Living/Working April 23, 2021


April 23, 2021

Slow 5G rollout could stall Canada’s drone sector liftoff

Vancouver company partners with Rogers to tap 5G network speed for drone flights

InDro Robotics Inc. partnered with Rogers Communications Inc.’s network on Canada’s first remotely piloted aircraft system flight over 5G | Submitted

The skies above B.C. ports may look a little different in the coming years as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) begin tapping Canada’s nascent 5G networks, according to Philip Reece.

“Imagine Vancouver, for example – you’ve got the big harbour there. Port authorities could simply dispatch a couple of drones from their roof early in the day, they would map out the whole harbour, they’d count the boats that were in the harbor, report back to the engineer or the harbormaster,” said the CEO of West Coast drone developer InDro Robotics Inc.

That prospect of offering those services and others is closer to reality this month after InDro Robotics tapped into Rogers Communications Inc.’s (TSX:RCI) network infrastructure at the University of British Columbia to complete Canada’s first remotely piloted aircraft system flight over 5G.

Reece said the flight portends to the future of the drone industry in Canada, in which autonomous flights can take off without the need for pilots to observe the aerial devices at all times.

“[That] hasn’t really been possible before until the advent of 5G and the speed and bandwidth that it’s given us,” he said.

Without the need of individual pilots, drones tapping into 5G networks and equipped with AI-powered navigation systems will proliferate and begin offering more services at scale, such as search and rescue, land surveying and the delivery of goods.

InDro previously partnered with London Drugs Ltd. in 2019 to deliver pharmaceuticals from Duncan, B.C., to Salt Spring Island, but it required special dispensation from Transport Canada to complete the beyond visual line-of-sight (BVLOS) flight.

But what we now think of as drone pilots will eventually become something more akin to air traffic controllers who are monitoring for reports of problems and jumping in if there are any issues with traffic in the air, according to Reece.

A 2019 Markets and Research report estimated the market size for drone services would reach US$63.5 billion by 2023 — up from US$4.4 billon five years earlier.

It noted that “safety concerns and lack of skilled and trained operators are limiting the overall growth of the market.”

Another potential barrier ahead for the industry in Canada is the rollout of the next-generation 5G wireless network.

Earlier this month the C.D. Howe Institute noted that by the time Canada’s upcoming 5G auction takes place in June, 37 countries will have already assigned the 5G band up for grabs within their own jurisdictions.

Meanwhile, Reece said, Canada will also face roadblocks if the regulatory regime doesn’t remain competitive while other jurisdictions allow for more provisions for autonomous flights and access to airspace. •


Business leadership missing in the battle to end B.C.’s opioid crisis

The pandemic has intensified our mental health challenges.

The stress of loneliness, of loss and sorrow, of job disruption and desperation, of business problems and pressures, of daily uncertainty and destabilized routines – many in our social and professional circles have collided with at least one element of this widened anxiety.

Can we be surprised that alcohol sales are up by about one-third? Can we find unusual anymore the casual cannabis daytime scent as we walk our streets? Can we doubt there are professionals who are daily users, who are even working addicts we may not see but are among us – among even those close to us?

We live in British Columbia amid a dual deathtrap. There is the coronavirus, for which we now have a vaccine. There is another injection into the arm, about which we are profoundly helpless – and, tragically in the business community, silent.

Where is the leadership? Why does the community feel this is not an intrinsic, integral matter of both moral import and public well-being? What does it take?

Some data from the BC Coroners Service might make readers understand this is not something that happens to the “others” – not that that would ever make it excusable to ignore. It might make a difference to know the victims of the opioid crisis, of drug overdoses, are not any longer the experienced user or the orthodox addict but have long included the naïve or despondent experimenter – many from walks of life we would have routinely encountered pre-pandemic but have detached from due to COVID-19.

Here are some clues to the rampant progression of accidental death, 85% of which involved fentanyl:

•The 155 B.C. deaths in February were a record and a 107% increase over a year earlier. They were consistently growing month-to-month, too, an 11% increase over January.

