Tuesday February 11, 2020



Kitchener Innovation District welcomes first Canadian Google for Startups Accelerator

Kitchener’s downtown continues to attract global brands, as Google announced its plans for a new office in the Innovation District. Google will be the flagship tenant of the Breithaupt Block Phase 3 expansion. Once construction is complete, the offices will accommodate new Google employees and Canada’s first Google for Startups Accelerator. “As the Toronto-Waterloo corridor continues to be a global centre of tech talent and innovation, it’s the perfect place for us to expand our footprint, and help grow the next generation of founders in Canada,” said Steve Woods (photo), Google Canada Engineering and Waterloo Site Lead. Google first arrived in Canada in 2001 and today’s announcement is part of a 3-city announcement including Toronto, Montreal and Waterloo region and will see Google’s offices in these three cities accommodate up to 5,000 employees by the end of 2022, up from the more than 1,500 employees across Canada today.


Beertown Guelph set to open March 3

Charcoal Group to expand Beertown banner with three new locations this year

Charcoal Group is getting ready to open its newest Beertown Public House location in Guelph in March and has two more openings on the menu this year as it continues to expand the popular brand’s footprint. Beertown Guelph will celebrate its official opening in a new building at 433 Stone Rd. West on March 3, serving up an extensive craft beer and beverage list, as well as a diverse menu designed to satisfy diners of all tastes. “We’re really excited to open our doors in Guelph,” says Charcoal Group partner Jody Palubuski (photo). “Guelph is close to our home base in Wellington County, so they may be familiar with the Charcoal Group and we believe there is understanding or a trust in the experience we’ll provide them.


The Intelligent Community Forum Names the Global Top7 Intelligent Communities of 2020

Small and Midsized Communities from Four Nations Become Finalists to be named Intelligent Community of the Year at ICF Global Summit in Dublin, Ohio, USA in June

In an announcement last night at an international conference at Taoyuan, Taiwan, the Intelligent Community Forum (ICF) named the Top7 Intelligent Communities of 2020. The 18th annual Top7 list includes cities and counties from the United States, Canada, Australia and Estonia. One of these seven finalists in the think tank’s annual awards program will be named the Intelligent Community of the Year at the ICF Summit in June in Dublin, Ohio, USA on June 18th. In alphabetical order, the Top7 Intelligent Communities of 2020 are:


May Mitchell of BlackBerry Cylance Recognized as 2020 CRN® Channel Chief

BlackBerry Limited announced that CRN®, a brand of The Channel Company, has named May Mitchell, Vice President, Global Channel Sales and Field Marketing to its 2020 list of Channel Chiefs. This annual list recognizes the top vendor executives who continually demonstrate exemplary leadership, influence, innovation, and growth for the IT channel. May leads BlackBerry Cylance's channel sales and field marketing teams responsible for driving new business growth and customer retention through the partner ecosystem, and sales channels across all customer segments and verticals. May has over twenty years of go-to-market, channel, and sales expertise in cybersecurity, cloud, mobile, and infrastructure solutions.


Few consumers understand THC levels in cannabis edibles

Few cannabis consumers understand what the THC numbers on packages of cannabis edibles really mean, according to a new University of Waterloo study. The study, which surveyed nearly 1,000 Canadians aged 16 to 30, found that most consumers could not identify whether a cannabis edible contained ‘low’ or ‘high’ levels of THC based on the label. The researchers also found that descriptive information, such as symbols and words, are more effective in helping consumers understand THC potency and approximate serving sizes for cannabis products. “Using THC numbers to express potency of cannabis products has little or no meaning to most young Canadians,” said David Hammond (photo) of Waterloo’s School of Public Health and Health Systems. “We’ve known for many years that people struggle to understand the numbers on the back of food packages and cigarette packages. Consumers seem to have equal or even more difficulty with THC numbers, which are used to indicate the potency of cannabis products.”

Economic Development

Invest in Kitchener and we’ll deliver results

Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic and his colleagues in the Big City Mayors’ Caucus (BCMC) of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) met on Thursday in Ottawa to craft a shortlist of federal budget proposals—to turn election commitments into faster commutes, more affordable housing and other concrete outcomes for Canadians. “This first budget is crucial for Canada’s cities and communities,” said Mayor Vrbanovic. “This is where the new government must partner with municipal leaders to get things done for Canadians. That includes working with our city and our region to deliver real results on the ground ranging from building new supportive housing units for those who need them the most to making key investments to help us address the climate emergency which many of us have declared.”

Life's Challenges

On 211 Day, Canadians are encouraged to Make the Right Call!

