Canucks’ Sportsbar is the place to be

New restaurant offers in-house atmosphere for fans
The Sportsbar LIVE! at Rogers Arena has 104 new in-arena seats offering a restaurant atmosphere, in-seat dining privileges, and an unobstructed view of the ice

It’s the perfect one-two punch of hockey inside Rogers Arena’s newest restaurant, The Sportsbar. Blasted across the 100-plus 4K HDTVs, the Canadian junior team is laying waste to the Swedes in the semi-final of the world championship.

Down on ice level, the Canucks are beating up on the Arizona Coyotes, adding another win to their streak and inching closer to a wild-card spot in the Western Conference.

The Sportsbar is the latest offering from the Canucks, with a full-on restaurant-bar atmosphere chock full of some of the best wings in the city and more screens than you can shake a composite stick at. But here, as the Canucks play down on ice level, the fun becomes surround sound. Fans walk in off the street, chomp on food, down beer and feel like they’re feet from the action – which is true. Open three hours prior to puck drop or during any major sporting event, The Sportsbar also offers club seats for season members where patrons can view the game live with unrestricted sightlines.

One of these seats is occupied by Matthew Breech, co-founder and chief executive officer for TallGrass, a Vancouver-based manufacturer and distributor of whole-food supplements and natural beauty products. Breech said he bought the season tickets because he gets the best of both worlds, a world-class bar atmosphere while he watches live world-class hockey.

“It’s nice, for me, to be able to go to the game and sit there and eat dinner, to be honest,” he said. “Usually you go to the game, and it’s dinnertime, 7 p.m., and you’re sitting there and kind of eating a burger and spilling your beer on your neighbour. So now it’s nice to sit and enjoy a steak and drink a bottle of wine if you’re taking a client to a game.”

Overhead, dynamic lighting is programmed to highlight the not-to-be-missed moments during live sporting events that are also captured on the 4K HD-TV screens anchored throughout the space

Breech is one of many who have already bought into the new idea, and fans are lining up at the door. Reservations can be made for a host of games and events, from NFL playoff football to Ultimate Fighting Championship fights. Breech said he’s already taken multiple clients to his seats, a pitch-perfect way to cement a relationship.

“We like to get to know our clients on a personal level, and it’s always nice when you can do that when you’re breaking bread together,” he said. “We can go for dinner or lunch or just have a meeting together, but a hockey game is just a nice casual way to hang out.”

Inside The Sportsbar between periods, DJ Barron S spins tracks to keep the restaurant lively, and the 90-foot bar with 62 beer taps is decked out to look like a sheet of ice. The restaurant’s centrepiece is a 16+ foot projection screen, giving everyone in the place a premium vantage point. It’s here we meet Dave Whitworth, director for the Aquilini Restaurant Group. When asked for a word to describe the place, he’s got no shortage of adjectives.

“Lively, high-octane, high-energy, spirited, fun, sociable – that’s how I’d describe it.”

The Sportsbar’s multi-purposed design speaks to the vast draw of the room that ranges from young professionals to die-hard sports and entertainment fans

Whitworth gives us a tour, showing us some of the small touches that make The Sportsbar a one-of-a-kind offering. There’s a display of 120 hockey sticks, game-used from various NHL superstars. The walls have been constructed with lighting all around to flash red after a goal, and we get a sneak peak of the party room, a private space that can host up to 56 people and another 74 for in-arena seating.

Canucks Chief Operating Officer Jeff Stipec pops in for a quick interview, outlining how The Sportsbar fits into the team and Aquilini family’s vision when it comes to offering first-class entertainment.

“The Sportsbar is truly one of a kind in North America and no other venue in town offers fans as much atmosphere, both for live Canucks games and big events on TV,” he said. “Some diehard fans want to sit and focus on the game. So we have created an environment for those who come here purely for the game. But we also offer an unmatched option for casual fans who want to come for a night out, where hockey or the game on TV is part of their experience but it’s not the entire experience. In a very short time, The Sportsbar has already become the city’s favourite sports and entertainment venue.”

