Weekly Regional Business Intelligence

“All progress takes place outside the comfort zone.” — Michael John Bobak

Same old, same old: Repitilias request for bylaw exception which stretches back over two council terms stalls yet again

City officials yet again held a long and contentious debate over a request from Reptilia for a bylaw exemption to would allow exotic reptiles to be displayed at the zoo’s new Westmount Mall location, slated to open soon. Reptilia has been seeking this exemption since 2018, when their first request failed. Since then, they’ve nearly finished a $2-million renovation, and are asking London’s new council to again consider granting the exemption. Why can’t Londoners have this incredible asset?” said Ward 4 Councillor Susan Stevenson. “They are here and they have invested millions. Now, what are we going to do? Make the best of it . . . or say no based on some old rule.”


The upshot: In the end, the decision was to decide later about the future of the alligators: the committee voted four to one to have city staff study the issue and decide for good in the new year. Reptilia is an accredited zoo company with two existing locations, but the unique regulatory structure around exotic animals in Ontario — where the province has permissive exotic animal laws but allows municipalities to restrict them via bylaws — tends to create a lot of room for municipal pushback, slowing down an otherwise straightforward process. “We’re not dealing with the Lickety Split Zoo or anything like that,” said Reptilia lawyer Michael Lerner. “This is a major, major attraction. his is a win-win for everybody. Why wouldn’t they just approve this and get on with it?”

Read more: Global News | London Free Press

Ho-ho, uh-oh! Even Christmas tree sellers are grappling with supply-chain woes

Get ready to shell out big bucks for your Christmas tree this year, say area sellers. Low supply and steady demand for Christmas trees mean they don’t have enough trees to sell through to Christmas, with prices this year running between $50 and $90. In an interview with the London Free Press, Tom Dunn of Dunn’s Tree Farm, a family-run operation northeast of Tillsonburg, said: “Normally, we sell trees until about the 21st or 22nd. But we’ll probably be done by the 15th because we don’t have enough trees. We have fields coming on, but they’re still three years away from what we need.”


The upshot: The industry is pointing to a few different causes for the uptick in price and downtick in supply. The usual suspects play a part — high costs for fuel and fertilizer are increasing prices. So did a dry growing season, which starved some farms of rain, plus the loss of over 6,000 acres of Christmas tree farmland in the last decade. In response, Christmas tree sellers are urging tree-hunters to consider some alterations. “We’re asking people to step out of their comfort zone. If you’re used to getting eight-foot Fraser fir, you might have to go to Canaan fir. You might have to look outside your box and try something new,” said Shirley Brennan, executive director of Christmas Tree Farmers of Ontario.

Read more: London Free Press

Technology that transforms waste plastics into renewable fuels ready for customer trials

Aduro Clean Technologies announced on Thursday that it had completed construction and assembly of its “pilot-scale Hydrochemolytic continuous flow plastic reactor” (perhaps better known as the R2 Plastic Reactor). The details of what the reactor does are complicated, to say the least, but essentially it works by using a novel chemical conversion process to turn waste plastic into renewable fuels. The reactor has been assembled and built in Sarnia, but is slated to be moved to the company’s new facility in the Newbold Business Park here in London.


The upshot: The R2 Reactor is described as “a major building block towards commercialization and is part of several significant projects the company has undertaken over the last year,” said the company’s CEO Ofer Vicus. The company plans to roll this into the development of the R3 Plastic unit, the company’s pre-commercial unit and the next scale-up step before finalizing the plans for a commercial unit design. “With the planned commissioning of R2 Plastic and the commencement of the planned customer trial program, the team at Aduro is very excited to be approaching this pivotal stage for the company,” Vicus added. 

Read more: Engineer Live | Market Screener


The importance of giving back

The importance of giving back to society can’t be understated. When you give back, you’re able to better the lives of the people around you – your loved ones, the people in your community or the lives of people somewhere else in the world. And finding meaning by giving back to the community doesn’t just benefit others – it benefits you, your business and your coworkers. 

Learn more here
giphy image

Equal to 11 football fields, the Maple Leaf Foods London poultry plant begins operation

Earlier this week, production officially began at the new $772-million Maple Leaf Foods poultry plant on Wilton Grove Road. “This is an exciting day for Maple Leaf Foods and an exciting day for Canada,” said CEO Michael H. McCain. “Our London plant is one of the world's largest and most technologically advanced poultry processing facilities and shows how Maple Leaf Foods can serve growing markets and maintain its strong commitment to sustainability leadership.”


The upshot: There is certainly lots of buzz around this 660,000-square-foot facility ― a big addition to the city’s flourishing food processing sector and a big job creator. About 400 people work there now, and the company is hoping to expand to around 1,600 workers as it ramps up toward the end of next year. A recent job fair at the facility drew “a steady stream” of applicants, many of whom saw this as a long-term employment opportunity. According to Maple Leaf, the facility is expected to generate around $100 million in annual profits by the end of 2023. 

Read more: CTV London

Citys hospitality sector benefitting from a return to holiday celebrations

After two years of curtailed holiday parties, the industry appears to be back in full swing this year, with restaurants and banquet facilities noting a considerable uptick in bookings. “This year, we had our first Christmas party already booked in July, but we're still booking as the days go on,” said Culinary Catering Services catering event manager Jessica Mitchell. “I feel like the animated objects in Beauty and the Beast, where it's like we actually have a purpose of doing something this year.”


The upshot: This will no doubt be welcome news to places like Sunningdale Golf and Country Club — venues that have been starved for bookings for more than two years. “Obviously, this is way better than 2020 and 2021, where there were literally zero Christmas parties,” Brad Adams, general manager at Sunningdale Golf and Country Club, told the CBC. Restaurants, too, are benefitting from the large bookings that holiday parties bring. “We're starting to see a lot more social gatherings for holiday get-togethers and Christmas dances with corporate events,” Nicole Keenan of the Four Points by Sheraton told the CBC. “So it's been a lot different this year.”

Read more: CBC London

TechAlliance announces Limitless 2023 award finalists

TechAlliance of Southwestern Ontario has unveiled a list of 12 finalists for the third edition of its Limitless awards, a pandemic-era creation that highlights innovative companies and entrepreneurs in the region’s economy. Finalists for the Breakthrough Award are FluidAI Medical , Step Sciences and Tenomix. For the Gamechanger Award, the nominees are Food Security Structure Canada, LBMX Inc., and SoilOptix. For the Scaleup Award, the finalists are ChargerQuest, Polar Imaging and Mobials Inc. And finally, for the Forthcomer Award, the individual nominees are Aaron Johnstone of Peacasa Snacks, Nadia Ladak of Marlow, and William Wang of Terra Optima Labs.


The upshot: Recognizing the achievements of founders and entrepreneurs devloping creative solutions in technology, TechAlliance is again bringing the region’s tech innovators to the forefront. “Fuelling Canada's economy are innovators, change-makers and trailblazers who are propelling economic growth through the power of tech and innovation,” said TechAlliance CEO Christina Fox. “The finalists for this year reflect the grit, persistence and integrity that exists within this ecosystem, and we are eager to celebrate those accelerating change and growth.” The awards will be handed out on February 8 at the awards gala at The Factory ― marking the first time the Limitless awards will celebrate in-person. Voting is also open for The People’s Choice Award, which selects one of the above 12 finalists by popular vote. 

Read more: TechAlliance

Dispatch: December 2, 2022

A summary of recent business appointments and announcements, plus event listings for the upcoming week.

View listings here

LinkedIn Share This Email