Businesses and friends gather for a dinner to raise funds for Partage Vanier, which serves part of Ottawa-Vanier’s riding where residents call upon foodbanks more often than the rest of Ontario
Mirrored on last year’s very successful “Poets” run by Secret Dinner Ottawa, the Vanier BIA and Beechwood Cemetery are once again joining forces with Secret Dinner and Fraser Cafe to host a unique fundraising dinner on August 22, 2019.
In July, Feed Ontario published a “hunger map” that looked at food bank usage across the province. In Ottawa-Vanier, 15 per cent of residents in the riding visited a food bank during 2018. The number of visits totaled 80,332.
Nathalie Carrier, the executive director of the BIA, says that data is especially frightening because if you remove the residents of very affluent neighbourhoods in that catchment the numbers are staggeringly higher.
She adds “when we saw the news last week we immediately called on our friends at Beechwood, Secret Dinner and Fraser’s to see if we could pull off a dinner again but this time as a fundraiser. Everyone jumped on board without hesitation.”
Her lips are sealed on what will actually be served, but is happy to report this event centres on supporting the local food bank, Partage Vanier and the vitally important role they play in the community. “We know the Chef Fraser will work his magic and serve up a dinner to remember” she adds.
Helena Arruda, director of counselling and community services at Partage Vanier says “our food bank serves the province’s most vulnerable people and every little bit helps. It’s great that the business community is contributing to our efforts in this unique way.”
The idea to host the event was born out of the success of the actual Secret Dinner Ottawa event held at Beechwood Cemetery last year.
“We are part of this community and have been serving this community since 1873 (Beechwood) and it’s important to be able to give back in a meaningful way,” says Nicolas McCarthy, director of communications and marketing at Beechwood Cemetery. “We are proud to be able to use our facilities, our groups and our partnership to help out the community and continue to build it together.”
With the event fast approaching, Carrier said she is still hoping other business members will want to get involved, whether it be purchasing tickets or participating in the event in their own capacity.
Tickets are $150 per person and include a $50 charitable receipt. To purchase tickets or for more information, please contact the Vanier BIA.
Montreal Road space to mark International Coworking Day on Aug. 9
From startup founders to freelancers to federal bureaucrats, professionals across the National Capital Region are embracing coworking – a popular trend that’s attracted and nurtured a new cohort of professionals in Vanier.
Working alongside other individuals engaged in different projects and initiatives gives remote workers and the self-employed the option to escape their kitchen table or a noisy coffee shop for ample, open space as well as high-speed internet, coffee and a community of like-minded professionals.
[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]”I was frustrated to see so much of the space of the building was vacant,” Arar says. “I changed real estate agents four times only to realize it was not the agent: People did not want to come to Vanier. I decided to turn the space into a beautiful coworking space to attract them to Vanier.”[/perfectpullquote]
Vanier is home to one of the city’s growing coworking spaces. Coworkly is located at 261 Montreal Rd. inside an office building that was formerly home to several medical clinics and organizations. It was only after Ottawa entrepreneur Maher Arar purchased the building several years ago and kept coming up short on leasing out the office space he decided to do something different.
“I was frustrated to see so much of the space of the building was vacant,” Arar says. “I changed real estate agents four times only to realize it was not the agent: People did not want to come to Vanier. I decided to turn the space into a beautiful coworking space to attract them to Vanier.”
Coworkly opened its doors in April 2018 and welcomed its first tenants to a facility that features exposed ceilings, open and comfortable workspaces, glass-walled meeting rooms and free coffee and tea.
In addition to the physical space, Arar also organizes free weekly lunch-and-learn information sessions and provides indoor bike storage and showers for tenants.
There are also phone booths and a quiet room for naps, meditation and yoga.
But it’s not just the amenities that are proving popular with Coworkly users. Tenants say being surrounded by talented, like-minded individuals has helped build their businesses.
SparkPath founder JP Michel says that, in hindsight, he regrets having worked for so long at home and in coffee shops. The online work-ready resource company now leases office space at Coworkly.
“I’ve helped several people with their businesses, and several people have helped me,” Michel says. “I’ve hired members for different jobs, and I have received help or advice from several people who are more experienced than I am in certain areas.”
International Coworking Day
The coworking movement is often said to have started in 2005 in San Francisco by software engineer Brad Neuberg.
“I was confused because I had both worked for myself and worked at a job and was unhappy because I couldn’t seem to combine all the things I wanted at the same time: the freedom and independence of working for myself along with the structure and community of working with others,” Neuberg wrote on his blog, Coding in Paradise.
Fast-forward 14 years later and his idea is now a global phenomenon celebrated annually with International Coworking Day, which will be held on Aug. 9.
To celebrate here in Vanier, Arar said Coworkly will offer the community complimentary coworking inside for the day. Additionally, the company will set up two coworking tables outside the building in the green space across from Coworkly.
“Coworking is being and working with like-minded individuals who support each other,” Arar says. “It helps people escape social isolation at home and the noise and unreliable internet at coffee shops. Coworking helps entrepreneurs, remote workers, and freelancers be more productive.”
He adds that Vanier proved to be an ideal neighbourhood in which to launch Coworkly, given its proximity to downtown Ottawa, large concentration of young professionals and a multitude of restaurants and unique shops in the immediate vicinity.
“What makes me happy is that people from all walks of life joined Coworkly,” Arar says. “We have a sense of community. We are like one family. We take care of each other.”
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.
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.
Councillor Mathieu Fleury adds: “As a supporter of the event since its inception, I really feel that it’s a family friendly event that is very must-see for our neighbourhood. The event celebrates the end of the summer with food, music, activities and performances. What a great way to come together and celebrate?”
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 email@example.com.
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.
“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 firstname.lastname@example.org or checking out the application process online at VanierBIA.com.
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.”
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.
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.
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.