 

The upscale 14,000 square foot venue is the first-of-its-kind in North America to fuse an exceptional sports and dining experience with the energy and excitement of the bowl

The Sportsbar

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Treaty rights trump minerals rights: province

Companies claim land transfer is de facto expropriation without consultation
Joan Young, who is representing junior mining companies in a court this week, says province doesn't think companies have right to procedural fairness in interim treaty land transactions.

Junior exploration companies with mineral claims throughout the province have no right to know when the government is secretly negotiating interim treaties that the junior sector fears could result in de facto expropriation without consultation.

That’s what government officials are now openly admitting to the courts, according to the law firm representing a junior mining company that is seeking a judicial review of the provincial government’s decision to hand over Crown land, to which the company holds minerals rights, to a First Nation as part of an interim treaty agreement.

The BC Supreme Court is scheduled this week to begin hearing an application from China Minerals Mining Corp. (TSX-V:CMV) and Cassiar Gold Corp.

The companies argue that the B.C. government essentially expropriated their mineral claims when it secretly handed over land parcels to the Kaska Dena. The companies argue that the Kaska Dena’s own plans for a run-of-river hydroelectric project might have prevented the claims from ever being exploited.

The government disagrees, saying it was merely a transfer of land ownership from the Crown to a First Nation, which does not extinguish subsurface mineral claims.

The government is also arguing that a judicial review would be moot now and should not proceed, because it has since decided to take the land back and offer other land parcels instead, after the project the Kaska Dena wanted to develop became “unfeasible.”

The companies disagree and say an important legal question needs to be resolved with respect to treaty rights trumping mineral rights.

According to Joan Young, the McMillan LLP lawyer representing the two mining companies, the provincial government has admitted in its response to the application for judicial review that it doesn’t think it has any obligation to inform claim holders when it is negotiating a transfer of ownership in interim treaty negotiations.

“The government is now on record as having told our client – and the court in its written submissions – that it feels it owes no duty of procedural fairness and consultation to third parties holding mineral titles when entering into treaty-related agreements,” Young said. “That is an astonishing position which we have never seen stated before.”

In its response, the government maintained that there is no obligation for procedural fairness with respect to mineral claims holders: “The petitioners frame the right sought in terms analogous to the duty of consultation and accommodation owed by the Crown to First Nations, although they are not First Nations and enjoy no constitutional basis to assert procedural fairness rights.”

Young said her clients believe the judicial review should go ahead, despite the fact that the original concern over the two parcels of land may now be a moot point. There is a bigger question for the courts to address, she said.

“We’re arguing, as a legal position, that it’s not moot because some of the remedies we’ve asked [from] the courts are ones that would have ongoing application, such as a declaration that we are entitled to procedural fairness.”

The Association for Mineral Exploration BC (AME BC) is also urging the court to hear the application.

Mineral tenure holders in B.C. have no idea what the government might be negotiating behind closed doors with First Nations. The companies argue they have a right to be informed when the government is negotiating the transfer of title that might have mineral claims attached to it.

AME BC has raised concerns about mineral rights in the Cariboo, where the provincial government is negotiating the transfer of land to the Tsilhqot’in First Nation under the Nenqay Deni Accord.

That accord was developed in response to the 2014 Supreme Court of Canada Williams decision, which granted rights and title to the Tsilhqot’in over some of their traditional territory.

“The AME BC is aware of other instances of mineral tenure holders in British Columbia being impacted by agreements between the province and First Nations,” AME BC president Gavin Dirom stated in an affidavit before the court. “And the AME BC believes that judicial clarity on the relationship between third-party rights and the Crown/First Nation agreements would be important and instructive to the mineral exploration and development industry in British Columbia.” 

nbennett@biv.com

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First Nation never consulted on foreign-buyer tax break

Tsawwassen First Nation the only Metro Vancouver developer exempt from tax
Tsawwassen First Nation Chief Bryce Williams (right) and chief administrative officer Tom McCarthy: neither sees Tsawwassen First Nation opting in to the foreign-buyer’s tax on homes any time soon | Chung Chow

Prior to announcing the foreign-buyer’s tax last August, the provincial government did not consult with Delta-based Tsawwassen First Nation (TFN) about its exclusive exemption from the 15% tax on home sales to foreign nationals in Metro Vancouver.

