Beltone. “But, it doesn’t have to be so troublesome that you never enjoy your favourite meal again. The latest hearing aids have automatic noise reduction as well as smart phone remote control for personal adjustments and some even have geo-tracking apps that allow users to set preferred restaurants into the phone’s memory.”

From a design perspective, restaurateurs most often consider acoustics when designing or redesigning spaces. When JC Scott works with architects and restaurateurs, he always starts with the acoustics of the space, whether it is brand new or being redesigned, knowing that they will help to shape the character and ambiance of a lounge or restaurant space.

“The simple rule of sound means that the more people there are and the more reflective surfaces there are, the louder the space will be,” says JC Scott, owner of JC Scott eco Design Associates. “Everything from choosing carpet over wood or tile flooring to the use of fabrics or the size of windows will affect the noise level of a space.”

A great example of Scott’s design work is the Prime Restaurant & Lounge in Courtenay, BC, where the lounge space was designed to be acoustically bright and lively, while the restaurant dining space and meeting rooms were designed to be softer and quiet. The lounge features a lower ceiling, hardwood floors and more glass for more noise energy, whereas the dining space has a higher ceiling with carpeted floors and more booth seating for better acoustic intimacy.

Over the next few weeks, in anticipation of Better Hearing & Speech Month in May, Germain is asking people to list restaurants that they feel provide a better dining experience for those with hearing loss. To add suggestions, visit the Island Beltone Facebook page: www.facebook.com/BeltoneHearingCare.

“Everyone has their favourite restaurant, and we know that many of our clients have worked over time to find those that work for their needs, so we look forward to building a great resource list for anyone who is hard of hearing,” says Germain.

For more information on hearing care, visit www.beltonecare.ca.

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SquareOne Launches to Help Start Ups Grow Bigger, Better, and Faster

Apr 14, 2014

(News Release) NANAIMO — The Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation and Innovation Island announced the launch of SquareOne, the region’s first technology incubator and co-working space.

SquareOne provides office space, expertise, and resources to start-up entrepreneurs and other out-of-the-box thinkers. This new community asset will continue to build on the momentum in the region’s technology sector, creating an ecosystem that assists innovative entrepreneurs to grow.

“The Nanaimo region has a vibrant and growing start-up community,” said Sasha Angus, CEO of NEDC. “With an economic impact of $200 million per year, the region’s technology sector provides thousands of household sustaining jobs. We are very excited to be partnering with Innovation Island to continue growing the region’s start-up community and fostering new innovation and entrepreneurs.”

“Innovation Island is thrilled to be working in partnership with the NEDC to further develop the tech sector in the Nanaimo region. Supporting entrepreneurs to think big and connecting them to the resources they need to scale is what SquareOne is all about,” said Paris Gaudet, Executive Director of Innovation Island.

SquareOne will provide access to leading edge advisory services, product development programs, and mentoring resources including an Executive-In-Residence. In addition, workshops, seminars, and networking events will be held monthly to provide further access to expertise for the resident businesses to grow bigger, better, faster.

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Pacific Links International Announces Partnership With Bear Mountain Golf Resort and Spa

Apr 14, 2014

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Tell The City of Victoria How to Improve Parking Downtown

Apr 14, 2014

(News Release) VICTORIA — The City of Victoria recently reviewed its parking services to identify ways to make it easier to park downtown and improve customer service.

The community is invited to learn more and provide feedback on the recommended improvements to downtown parking and to share their thoughts and experiences on parking in Victoria by completing an online survey by May 2.

A drop-in open house will be held on Friday, April 25 from 8 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. at the City Hall Antechamber to provide the public an opportunity to view displays and speak with staff about the proposed improvements.

The City’s review of downtown parking highlights that the demand for on-street parking exceeds available capacity, while there is space within the City’s five parkades. Recommendations focus on shifting motorists from higher-demand, on-street parking spaces to available spots in City parkades. Some incentives include offering the first hour free and free evening parking Monday to Saturday in all City parkades.

Reducing and standardizing parkade rates is recommended to improve consistency and ease of understanding. The hourly parkade rate of $2.25 would be reduced to $2/hour and charged in 15 minute-increments. Daily maximums would be $12 at all City parkades except at Bastion Square Parkade, which would have a higher daily rate of $14 due to higher demand. Moving monthly, long-term parkers to higher floors in City parkades to free up space on lower floors for those who park for less than three-hours is also proposed.

