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Deal reached between Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and RCMP over road access for pipeline company

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After three days of talks with the RCMP, the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs say an agreement has been reached over the enforcement of an interim injunction order to allow pipeline workers into the nation’s traditional territory.

Hereditary​ chiefs met Thursday in Smithers, B.C., with the RCMP and representatives from Coastal GasLink.

They have agreed to allow the company access to do pre-construction work as specified in the interim injunction order for the time being, following arrests on Monday.

“We are adamantly opposed to this proposed project and that will never change, but we are here to ensure the safety of our people,” said Chief Na’Moks who attended Thursday’s meeting.

Coastal GasLink president Rick Gateman spoke briefly to reporters after the meeting, describing the talks as productive and respectful.

“As a result of these discussions, we have worked out many of the details that are required for us to have free access to the bridge and beyond,” he said.

The Coastal GasLink project is run by TransCanada Corp., now officially known as TC Energy, and is meant to move natural gas from northeastern B.C. to the coast, where a liquefied natural gas project is scheduled for construction.

Wet’suwet’en members had set up checkpoints on a remote stretch of forest service road and a bridge preventing people working on the project from accessing their traditional territory, which sits about 300 kilometres west of Prince George, B.C.

President of Coastal GasLink pipeline Rick Gateman leaves the office of the Wet’suwet’en after meeting with RCMP members and hereditary chiefs to discuss ways of ending the pipeline impasse on Wet’suwet’en in Smithers, B.C., on Thursday. (Chad Hipolito/Canadian Press)

On Monday, RCMP officers moved in on one checkpoint to enforce the injunction.

Fourteen people were arrested and the chiefs said they’re concerned about community members who were there, saying it was a traumatic experience. “That will never happen to our people again,” Na’Moks said of Monday’s enforcement actions at the Gidimt’en checkpoint.

Ironing out conditions

Thursday’s meetings were aimed at ironing out concerns raised Wednesday evening regarding some of the conditions  the chiefs wanted met in order to allow Coastal GasLink workers and contractors into the area.

For example, they wanted to know if the RCMP will allow the people at the Unist’ot’en camp to keep the gate up at the entrance to their camp.

After talks wrapped on Thursday, hereditary​ chiefs said Coastal GasLink will be allowed “soft access” through the territory for the time being. The company will be permitted to remove obstructions on a bridge where the checkpoint is still in place. Chiefs said one metal gate will remain in place.

The chiefs have said Thursday’s deal doesn’t mean they’re consenting to the Coastal GasLink pipeline being built through their traditional territory. “This is not consultation or accommodation in any sense,” said Na’Moks.

Coastal GasLink applied for an injunction at the B.C. Supreme Court in November, stating people at the Unist’ot’en camp were preventing their workers from gaining access through the forest service road. Coastal GasLink requested an interim injunction while the matter was working through the courts so pre-construction work could begin.

With that interim injunction granted, the RCMP has been tasked with ensuring access is granted as stated by the courts.

LNG Canada, whose liquefied natural gas export terminal the pipeline connects to, issued a statement Thursday afternoon touting local support for the project and its economic benefits. 

“Despite opposition Coastal GasLink is currently facing, LNG Canada has every intention to continue to advance our project and maintain our construction schedule to deliver jobs and economic benefits to First Nations, local residents and British Columbians,” CEO Andy Calitz said.

“Projects like our own provide an opportunity that many First Nations and northern communities have not had before and may not see again.”

Calitz said further construction delays could jeopardize investor confidence in energy projects in B.C. and Canada.

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Future of Ottawa: Chefs with Kathryn Ferries

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This week in the Future of Ottawa series, we’re taking a deep dive into the bar and restaurant industry—what it’s like now and where it’s headed. Read on for a guest post from Kat Ferries on the future of chefs, or read posts from Quinn Taylor on bars or Justin Champagne on fine dining.

Kat Ferries is Sous-Chef at Stofa Restaurant and a 2020 San Pellegrino North American Young Chef Social Responsibility Award Winner.

Apt613: What is the current landscape for chefs in Ottawa?

Kat Ferries: There is such great talent in Ottawa with so many chefs either being from here originally or have returned after traveling and have since opened some incredible restaurants. Many chefs have focused menus that really highlight their strengths, their heritage, and their passion for food. Dominique Dufour of Gray Jay, Marc Doiron of Town/Citizen, Steve Wall of Supply & Demand, Daniela Manrique Lucca of The Soca Kitchen, and so many more are all cooking up beautiful and delicious food in this city.

If you care to make a prediction… Where is the food industry in Ottawa going for chefs in 2021?

The industry right now is, unfortunately, in a really tough spot. The pandemic has been so devastating on mental, physical and emotional levels for so many and I know that many of my friends in this industry are burning out. There are many discussions happening on work/life balance and what is healthy for everyone. Some may never return to the long, hard hours we are expected to put in day after day and instead opt for a more flexible schedule or hire more staff to lighten the load on everyone, with some even leaving the industry indefinitely. Some may throw themselves back into this industry 10x as hard and create some of the best restaurants and concepts we’ve yet to see. I think all that will happen after the pandemic though.

For this year, it’s mostly about survival and finding happiness in creating what we can in the spaces we have while following all the laws and guidelines from public health officials. I think we will see more chefs creating experiences for guests that we otherwise wouldn’t have: think pop-ups, virtual dinner clubs, cocktail seminars, collabs, etc.