Today is #211Day, a national initiative designed to raise awareness about a vital service that helps Canadians navigate the complex web of government and community social services in their community. “Finding help during life’s challenges can be hard, especially if you are dealing with the loss of a job, housing issues, caring for an aging parent, or trying to make ends meet,” says Nancy Bird, Senior Director of Community Investment and Engagement at United Way Waterloo Region Communities. “That is the reason why so many United Way Centraides across the country, including United Way Waterloo Region Communities, have invested in 211, an information-navigation service that makes it easier to find the supports and services community members need. We are truly grateful to our donors for making this investment possible.”


Today’s unemployment stats continue to highlight the need to focus on youth employment.

The unemployment numbers released last week continue to show youth unemployment as the highest of all age groups. For January 2020 the unemployment rate for the 15-24 year-old age group was 9.1% in Kitchener Waterloo Cambridge which is nearly double the unemployment rate for 25 years and older (4.6%). A local partnership is focused on promoting varying career paths and entry level positions to youth and those entering the workforce in order to tap into this available talent pool. The key goal of the “How the Labour Market Works” initiative is to help youth, and their parents, to better understand the types of jobs and salaries available in their first position and how taking that first job can help their overall career. “We are hoping to engage the younger age group and their parents or guardians to let them know that taking an entry level position can take them to endless possibilities when it comes to career pathways,” says Charlene Hofbauer, Executive Director with the Workforce Planning Board. “It’s important to show youth that there is value in entry-level positions and opportunities and that the skills and experiences you gain, as well as the people you meet, can contribute to that bigger career goal”.


Aarhus University Selects D2L’s Brightspace to Deliver Effective Student Learning Experiences

D2L, announced that Aarhus University has selected Brightspace as its new learning platform to deliver effective tailored student learning experiences. A modern Danish university with an international reputation built on strong interdisciplinary research, Aarhus University advocates modern learning technologies in support of positive learning outcomes. Through a diligent tendering process, the University sought a learning solutions partner that could meet its requirements. D2L’s Brightspace platform was chosen for its pedagogical quality, usability, broad range of features and the capability to migrate existing course content. These were decisive factors for Aarhus University, together with the opportunities the platform provides for educators to design interesting, engaging programmes of study, tailored according to students’ individual needs.


Waterloo city council approves 2020 -2022 budget

Yesterday Waterloo city council approved the 2020- 2022 three year operating and capital budgets and the seven- year capital forecast for 2023- 2029, in principle. Council also ap proved an average annual property tax rate increase of 1.8% for base services and operating impacts of capital, along with an average annual increase of 1. 5% for service level changes and additional infrastructure investment for a total tax increase, on average, over the next three years of 3.4% . A Waterloo home with an average assessed value of $394,400 will pay $1,421 annually by 2022. This represents an increase to an average household of $44 .13 per year in property taxes. A net operating budget of $79 million in 2020; $83 million in 2021 and $87 million in 2022 was also approved by council. The city’s operating budget supports many important services and projects throughout the city including snow removal, sewer maintenance, fire protection, bylaw enforcement, road maintenance and repairs, parks, recreation, culture and leisure services and youth and older adult programming. The approved operating budget included $2.4 million in efficiencies, cost savings and other revenue solutions including facility e nergy savings of $300,000, hotel tax revenue of $250,000 and LED streetlight electricity savings of $83,000, to name a few.


At least 13% of wastewater treated by Southern Ontario septic systems ends up in streams

The presence of artificial sweeteners has revealed that at least 13 percent of septic system wastewater from rural Southern Ontario homes eventually makes its way into local streams. In a recent study, researchers at the University of Waterloo used the presence of artificial sweeteners excreted from humans to identify the wastewater content in streams across rural Southern Ontario. “Artificial sweeteners are one of the best tracers of wastewater in the environment because they don’t completely break down in the body or in wastewater treatment systems,” said John Spoelstra, an adjunct professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Waterloo. “They are prevalent in many common consumer products, so we find them in every wastewater sample we look at. “In many cases, residual artificial sweeteners are the most reliable indicator of the waters’ septic system origin once released into the environment.”


Premier Ford Works to Build on Ontario's Multi-Billion Dollar Trade Relationship with Texas

Yesterday, Premier Doug Ford and Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, concluded a successful mission to Dallas, Texas where they reinforced the benefits of investing in Ontario to business leaders and officials, including Toyota Motor North America, the Canadian Consul General in Dallas and the Canada-Texas Chamber of Commerce. "Our focus in sitting down with our partners in Texas was creating more opportunities for businesses to invest and create jobs in Ontario," said Premier Ford. "We don't just trade together — we also build things together. And when we do that, we're supporting good jobs on both sides of the border. It's a win-win for everyone."

