Family-fun planned for annual fall festival

BeechFest – a new year, a new name for Beechwood’s annual fall festival

Beechwood Avenue’s annual fall festival is getting a bit of a revamp this year. 

The street festival plans to switch out its old name, East Feast, for a new one – BeechFest. 

The name tweak highlights a change in programming. 

What was once a food-heavy festival – hence it’s feast-filled name – the festival will be adopting more of a family feel and offering more family-friendly activities and times. 

The festival will take place along Beechwood Avenue on Sept. 7, 2019 from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. 

Rideau-Rockcliffe Coun. Rawlson King said the change is largely based on the varied interests of the communities which call Beechwood Avenue their main street. 

“The name change represents the continued renewal of the event and responsiveness of the community to the fact that the event programming goes way beyond the excellent culinary scene on Beechwood, to also represent arts and culture and sport,” King said. 

The event is organized by the Quartier Vanier BIA, of which King is the newest member of the BIA’s board, having been recently elected in the Rideau-Rockcliffe byelection on this past spring. 

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An active community member before taking his seat on council, the new councillor said he has loved attending the festival over the years and is looking forward to it once again this year, but this time as a contributor.  

“’I’ve attended BeechFest in the past and found it to be quite an exciting event.  It is arguably one of the largest outdoor festivals in our area, with 3,000 people in attendance, that allows residents and visitors from outside the city check out local businesses, chefs, breweries, wineries, children’s organizations and community groups,” he said. 

Executive director of the BIA, Nathalie Carrier said the changes this year are all aimed at making the event bigger and better. 

“What we realized is this is a family gathering and so we want to make sure the family focus is not lost,” she said. 

And given that Vanier is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, Carrier said it is important to make this year memorable. 

So far, programming for the festival includes:

  • More children’s programming
  • More food and more varieties of it!
  • Celebration of Vanier’s 50th anniversary
  • More merchant participation
  • More people and more fun!

The event, created in 2016, closes off Beechwood Avenue from Marier Avenue to St. Charles Street to vehicular traffic, turning the area into a pedestrian space. In the past, local restaurants and shops along Beechwood Avenue participated by selling food, promoting their business, performing on the main stage or offering activities. 

King said he feels street festivals, like Beechfest, are important because they allow residents to express community pride and demonstrate what makes their neighbourhood’s special.

Carrier said it is this sentiment that the BIA hopes to gain interest from more community partners to participate or sponsor an activity at the event. 

“One of the great benefits of the festival is the strong relationships it fosters in the community,” King said. “Beechfest forges bonds among service organizations, municipal government, and neighborhood groups and creates better connections with elected officials, volunteers and interested residents.”

BIA members, organizations or individuals who are looking to participate or support BeechFest can contact Carrier at ncarrier@vanierbia.com. 



Grants available for Vanier businesses to share ‘What’s Good In the Hood’

BIA offers merchants a chance to let Vanier’s culture shine and build creative spark

Many Vanier merchants and residents might think they know what is good about their ‘hood. Starting this month, the BIA wants business owners and artisans to prove it.

The Vanier BIA is launching its “What’s Good In the Hood” microgrant program in June to help the community harness and showcase its artistic and cultural talents.

With a total budget of $7,500, the new initiative offers applicants the opportunity to apply for a grant of between $100 and $750 for projects that bring more culture to the community.

“Vanier has a very high number of creative individuals and this is a great way to stimulate that (arts scene),” said Thomas Radford, Project Manager for the Vanier BIA, adding how the programming will be created by the community, for the community.

The program is aimed at artists, businesses, cultural programmers and residents, all of whom are encouraged to propose events that will attract people to Vanier businesses.

Capital Rap Battles held an event at One Up on Beechwood Avenue this spring, The event was part of the Vanier BIA’s new “What’s Good in the Hood” microgrant program which offers businesses in the district the opportunity to host small-scale events.

“It can be anything that a person wants to suggest – a pop-up gallery, a burlesque show, a paint night or an out-door concert,” Radford said, giving several examples.

Shawn Marchand, a chef at Bobby’s Table on Montreal Road, is among the local merchants getting behind the initiative.

In March, Bobby’s Table hosted a What’s Good in the Hood pop-up event to help gain interest in the grant program.

The event welcomed musician Dank Aspects and his talented eight-year-old daughter, Illiyah Rose, to entertain a crowd of all-day breakfast diners with what Marchand described as a unique sound of blues, folk, soul and hip hop.

“Everybody that was here had a wonderful time,” Marchand said, adding that there wasn’t a single person in the room – chef, server or patron – who wasn’t singing along or dancing.

The event, he added, also welcomed some new faces to the popular Vanier breakfast spot.

“There were definitely people I had never seen before,” Marchand said. “It really brought everyone together.”

The Ministry of Coffee on Beechwood Avenue also joined the action earlier this year with a disco party, while Capital Rap Battles held a What’s Good In the Hood event this past spring.