Where in your wildest dreams could the Ottawa culinary community grow in your lifetime?

I would love to see the Ottawa community support more small, local restaurants so our streets are bustling late into the nights like they are in Montreal, New York, or Europe. Having a local restaurant to frequent should be so much more commonplace, where you can enjoy a night out more often than just Friday or Saturday night. I would also love to see many more of our local chefs highlighted for the amazing food they create!

What is the best innovation to take place in your industry since the pandemic started affecting Ottawa?

Turning all our restaurants into mini-markets for customers to enjoy the food and wine of their favourite places at home. We have bottle shops for all your wine, beer and cocktail needs as well as menus that reflect what each restaurant does best. Some have even pivoted to a point where they are 100% a store and have paused any type of “service-style” dining.

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Future of Ottawa: Fine Dining with Justin Champagne

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This week in the Future of Ottawa series, we’re taking a deep dive into the bar and restaurant industry—what it’s like now and where it’s headed. Read on for a guest post from Justin Champagne on the future of fine dining, or read posts from Kathryn Ferries on chefs or Quinn Taylor on bars.

Justin Champagne went to culinary school at Northwest Culinary Academy of Vancouver. He got his start in fine dining restaurants at C Restaurant under Chef Robert Clark, then at Hawksworth Restaurant under Chef Eligh. He staged at three-Michelin-starred Atelier Crenn under Chef Dominque Crenn before moving to Ottawa and spending five years at Atelier, working his way up to Sous-Chef. He’s now the Head Chef of Bar Lupulus.

Apt613: What is the current landscape of fine dining restaurants in Ottawa?

Justin Champagne: Ottawa punches well above its weight class when it comes to quality restaurants in general. Fine dining is no exception to that—we have some amazing chefs here that are doing really great things. We also have some phenomenal sommeliers in town that are a huge factor when it comes to a guest’s experience in a fine dining restaurant. While there are some fantastic fine dining restaurants in town I do believe there’s room for more, and definitely room for more creativity and unique styles of cooking! I think we’ll see more small fine dining restaurants opening up, “micro-restaurants” where there’s maybe 20 seats. This will be over the next few weeks as the industry did take a big hit financially with COVID-19, but we still have a lot of great young chefs who have the fire inside of them to open their own location!

If you care to make a prediction… Where is fine dining going in Ottawa in 2021?

I’m not sure it’ll be 2021 or 2022 with the way the vaccine rollout and stay-at-home order is going, but I do expect there to be a wave of people looking to go out to fine dining restaurants. We’ve been cooped up cooking for ourselves or ordering takeout for over a year now. People are getting antsy and ready to go out and have fantastic meals again with exceptional wine and not have to worry about doing all the dishes afterwards!

Where in your wildest dreams could fine dining go in Ottawa in your lifetime?

That’s the fun part about “fine dining,” it can go anywhere and it can mean many things. Fine dining is about amazing service and well thought out, unique food that the kitchen spent hours fussing over, being meticulous in execution. Outside of that, you can have a lot of fun and be creative in different ways. My wildest dream I guess is that fine dinning restaurants begin to thrive and are able to charge without backlash the kind of prices that they need to charge in order to keep the lights on and pay their staff a proper living wage!!

What is the best innovation to take place in your industry since the pandemic started affecting Ottawa?

I’m not sure if I would really say there’s been a best “innovation” in my industry during the pandemic, but I will say that seeing the “adaptability” by all the restaurants in Ottawa has been incredibly inspiring. Ottawa’s food scene has always been a tight-knit community, “everyone helping everyone” kind of mentality. And this pandemic has really helped show that—restaurants helping restaurants through all of this!

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Ottawa’s Giant Tiger chain celebrating 60 years in business

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OTTAWA — An Ottawa staple, along with what might be the most famous cat in Canada, are celebrating a milestone Monday.

Giant Tiger is 60 years old.

“It all started with a very simple idea,” says Alison Scarlett, associate VP of communications at Giant Tiger. “Help Canadians save money every single day. Bring them products that they want and need. When you focus on those core principals, it really is quite simple to succeed.”

In 1961, Gordon Reid opened the first Giant Tiger in Ottawa’s ByWard Market. The company now has more than 260 locations across Canada and employs roughly 10,000 people.

“If you were at our store on opening day 60 years ago, the in store experience would be a little bit different from your local Giant Tiger store today. So that’s changed. A lot of our products and offerings have changed or expanded as Canadian consumers wants and needs have changed or expanded,” says Scarlett.

The homegrown department store continues to be a favourite for many shoppers looking to for the best deals on everyday products.

Helen Binda has been shopping here for decades.

“Many years. I can’t remember when. I’ve always loved Giant Tiger. It’s always been a good store for me.”

“I think its amazing and I think that we need more department stores,” says shopper Fay Ball. “And if it’s Canadian, all the better.”

The Canadian-owned family discount store carries everything from clothing to groceries, as well as everyday household needs. They’ve also expanded their online store and like most retailers provide curbside pickup during the pandemic.

“Doing what is right for our customers, associates, and communities. That has enabled us to be so successful for all of these years,” says Scarlett.

To celebrate, Giant Tiger is hosting a virtual birthday party at 7 p.m. Monday with live musical performances from some iconic Canadian artists.

You can visit their Facebook page to tune in. 

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