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Business owners worry opening of St. Lawrence Market North could be delayed yet again

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The City of Toronto is insisting construction of the new St. Lawrence Market North building is on schedule for completion in 2022, but the city’s move to extend the life of the temporary structure that’s standing in for it is raising concerns that there’s yet another delay in the works.

The city says it is extending the bylaw authorizing the use of the tent at 125 The Esplanade, which serves as a temporary location for the weekly farmers’ market, so it can stay up until 2023, “by which time the new North Market building at 92 Front Street East, which is currently under construction, is expected to be complete.”

City spokesman Bruce Hawkins says construction, so far, is on schedule for completion in the spring of 2022, but he adds that the novel coronavirus has added some uncertainty.

“Work is progressing at reduced productivity levels due to the impact of  COVID-19. As a result, the temporary use zoning bylaw for the temporary building at 125 The Esplanade has been extended to October 2023 simply as a precautionary measure until the full impact of the delay is known.”

The project to replace the previous building at the northwest corner of Jarvis Street and Front Street East, which was built in 1968 and demolished in 2015, has already been plagued with delays and increasing costs. Last year, the city approved an additional $14 million, bringing the project’s total budget up to $116.3 million.

The tent at the corner of The Esplanade and Jarvis Street that serves as a temporary replacement for the St. Lawrence Market North building, seen in 2017. (Google)

The new building will feature a market, retail space, a café and an events area on the ground floor, with provincial courts and a seniors’ centre on the upper floors. There will also be an underground parking garage beneath with 250 spots.

Suzanne Kavanagh, chair of the St. Lawrence Neighbourhood Association’s development committee, has told CBC News she’s heard in meetings that the building definitely won’t be ready on schedule.

“I think what we are expecting now is the farmers and the courts tenants — I’m expecting them now in 2023,” said Kavanagh, a volunteer with the non-profit corporation that represents the more than 30,000 people in the area around St Lawrence Market.

She says it’s been a long saga to get the building on track, with a lengthy archeological assessment and then re-budgeting and re-tendering before construction could continue.

Hawkins, however, insists there’s no plan for a further delay.

“The project, awarded to The Buttcon Limited/The Atlas Corporation Joint Venture, remains within the current approved budget of $116.3 million and the current timeline, which is and always has been, completion in the spring of 2022.”

But at least one business owner inside the market building on the south side of Front Street East is worried the opening date for the north building could be delayed again.

“It would not be good. It would add more insecurity,” said Effie Tziamouranis, owner of Paddington’s Pump tavern and the secretary of the tenants’ association for the market, adding another delay would mean more complications as she deals with the continuing effects of COVID-19.

The weekly farmers’ market inside the temporary building that has replaced St. Lawrence Market North as seen in 2017. The city wants to keep the temporary tent up until 2023 as a precaution, given that the pandemic has slowed construction on the new building. (Google)

“Obviously, now we’re already facing a great deal of uncertainty, so if something like this goes through, it’s going to impact us,” she said.

She adds that she is waiting to hear about what her back rent will be. She estimates her business was down 85 per cent, but has recovered somewhat since reopening her dining area inside the tavern.

“The longer construction takes the more disruptive for us, she said.

Effie Tziamouranis, the owner of Paddington’s Pump and the secretary of the tenants’ association for the St. Lawrence Market South Building, worries more delays in the construction of the north building will hit businesses already reeling from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Philip Lee-Shanok/CBC)

During the initial excavation, archeologists found evidence of the markets on the site dating back to 1831, 1851 and 1904. They also found evidence of market activities on the location as early as 1803.

Leo and Beatrice Dileo live in the area and are market regulars. They say the delays are understandable when dealing with such a significant site.

“I think most people are patient and understanding and with the archaeological stuff it’s even better,” said Leo Dileo.

“You know they found some history, which will educate Torontonians even more.”

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Will local businesses survive the coming months?

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Businesses are feeling the pinch of a pandemic with no end in sight.

CTV’s Madison Erhardt talked with Barrie Chamber of Commerce President Todd Tuckey about how business owners are coping.