Future Vision

City of Cambridge begins 2020-2023 Strategic Plan process

The City of Cambridge will begin the process of updating the City’s corporate strategic plan, Cambridge Connected. The strategic plan helps to connect the community’s vision and goals with the City’s mission, values and actions. The City’s first four year strategic plan was adopted in 2016 and brought together stakeholders in an extensive engagement process to establish goals and objectives. With Cambridge Connected 2020-2023, the City has an opportunity to refresh and refine these goals and actions in order to ensure that they still reflect community priorities. “The strategic plan is a key document for our City, helping to guide staff and council as we work to improve the services we deliver to our citizens,” says Mayor Kathryn McGarry. “By consulting with the community we can ensure our plan reflects what matters most to the community. I encourage everyone to get involved and help us define Cambridge’s direction over the next four years.”


Consumer trust in agriculture is waning

Organized, well-funded groups condemning farming practices on social media are winning the consumer trust battle - By Sylvain Charlebois

The public uses social media every day to express concerns about farming practices. And it’s getting worse. Farmers are criticized for a variety of reasons – for example their environmental stewardship and their ethical behaviour in how they treat livestock. In survey after survey, Canadians generally say they trust farmers, regardless of headlines, social media attacks or passing consumer trends. But trustworthiness may no longer be enough for farmers. The public expects more. Farmers are arguably the best environmental stewards in our economy and they know it. With livestock, it makes little sense to accuse farmers for not treating animals appropriately when their livelihood relies on the health of their animals. Accusations are often senseless and completely uninformed. Still, assaults on farmers continue.

Green Health

Green Coalition and Plug’n Drive partner on new zero-emission vehicle initiative in Canada’s health sector

A new collaborative zero-emissions vehicle (ZEV) initiative is launching this week that will see the Canadian Coalition for Green Health Care and Plug’n Drive advance awareness and use of lower-carbon transportation options within Canada’s health services sector. The initiative will help raise awareness of energy-efficient technologies and practices, and lower-carbon vehicles, fuels and infrastructure requirements within the sector. Team members will work with multiple stakeholder groups including senior administrative leaders, medical staff, support staff from facilities and engineering, purchasing and finance, visitors and patients as well as vendors and third-party contractors to enhance understanding and uptake of ZEV technologies.


More Prosperous Households Filing Insolvency

Average Income Among Insolvent Debtors Up 5.5%; More households have fewer funds available after paying for rising living costs to meet debt obligations

Average income among those filing a bankruptcy or consumer proposal is increasing according to a study conducted by Licensed Insolvency Trustees Hoyes, Michalos & Associates Inc. Average household income rose 5.5% in 2019 to $3,162 (monthly after-tax), while median income increased 5.8% to $2,883. "People are not getting a raise of this magnitude," says Doug Hoyes, Licensed Insolvency Trustee. "What is happening is that more prosperous households are now reaching the breaking point and tipping into insolvency." While average income rose 5.5%, average household expenses grew by 6.4%. The average insolvent debtor had just $264 a month to put towards debt repayment in 2019, less than $273 a year earlier. In the meantime, average consumer debt balances among insolvent debtors grew by 1.9% to $58,923.

Housing Starts

Canadian housing starts unchanged in January

The trend in housing starts was 210,915 units in January 2020, compared to 212,212 units in December 2019, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). This trend measure is a six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rates (SAAR) of housing starts. "The national trend in housing starts essentially held steady in January." said Bob Dugan, CMHC's chief economist. "Lower-trending starts in Vancouver were partly offset by stronger activity in Montréal, while the trend in Toronto was stable at the start of the year." CMHC uses the trend measure as a complement to the monthly SAAR of housing starts to account for considerable swings in monthly estimates and obtain a more complete picture of Canada's housing market. In some situations, analyzing only SAAR data can be misleading, as they are largely driven by the multi-unit segment of the market which can vary significantly from one month to the next. The standalone monthly SAAR of housing starts for all areas in Canada was 213,224 units in January, an increase of 8.8% from 195,892 units in December. The SAAR of urban starts increased by 9.8% in January to 202,407 units. Multiple urban starts increased by 13.6% to 155,140 units in January while single-detached urban starts decreased by 0.9% to 47,267 units.


70% of Canadians Think They Won't Save Enough for Retirement

Two thirds of Canadians (65%) expect to need less than $1 million to fund their retirement; 50% of Canadians saving for retirement have not visited a financial advisor in the last 12 months; The average Canadian expects to retire at 64 years old

A recent Retirement Survey revealed that while 68% of Canadians are currently saving for retirement, 70% are worried that they are not saving enough. According to the findings, the average Canadian expects to need $697,000 in retirement savings, less than the average amount of $753,000 expected back in 2017. Findings from the 2019 Scotiabank Investment Poll also suggest that retirement planning has taken a back seat due to more immediate financial priorities. Only 23% of Canadians considered saving for retirement a top priority, down 9 points from 2017. As well, 66% of Canadians are concerned that they have underestimated how much money they will need in retirement and nearly half (47%) are concerned they will need to rely on family for financial assistance.

