Festival picking up pieces after Nortel rocks the Dragon Boat

Published on the front page of the Ottawa Business Journal.
July 2, 2007

Click here to view this article on OttawaBusinessJournal.com.

John Brooman, executive director of the Ottawa Dragon Boat Race Festival.
John Brooman, executive director of the Ottawa Dragon Boat Race Festival.
Photo by DARREN BROWN for the Ottawa Business Journal

John Brooman is picking up more than just cigarette butts and litter after the most successful Ottawa Dragon Boat Race Festival ever.

Mr. Brooman, the festival’s executive director, is now faced with the challenge of finding a new title sponsor for the event after Nortel Networks stepped down from the role last week.

“It’s a bittersweet thing for me… but I think it’s a good thing. It allows us to roam more and it doesn’t scare us in any shape or form,” Mr. Brooman says. “We’re fortunate because the festival is so well-run and fiscally managed that this can be absorbed.”

Mr. Brooman says the festival’s organizers are just now looking at approaching its other current sponsors to take over as title sponsor for 2008, with the Business Development Bank of Canada at the top of the list. Other top choices include the Ottawa Citizen, Dell and Tim Hortons.

Nortel was the event’s title sponsor for nine years, a way for the company and employees to be involved in the community and support worthwhile causes while also achieving some positive branding, a company spokesperson says.

This year. the telecommunications giant contributed Continue reading →

Accessibility: Change can’t come quickly enough for some

Published in the Ottawa Business Journal newspaper and website.
Jan. 15, 2007

Click here to view this article on OttawaBusinessJournal.com.

The wheels are in motion to make Ontario businesses accessible for people with disabilities by 2025, but Ottawa’s disabled community is expressing concern about what’s going to be done for buildings in the historic ByWard Market.

The province introduced a bill a couple of years ago to improve customer service for people with physical, mental, and intellectual disabilities within the next 20 years, which includes making sure that businesses, workplaces and accommodations will have ramps and wide doorways to make entry possible for people with disabilities.

However, advocates within the disabled community say Continue reading →

The votes are in, and the winner is…

Breaking news story, published on the Ottawa Business Journal website.
Nov. 13, 2006

Click here to view this article on OttawaBusinessJournal.com.

Ottawa mayor Larry O’Brien.
Photo by DARREN BROWN for the Ottawa Business Journal

The new mayor of Ottawa is Larry O’Brien.

Mr. O’Brien, the former CEO and founder of Calian Technologies, was declared the winner of the mayoral race at 8:25 p.m. Monday night, with nearly half of all votes.

At the end of the night, the mayor-elect got a total of 141,262 votes.

The new mayor beat out Alex Munter and incumbent Bob Chiarelli despite coming into the race six months later than both his opponents.

The race was a fairly close one although much less of a nail-biter than expected, with Mr. Munter getting just a little more than 36 per cent of the vote with 108,752 votes, and Mr. Chiarelli trailing behind at approximately 15 per cent or 46,697 votes. The level of voter turnout was almost unheard of, at more than 60 per cent.

Going into the polls, Mr. O’Brien and Mr. Munter were neck-and-neck at 45 per cent and 41 per cent respectively.

“We’re pretty excited,” said Gord Hunter, Mr O’Brien’s campaign manager. “We ran an incredible campaign and an incredible candidate, but we never expected anything like this. Larry will make a great mayor of Ottawa.”

The new mayor walked into his campaign headquarters at Broadway’s Bar & Grill on Prince of Wales Drive and raised his arms above his head with a resounding “Yes!”

He was joined shortly after by Mr. Chiarelli, who pledged his full support to the winner of the mayoral campaign and said his opponent had run a “smart campaign.”

“I’m declaring Larry the champ,” said the incumbent to cheers from Mr. O’Brien’s supporters. “We all know he’s been a tremendous community leader and business leader and… will become the greatest mayor Ottawa has ever had.”

Mr. Chiarelli added that being mayor was a “complicated job,” and said it was important for a full consensus in council to “make (Ottawa) a G-8 world capital.”