Mini Mozaik – based on an event the BIA hosted annually since 2017 – is the BIA’s next What’s Good In the Hood pop-up. The event is planned for June 8.

The past events success highlight how the arts are thriving in Vanier’s business district, Radford said, adding he feels residents and businesses are embracing the idea of neighbourhood micro-events events.

Radford said he expects the first wave of projects to start rolling as soon as early July.

The number of projects that will go ahead depends on how many applications are received and the individual costs per event. More information is available by emailing Radford at projects@vanierbia.com or checking out the application process online at VanierBIA.com.

Cathie Orfalie, president, Money Advisors at 235 Montreal Rd.

Cathie Orfali recalls how she got into the “money business”

“As a teenager I loved to work and was very disciplined at saving money – two key ingredients if you want to succeed. By the age of 19 I was able to purchase my first home. I felt this overwhelming sense of accomplishment and it fueled my desire to help other people succeed and accomplish meaningful goals. Three decades later, I am still focused on working on my financial plan and my new goals, but also helping others with their (plans and goals).

Another reason is that I see money as being either the cause of so much good in people’s lives, but if we look around us we can see that money can change people for the worst. I want to help people connect with what is really meaningful to them and how money will be an important part of that – whether it is buying a home for their family or saving for a child’s education or giving money to charities that people love.”

Vanier BIA, community partners roll out new crime-prevention tools

Property audits among measures available to merchants

The Vanier BIA is arming its merchants with the tools they need to become leaders in crime prevention this summer.

The BIA recently met with the area’s community police officer, Crime Prevention Vanier, the Vanier Community Association and local merchants in a proactive approach to reducing crime in the district.

“The BIA and its merchants understand the important role we play in crime prevention,” said Nathalie Carrier, the executive director of the Vanier BIA. “Our approach is to get our merchants the tools they need to contribute to crime prevention,” she added.

The BIA will be offering monthly tips and advice for merchants looking for guidance or new ideas in how to make their business – and wider community – safer.

“We all understand that a safer neighbourhood is not only good for its people, but also for its businesses,”

Nathalie Carrier, Vanier BIA executive director
Lighting up a dark parking lot is just one of the steps a business can make to help prevent crime. Look for a list of tips and tricks from the Vanier BIA in the upcoming newsletter.

This work builds on several existing projects and partnerships, including those with the area’s community police officer, Cst. Vianney Calixte, to conduct audits under a program known as “Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design.”

These audits help identify physical and design changes that can help reduce crime, such as cutting back overgrown shrubs, improving parking lot lighting and creating better sightlines around a property.

“We all understand that a safer neighbourhood is not only good for its people, but also for its businesses,” Carrier said.

WORKING TOGETHER

Simply adding lighting is one of the most common suggestions made by Lucie Marleau, the founder of Crime Prevention Vanier. A well-lit parking lot is far less likely to attract undesirable activity than one shrouded in darkness, she said.

Marleau has worked to improve safety in the community for more than a decade and created Crime Prevention Vanier to complement the work undertaken by Crime Prevention Ottawa.

“Experience has taught us that our crime prevention efforts can only be effective and sustainable if every actor plays their part,” Marleau said, explaining that it takes more than just police officers and city officials to make an area safe.

“No crime happens in a vacuum, and each crime touches all of us living (and) working in Vanier in tangible and less tangible ways,” Marleau said.

This team-based approach is also embraced by the Vanier Community Association, which supports the BIA’s efforts to share crime-prevention tools with merchants.

“Business are an important part of our community, and our residents are part of their clientele,” said Lauren Touchant, president of the community association. “We are deeply interrelated therefore, we all have a responsibility to keep our neighbourhood safe and we hope these tips and tricks will better equip business owners.”

Keep an eye out for the latest crime prevention tips and tricks in the BIA’s monthly e-newsletter. Businesses can also visit CrimePreventionOttawa.ca or ensemblepourvanier.com for a full list of crime prevention tools.

Meet your merchants: Fine art and great stories

When Abed Younes decided he was too young to retire and looked to start up his next new business, he found himself drawn to Vanier.

It’s fair to say he considered his options. Palestinian by birth, Abed lived for years in Germany, working with the Red Cross to help countless refugees and immigrants from all over the world settle into new lives. When he came to Canada in 1990, he rented a car and spent five months exploring the country to better understand his new home.

Vanier has changed a lot through the years and people have a very different concept of the community now. There are more kids around, more families.

He then decided his best way to put down roots was to start his own business. Over the past 25 years, Abed has built up and sold several local businesses, all in some way art-related, including Picture Plus. Roughly three years ago, he started up his latest venture, a custom framing and fine art prints shop on Beechwood Avenue called Art House Custom Framing.

“People ask me why I work with art,” Abed said. “Art is the only way to run away without leaving your home.”

It hasn’t taken him long to build up a strong customer base from among local residents and even nearby embassies with hard work, a focus on quality and word of mouth. Social work is still in his blood and his shop has become a local favourite for regulars who often drop by just to chat.