Personal Wellbeing

Queen’s research indicates clear link between meditation and stress reduction

New collaborative research at Queen’s University Belfast and Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia aims to better understand the link between meditation and improved mental health outcomes. Despite the growing popularity of meditation practice around the world to address a number of health issues, there is limited evidence to support this. While stress is common among everyone at some point, persistent stress can eventually contribute to disease and mental illness. The endocrine system is particularly important in the management of stress but the functioning of the endocrine system and wellbeing have been scarcely investigated. The research team reviewed a large number of previous studies and analysed how meditation impacted a number of hormones related to stress. The study, now published in Cell Press, found a connection between meditation, the endocrine system and health and wellbeing.


Amphibians and reptiles face more threats than other at-risk species

A new WWF-Canada study published in the scientific journal FACETS reveals that amphibians and reptiles face more threats than any other group of at-risk species in Canada. WWF-Canada specialist Jessica Currie, who led the study, found that Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife (COSEWIC) assessed at-risk species across the country face five threats on average while amphibians and reptiles face seven threats on average. Of the 180 species analyzed in the report, wood turtles were among the most threatened species. Found in Ontario, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, this turtle faces nine out of 11 threats, leading to an overall decline in population.

Service Industry Shortage

Restaurants Canada recruits Thomas International to help employers find the right talent for their business

In the face of ongoing labour shortages in the foodservice industry and the struggle to recruit the right talent, Restaurants Canada is proud to announce its new partnership with Thomas International, who have since 1981 helped over 32,000 companies worldwide recruit, retain and develop the right people for their business. Through this partnership, Restaurants Canada members will receive preferred access to the Thomas International Personality Profile Assessment (PPA test), a personality test which employers administer to evaluate candidates' character traits in a more thorough way to determine whether they will be a proper fit for the job. In just eight minutes, the Thomas International assessment will give employers powerful insight into their candidates and their fit to a specific job role, which enhances the quality of hires and increases retention. “Many businesses today struggle to find the right talent. Through these straightforward, easy to understand assessments, we hope to give those who do any type of hiring a leg up to ensure they are recruiting the right people for the position,” said Christopher Barry, Director of Membership at Restaurants Canada.

Distraction @ work

57 percent of Canadians are distracted, lose up to 2 hours of productivity each workday

Close to 60 percent of Canadians report they battle distraction at work — resulting in up to two hours of lost productivity every day — according to a new national survey commissioned by iQ Offices, the largest Canadian-owned coworking company, featuring workspaces designed for productivity. According to the iQ Offices Productivity at Work Survey of 1,500+ Canadians, fielded by Maru/Blue in January 2020, the vast majority (57 percent) of Canadian adults agree “it’s easy to get distracted in my workplace.” Those under 35 are most distracted – a whopping 68 percent agreed.


February 19, 2020

Picklers Unite! St. Mary’s Pickleball Cardiac Classic aims to perk your pulse this Heart Month

The Waterloo Pickleball Club will host players of all skill levels in a fun & friendly tournament supporting St. Mary’s Regional Cardiac Care Centre February 19th – 21st, 2020, on the courts at RIM Park Manulife Sportsplex. “Playing Pickleball provides a boost to the entire cardiovascular system, which helps to lower blood pressure and prevent stroke or heart attack. As well, the smaller court format of pickleball gives you a good aerobic workout without much stress and strain on joints and muscles, which can be a concern with other racquet sports.” Endorses Dr. Matt Chamberlain, Medical Director of St. Mary’s Cardiac Rehabilitation Program. www.supporstmarys.ca/pickleball

February 20, 2020

Greater Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber of Commerce 2020 Business Excellence Awards Nominees!

The Business Excellence Awards Gala is a celebration that recognizes Greater Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber members who have made exceptional contributions through their involvement and leadership in the community. AND THE NOMINEES ARE...

March 26, 2020

St. Mary's She Shares

Personal finance expert, Kelly Keehn will share wisdom related to the unique financial journey of women at St. Mary’s She Shares luncheon. By 2024, three generations of women in Canada are destined to control an estimated $3 trillion or 46% of personal wealth, are they ready? On March 26th, better equip yourself with a solid financial foundation, now, and in the future. Join women from across Waterloo Region for a luncheon with speaker Kelley Keehn, Canadian finance educator, award-winning author, and consumer advocate for the financial planning standards council. Learn more and get tickets at

November 5 - 7, 2020

Board Governance Boot Camp

Capacity Canada presents our annual Manulife Board Governance BootCamp November 5, 6 & 7, 2020 at the Doubletree by Hilton in Kitchener. This BootCamp delivers practical governance training to non-profit Boards and equips them with relevant action plans that will deliver a noticeable performance improvement in their boardrooms.

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