September 24, 2021

Tech hubs taking root outside Metro Vancouver

Pandemic driving some B.C. tech workers away from pricey Lower Mainland region

Traction on Demand CEO and founder Greg Malpass bought the building housing the Legion in Nelson to house a new satellite office within the B.C. community | Alison Orton

A typical commute for Glenn Bindley once consisted of frequent trips from his West Vancouver home to his company’s headquarters on Vancouver Island, overseeing Redlen Technologies Inc.’s advances in semiconductor manufacturing.

“Prior to a pandemic, for 18 years, I spent two days every week religiously over there at the plant,” said the CEO of the Saanichton-based chipmaker.

Outside of Metro Vancouver, the province’s undisputed technology capital, Bindley said he’s witnessed “an explosion of these smallish, 50-person companies that are below the radar.”

As the global hunt for tech talent intensifies amid the pandemic, smaller tech hubs around the province are poised to serve as a draw for workers – remote or otherwise – seeking shelter from Vancouver’s high costs.

“There really is a very, very, very strong tech scene in Victoria,” said Bindley, whose company signed an acquisition deal with Canon Inc. (TYO:7751) earlier this month that values Redlen at just north of $400 million.

The company now has the support of Canon – which was already a strategic investor – to pursue a $40 million plan to double its 50,000-square-foot manufacturing facility just outside of downtown Victoria. The West Coast company will also be expanding its head count to 450 workers from 200 workers by 2025 as it hires experts in everything from automation to product engineering.

“In many respects, it’s easier to bring people into Victoria than it is to Vancouver because there is a little bit of an advantage in terms of cost of living,” Bindley said.

On the other side of the province, Traction on Demand (Traction Sales and Marketing Inc.) is taking a different approach to building tech hubs beyond Metro Vancouver.

The Burnaby-based company, which specializes in Inc. (NYSE:CRM) consulting and app development, employs about 500 workers in the province and opened a satellite office in Nelson over the summer.

Traction on Demand CEO and founder Greg Malpass bought the Nelson Legion building back in 2018, and the company renovated the top two floors to suit an office that could hold around 100 workers. Ten people are based there, while the Legion still operates downstairs.

Traction chief of staff Megumi Mizuno said the company had asked its employees what they thought of the opportunity to work outside the main hub in Metro Vancouver prior to building the Nelson office.

“Several of them expressed an interest to go work in smaller communities with more affordable housing” and shorter commutes, she said.

“We don’t see there being a big shift back to major centres again like pre-pandemic. So creating these small hubs helps the economy in those smaller towns.”

While Alphabet Inc.’s (Nasdaq:GOOGL) Google workers were told that their pay would be reduced if they left the notoriously expensive San Francisco Bay Area to work remotely in less expensive markets, current Traction employees won’t face that challenge, according to Mizuno.

Ultimately, the company is hoping its model can draw other tech companies to the area.

“Obviously there’s competition between tech companies for great talent, but there’s enough people out in the world that … why can’t everyone be successful?” said Mizuno.



Canada in need of a total federal political leadership makeover

They put on brave faces last Monday night about their parties’ showings. But not one, not two, but all three major federal leaders ought to go before we next elect a prime minister.

Justin Trudeau, Erin O’Toole and Jagmeet Singh, for differing reasons, should walk or be pushed out of a job before they would again seek the big job. The election gave each leader a chance to ignite the country, and they couldn’t. In each case, any prospect of moving that needle by 2025 is either improbable or impeded.

Let’s start with Singh. In two elections his party has lost half its Commons seats in an era embracing progressive politics. He has kept his role mainly because Trudeau has needed him as a minority government prop, and we saw how disposable the Liberal Party thought he was. He is simply their leverage.

He appeared to campaign well this time, but it proved an illusion. The perception was that the NDP was draining support from the Liberals. In the end, the Liberals reversed any actual Orange Tide to prevent a renewed Jack Layton-style Orange Wave. There was barely an Orange Trickle.

His personal, principled stand on the right to wear religious symbols ensures his party will not break through in Quebec, where Bill 21 is popular and where a mere provocative question on it in the leaders’ debate reignited the moribund campaign of Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet.

Few have pushed the right buttons Singh has and not earned a big prize, which should tell us something about his true appeal. In three or four years he will be neither fresh nor fascinating to watch. It is not easy to see how the NDP can choose better, but choose better it must.

