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 or checking out the application process online at

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.


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 or for a full list of crime prevention tools.

The ‘hair-zapping queen’

Carrefour Vanier Vein Clinic’s Linda Pisani reflects on how she became a different kind of household name

“I had been doing hair removal for 13 years, and it started when I was on Rogers TV. When I stepped onstage the host introduced me as the “hair-zapping queen.” I was surprised, but the name stuck. Now I’m very happy with (the moniker). Did I think I would grow up to become the “hair-zapping queen?” Absolutely not – I wanted to do pedicures and manicures and facials, but when I started the program I took the laser hair removal course and loved it. When I graduated I went right into that – I loved the laser hair removal results on myself and I figured if it is going to work on me, it will work on anybody. Now, it’s been 13 years that I have been doing it and I have so many people who have success stories. Some people might be disgusted by what I do but I find it so satisfying because my clients are happy when they leave and if they leave happy – I am happy.”

The women behind the art in Vanier

Art is all around us, and in Vanier, that couldn’t be more true – wherever one turns, there is typically a mural or monument rich in colour and culture.

Vanier is attracting top talent from beyond the region, turning the neighbourhood into a leading destination for artists.

“I am constantly in the community even though I’m not a resident,” artisan Jaime Morse says of the area.

Morse, a Cree/Metis artist originally from Lac La Biche, Alta., says she was immediately drawn to Vanier when she came to Ottawa because of the Wabano Centre. She’s since made working in the area part of her career.

Her work includes carrying on traditions of fish scale art – art created by using dried fish skin, which can curl and look like petals and can be dyed different colours – Métis beadwork and ink on different animal skin. She also founded Indigenous Walks, an organization offering walking tours that explore Ottawa through an Indigenous perspective – something she says she would love to expand within Vanier.

Of all the pieces and teachings Morse has contributed to the community, one particular piece – a planned Indigenous crosswalk, consisting of a design of moccasins crossing between two colourful flowers – makes her most proud. She says she hopes to see it finally make its mark on Montreal Road in front of the Wabano Centre one day.

Art ‘sustains the pulse of a community’

A proud Vanier resident, Mique Michelle considers herself a strong advocate for abolishing the negative perceptions of graffiti and street art.

Veronica Roy, a fellow frequent Vanier artist agreed, highlighting discrepancies such as receiving lower pay and fewer accolades than their male counterparts.

“Art has the capacity to sustain the pulse of a community that might otherwise be struggling to maintain its heartbeat,”

Working in the art industry can be hard for women, Morse says, a sentiment that’s echoed by others.

This makes working together in a strong community all the more important.

“It’s important that we recognize, uplift and financially support women artists,” Roy says, highlighting how Vanier embraces and encourages artists and their work.

Roy’s resume includes working with an impressive roster of organizations such as KIND Space, House of PainT, Capital Pride and Digi60 Filmmaker’s Festival. She says it’s her work in communities such as Vanier that are most important.  

“Art has the capacity to sustain the pulse of a community that might otherwise be struggling to maintain its heartbeat,” she says, adding that neighbourhoods such as Vanier that integrate art through outdoor murals and other installations have a unifying sense of community and vibrancy that are lacking in suburban areas.

Roy has worked with another fellow female artist, Mique Michelle, whose work is front and centre in Vanier in the form of one of Ottawa’s largest murals.

The four-storey mural, located on the exterior wall of an office building at 261 Montreal Rd., honours the history of Vanier’s Inuit population as well as their experiences and contribution to the neighbourhood and community.

A proud Vanier resident, Mique Michelle considers herself a strong advocate for abolishing the negative perceptions of graffiti and street art. It is pieces like the Montreal Road mural that can help bridge that gap by showcasing the colour and creativeness in a graffiti-style art piece.

As an artist, Roy said working with artists like Mique Michelle can be very inspiring. As an active facilitator of the arts in this city, Roy said it is the strength of a community is the biggest inspiration for artists in Ottawa and working in Vanier, inspiration, she added comes naturally.

“I find Vanier to be particularly unpretentious,” she says, contrasting it to other historic Ottawa neighbourhoods that have been radically reshaped in recent years by new developments.

“Vanier has retained its spirit,” Roy says.