•The record total of 1,724 deaths in 2021 featured a surge that started with the pandemic.

•This is not a young person’s game any longer. Nearly 70% of the deaths in 2021 are among those 30 to 59, 40% of the deaths are among those older than 50, and 15% among those older than 60.

•This is not only a big-city issue. Sure, Vancouver’s death rate was high, but so were the rates in the Northeast, Northwest, the Northern Interior and the Thompson Cariboo, in Fort Nelson, Quesnel, Keremeos, Hope and Prince George.

•Four in five deaths were men, so perhaps the scarier statistic is that one in five deaths were women.

•Nearly six in 10 deaths do not take place in an alleyway or in prison or in a treatment centre. They take place in a private residence.

The illegal drug toxicity numbers rose dramatically in 2016, dipped somewhat in 2019, but have soared in 2020 and to date this year. On average, 143 people died each month last year in B.C.

If we wish to note that these victims were not our friends and acquaintances, can we be sure these were not people we would have done business with – our customers, our suppliers, their sons and fathers and daughters and mothers? Of course we can’t, but the business community has been on mute, as we say in the Zoom era.

Just as business has in recent years embraced the need for child care, the need for inclusiveness and diversity, and the need for environmental, social and governance excellence, it is time to embrace the need for attention to the malingering menace of the opioid crisis. The community donates generously, but this needs advocacy more than philanthropy.

If you want to be crass about it, attention would be plainly, simply good business. These are our employees, our managers, our successors, our past, present and future. Yet to our community they are invisible, thus irrelevant – their struggles and defeats a world apart.

Our business community has yet to take the stigma out of drug use, much less drug addiction. Even if you employ that cold business lens, we are not calculating that those who are battling addictions miss nearly 50% more work.

We are not holding judgment-free discussions with employees to mitigate excessive prescriptions or ensuring that post-surgery care or medical leaves are not endangering gateways.

We are not seeing that the pandemic’s disruptions extend into our obligations to share responsibility for how our employees relieve their anxieties.

We are not recognizing that more than half of these deaths follow work-related injuries and that about one in four who are prescribed painkillers grow addicted to them.

We are not joining the argument for a safe drug supply and recognizing it is an inefficient, ineffective use of our public safety resources to wage a fruitless war on drugs when we could apply those resources to treatment, to aversion and, even more profitably, to investing in a hopeful plan.

We are not fighting for expanded access to treatment in the way we would fight for a tax cut or an investment in an industry.

It is long past time to set aside the silence.

History is replete with efforts by business to tackle the afflictions of the communities they occupy, to feed and comfort those who fall into despair and desolation.

Our eyes are properly on the pandemic and the threat it poses to survival, but the constant drumbeat we must also hear is of our opioid crisis and the very same threat it stands to provide once COVID is subdued. •

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


Brewer vs. Brewer: The pandemic edition

The Growler checked in with two breweries that launched in 2020 to find out what it was like opening their doors during COVID-19

Adam Keil (left) and Will Tanenbaum talk with B.C.'s The Growler about the challenges of opening a brewery during the COVID-19 pandemic | Submitted

We decided to check in with two breweries that launched in 2020 to get their takes on what it was like to open their doors during the pandemic. I spoke to Will Tanenbaum at Patina Brewing, which opened on March 6, and Adam Keil from Mountainview Brewing in Hope, which opened on November 24. Because of COVID-19-related travel restrictions we met up via Zoom.

I kicked the interview off by asking Will what it was like to open just as the pandemic arrived.