Erin O’Toole is the most difficult one to toss off the boat, mainly because he’s barely introduced himself as a first-year leader in a pandemic in which almost every Canadian was anesthetized by a federal cheque. He of all three can mount a credible, deserving argument for a reprieve. Trouble is, he’s not in charge of his destiny.

He gambled that Canadians were ready for a minor change, not a major one, but clearly didn’t prepare his party fully for his vision. He left the door open to the rise of the People’s Party without ever siphoning support from the Liberals.

What became obvious in recent weeks was that he was shape-shifting out of appeasement and not authenticity. His flip-flopping corroded his certainty. These are rookie campaign errors, but there is a serious-sized Conservative Party cohort that doesn’t buy into the notion that a centrist-positioned campaign can outmanoeuvre the champion Liberal chameleons at that game.

O’Toole got a shot at it because he was new; next time he would not be.

If he cannot claim a new following, he also lost his claim on the tough-right he used to secure the leadership in 2020 in favour of the soft-middle to secure the country in 2021. He may not wish to embrace those he left behind, but by isolating and ignoring them in recent months he cut loose just enough support to foretell loss after loss. It was a risky move that didn’t pay. The Conservatives have no imminent interest to address the grievances of the left-behinds – even the economic ones – but pressure on O’Toole will build to take a back-to-the-future approach on his leadership.

The harder-line party elements note that when Trudeau faltered early in this campaign, when it became clear this was winnable, O’Toole only briefly gained the front-running leverage. In the next election he is likely to face another Liberal prime minister than the one he just did.

But to get there O’Toole will now face an internal challenge, the resumption of the ceaseless Conservative civil war. Surviving it rarely strengthens a leader.

Indeed, leadership itself is hard to survive, which bring us to the most obvious of the necessary plank-walkers.

To retain his minority government, Trudeau spent hundreds of billions of dollars to float the electorate and depended on an untested opponent in O’Toole, a subdued one in Singh, a collapsed Green Party under Annamie Paul, a limited foe in Blanchet, and an ascendant nuisance for O’Toole in Maxime Bernier. Those cards will never be dealt again.

Trudeau was the aging champion entering the ring, playing rope-a-dope for five weeks, and earning a split decision to retain the belt. He didn’t really win as much as opponents really didn’t; in other words, of those who lost, he finished first.

But next time it will be a different arena.

The economy will be belching with higher interest rates, higher taxes and higher obligations. The pandemic will no longer offer a political dividend.

Odds are there are scandals to emerge within the blossoming of a trillion-dollar debt.

And he will be a tired, too-familiar face, not the reassuring one just re-elected.

As the architect, he will need to flee the building before it burns to the ground and leave someone else to firefight and clear the smoke. It ought to be clear to Liberals, once their delusions subside about their supposed win, Trudeau electability is being eclipsed by Trudeau unlikability. Once negatives start, people hardly ever fall back in love with leaders.

Might their situations improve in two, three, four years?

Not likely for Trudeau.

Not probably for Singh.

Not easily for O’Toole.

The Liberal and NDP leave-taking can be graceful – Trudeau will have been leader for a decade, Singh for two elections-plus – but the Conservatives’ one-and-done dethroning would be grisly. Three new faces will face the country. Our reputations for dull politics will be debunked again. •

Kirk LaPointe is publisher and editor-in-chief of BIV and vice-president, editorial, of Glacier Media.


Vancouver breweries bring home 11 awards from Canadian Brewing Awards

We've got the full list of winning brews to help you navigate your next tasting session

Ruby Tears from Parallel 49 received a silver this year from the Canadian Brewing Awards | Parallel 49 Brewing Company/Facebook

The year's biggest beer awards show in Canada has come and gone, and nine Vancouver-based breweries have new hardware to display in their taprooms.

The 2021 Canadian Brewing Awards took place in Quebec City in mid-September with over 165 awards handed out. B.C. breweries collected 40 of the awards, with 20 of them headed to breweries in Metro Vancouver.

For breweries located in Vancouver proper, Strange Fellows and Parallel 49 led the way with a pair of awards each. Strange Fellows picked up a gold for Jongleur their Belgian Wit (if that sounds familiar they also took the gold for the same bear in 2020) and a silver for their Belgian style golden strong ale Goldilocks.

