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Calgarians welcome 2019 in freezing waters to fight human trafficking – Calgary

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About 150 people took a stand against human trafficking by taking a dip in frigid waters in Calgary on New Year’s Day.

A mermaid, a dinosaur, dart boards and Santa donning short shorts took the plunge at the 10th annual Calgary Icebreaker Polar Dip at Mahogany Beach Club.


READ MORE:
Calgarians take brave dip for a good cause

Ross Weaver and Bernie Potvin, cofounders of Old Guys in Action and the Calgary Icebreaker Polar Dip, hopped in the water first to make sure the temperature was cold enough.

“The first year we did this in Discovery Ridge, there were seven of us that did it and it was -22 C, so this seems positively balmy,” Weaver said. “It’s about 4 C, sun’s out; it’s a lovely day.”

Whether the weather was nice or not, though, the water was still near the freezing point.

“There’s no getting used to it. There’s getting in, there’s getting out, and that’s it,” Weaver said.

“We’ve had people say they can’t get the smile off their faces because it’s frozen there permanently,” he added. “They have a great time.”

All the freezing raised funds for the Servants Anonymous Foundation, an organization that provides recovery programs for women and girls who are survivors of human trafficking and sexual exploitation. As of Tuesday evening, they’re at $86,000 of their $125,000 goal.

“The average age of entering into human trafficking in Canada is 13 years old, if you can imagine that,” Weaver said. “So this is a cause that we truly believe in and we think this does great work along with Servants Anonymous Foundation.”


READ MORE:
25% of human trafficking victims in Canada are children: StatsCan

Despite tough economic times, Calgarians are stepping up, Potvin said.

“The generosity of people is just beyond anything we can imagine,” he said.

Old Guys in Action started 12 years ago when the co-founders decided to raise funds for causes by holding marathons.

“You can’t sit there when there’s this disgusting thing going on in the world,” Potvin said. “You really can’t. You’ve got to do something.”

“A little bit of pain, a little bit of awareness… we’re not alone in feeling that we have to do something.”


READ MORE:
Brave Calgarians ring in the new year with polar dip

At the event, Amazing Race Canada season four contestants Julie and Lowell Taylor sported ski bibs painted to say ‘Blonde Dipster’ and ‘Blind Dipster.’

“While I hate being cold, one: this is an adventure and we love adventure,” Julie said. “Two: the discomfort that we experience very temporarily here is minimal compared to what the victims of human trafficking experience constantly.”

“I won’t see the cold coming,” Lowell said. “I’m legally blind but I do have a little bit of vision right through the centre, but what I lack in sight I have a lot of vision — and our vision for helping other people, for adventure, and today, to really speak against the injustice that is going on in our country and around the world against the way people have been treating [people], women especially.”

The couple said they wished they would have done the polar dip in Yellowknife when they were on the show.

“Really glad to be here today among all these other crazy people,” Lowell said.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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‘Business as usual’ for Dorel Industries after terminating go-private deal

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MONTREAL — Dorel Industries Inc. says it will continue to pursue its business strategy going forward after terminating an agreement to go private after discussions with shareholders.

« Moving ahead. Business as usual, » a spokesman for the company said in an email on Monday.

A group led by Cerberus Capital Management had previously agreed to buy outstanding shares of Dorel for $16 apiece, except for shares owned by the family that controls the company’s multiple-voting shares.

But Dorel chief executive Martin Schwartz said the Montreal-based maker of car seats, strollers, bicycles and home furniture pulled the plug on a deal on the eve of Tuesday’s special meeting after reviewing votes from shareholders.

“Independent shareholders have clearly expressed their confidence in Dorel’s future and the greater potential for Dorel as a public entity, » he said in a news release.

Dorel’s board of directors, with Martin Schwartz, Alan Schwartz, Jeffrey Schwartz and Jeff Segel recused, unanimously approved the deal’s termination upon the recommendation of a special committee.

The transaction required approval by two-thirds of the votes cast, and more than 50 per cent of the votes cast by non-family shareholders.