Will Tanenbaum: We opened the restaurant March 6. The brewery itself wasn’t operational yet because we were waiting on a thousand-amp Hydro upgrade. We were classically behind on the construction schedule. We’d done some contract brewing so we had four brands in the market at that point. The first weekend we were doing great and then 11 days later the pandemic shut things down. As a result we had to go to a takeout-only model with the restaurant and lay off all of our non-salaried staff. Without the brewery operational that put me into the kitchen. Prior to that I’d been project managing the construction side of things so in between trying to assuage Hydro’s concerns about whether or not it was a safe environment to work in, I’m putting baked beans in to-go cups, trying to manage all that for 16 hours a day. The classic brewery position of “other duties as necessary.” It was a mess.

That was the routine until late May when we got to open the taproom back up. The brewery finally opened with the Hydro upgrade in late July and our first batch was brewed July 31.

Adam Keil: When the pandemic struck we were still in construction phase. Originally we were hoping maybe we’d get some batches going by June, but pretty much all work stopped. We couldn’t get contractors out to do anything. Hydro needed to move a pole for us and run the line underground but it was like pulling teeth. [Will chuckles knowingly] It was definitely stressful, the uncertainty—you have a game plan for your business and then you have to rethink it all. Is this model we have even going to work? Are we going to be able to open at all?

In the end, it all came together. We do have our lounge open, but our occupancy isn’t super high. It went pretty good through Christmas, but obviously now it’s January, historically a terrible month for beer sales. We’ve been just trying to get creative. We’ve got a small kitchen—we’ve got some sandwiches and share boards and stuff. It’s a pretty limited menu but we’ve been trying to run some stuff to attract some people to come out.

Joe: What was it like adjusting to the changing rules throughout the year?

Will: I remember when the initial lockdown started, we were like, “OK, I guess we’re taking this seriously for the next week or two…” [laughs] But one of our owners who had worked in Toronto running restaurants during SARS said, “We should be prepared. This could last through May.” We didn’t have any online ordering capacity at the time. If you look at the BC Brewers Collective Facebook page everyone is sharing information, everyone’s kind of adjusting on the fly while trying to obfuscate it from the customer because obviously you don’t want to look too much like you’re flying by the seat of your pants.

In the summer, Port Coquitlam gave us the use of the lane beside our building so all of a sudden we had a giant patio and we had pretty decent weather so we were able to use that. I really think we ended up about as lucky as we had any right to have been.

Adam: Our opening was late November so people were kind of used to the routines, wearing masks and stuff. That part wasn’t too bad because people had an expectation that we were going to have stringent rules. We’re lucky that we have a really big space. It’s an old warehouse, the ceilings are 20’ high, and based on square footage we could have many more people in here, so people are feeling pretty comfortable coming into the space still.

Our expectations for can sales were blown out of the water. When we opened up we canned a little and thought that’ll be lots—we’re not going into any stores, it’s all going to be in-house sales right now. Within a couple of weeks we sold out of all these great products that are selling really well. So we’re expanding our can lineup. We’re getting the mobile canners in next week so we can pump out 35 HL in a day rather than spreading it out over three days [on a manual canning system].


Mountainview beer A variety of cans at Mountainview Brewing | Mountainview Brewing photo


Will: We’re lucky enough to be next door neighbours with Mile 37 [Craft Canning] so back in February he was trying to sell me on this crowler thing, and I was like, yeah, I don’t know. My plan was really not to bother with cans until six months in at the earliest. Then COVID-19 hit and the only way we had to sell beer was growlers. Then the lag times on getting more growlers started tailing out. At one point we were filling Mason jars that we were buying at Canadian Tire. It was terrible. It was every self-respecting brewer’s nightmare. So we got the crowler seamer and were doing all these crowlers, and then there was a crowler shortage so we were flip flopping back and forth between formats for months. We only ended up doing our first 473-ml can run with a mobile canning company just before Christmas.

Joe: Adam, I assume the fact that a lot of tourists drive through Hope was part of your business model?

Adam: That was the whole model in a sense! Last summer, even with COVID-19, it was one of the busiest summers we’ve ever had in town as far as actual traffic, so I’m hopeful—we just gotta get to May. In the beginning we were getting a lot of out-of-town people still, but when they said you’re not supposed to leave your health region any more, that was a big turning point.