“This is such an amazing area,” Abed said. “Beechwood is booming.”

Modbox to revitalize St. Charles Church into community hub

St. Charles Church in Vanier was a community focal point for more than a century before declining attendance forced it to hold its final service in 2010.

In 2014, the deconsecrated Beechwood Avenue building was sold to Modbox, a company combining architecture firm Linebox with building and project management firm Lake Partnership that has little interest in ordinary condo projects.

“This is more than a building or a development,” said Modbox CEO Darryl Squires. “It is a chance to do something unique and special.”

The plans for St. Charles Market include a collection of horizontal homes and townhomes wrapping around the original church structure. At its heart, the historic bell tower will serve once again as a welcoming beacon to the Ottawa community.

Construction is officially underway at the site to set the foundation for the new building. The restoration of the church itself was completed in the fall of 2017, and the former rectory behind the church was removed in July 2018.

The repurposed church will be transformed into a restaurant and a local marketplace, while the original grounds will once again serve its neighbours with seasonal attractions and community events.

It’s one of many recent business investments in Vanier, an area offering untapped opportunities for developers as well as cafés, stores, art studios and startups.

“Vanier has an enormous amount of potential,” says Mr. Squires.

Opening a pop-up store

Tarek Hassan launched his first enterprise, Gong Fo Bao, serving traditional Taiwanese steamed buns out of a food cart stationed at a busy downtown intersection near Confederation Park.

But to expand and fine-tune his offerings, Hassan used a strategy that’s becoming increasingly popular among retailers and restaurateurs: a pop-up shop.

The term typically refers to a temporary storefront in a high-traffic area, such as a shopping mall or busy street. While merchants specializing in seasonal merchandise such as Halloween decorations may be the most popular example, major retailers such as H&M and Starbucks have used pop-ups in a former brewery and rented event space, respectively, to test new concepts and generate buzz around their brand.

In Hassan’s case, the entrepreneur took his food truck menu indoors to Fontenelle Restaurant, a Vanier institution that’s served traditional diner food on Montreal Road for decades.

He pays the owners a flat rate to use the restaurant and takes over the space for his “one-offs” after Fontenelle’s closes for the day at 2 p.m. At his most recent event, customers were lined up down the street.

“Fontenelle’s is an old beautiful place. I have wanted to do it for years,” said Hassan.

Pop-ups are typically a win-win for entrepreneurs and their short-term landlords. As in Hassan’s case, an existing restaurant may turn over their space outside normal hours of operation to another business to help cover their rent and the cost of restaurant equipment that’s otherwise sitting idle.

Retailers, meanwhile, may take over a vacant storefront for a reduced rental rate for a short period of time or until the landlord finds a full-time paying tenant.

How to start

Be sure to have a proposal, outlining what you will do in the space, and a professional business plan ready before meeting your prospective landlord.

Pitch the pop-up as a win-win for both sides. Come prepared to tell the landlord what’s in it for them, such as increased foot traffic for their location and the financial upside of the income your temporary venture brings to their unused space.

You may be able to negotiate a reduced rate of the regular rent based on the number of days you will occupy the space or the fixed costs of the empty space. Or the rental payment could also be tied to a percentage of overall sales.

Be sure to research the area you are renting in to get an understanding of what other businesses are paying before approaching your potential landlord.

Pop-up benefits

Ottawa e-commerce giant Shopify has identified seven key benefits to pop-up shops:

  • Testing new revenue streams
  • Engaging customers
  • Creating “get it while it lasts” urgency through limited-time offerings
  • Marketing merchandise around a sale, season or holiday
  • Educating new customers
  • Going to where your customers are

Meet your merchants: Riding the crest

Lauren Power was no stranger to Vanier when she and Greg launched Red Door Provisions two years ago. She had spent her teens in the area, attending high school in neighbouring Rockcliffe.

After 10 years away, she returned to Ottawa to find big changes afoot in her old stomping ground.

“We saw that Beechwood was right on this crest of new development, with proposals for upscale condo projects,” she said. “We knew the potential of the neighbourhood and we wanted to be part of this renewal, part of the boost.”

This “boost” is happening across Vanier, from Beechwood, to McArthur Avenue and Montréal Road.

“Vanier is an up-and-coming place for sure,” Greg said. “It’s changing every day. We like the neighbourhood aspect – everyone knows everyone. It’s not overrun by big commercial entities. It still feels like most every business is unique to this area. Even the big box stores have this community vibe to them.”

As entrepreneurs, location combined with affordable real estate in their choice of Vanier. Manageable startup costs have allowed them to flourish. Their lunch café and bakery features a unique mix of fresh-made treats, great coffees and house sodas, hearty brunch fare, and Lauren’s own signature jams, marmalades, chutneys and garlic scapes.

Local entrepreneurs Lauren and Greg Power run Red Door Provisions, a cafe and bakery featuring homemade goods and a hearty brunch.
Photo by Mark Holleron