Parallel 49's much loved Ruby Tears took a silver in the North American red or amber ale category and followed that with a bronze in the German-style sour category for their Smoked Salt Gose.

Only one other Vancouver brewery was able to touch gold this year, with East Vancouver Brewing's Unholy One Nitro Stout taking the Oatmeal Stout category.

Awards for several breweries across Metro Vancouver

Outside of the municipal boundaries of the city, Metro Vancouver breweries took two more golds. North Vancouver's Deep Cove Brewers and Distillers got a gold for their self-named lager in the North American Premium Lager category, while Five Roads Brewing in Langley was one of many BC breweries to get an IPA related award. There's was a gold for Permanent Resident in the American IPA category.

While there was no gold for Burnaby's Dageraad this year, they did double up on the silver, with Antwerpen in second for tripels their Burnabarian coming in second for Belgian style abbey or pale ales. That was a category B.C. swept, with Howe Sound Brewing taking the bronze and Port Alberni's Dog Mountain Brewing claiming gold.

Circling back to the IPAs, B.C. breweries were big winners in the hoppiest of styles. Of the five IPA categories, beers from B.C. won seven awards and was only shut out of one category (Double and Imperial IPAs). In fact, Vancouver breweries took bronze (Andina's Carreta Session IPA) and silver (Alpha Juicy Lager by Academy Brewing in the Session IPA category, and B.C. beers swept the American Style IPA, with gold for aforementioned Five Roads, chased by Powell Brewery's Laxy D'Haze IPA and Jet Fuel IPA by Ace Brewing in Courtenay.

Other notable winners in B.C. include Victoria's Moon Under Water, which grabbed a gold and a silver, Revelstoke's Mt. Begbie Brewing which also scored a gold and a silver and Twin City in Port Alberni, which scored a pair of bronzes.

In total B.C. breweries won 10 golds, 15 silver and 15 bronze.

All of B.C.'s winners are listed below.

City of Vancouver winners:

Category: Wheat Beer – Belgian Style (Wit)

  • Gold for Jongleur by Strange Fellows

Category: Belgian-Style Dubbel or Quadrupel

  • Bronze for Precursor Belgian Dubbel by Luppolo

Category: Belgian-Style Strong Specialty Ale

  • Silver for Goldilocks by Strange Fellows

Category: German-Style Sour Ale - Gose

  • Bronze for Smoked Salt Gose from Parallel 49

Category: Oatmeal Stout

  • Gold for Unholy One Nitro Stout by East Vancouver Brewing

Category: North American Style Lager

  • Silver for True North Lager by Brewhall Beer Co.

Category: North American Style Amber/Red Ale

  • Silver for Ruby Tears by Parallel 49

Category: American Style India Pale Ale

  • Silver for Lazy D'Haze IPA by Powell Brewery

Category: Session India Pale Ale

  • Silver for Alpha Juicy Lager by Academy Brewing
  • Bronze for Carreta Session IPA by Andina

Category: Wood and Barrel-Aged Strong Beer

  • Bronze for Citizen Cane Rum Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout by Bomber Brewing

Metro Vancouver winners:

Category: European Style Lager (Pilsner)

  • Silver for Simple Things by Steel & Oak

Category: European Style Amber to Dark Lager

  • Bronze Meridian for Black Lager by Township 24 Brewing

Category: Belgian-Style Tripel

  • Silver for Antrwerpen by Dageraad

Category: Belgian Style Abbey Ale/Pale Ale

  • Silver for Burnabarian by Dageraad

Category: English Style India Pale Ale

  • Silver for Orion 1-1 Poppy Seed IPA by Smugglers Trail Caskworks

Category: North American Style Premium Lager

  • Gold for Deep Cove Lager from Deep Cove Brewers and Distillers

Category: American Style India Pale Ale

  • Gold for Permanent Resident by Five Roads Brewing

Category: American Belgo-Style Ale

  • Bronze for Bootsy Farmhouse IPA by House of Funk

Category: Special Honey/Maple Lager or Ale

  • Bronze for Honey Comb Pale Ale by Barnside Brewing

B.C. winners:

Category: European Style Lager (Pilsner)