Joe: With hindsight would you have delayed or done anything differently?

Adam: We were already behind schedule for so long, we felt like we just had to open and figure it out, start having some revenue coming in. On the other hand, it’s such a gong show in Hope in the summer with tourism so it’s kind of nice to have it a little quieter right now so we can work out all the kinks in terms of the lounge side. It’s good and bad. You want to sell tons of beer but at the same time we don’t want to be caught flat-footed in May when the population here quadruples for three months.

Joe: Do you have an optimistic message to end on?

Adam: I don’t think it’s going to last forever. That being said, it’s probably not the last time we’re going to find ourselves in a situation like this so hopefully we’re all a little more prepared next time. For new breweries, being able to be flexible and adjusting your expectations that you might have to change things on a dime. If you go in with that kind of mindset then it’s not as shocking as trying to stick to your guns and have this plan, and then you get a wrench thrown in there. If you’re expecting the wrench every step of the way then I think it’s a bit easier to deal with.

Will: [laughs] I love that: expect a wrench. The other thing I’d tack on to that is, you know, craft beer isn’t dead. There is so much education and demand that can’t be unravelled. We’ve come a long way since the ‘80s and I think if something like this had happened in an earlier time when craft beer was more exclusively a luxury product then I think it could have been pretty ruinous to the industry in general. What are you seeing now if not the resiliency of so many businesses? It really made us examine the fundamentals of our business model in a way that if you’re making a lot of money maybe you’re not looking quite so closely. I’m sure that whatever breweries are thinking about opening are thinking long and hard to make sure what they’ve got planned out is sensible and sound. I feel optimistic about that. It’s cliché to say we’ll emerge stronger for it but I do believe it.

This story originally appeared in the Spring/Summer 2021 issue of The Growler, out now! You can find B.C.’s favourite craft beer and cider guide at your local brewery, cidery, select private liquor stores, and by subscription here.



2020 in 20 photographs: Vancouver photographer launches new solo exhibit

Steven Audia’s 20/2020 takes place at The James Black Gallery from April 23 to 25

Three of the images from Vancouver photographer Steven Audia’s upcoming exhibit at The James Black Gallery in Mount Pleasant | Photos by Steven Audia

Just over a year ago, Vancouver photographer Steven Audia was eagerly preparing to present an exhibition of his work. Planned for March 2020, that show was intended to be a collection of photographs he had captured over the span of a decade.

Like many artistic projects set to launch last spring, the exhibit was swiftly cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now, the photographer has refocused his efforts and is preparing to show his work yet again. But rather than a decade’s worth of photographs, this solo exhibit will instead be comprised of 20 black and white portraits, taken during a single particularly challenging year. 

Titled 20/2020, Audia’s exhibit is set to debut at The James Black Gallery – a queer-led arts and culture hub in Mount Pleasant – next weekend. It’s scheduled to run from Friday, April 23 to Sunday, April 25. 

The images explore how the challenges of 2020 shifted Audia’s perspective and approach to photography over the last year, and primarily follow a theme of “closeness.” 

“Lockdown came, and we learned to fear the people and air around us,” the artist explained in the exhibit’s description. ”We were forced inside as the world outside changed. I tried my best to continue photographically documenting as I’ve always done. As the year progressed and my access to the external world and people that once drove my work shrunk, I had to become more aware of not only my immediate surroundings, but of finding liberation within. I tried to turn the camera on myself and the results were of little interest to me. I needed to look further than what a mirror could provide, I needed to go inward.”

Audia added that his images got progressively darker over the course of the year, with shadows engulfing his subjects.

“However in these moments I wanted to find the light, and I wanted to experience my subjects finding that light in their own way,” he wrote. ”I no longer wanted to just photograph people; portraits as I knew them became too surface. I want to see beyond what flesh is holding in and how I can connect and create space apart from my physical external world.