Madison: As numbers climb in the province and locally, what are business owners seeing?

Tuckey: Right now, locally, they aren’t seeing much of a difference. Some of them haven’t ramped up to pre-pandemic, but all in all, they are doing okay generally.

Madison: With the cooler weather upon us, what are business owners who rely on patio and outdoor spaces seeing and doing?

Tuckey: Recently, Doug Downey, our attorney general, announced that he is going to allow patios to stay open right until January 1st at 3 a.m., but the question is for patios; how do they handle it?

Can they deal with the snow load? What do they do for heaters?

At least he has made it available to them so that they can try and generate some revenue, because probably for quite a while in the future it is going to be limited indoor capacity.

Madison: How many business owners are telling you they won’t make it through the next couple of months?

Tuckey: The businesses are more concerned about the C.E.R.B., which goes into a blended unit on the 27th of this month, so it is going to drop off and go more to an E.I. model, and businesses are really looking forward to that because businesses are struggling right now finding employees.

The jobs are certainly there, but the people are not applying, and I think it’s C.E.R.B. that is really killing it.

Madison: Are business owners defaulting on rents? Is there anything that can help them survive?

Tuckey: Rent is a tough one because there is a rent subsidy that is being offered by the government, but the landlord has to take part in that for them to qualify, and the landlord is still running a business themselves.

If they start applying and accepting the subsidy, that means the landlords are getting less money and can they even afford to keep the properties managed at the level that you want.

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Integrating circuits – How Nvidia’s purchase of Arm could open new markets | Business

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WHEN SOFTBANK, a Japanese technology group, paid $32bn for Arm in 2016, it was the biggest deal in chipmaking history. That record held until September 13th, when Nvidia, a big American chipmaker, announced its intention to buy the Britain-based chip-designer for $40bn.

Although they share an industry, Arm and its prospective owner are very different. Nvidia makes GPUs: pricey, specialised accelerator chips for gamers and artificial-intelligence number-crunching in data centres. Arm licenses blueprints for general-purpose chips used in everything from smartphones to cars and computerised gizmos that make up the “Internet of Things” (IoT). Customers ship more than 20bn Arm-designed chips every year.

Arm’s keystone position was SoftBank’s rationale for buying the firm. But it has languished under Japanese ownership. Revenues have stagnated, and the firm has made a small but persistent loss (see chart). Geoff Blaber at CCS Insight, a firm of analysts, blames a slowdown in the smartphone market, and low margins on IoT gear. Arm’s $40bn valuation is only 25% higher than when SoftBank bought it—and just 5% higher if you deduct the $1.5bn Nvidia has offered Arm employees to stop them from leaving and a mysterious $5bn cash or stock payout that SoftBank may qualify for under some conditions. Meanwhile, Nvidia’s market capitalisation, four years ago not much bigger than what SoftBank paid for Arm, now stands at $309bn. Its sales have surged.

One motive for Nvidia’s purchase is a desire to expand beyond its existing markets. Arm’s technology could help it build its own versions of the general-purpose processors that power the data-centre computers into which Nvidia’s accelerators are installed, a lucrative market dominated by Intel, the world’s biggest chipmaker by revenue. Nvidia, for its part, hopes that baking its GPU expertise into Arm’s designs will make them more attractive to the firm’s customers.

Those customers, which include Apple, Qualcomm and Samsung, have kept a stony silence. Arm’s business model relies on being what Hermann Hauser, one of its founders, has described as “the Switzerland of the semiconductor industry”—ie, not competing with its customers by selling chips or gadgets itself. Nvidia’s purchase will threaten that neutrality if it tweaks Arm’s products to favour its own goals, or gives itself preferential access to Arm designs.

Nvidia has vowed to keep Arm’s business model intact. Having given such public assurances, says Patrick Moorhead, a chip-industry analyst, Jensen Huang, Nvidia’s boss, is unlikely to risk the opprobrium—or possible lawsuits from aggrieved licensees—that could arise from breaking them. But other analysts point out that Arm’s licensing revenues are, by Nvidia’s standards, small beer. If the Arm deal can be used to vault Nvidia into new markets, then cold commercial logic may encourage Mr Huang to push his luck. Custodians of RISCV, a set of freely available designs, lost no time in noting that it remains independent and free of such conflicts.

