Vancouver Island

  • Tessa Bousfield posted an article
    Panelists talk clean tech during the State of the Island Economic Summit in Nanaimo see more

    Source: NanaimoBulletin.com

    Vision and leadership needed to advance clean technology on the Island

    Panelists talk clean tech during the State of the Island Economic Summit in Nanaimo

    Vancouver Island needs vision and leadership to become world-renowned for clean-technology solutions.

    That’s the view of several panelists who shared what’s happening with clean technology and how to take the sector further, during the State of the Island Economic Summit on Wednesday.

    In Canada there are more than 800 firms in the clean-tech sector, which employs more than 50,000 people and has revenue of $13 billion, said Zethof Consulting Group owner Bert Zethof, who moderated the session on Vancouver Island clean technology. He’s counted more than 100 of the businesses on Vancouver Island.

    Voytek Klaptocz, managing director and co-founder of Mavi Innovations Inc., recently moved to the Island and his company installed a tidal turbine project north of Campbell River at Blind Channel Resort this past summer. The turbine will generate power from tidal currents, helping the resort rely less on diesel, but the company will also determine if it’s feasible to have off-grid turbine power and its infrastructure could lend itself to learning and data-gathering by like-minded companies and universities, according to Klaptocz. He’s found there is “tremendous support” for small business, but he also said the company doesn’t quite know what the vision is for the Island and getting communities off diesel.

    “A lot of times it seems like we are just trying to execute on our own vision,” he said. “There’s a lot of talk out there about doing it but we aren’t necessarily seeing any action other than from our own initiative to do so.”

    He said there probably needs to be consolidation, a central association, that will push initiatives on different fronts, technically but also at the universities and on the policy side.

    Tom Zaban, executive vice-president of Victoria-based Reliable Controls and Judith Sayers, strategic advisor to First Nations and corporations, agreed on the need for vision and leadership.

    “If we don’t have a vision, we’re not going anywhere,” Sayers said.

    There are 249 projects First Nations want to develop in B.C. with a value of $3.3 billion, a survey of 105 nations found, according to Sayers, who said there’s an opportunity for First Nations and it helps reduce greenhouse gases, makes use of renewable resources, has minimal environmental impact, creates jobs, diversifies the economy and creates regional benefits and independence with power.

    She said First Nations need the opportunity to create power, access to capital, partner companies and more capacity development.

    The Vancouver Island Economic Association announced it’s prepared to assemble a working group to look at how it can support development of clean technology on the Island.

  • Tessa Bousfield posted an article
    This Vancouver Island city is drawing a younger crowd keen on the quality of life, great outdoors & see more

    Source: Toronto Star
    Author: Jennifer Allford

    This Vancouver Island city is drawing a younger crowd keen on the quality of life, great outdoors and emerging cool.

    VICTORIA, B.C. - A guy has a skateboard beneath his feet and a piercing under his nose. Another rides by with a guitar strapped to his back. There’s a grey-haired peloton or two, a little tyke with a Spider-Man helmet takes a spill, and a smiling Japanese Rasta walks by.

    It’s quite some time before you see even one little old lady as you ride a bike on the Galloping Goose — a 60-kilometre trail from Victoria to Sooke.

    It’s rush hour for rowers and as you stop on the Trestle Bridge to watch them on the water below, a couple of young women — one with blue hair another with wacky tights — walk past and you have to wonder what happened to the city full of “newlywed, nearly dead and garden beds.”

    Somewhere along the way, Victoria got cool.

    Students from across Canada have always flocked to the University of Victoria to escape the snow, but people in their 20s and 30s are moving here now, drawn by a booming tech sector.

    And the flock of retirees is getting younger — 50s are the 30s.

    Sure, you can still pick up a stack of Irish linens or get your age spots removed, but you can also pop into Smoking Lily for a periodic table silkscreened on a dress and find plenty of grooming shops for the ubiquitous gnome beards.

    Grandmas line up for afternoon tea at the Fairmont Empress, but at the hotel’s Bengal Lounge, someone’s grandkids are enjoying smart cocktails. (At least until April 30, when it closes. There’s no word on what will replace it.)

    The signature drink features tea-infused vodka, lemon juice, simple syrup and egg white and is served, naturally, with a mini scone.

    “I love this room,” says Bruce Livingstone as we settle into one of the Bengal’s low leather couches, taking in the rich wood panelling and colonial ceiling fans.

    Livingstone, the guy who founded iStock and sold it to Getty for $50 million (U.S.), moved from L.A. to Victoria a few years ago and started a new stock photography company, Stocksy.

    “People say how can you live there, it’s so boring,” he says. “But I tell them if you’re bored then it’s your fault.”

    Livingstone and thousands of others are coming to the city for the quality of life and the great outdoors, which can involve throwing on wetsuits to go for a swim, or going surfing or fishing.

    Victoria is good for business, too. “It’s great,” says the entrepreneur. “There’s a great network of tech people and we’re all connected.”

    On Friday night, beautiful people fill every table at Little Jumbo, enjoying dinner with fresh local ingredients — the chanterelle mushrooms that came in yesterday are served with a little parmesan, garlic and wine on grilled bread.

    Tables of tattooed young ’uns sit next to middle-aged couples and every demo seems to be drinking a fancy cocktail.

    The drink list changes every six weeks. If you’re bamboozled by which booze to try, you can always go with the blurb that most tickles your fancy, such as gin-based Tea and Toast: “My good man it took Dutch courage, a stiff upper lip and a nice cup of tea to build an empire. Hang on to your monocle and have at it.”

    Poking fun is all part of the fun in the Royal City.

    At Hotel Zed (named for the Queen’s pronunciation of the last letter of the alphabet) locals line up weekend mornings for breakfast tacos or the mile-high fried egg sandwich at the Ruby.

    The restaurant’s co-owner Chris Jones — “one of the tall bearded dudes with cool aprons” — says the Ruby will open a second location. “Where the locals go, the tourists want to go,” he says of picking spots that aren’t exactly on the red double-decker bus routes.

    The tourists may also miss Discovery St., where Victoria’s graffiti artists have transformed a couple of blah buildings into a gorgeous tapestry of street art. Visitors looking for treasures along the famed Antique Row may come home with something a little more contemporary if they stumble into Polychrome Fine Art.

    “The sun never goes down on cool, my friend,” the Hotel Zed desk clerk shouts to her colleague as he puts on his aviators and walks toward the 1967 VW bus out front.

    The hotel has hipsters in the hot tub, a lobby that looks like The Brady Bunch on acid, and shuttle rides in a couple of VW buses. “They get a lot of attention” my driver tells me during the quick trip downtown.

    Victoria is not “nearly dead” anymore.

    “It’s getting cooler here all the time,” Livingstone says, but that doesn’t mean the city’s forgotten its manners: “Strangers on the street get mad at you if you don’t say good morning.”

    Jennifer Allford was a guest of Destination BC and its partners, which didn’t review or approve this story.

    When You Go

    Get there: Air Canada flies to Victoria direct from Toronto. If you’re in Vancouver, take the 90-minute ferry over to the island as a passenger or with your vehicle. It’s a remarkably beautiful ride. Or save the time and fly in and enjoy the view from the air.

    Season: Victoria can give you your fix of green pretty much any time of the year: flowers are growing around town all year long. If you really want go deep into green, you could visit the Butchart Gardens. If you happen to be in Victoria during one of the rare snowfalls, you can sit back and watch the show as everyone freaks out and drivers attempt to navigate the roads.

    Stay: Hotel Zed (hotelzed.com/)

    Find out more: Tourism Victoria (tourismvictoria.com/)