“These 20 images made over the course of 2020 are just the beginning of that exploration.”

Audia’s 20/2020 will be available for viewing at The James Black Gallery, located at 144 E 6th Ave., by appointment this month.



How this Vancouver eatery is handling B.C.'s extended indoor dining ban (VIDEO)

"I think it's going to be a little bit haywire on the back half of this year"


Local restaurants are once again bracing for bad business after the current indoor dining ban across B.C. was extended another five weeks. 

It is now set to expire after the Victoria Day holiday on May 24. 

Under the orders, restaurants can continue to offer outdoor dining on temporary or permanent patios, as well as provide take-out or delivery options.

Commercial Drive's DownLow Chicken Shack is tailored for pick-up service but chef and co-owner Doug Stephen thinks communication between government and the province's restaurant industry could have been better.

"If our lobbying groups are being informed by the government that this is coming, why can't the government just go out and say it, instead of waiting till the last second? It seemed rather rude and unnecessary, to be quite honest."

Stephen also co-owns DownLow Burgers (inside the American Hotel) and Catch Weight Fish N Chips, both of which have been hit hard by the pandemic.

However, he has adapted to the volatile landscape. 

Stephen began food collaborations with local breweries; Strange Fellows and Powell Brewery are now selling his sub sandwiches. His staff are also given paid sick days in order to get tested for COVID-19 if they're feeling unwell.

Despite the present restrictions, he expects big business later in the year.

"I'm a big believer in the roaring '20s theory. I think it's going to be a little bit haywire on the back half of this year and my hope is that is done as safely as possible. People are craving that interaction."

With files from Lindsay William-Ross







What are we reading? April 22, 2021

selimaksan/Getty Images

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


Mark Falkenberg, deputy managing editor:

Rising costs – particularly for housing – and stagnant salaries have put food security at risk for many Canadians, warns Dr. Sylvain Charlebois. – The Orca


Various B.C. governments and schools feature prominently on Mediacorp Canada’s new list of Canada’s top green employers. Some private businesses rate too – among them Burnaby’s Hemmera Envirochem Inc. and Pacific Blue Cross and Richmond’s Nature’s Path Foods, Inc. – Globe and Mail

Glen Korstrom, reporter:

Given that the AstraZeneca vaccine is now available for those aged 40 and older, I read up on viral vector vaccines such as the AstraZeneca’s. Regardless of which vaccine was available, however, I would have taken it. – Centres for Disease Control and Prevention


Entertaining tale of a few photographers who are also novice investors and how they got caught up in the trading frenzy with GameStop, and other meme stocks. – Wall Street Journal


I hadn’t realized that a bottle of whisky had such a high carbon footprint. This article fleshes out the carbon emissions per 750ml bottle, and which brands are more sustainable . – Bloomberg


Nelson Bennett, reporter:

Another small step to Mars. The Mars Perseverance rover has turned atmospheric carbon dioxide on Mars into oxygen. The experiment is an important one, because if humans are ever to occupy Mars, they will need to be able to generate both water and oxygen from whatever resources are available on the Red Planet. – Digital Trends


The Netflix documentary Seaspiracy has generated a considerable amount of debunking, fact-checking and outright dismissal, including from a number of ocean scientists and fisheries experts. The documentary essentially concludes that the oceans will soon be barren of sea life due to over-fishing. Danial Pauley, a world renowned marine biologist at the University of British Columbia, has been warning for years about over fishing. But in this opinion piece he wrote for Vox, even he says Seaspiracy goes too far. – Vox


Timothy Renshaw, managing editor:

If you've ever wondered why it doesn't take much to be a successful hacker these days, consider this list compiled by NordPass of the top passwords used by companies in the logistics and transportation sector.


Your Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca shot might just be an aperitif in the coronavirus war. With any luck super vaccines are on the way to render any coronavirus a variant of little concern. – The Weather Channel


More insights on what the pandemic is doing for robots and workplace employment inequality. – International Monetary Fund