However, TFN chief administrative officer Tom McCarthy, who is overseeing one of the largest residential developments in B.C., said that was the right call.

“Because they were so concerned – and rightly so – about confidentiality with respect to the foreign home buyer’s tax, they chose not to chat with us in advance.”

But McCarthy said the provincial government called TFN immediately after the legislation had been tabled in the house to explain the reasoning.

TFN land would be exempt from the tax, but the band would be given the option to “opt in” if it wanted to under the Property Transfer Tax Act, which McCarthy said is unlikely.

In an email response, the Ministry of Finance said the province excluded Tsawwassen lands “from the area where the tax originally applies to allow time to talk to the Tsawwassen First Nation and evaluate the influence of foreign buyers on Tsawwassen lands.”

TFN has several real estate projects already completed and others in progress, including building and selling more than 1,800 homes.

The band is developing 137 acres of residential land split into 296 condos and 194 houses plus an 18-hole golf course.

It is also selling Tsawwassen Shores, a 270-acre master-plan community of single- and multi-family homes being marketed by Aquilini Development and Construction Inc. (Townhomes start at around $599,900.)

The exemption from the foreign buyer’s tax for the properties for sale is featured prominently on the front page of the Tsawwassen Shores website. But McCarthy said foreign buyers might be averse to buying on Tsawwassen land because it’s all leasehold property, not fee-simple.

Jean Yuen, a lawyer for Boughton Law Corp. who specializes in aboriginal law and First Nations economic development, agreed. She said the typical foreign buyer might never warm to the idea of leasing property.

“My experience with prospective foreign buyers, at least those from China, is that they are looking to buy property outright,” said Yuen. “Foreign buyers may be averse to leaseholds because they appear more complicated legally, and there is a defined end date to leaseholds, even if it’s an end date that is 99 years away.”

Andrey Pavlov, a Simon Fraser University Beedie School of Business professor who specializes in real estate finance, said TFN should never have been exempt from the tax in the first place.

“Generally exempting anyone from a particular tax is a direct subsidy to them, so that would help them,” he said.

“If we need to subsidize First Nations for any reason, we should just write them a cheque. I’m very much interested in helping people, but help the people directly.” 

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Lawsuit of the week: Lafarge claims union members unlawfully blocking access to mine during bitter labour dispute at Texada quarry

Lafarge Texada Quarrying Ltd. is suing the United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union Local 816 for ...
Lafarge Texada Quarrying Ltd. is suing the United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union Local 816 for alleged unlawful picketing activity during an ongoing lockout of employees at Lafarge’s limestone quarry mine on Texada Island.

The company filed a notice of civil claim in BC Supreme Court January 3, 2017, against the union and unknown persons, claiming locked-out employees have been hurling profanities and physically blocking a van carrying management employees who have been working the mine since the lockout began on October 17, 2016.

Lafarge locked out the 70 members in the bargaining unit after the union instituted an overtime ban a month prior, according to the lawsuit. The parties’ collective agreement expired May 31, 2016, and collective bargaining began in February, continuing up to December 2016.

“Employees working at the mine during the lockout meet at an off-site location and are driven to the mine in a van,” the claim states. “The defendant union’s members have engaged in unlawful picketing activities at or near the mine, including blocking the van’s access to and from the mine and engaging in abusive and threatening behaviour of employees.”

Picketers have allegedly delayed the van for up to three hours, shining lights through its windows, yelling “scabs” at those inside.

“The unlawful activities have been increasing in duration and severity since the lockout began,” Lafarge claims. “Police have been called when vehicles have been obstructed, but have refused to intervene without an injunction.”

Meanwhile, union members have allegedly failed to follow terms of a settlement agreement reached at the end of October when the union agreed to stop blocking access to the mine.

Lafarge seeks an injunction to restrain the defendants from impeding access to the mine and damages for nuisance and interference with business, contractual and economic relations.

The allegations have not been tested or proven in court, and the union had not filed a response by press time.

