All eyes on the skies

As a kid, before you left for school, your mom would check the weather in case you needed to pack an umbrella or extra jacket. While they may be all grown up, pilots are required to check in for a weather briefing before they even get into a plane.

The last thing a pilot wants to do is worry about what the weather is going to be like between Point A and Point B so they rely on a team of specialists to keep them in the know. Flight Service Specialists working in NAV CANADA’s Flight Information Centres around the country are the team that ensures pilots have all the necessary information on what the skies have in store for them. Just like mom used to do.

The FIC in Winnipeg is one of eight that NAV CANADA – the company that provides air navigation services for Canadian civil airspace – operates across the country. NAV CANADA also owns and operates the air traffic control tower at the Winnipeg Richardson International Airport and the nearby area control centre (see The Hub, Spring 2015). The Winnipeg FIC is responsible for the airspace over Manitoba, Saskatchewan, northern Ontario and most of the western side of Nunavut.

The Flight Service Specialists working in the FIC have to be proficient in a number of services. With a number of roles to fill within the centre, each specialist must be able to do each job, as the positions rotate.

• Weather Briefings: When pilots call in to check on the weather conditions, specialists give up to date conditions between their point of departure and their destination. They are able to accurately report this information due to their in-depth meteorological training, which allows them to interpret the data and pass it along. This is especially important in parts of the country that do not have easy access to the Internet and cannot simply check the weather on their phones.

• Flight Planning: When a large thunderstorm looms between you and your destination, going through it is not an option. Pilots and flight service specialists work together to plan routes that get you to your destination as quickly and safely as possible. The specialists file the flight plans, which are mandatory in Canada and provide alerting services or ensure the pilot makes it to their destination.

• En route advisories: We all know how quickly the weather can change. Skies that were blue can turn ugly and turbulent in minutes. The Flight Information Centre is always available to give in-flight updates, so pilots can amend their flight plans to avoid inclement weather.

• Emergency Services: Sometimes, things don’t go according to plan. Planes take longer to get to their destination than they should, pilots don’t check in at the appropriate place and time or an emergency occurs. When a plane is overdue or appears to be missing, flight service specialists are the first ones to start investigating the location of the missing aircraft. Whether it’s phoning airports to do a ramp check to see if the plane is there, calling pilots directly on their cell phones or co-ordinating further search and rescue efforts with the military, they are there to help. Each pilot has an emergency contact, and the airports all have a list of people to get in touch with in case of an emergency as well.

• Notice to Airmen (NOTAM): Notices to alert pilots of things that are out of the norm. These include radio frequencies that aren’t working, temporary no-fly zones for reasons such as military exercises and forest fires. The local airports will also report on conditions such as runway status, and the FIC passes that information along.

There are no days off at the FIC. A minimum of two people are working at any given moment 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. While there are more planes operating during the day and during the summer, there are still planes that need attention during the night and during the winter. Even on Christmas Day, you will find a crew of specialists sitting in front of their monitors, making sure everything is safe and sound.

While the jobs and skills of flight service specialists are quite transferable all across the country, one cannot simply show up at a new location and start working. They have to become accustomed to the unique characteristics of each region through local training.
The work station for a flight service specialist at an FIC consists of several monitors showing displays of meteorological information, a digital radio display, a phone and the all-important headset. The specialists have to take in a lot of data in a variety of formats, and it is their ability to process all of that information and pass it along in a concise and timely manner that keeps everything operating smoothly.

Specialists at the Winnipeg FIC are also the city’s official weather observers. When you get reports from the local weatherperson, they are getting their data from the information collected by the people at the FIC.

The flight service specialists at the Flight Information Centre in Winnipeg, and the other FICs around the country, have their eyes on the skies and their expertise ensures for the smoothest ride possible. Their constant monitoring of conditions means they truly know the skies better than anybody else.

Special thanks to Peter Hamm, Joel Favreau and Maria Fedorowich of NAV CANADA.

A natural place to call home

Fall is the natural season for change. If you’re considering investing in a place to live, your fresh start could be a condominium in trendy Bridgwater Forest.

Bridgwater Forest North Condominiums are optimally positioned just off from Waverley Street in southwest Winnipeg, with ample access to the shops on Kenaston, pubs on Pembina, Investors Group Field, the University of Manitoba, and St. Vital Centre.

