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Iceberg alley shouldn’t be littered by plastic bags, say Twillingate stores

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Waves of Change is a CBC series exploring the single-use plastic we’re discarding, and why we need to clean up our act. You can be part of the community discussion by joining our Facebook group.

Four major stores in the Twillingate area have ditched the plastic bag in response to a push from the local DFO detachment.

Starting this month, shoppers at grocery stores in the area will only be offered cloth or paper options, as the shops accepted a challenge from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to go plastic-free. The challenge officially started on Friday, although some stores made the switch earlier.

« Today is day one, so far, so good, » said Colin Stuckless, owner of the Stuckless Freshmart in Durrell on Friday.

« If we could do our little bit, and someone else does a little bit, maybe it adds up to a big amount. »

Judy Hillier shows off the reusable bag her detachment distributed to grocery stores in Twillingate. The DFO detachment created a tender for the bag, and bought 6,000 to hand out in the community. (Garrett Barry/CBC)

Customers at the Freshmart are being offered free reusable cloth bags, which were provided to the store by the DFO, at the checkouts.

Judy Hillier, a clerk at the Twillingate DFO detachment who lead the plastic-bag project, said 6,000 bags were bought by the detachment and distributed to the community.

« I mean, it’s part of the DFO mandate to protect species in the ocean, so if we can prevent plastic bags from making its way there, why not? » 

Along with the Freshmart, the two Foodland stores and the Independent store in the area have signed up. And if customers are complaining, Stuckless hasn’t heard it.

« Actually, response has been great, » he said. « We have a Facebook page that we put on to let people know what was going on, and it was a really great response, people all seemed to be in favour of this, because we’re hearing it all over the world now about plastic issues. »

Think of the turtles

Hillier said the impact of the plastic bag is obvious in Twillingate — all you need to do is visit the beaches in the summer.

« Plastic bags, they don’t dissolve. They don’t break up and go away. They break up, they rip up, they become micro-plastics … all of it ends up in the food chain, it’s ingested by all different types of sea creatures, » she said.

« We’ve been involved in Beach Cleanups over the years, there’s plastics on the beach everywhere. There are plastic bags ending up in the environment, in the trees, it’s everywhere. »

David Burt said he likes the sturdier handles on the reusable bags. (Garrett Barry/CBC)

The project isn’t a ban on plastic bags in the community. Instead, it’s an opt-in challenge that DFO offered to grocery stores in the area last fall.

« This is the first time we’ve done anything like this, to this degree, so we chose to go local just to see how this would go, » Hillier said.

Don’t forget your bags

Shoppers at Durell’s Freshmart on Friday morning said they supported the project — even if not all of them remembered to bring the bags they have already picked up.

« Once we forgot, but from now on we won’t forget, » said David Burt.

He said his nephew, Shawn Bath — who dives in the waters near Twillingate to clean up junk from the ocean — has told him of all kinds of garbage he finds underwater. It’s part of the reason he supports the ban.

Josephine Cutler said she’s likely to reduce her bag consumption in total thanks to the new reusable bag. « I loves those bags, » she said. « Because with the plastic ones, you gathers them up in your house, and you got a mess. With those, they are stronger. » (Garrett Barry/CBC)

He also thinks his new cloth bags will be much less likely to find a landfill than the plastics that he used in the past.

« They’re blowing out of people’s pickups, they’re all over the road, » he said. « Something like [the new bags], you’ll be more careful not to blow it away. » 

Doreen Gates was one of the few customers on Friday who remembered to bring their own reusable bag. She said she supports the plastic bag elimination, and wants to send less garbage to landfills. (Garrett Barry/CBC)

Hillier said she expects to see less plastic on the shores when next summer comes. In fact, it’s part of how she’s planning to evaluate the project.

« Success is when no more plastic bags are being given out by these grocery stores, people are bringing their own re-useable bags, » she said.

« Success will be when we see less plastic washing up on the beaches. »

Join the discussion on the CBC Waves of Change Facebook group, or send us an email: wavesofchange@cbc.ca.

Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

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Anglais

‘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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