  • Bronze for Medusa Lager by Batch44

Category: Bock - Traditional German Style

  • Bronze for Dissimulator by Twin City Brewing

Category: Kellerbier/Zwickelbier

  • Gold for Potts Pits by Moon Under Water

Category: German Style Kölsch

  • Silver High Country Kolsch by Mt. Begbie Brewing

Category: Belgian Style Abbey Ale/Pale Ale

  • Gold for Bees! Belgian Blonde Ale with Honey by Dog Mountain Brewing
  • Bronze for Belgian Pale Ale by Howe Sound Brewing

Category: Brown Ale

  • Silver for Woodnit Brown by Coast Mountain

Category: Scotch Ale

  • Gold for Brave Liver by Mt Begbie

Category: English Style Pale Ale

  • Silver for Sam McGuire's Pale Ale by Shuswap Lake Brewing

Category: Dry Stout

  • Silver for Reena O'Reilly Dry Irish Stout by Sooke Oceanside Brewery

Category: North American Style Lager

  • Bronze for Canoe Brewpub Helles by Canoe Brewpub

Category: Light (Calorie-Reduced) Lager

  • Bronze for Lifelong Lite Lager by Neighbourhood Brewing

Category: North American Style Amber/Red Ale

  • Gold for Idleback by Slackwater

Category: Wheat Beer - North American Style

  • Bronze for Swedish Gymnast by Twin City

Category: American Style India Pale Ale

  • Bronze for Jet Fuel IPA by Ace Brewing

Category: New England Style India Pale Ale

  • Bronze for Circle Route Hazy Pale Ale by White Sails

Category: Gluten Free Beer

  • Gold for Forager Pale Ale by Whistler Brewing

Category: Session Ale

  • Gold for Tiger Shark by Phillips

Category: Barley Wine-Style Ale - English-Style

  • Silver for Barleywine by Sooke Brewing Co.

Category: Wood and Barrel-Aged Sour Beer

  • Silver for TUKU by Moon Under Water


Art collected by dentist in exchange for dental work part of new exhibit

Over 25 years he's collected quite a bit

Boy Sitting on a Tire by Adad Hannah and I Barely Touched you by Graham Gilmore will be part of the art show Teeth, Loan and Trust Company, Consolidated: The Trylowsky Collection | Submitted

An upcoming art show in North Vancouver has an unusual beginning at a dentist's office in downtown Vancouver.

Zenon Trylowsky started his practice 25 years ago in downtown Vancouver. As with most businesses, payment was normally money. However, that wasn't always the case, as some of his patients — namely artists — paid with their art. Now, two and a half decades later, an art exhbition will celebrate that decision, along with the collection Trylowsky has grown over the years, both through gifts and purchases.

"Some of Canada's most famous artists are in the collection, and some of Canada's least famous artists are part of the collection," says curator, art historian and writer Patrik Andersson.

As an early patient of Trylowsky's he's worked with the dentist before, putting on around 10 shows over the years in the dentist's office in the Vancouver Block building at Granville and Georgia.

One of the things that drew Andersson to creating the show Teeth, Loan and Trust Company, Consolidated: The Trylowsky Collection, after he was asked about ideas by the Griffin Art Project, was the idea that art collections don't have to be built through purchases alone. He says he wanted to focus on other models of collecting art, and Trylowsky's collection offered an option.

"I didn't want to showcase a collector who has a lot of money and buys whatever they want," Andersson tells Vancouver is Awesome.

In this case, it involved a relationship and bartering, mixing personal and business lives.

"What interests me is that a dentist will often make a mould of your teeth in order to see the state of your teeth," he says. "My exhibition is a little like that; an impression of the art he's been collecting."

Often the art Trylowsky traded his services for would adorn the walls of his practice and office.

"Instead of looking of prints of cheesy landscapes or posters of perfect smiles with ads for toothpaste, when you go to this office, there could be a video work on the wall," Andersson explains. "Every time you go to the dentist it's like going to the art exhibition."

One aspect he's interested in presenting is how varied the collection is. Without a theme, like a specific artist, topic or style, Andersson looks forward to putting on a varied show with traditional two-dimensional pieces like drawings and paintings along with ceramics, film, and installation pieces.

"It's exciting and I'm hoping the exhibition will be something people will want to go and explore," he says.

He adds that not all the artists know each other, with established and emerging artists showing next to each other. 

Now the Griffin Art Project will be hosting a Teeth, Loan and Trust Company, Consolidated for the fall at its space in North Vancouver. With an opening spread out over three days (Sept. 24 to 26), the exhibit will be on the walls at 1174 Welch St., North Vancouver, until Dec. 11, 2021. Admission is free and the gallery is open Fridays to Sundays, 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.