This means, for residents of the development, you don’t have to go far to find entertainment, shopping and services – not to mention the much-anticipated upcoming Bridgwater Town Centre. Mirroring development in European cities and our own Osborne Village, the Town Centre is designed to promote a pedestrian-friendly lifestyle with large sidewalks and condensed infrastructure.

Active commuters are drawn to Bridgwater for the ease of living it already affords – another big perk to living in the area – the accessible, surrounding natural environment. Bike and walking trails span for over 30 kilometres, connecting you to the intersecting neighbourhoods and the beauty of their forests and wetlands.

“It’s an ideal community for active living,” says Brenlee Coates, marketing coordinator for StreetSide Developments, the developer of Bridgwater Forest North Condos. “You can get to where you need to go by trailing the beautiful forest.”

While the Bridgwater Town Centre will truly be a cutting-edge, lifestyle-conscious development for Winnipeg, the condos at Bridgwater Forest North Condominiums were conceived with the same aim in mind.

The brand-new display suite at StreetSide Developments’ Bridgwater Forest North Condos shows off the refined look of the popular development’s third and final phase, which is now well into construction.

The building’s most successful plans, as well as newly redesigned floorplans, are being made available in the third phase, with possession dates as early as fall/winter 2015. Plus, select move-in-ready suites remain in Phase I and II.

In the final phase at Bridgwater Forest North Condos, the stylish, upgraded design packages are built in. Each of the contemporary two-bedroom and two-bedroom-plus-den suites comes with stainless steel appliances, quartz countertops, and vinyl plank flooring, plus a storage locker and a heated underground parking stall.

Sharing an amenity space with previous phases, Bridgwater Forest North Condos’ Phase III residents also have access to a fitness and billiards room – perfect for hosting or mingling with your neighbours.

Come visit the new Phase III display suite at #130 25 Bridgeland Drive North to see why Bridgwater Forest North Condos would be the natural place to call home.

For more information, visit or call Cayliegh Onofrychuk of Rancho Realty Services (Manitoba) Ltd. at 204-793-5000.

True North Square moves forward downtown

There is no doubt our downtown is undergoing a significant urban renaissance, defining and carving out a role in its city as not only a place to work and travel to, but as an exciting place to visit for a diverse complement of entertainment. With the recent announcement of True North Square this past week, the emerging Sports, Hospitality and Entertainment District (SHED) within our downtown is looking brighter.

Now that True North Sports and Entertainment has acquired the property at 220 Carlton Street, in conjunction with an exclusive option to develop a large surface parking lot on south of Carlton Street, the company’s vision to develop the land assembled into a $400-million hotel, office and commercial complex –True North Square – can move forward.

This proposal fits exceptionally well with the vision for SHED and will move this emerging district forward, making our downtown a place where people want to be seen, play, shop and live. This development will feed off the traffic generated by our downtown arena, the MTS Centre and the recently expanded and renovated convention centre. If True North Square’s preliminary renderings and designs are any indication of the level of excellence, the development that will come forward will include incredibly well-designed mixed-use buildings that are comprised of hip places to live, dynamic office spaces and commercial sidewalk spaces for cafes, restaurants, jazz clubs and a community gathering place or a plaza, creating a high degree of pedestrian and vehicular connectivity.

While two or three new office towers would have been welcomed at this site, this proposal is the nirvana of downtown vibrancy we all wish for, and is essential in taking the real estate market to the next level. Mixed use, dense developments are the recipe for success of our downtown because they create a dynamic, walkable district that provides a wide range of things to do – at all hours of the day, from living, working, shopping, dining and entertainment venues that are all in close proximity to each other.

Perhaps one of the more bold ideas of True North Square is to create a new gathering place – a new plaza for our downtown, a unique gathering place. A place where people would arrive by foot, transit, bike or car and immediately know that they are at the centre of the downtown. A place where people can sip their cup of whatever and watch the world go by. A stunning area that will attract the community for outdoor concerts, pre-game tailgate parties, New Year’s Eve bashes, and celebrating community accomplishments. Evenings would be transformed into nocturnal showpieces of lit buildings and trees, while hundreds of people sit on patios waiting for the Jets game to start, or to celebrate the win of their team in the next playoff run. The centre of it all, the most significant place in a city that belongs to everyone, capturing the capture the essence and heart of our Downtown.