“I want to make a plea to the public, council and the media… to come together and build consensus behind this mayor,” Mr. Chiarelli said. “(Mr. O’Brien) ran a very great campaign and (he) had a very short time to do it. I’ll do whatever he wants me to do, for transition and to help the city.”

In his acceptance speech, the mayor-elect thanked the people of Ottawa for voting for change.

“The city is not a business but (the people) want to see it run like a business,” Mr. O’Brien said.

Mr. Munter opened his congratulatory speech with a joke about how it was probably a good thing he hadn’t been elected mayor as his supporters were causing a noise violation.

“We had a lot of tiger in the tank, but unfortunately Larry O’Brien had more,” he said. “As he enters at this crucial time, it’s important he succeed, and I’m here to help him succeed.”

As Mr. O’Brien heads to City Hall, he is facing an upcoming city budget, as well as the hotly debated light rail transit issue.

The other mayoral candidates – Piotr Anweiler, Robert Larter, Barkley Pollock and Jane Scharf – took a total of 3,328 votes.

‘Above and beyond’ no big deal for tourism award winner

Published on the Ottawa Business Journal website.
Oct. 25, 2006

Ginette Pion, grand prize winner of the Ottawa Tourism Stars of the City campaignGinette Pion, grand prize winner of Ottawa Tourism’s Stars of the City campaign (Image supplied)

Ginette Pion never thought she would win an award for taking the time to help a customer get ready for a special event.

But Ms. Pion, who is the manager of the Femme de Carrière outlet in the Rideau Centre, walked away with the top prize in Ottawa Tourism’s Stars of the City campaign at last night’s award ceremony, as well as an award in the Above and Beyond category.

She was nominated for spending three hours helping a customer shop for the perfect outfit and accessories for a gala dinner, then going with the customer to look for shoes at another store in the mall, booking a hair appointment, and even driving the customer to the hairstylist and taking her new outfit to be tailored in time for the event.

“The only thing I can say is: wow. I’m overwhelmed,” Ms. Pion says, adding that she doesn’t actually remember the woman who nominated her because she and her staff regularly help out customers in the same manner.

“I always teach my staff to go above and beyond… I’d like people to do the same for me,” she says.

She explains that she often takes tourists and people who aren’t familiar with the Rideau Centre around the mall and goes on her own time to drop off altered outfits at customers’ homes, even driving to Montreal once to hunt for a white suit for a customer’s wedding. Continue reading →

Bank Street construction hits biz harder than expected

Published in the Ottawa Business Journal newspaper and website.
Aug. 7 2006

Click here to view this article on OttawaBusinessJournal.com.

Although provisions have been made to accommodate pedestrian traffic while Bank Street is under construction, small- and medium-sized businesses in the area say they are really feeling the pinch.

“The summer is usually the busiest time, but now it’s even slower than in the winter time,” says H. Agour of Shawarma Laguna. “I can tell it’s slower (even with only a few days of construction).”

The five-block stretch between Laurier and Wellington has been closed off since July 31. The move is part of $3.6-million project to reconstruct Bank Street’s underground water and sewage lines, and improve the appearance of its sidewalks north of Queen Street, according to Richard Holder, the senior project manager for infrastructure for the city.

“We’ve been involved with the Bank Street BIA for several years,” he says. “We’re very much aware (of the disruption to business) and have delayed construction until as late as possible.”

The business improvement area’s executive director, Gerry LePage, says the business community has been enjoying Continue reading →

eBay mixed blessing for collectibles market

Published in the Ottawa Business Journal newspaper and website.
July 31, 2006

Click here to view this article on OttawaBusinessJournal.com.

Kurt Hamnes of Miraj Trading says eBay has proven to be both a rival and a useful sales outlet for the sports cards and collectibles store.
Kurt Hamnes of Miraj Trading says eBay has proven to be both a rival and a useful sales outlet for the sports cards and collectibles store.
Photo by DARREN BROWN for the Ottawa Business Journal

With the worldwide collectibles market booming, many entrepreneurs are finding success buying and selling collectors’ items online, thanks to the electronic marketing phenomenon that is eBay.