Schwartz said enhancing shareholder value remains a top priority while it stays focused on growing its brands, which include Schwinn and Mongoose bikes, Safety 1st-brand car seats and DHP Furniture.

Dorel said the move to end the go-private deal was mutual, despite the funds’ increased purchase price offer earlier this year.

It said there is no break fee applicable in this case.

Montreal-based investment firm Letko, Brosseau & Associates Inc. and San Diego’s Brandes Investment Partners LP, which together control more than 19 per cent of Dorel’s outstanding class B subordinate shares voiced their opposition to the amended offer, which was increased from the initial Nov. 2 offer of $14.50 per share.

« We believe that several minority shareholders shared our opinion, » said Letko vice-president Stephane Lebrun, during a phone interview.

« We are confident of the long-term potential of the company and we have confidence in the managers in place.”

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Anglais

Pandemic funds helping Montreal businesses build for a better tomorrow

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Many entrepreneurs have had to tap into government loans during the pandemic, at first just to survive, but now some are using the money to better prepare their businesses for the post-COVID future.

One of those businesses is Del Friscos, a popular family restaurant in Dollard-des-Ormeaux that, like many Montreal-area restaurants, has had to adapt from a sit-down establishment to one that takes orders online for takeout or delivery.

“It was hard going from totally in-house seating,” said Del Friscos co-owner Terry Konstas. “We didn’t have an in-house delivery system, which we quickly added. There were so many of our employees that were laid off that wanted to work so we adapted to a delivery system and added platforms like Uber and DoorDash.”

Helping them through the transition were emergency grants and low-interest loans from the federal and provincial governments, some of which are directly administered by PME MTL, a non-profit business-development organization established to assist the island’s small and medium-sized businesses.

Konstas said he had never even heard of PME MTL until a customer told him about them and when he got in touch, he discovered there were many government programs available to help his business get through the downturn and build for the future. “They’ve been very helpful right from day one,” said Konstas.

“We used some of the funds to catch up on our suppliers and our rents, the part that wasn’t covered from the federal side, and we used some of it for our new virtual concepts,” he said, referring to a virtual kitchen model which the restaurant has since adopted.

The virtual kitchen lets them create completely different menu items from the casual American Italian dishes that Del Friscos is known for and market them under different restaurant brand names. Under the Prasinó Soup & Salad banner, they sell healthy Greek options and their Stallone’s Sub Shop brand offers hearty sandwiches, yet the food from both is created in the same Del Friscos kitchen.

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Downtown Montreal office, retail vacancies continue to rise

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Some of downtown Montreal’s key economic indicators are heading in the wrong direction.

Office and retail vacancies in the city’s central core continued to climb in the fourth quarter of 2020, according to a quarterly report released Thursday by the Urban Development Institute of Quebec and the Montréal Centre-Ville merchants association. The report, whose first edition was published in October, aims to paint a socio-economic picture of the downtown area.

The survey also found office space available for sublet had increased during the fourth quarter, which may foreshadow even more vacancies when leases expire. On the residential front, condo sales fell as new listings soared — a sign that the downtown area may be losing some of its appeal to homeowners.

“It’s impossible not to be preoccupied by the rapid increase in office vacancies,” Jean-Marc Fournier, the former Quebec politician who now heads the UDI, said Thursday in an interview.

Still, with COVID-19 vaccinations set to accelerate in the coming months, “the economic picture is bound to improve,” he said. “People will start returning downtown. It’s much too early to say the office market is going to disappear.”

Public health measures implemented since the start of the pandemic almost a year ago — such as caps on office capacity — have deprived downtown Montreal of more than 500,000 workers and students. A mere 4,163 university and CEGEP students attended in-person classes in the second quarter, the most recent period for which figures are available. Border closures and travel restrictions have also brought tourism to a standstill, hurting hotels and thousands of local businesses.

Seventy per cent of downtown workers carried out their professional activities at home more than three days a week during the fourth quarter, the report said, citing an online survey of 1,000 Montreal-area residents conducted last month.

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