There is no doubt the project being proposed by True North Sports and Entertainment will be transformative. It will create a new market for consumers. It will force property owners to step up their game and re-invest in their buildings and better align their marketing strategies more in sync with the SHED Vision. It will provide reason for people to consider living downtown, it will make a compelling argument that if your company has “arrived”, this is the location to be, and if you are a unique retailer or a restaurant, this is the new emerging district which you will want to be part off. I would argue that this project will set the stage for continued renewal efforts over the next decade in downtown Winnipeg.

Steeped in history, the Exchange District is the Place to Be in Winnipeg.

Located just north of Portage and Main, the 20-block Exchange District National Historic Site encompasses over 130 historical buildings that display an innovative and functional approach to architecture. Massive cut-stone terracotta and brick warehouses, elegant skyscrapers and covered alleyways recall the period when Winnipeg was a large commercial centre, and the “Gateway to the West”.

In 1905, Winnipeg was the fastest growing city of its size in North America. As the city flourished, the Exchange became home to dozens of financial institutions, warehouses and manufacturing empires.

After experiencing a boom period between the 1880s and 1920s, World War I and the Great Depression left the district to age virtually intact. Over a century later, against a backdrop that never changes, The Exchange is in the midst of a renaissance; where locals have converged to curate one of the most dynamic and unique cultural experiences. Today, The Exchange is a vibrant community known for its specialty boutiques, antique shops, restaurants and pulsing culture.

With over 500 businesses, nothing here is more exciting than the burgeoning creative scene which includes film, art, culinary arts, design, digital innovation and more. What was built on the tradition of industrious creativity, the Exchange has become home to world-class businesses that have attracted the attention of the globe. With exquisite cuisine, the finest taste in design and innovative digital technology; nothing here is pre-fabricated, as no two businesses are the same.

While the Exchange is quickly becoming a culinary destination with recent additions including Deer + Almond, Cibo Waterfront Café and King and Bannatyne the Sandwich Shop on the Corner; even the boutiques, shops and galleries pride themselves on sharing ideas and style that are hand-picked and selected with a specific artistry.
Once known as Newspaper Row, McDermot Avenue West of Main Street used to be an iconic spot where Winnipeggers gathered to learn the news of the sinking of the Titanic, and onset of the Great War. Today, McDermot is littered with over 10 boutique shops like Tiny Feast, Paperdoll Clothing and world-renowned Hilary Druxman Jewellery. Without a doubt, creativity was born and bred here.
Even though a pulse is beating year round behind the historic walls, it is truly the summer season when everyone comes to play. Festivals, concerts, walking tours and so much more enliven the streets and bring people out of the woodwork to celebrate.

Every year, Old Market Square transforms into The Exchange hub. The Cube Stage in Old Market Square plays hosts to world renowned festivals including the TD Winnipeg International Jazz Festival, Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival and Manitoba Electronic Music Exhibition.

These festivals and events attract visitors from all over the City, but they are also a great meeting point for residents, of which the Exchange has about 800. With recent and ongoing developments, it is estimated the Exchange will be home to over 1,600 residents by 2017.

The Exchange truly is the place to be. As the renaissance continues, the BIZ invites you to explore and enjoy all it has to offer. We are an all-season district, with events, creativity and connection happening year round. For more information on the district, its businesses and events, visit

Stephanie Scherbain is Marketing and Communications Coordinator for the Exchange District Biz.

VanJohan for Men gives men the total package

When Rich Johannes decided to make the decision to start a business selling men’s luxury underwear, he found it was all about finding the right fit, both for his product and with his supplier.

Wanting to keep his business entirely based in Canada, Rich found a supplier in Ontario to start out his business. However, after a few months without satisfaction, Rich decided to cut ties and found a local supplier instead. He says things are running much smoother now, and the proximity to the factory means that he can see first-hand how his product is doing without having to fly to Ontario.

“I was really fed up with the communication I was having with my manufacturer out there, and because I was so fed up it made me dig that much harder to actually find one here in Winnipeg. I was introduced to a lady with a manufacturing factory, and she’s been super-awesome. She helped get me in touch with my fabric suppliers and my waistband supplier, which has really helped everything towards making the actual product come out. She’s also helped me find a pattern designer to help me modify my pattern so that I can make it my very own and potentially patent it here in North America.”