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‘Tribal warfare’ hurts med-tech sector: hub founder

Infighting over limited capital harms everyone, says Innovation Boulevard player
Ryan D’Arcy, co-founder of Innovation Boulevard: “B.C.’s biggest challenge is it spends far too much energy in what I would call tribal warfare. It competes amongst itself instead of joining the global race" | Rob Kruyt

Surrey’s Health and Technology District within Innovation Boulevard continues to attract unique medical device companies, but industry insiders say the overall community needs to change its culture to stay globally competitive.

Over the past six months, as many as 20 separate medical technology companies have set up spaces within Innovation Boulevard, intensifying competition for federal grants. Neuroscientist Ryan D’Arcy, who co-founded Innovation Boulevard, said one of the main hurdles for medical technology startups remains getting enough money to turn a good idea into a profitable business.

“Every company is at a different stage and every company has got a unique problem these days,” D’Arcy said. “And so there’s no one solution in how a company is going to develop optimally from an access-to-capital standpoint.”

D’Arcy said the sector needs to tamp down its fierce competition for capital, grants and investors.

“B.C.’s biggest challenge is it spends far too much energy in what I would call tribal warfare,” he said. “It competes amongst itself instead of joining the global race.”

To help change this, Innovation Boulevard devotes a lot of time and resources toward changing the culture to stress collaboration and the “understanding that it’s a global competition that we have to come together for,” he said.

D’Arcy added that health technology hubs in B.C. only hurt each other when they remain in their silos.

“There’s far too much ‘us versus them’ within the province,” he said. “And while that’s happening, countries like Israel and the U.S. and countries in Europe are just shooting right past us.”

One of the recent arrivals at the Health and Technology District is eTreatMD, a company whose first app is LiveWith Arthritis. The app uses a smartphone camera to take pictures of the user’s hand to record and track arthritis in conjunction with a clinician. The company is pursuing approval from Health Canada and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Ramin Estifaie, a marketing and business development manager with eTreatMD, said he agrees with D’Arcy that there is room in the industry for closer collaboration.

“B.C. businesses, especially startups, are competing locally for investment, access to research facilities, clinicians willing to conduct pilot studies and clinical trials, skilled employees and government assistance programs,” Estifaie said. “They are very focused on their own individual barriers to progress, so it is often difficult to come together.”

Another company that recently set up shop within the Health and Technology District is Target Tape, started by University of British Columbia Sauder School of Business graduate Nick Seto during his final year of school in conjunction with an engineering student. Target Tape’s first product is X-Grid, designed for surgeons to better localize incisions by creating correlating grid patterns on the X-ray and the patient’s body.

The development of the firm’s second product, X-Line, which is aimed at solving the problem of distorted body-contour imaging that can occur in CT scans of obese patients, highlights the potential benefits of companies and agencies working more closely together.

“It was very useful to be in Surrey while we were developing X-Line,” Seto said. “The BC Cancer Agency was right across the street, and the radiotherapist and physicist we were working with were able to quickly test out prototypes and provide immediate in-person feedback. Some of the team at Innovation Boulevard were responsible for making the introduction.”

Seto said the biggest challenge facing Target Tape lies not in the product, but in showing how it can save time and money.

“I do think that to compete on a global scale, especially to gain more business in the U.S.A., a clear economic value proposition is needed to show savings and revenue increases for hospitals.”

ETreatMD, which originally set up in downtown Vancouver but has now shifted its focus to Surrey, has also benefited from close association with other organizations.

In May 2016, eTreatMD worked with the Arthritis Society to provide free access to a pilot study for its app. LiveWith Arthritis is now available via Apple’s (Nasdaq:AAPL) App Store, and plans are in the works for distribution through Google Play. Nick MacKinnon, the firm’s founder and vice-president of clinical product development, said the company is working on a number of other projects, among them apps for monitoring of skin ailments such as psoriasis and acne.

He said Surrey, with its large South Asian immigrant population, is a good location for clinical trials because the company aims to expand into Asian markets.

“We have a whole bunch of people [in Surrey] from Asia and South Asian backgrounds,” he said. “So [there are] different skin colours and skin types and skin histories that help us develop those markets. Whereas if you’re in a Midwest town in the U.S. you might not have that.”

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