Providing variable on-street parking rates from $1.50 to $3 an hour with time limits ranging from 90 minutes to all day depending on the area, is one way to provide motorists with more flexibility and choice when parking downtown. Higher demand on-street parking spaces within a three-minute walk of a City parkade would be set at the highest rate.

Other recommendations focus on customer service, such as new training for all City parking staff and contracted enforcement commissionaires, and improved way-finding signage and parking information online, on-street and in parkades.

All feedback will be compiled and summarized in a report to City Council for consideration in May. For more information and to participate in the online survey, visit: www.victoria.ca

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City Takes Additional Steps to Minimize Risk on Johnson Street Bridge Replacement Project

Apr 14, 2014

(News Release) VICTORIA — The City of Victoria has hired a consultant with specialized experience in large scale transportation projects to assess current project risks and make recommendations on whether any additional strategies should be employed to ensure effective delivery of the project.

Jonathan Huggett, PEng, is a consultant with specialized experience in alternate delivery of public infrastructure projects, with a particular specialty in transportation and municipal projects. Mr. Huggett has clients at all levels of government and has worked on several bridge projects including the rehabilitation of the Lions Gate Bridge, Skybridge and the SkyTrain system, on the Lower Mainland. Mr. Huggett was also retained in 1999 by Victoria City Council to evaluate and advise on the delivery of the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre.

In the course of his work, Mr. Huggett will review all contract documents, interview key staff and the engineering consultants, MMM, as well as PCL, the bridge contractor.

The value of the work is $15,000. The professional services contract will be posted on the www.johnsonstreetbridge.com website when finalized this week.

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B.C.'s tech sector is growing, and full of opportunities

Apr 07, 2014

(News Release) VICTORIA - This week, BC Stats released a progress report that shows the growing strength of British Columbia’s high technology sector. This report is a solid indication that the BC Jobs Plan is working and that British Columbia now competes with the best in the industry.

Most British Columbians are already familiar with home-grown success stories like Hootsuite, Global Relay, Mobify and Plenty of Fish. But we’re also home to companies such as D-Wave in Burnaby that may not be household names, but D-Wave is recognized by companies such as Google as a truly global leader in one of the most technologically complex fields in the world, quantum computing.

In fact, there are many local businesses drawing international attention. Seamor Marine in Nanaimo recently partnered with NASA to build underwater robots that will assist the NASA Space Program. Another example is Trulioo, a Vancouver-based company that provides social media, mobile and web identification services. While this company has a catchy name, it’s also on venture capitalist mogul David Blumberg’s radar as possibly the next Hootsuite. This company is rapidly expanding as an industry pioneer and they’re doing it right here in B.C.

The province is also attracting foreign investments in technology development centres for Star Wars productions, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter and Electronic Arts. The recent TED conference was hosted in Vancouver after being based in California since it first opened. The list goes on. These global powerhouses recognize the competitive advantages our province offers and are bringing their business here and putting down roots.

We know this didn’t happen overnight. It takes good people with great ideas, who are willing to develop their ideas and build companies, to get to the level of prosperity that we are seeing today.

That’s why we’re working hard to support the sector with the fuel people need to get their ideas into the marketplace. Through our support of the BC Innovation Council (BCIC), we’re providing strong support for budding local entrepreneurs who are trying to get their companies and ideas launched in a very competitive industry.

For example, BCIC’s provincewide Venture Acceleration Program provides guidance, coaching and training for early stage technology entrepreneurs and innovators. The program helps to accelerate the process of defining a business model based on best practices for starting and growing technology entrepreneurs.

Since 2011, the BCIC accelerator program has grown to 10 delivery partners throughout the province. Nearly 300 entrepreneurs have been trained, 523 jobs have been created, and $9.9 million in revenue generated by this program.

The recent tech report shows that 253 new businesses emerged in the B.C. tech sector last year. These new businesses are now working alongside industry veterans like Sierra Wireless, a global leader in wireless technology. MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates is another pillar of the community and a surprising number of today’s successes can be tracked back to spinoffs from this Richmond based company that designs, builds, launches and operates satellites.

While the numbers we’re seeing are impressive, we don’t intend to rest here. We’ll continue to work with the BC Innovation Council, to find ways to continue to grow the tech sector. Building a strong tech sector means more opportunities and greater economic prosperity for British Columbians in the years to come.

Profile of the British Columbia High Technology Sector - 2013 Edition: www.bcstats.gov.bc.ca/StatisticsBySubject/BusinessIndustry/HighTechnology.aspx

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