The Man behind VanJohan

Rich Johannes is a graduate of kinesiology, and is currently pursuing a business degree at the University of Winnipeg. He has been applying his kinesiology knowledge as a personal trainer at the Downtown YMCA only a few blocks away from campus.

The Idea

The idea for the business came up in Rich’s first business class at the University of Winnipeg, when a professor asked students why they were in the class. Many of the ideas being heard were small scale “cookie cutter” businesses. Rich saw that the men’s clothing industry was not well catered to, and that a hole in the market where there to be filled.
“There’s a lot of brands out there for women, and not a lot of brands specifically targeted towards men,” said Rich. “So I thought ‘you know what? I’m going to start my own underwear company’. I noticed there was a big gap here in the North American market in terms of different types of luxury underwear.”

While the initial idea occurred two years ago, Rich has been approaching the idea in earnest over the last eight months, with the attainable goal of launching in early November. Rich has been busy making the final adjustments to his product and brand as launch day approaches, and has a vision for VanJohan going forward.

“I want VanJohan for Men to be a reputable brand across Canada and North America, and potentially Europe and around the world. It’s a lofty goal, but I think it’s attainable. I think that I have a bit of an advantage, as the visual boosting element of my product sets me apart from the other brands.”

The Design

What separates VanJohan for Men from other luxury underwear products in North America is its design, using a pocket to lift the male ‘package’ and bring it forward.
“I had seen a design similar to this with a brand in Australia,” said Rich. “I liked it, and decided to do something similar, but changed some angles for the pocket, as well as removed one of the seams to make it more comfortable.”

“Part of what makes VanJohan what it is is the design, with that visual boosting that can only increase your confidence.”
Rich also notes that the emphasis is on design, saying it doesn’t matter how good it looks if it isn’t comfortable to wear and it falls apart easy. The type and quality of fabric is very important to him, and is how he was lead to choose two different types of materials for fabric: a cotton-bamboo blend, and modal. Both of which are very soft while still being durable. Rich has also invested substantial time looking into the waistband, noting it wouldn’t make sense to have the waistband lower in quality than the fabric itself.

While quality is very important to Rich, so is affordability not only for him, but for potential clients as well. Scrolling through the internet for ‘men’s luxury underwear’, you can find some pairs going for over 50 dollars. Rich thinks that’s exorbitant, and is aiming in the range of half that price at 25 dollars.

VanJohan for men will be available in three different types: brief, trunk and boxer brief, with the brief being the shortest and the boxer brief being the longest.

“Those are the three types I’m going to be starting off with. I’m not going to be touching simple, loose boxers. I’m staying away from that completely. I think it’s a dying trend, and I’m not into it.”

Are You a VanJohan Man?

While Rich believes that the target demographic for VanJohan for Men will be men aged 18 to 30, he doesn’t want to limit himself to just that age range. Anybody can be a ‘VanJohan Man’, and you will never know it unless they choose to let you know.

“I have a couple of mottos I intend to use, including ‘how confident are you’ and let the confidence run through you’.”
Rich notes that even without anybody else seeing them, the VanJohan for Men underwear will give the wearer and added sense of sexiness and confidence as they go about their day.
“Imagine you’re at a meeting with a client, or making a presentation, or even just riding on the bus. Having that added confidence can make all the difference between success and failure, and it can be as simple as the underwear you’re wearing.”

Rich stresses that anybody deserves the right to feel bold and sexy, including men, and they don’t have to do anything too risqué to accomplish that feat.


Rich plans to begin sales of the brand by using e-commerce through his soon to launch website, Rich insists it is a matter of when, not if, he will make the transition to a brick and mortar store. It likely wouldn’t be on his own to start, but just having the option of people stopping by and physically seeing his product should help in Rich’s eyes.

“I just believe that from marketing and advertising perspectives, if people can have something tangible to hold onto in their hands, I think that can really help the volume of sales.”

“I can be really creative with this business, and I think that it’s going to be some that I can very much enjoy doing. I think that’s what work should be. I didn’t want to be stuck in a job where I absolutely hated it and I worked for somebody and that’s it. With this, either I make it or I don’t but at the same time it’s in my own hands.”

Getting Social is set to launch in November, and you can follow everything on the company’s Facebook account at as well as their Twitter handle @TheVanJohanMan. Questions can be emailed to


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