Vancouver museum to hold event in advance of National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

It's a family-oriented event

Orange lanterns will be created for the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.deepblue4you/GettyImages

With the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation statutory holiday coming up later this month, UBC's Museum of Anthropology is planning an event mixing children's stories, art, and education.

On Saturday, Sept. 25 the museum will hold 'Honour with Orange,' an event for families with children age 6 to 12 in an effort to educate about the impact the schools and honour survivors.

The museum's curator of Indigenous Programming, Damara Jacobs-Petersen, will read children's stories by Canadian Indigenous authors first, exploring the issues around residential schools. This will give participants a chance to explore the legacy of residential schools in advance of Sept. 30's National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

After the stories, a more hands-on activity is planned.

"Following the storytelling, you’ll have the opportunity to create your own commemorative orange lantern and button while learning more about the significance of Orange Shirt Day," states the event webpage.

Things will start at 10:30 a.m., with stories running until 11 a.m. The more craft-oriented portions will take place from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m.

The event is first-come, first-served. The cost of the event is included with admission into the museum.



What are we reading? September 23, 2021

Each week, BIV staff will share with you some of the interesting stories we have found from around the web.

Guido Mieth/DigitalVision/Getty Images

Mark Falkenberg, deputy managing editor

Mark Sumner’s piece on Joe Biden’s speech to the UN was a reminder that after four years of body blows to its international standing inflicted by the last guy, the U.S. is still capable of at least paying lip service to ideals a few steps above naked greed, racism and diplomacy-by-extortion.

“Whether the speech was enough to reassure foreign leaders and the populations of allied nations, who saw how quickly the United States could go from reasonable ally under President Obama to delusional xenophobe under Donald Trump, is still to be seen.” – Daily Kos


David Sovka’s three-part series on viruses, vaccines and weird conspiracy theories is choke-on-your-latte funny but the jokes are grounded in factual bedrock and make deadly serious points. (Full disclosure: the writer has been my friend since I was eight years old.) – Times Colonist


Nelson Bennett, reporter

As international groups from the World Wildlife Fund to the United Nations have pointed out, the best source of human protein for a growing population, with the lowest environmental impacts, is seafood. But with wild capture fisheries already fished to maximum sustainable capacity, the world is going to need a lot more farmed fish. This piece in Wired explores the options, including land-based fish farming, and as well as open-ocean fish farming. Worth noting is that land-based fish farms have a significant carbon footprint, compared to open-net fish farming. -- Wired


Whether it’s a smartphone, a vape or an e-reader, many electronic devices today can be charged using the same universal charging cable – unless it’s an Apple device, which requires a special lighting charging cable.  The European Union wants Apple to stop being so precious and adopt the same USB charging ports and cables that most other device makers use. It has introduced legislation that would require all smartphone makers to use a universal charging method – a move aimed at reducing waste. Apple is not happy with the proposal.


Glen Korstrom, reporter

“COVID-19 can derail our travel plans, but it cannot stop our travel dreams” is the message travel guru Rick Steves is peddling nowadays. He discusses his evolving business, and the 24,000 people who had booked guided tours with his organization before the pandemic hit. All had money refunded. He also discusses the value of his home base in Metro Seattle as a way to stay grounded, given his extensive travelling each year – New Yorker


Mike McDonald’s Rosedeer blog usually provides a well-researched sense of what’s happening politically. 

His post last week examined the strategy Justin Trudeau could use for victory, with reference to other strategies the Liberal Party has used since the mid-1960s – from Pierre Trudeau’s fortress Quebec, where he won 99% of the seats in 1980, to Jean Chretien relying as heavily on Ontario – winning 101 of 103 seats in 1997. 

In the end, Justin Trudeau continued with his more broad-based approach, and has representation in all provinces. – Rosedeer blog


Timothy Renshaw, managing editor:

Space: the final frontier. Most recently for billionaires. But how about for something more fundamental to the success of humanity's inter-galactic expansion aspirations: sex?  – DW


Mass tree-planting campaigns might not deliver the green goods their advocates promise. Especially if they are executed poorly – Vox


Carbon capture could become a new growth industry for Iceland as it pioneers technology for sucking excess carbon dioxide from the Earth's atmosphere – PBS News Hour