But local businesspeople caution against giving up your day job to invest full-time in Beanie Babies and rookie sports cards.

“The market is constantly changing, and you can’t count on something selling for a decent price,” says Inma Services owner Petr Maly, one Ottawa entrepreneur who does make a decent living using eBay. “The biggest obstacle is figuring out what’s coming in (in popularity).”

Mr. Maly has been selling consignments of antiques and collectibles on the auction site for eight years. However, despite his success as an online merchant, he warns that the collectibles market can be a tricky one to manoeuvre.

“You have to have a lot of knowledge, and you have to think ahead,” he says, explaining that it’s often difficult to predict which collectors’ items will sell at any time with only a general knowledge of the market.

He says eBay has played a large role in shaping this volatile market, with varying effects on the prices of collectible goods. Continue reading →

D. Roy students learn lessons in entrepreneurship

Published in the Ottawa West edition of The News EMC.
May 25, 2006

A group of local elementary school students have come up with an innovative way to combine learning, creative writing, and entrepreneurship.

An eighth-grade French class at D. Roy Kennedy Public School are producing a bilingual magazine to promote literacy, as part of the Learning Partnership’s Entrepreneurial Adventure program. This is the second time the school has participated in the project.

“The program is about getting kids working together to start a business venture to have an impact on their school or community,” says Shari Cooper, who teaches the intermediate Core French class which is producing the magazine.

Participants in the program come from schools in Toronto, Halifax, Calgary, and Ottawa.

Ms. Cooper says the students are thrilled Continue reading →

Helping budding rock stars realize their dreams

Published in the Ottawa West Edition of The News EMC.
April 27, 2006

Chad Nesrallah of Fat Dog Productions chuckles as he tells the story of how he played a practical joke on some of the young musicians who participated in the company’s summer program.

“We told them this was the cover for their demo disc,” he says, holding out a grainy black-and-white computer printout on plain paper. “I said we’d worked all night on it.”

Of course, the actual demo disc was full-colour and glossy – a professional production from one of the few large studios left in Ottawa.

It’s part of Mr. Nesrallah’s philosophy for Fat Dog Productions; especially with his two-week Rock Star Camp program to train youth who are interested in becoming professional artists Continue reading →

Raising awareness about a medical mystery

Published in the Ottawa West edition of The News EMC.
Apr. 20, 2006

Kelda Whalen recalls a beautiful day in 1997 when she walked 10 blocks up Elgin Street.

“I was smiling at strangers,” she says. “It was the happiest I’d been in 15 years.”

That walk was the result of a temporarily successful operation on her brain – one of 12 to treat a disorder known as dystonia, which causes sufferers to constantly jerk and move involuntarily.

However, the surgery’s effects only lasted a few months before the deep brain stimulators implanted in her skull malfunctioned and had to be removed.

Ms. Whalen has had the condition since Continue reading →

Privileged pets

Published in the March/April 2006 edition (Vol. 6, Issue 2) of Ottawa Insight.
March 2006

Gillian Pearlstone says she spends about $1,800 a year on each of her dogs.Gillian Pearlstone says she spends about $1,800 a year on each of her dogs.

OTTAWA – Gillian Pearlstone buys bottled water and natural foods for her pets, and occasionally brings them in to the Natural Pet Foods store in Ottawa’s Westboro community for massage or reiki therapy.

Pearlstone, who is the proud owner of two cats and a dog, says she spends about $1,800 a year on her dog and about half that amount a year per cat. Along with her own pets, she also pays for the upkeep of the two or three dogs she fosters every couple of months.

“They’re my children,” she says. “I’d rather spend a lot on food than on vet bills.”

Pearlstone is one of a growing number of pet owners who spend thousands of dollars each year on their furry companions. Continue reading →