Regulatory problems loom, too. Britain’s government is in an interventionist mood and is likely to attach strings, such as keeping Arm’s headquarters in the country. China may also object. It is already upset over American attempts to strangle its technology firms (see article). A takeover by Nvidia would bring Arm—a crucial supplier—firmly under American control. Even in normal times, says Mr Blaber, China might balk at such a prospect. It will be even less keen in the middle of a technological cold war.

This article appeared in the Business section of the print edition under the headline “Integrating circuits”

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Eshkawkogan featured in Top 100 Magazine of country’s business professionals

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Kevin Eshkawkogan, the president and CEO of Indigenous Tourism Ontario, is featured in an issue of The Top 100 Magazine for Canadian business professionals. – Photo supplied

By Sam Laskaris

LITTLE CURRENT – Kevin Eshkawkogan had a simple request when he was approached to be featured in a prestigious magazine.

Eshkawkogan, the president and CEO of Indigenous Tourism Ontario (ITO), was asked to be in an issue of The Top 100 Magazine. The issue focusses on the Top 100 Canadian business professionals.

“They reached out to me,” said Eshkawkogan, a member of M’Chigeeng First Nation who lives in Little Current on Manitoulin Island. “They saw my name coming up in multiple places.”

Though flattered by the interest, Eshkawkogan stressed he was not interested in an article strictly about him. He wanted the focus to be on the ITO.

“They wanted to do the story on me, just as an individual,” he said. “But the work I do is not for my well-being, it’s for the community good. I didn’t think it should just be a celebration of the work I do. It’s a celebration of the Indigenous tourism work we do.”

Besides being a member of M’Chigeeng First Nation, Eshkawkogan also has plenty of connections with a pair of other First Nations on Manitoulin Island.

His mother is from the Aundeck Omni Kaning First Nation, which is also where his current business office is located. And his father is from Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory, while his stepfather is a M’Chigeeng First Nation member.

As of this year, the ITO had more than 550 Indigenous tourism business members. The association also has about 300 members that represent non-Indigenous tourism businesses.

Eshkawkogan admits the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has been a tremendous blow to many ITO members this year.

Restrictions forced many of those businesses to close their doors for months. And even many of those that have been able to recently open up again are facing significant losses and financial difficulties.

“Businesses are still closing, basically daily,” Eshkawkogan said. “We’re crossing our fingers some of these will be temporary.”

Indigenous tourism businesses in Ontario cover many sectors, including restaurants and businesses offering cultural experiences, camping, hotels, lodges and tours.

Eshkawkogan believes there is and will continue to be a great need for Indigenous tourism businesses in the province. And he’s confident that one day, the industry will once again be a booming one.

“Indigenous people are very resilient people,” he said. “And Indigenous tourism businesses are resilient. We’ve got a great recipe to come back even stronger.”

As an example, Eshkawkogan mentioned Anishinaabe/Algonquin chef Johl Whiteduck Ringuette, who closed his popular NishDish restaurant in Toronto recently.

“He’s very much a forward-thinker,” Eshkawkogan said. “I know they’re going to come back.”

Eshkawkogan realizes, however, it is going to take some time for the Indigenous tourism industry to recover in the province.

ITO has created a five-year strategic and COVID-19 recovery plan.

“We will be back, stronger than ever,” he said.

Eshkawkogan added the ITO officials have realized since March how much of an impact the pandemic will have on the Indigenous tourism industry in the province.

The ITO released information on the potential economic impacts the pandemic would have in both March and April. And ITO released its recovery plan in June.

“We’re proud of the work we do with Indigenous tourism businesses in Ontario,” he said.

Eshkawkogan is also heavily involved in hockey. He is currently the District 7 council director for the Northern Ontario Hockey Association.



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