Tuesday, September 30th6.3°C
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John Thomson

John Thomson's I Didn't Know That!

My sources tell me that Chief Robert Louie of the Westbank First Nation was told that it is time to start work on the land for the new medical centre across the lake.

The medical centre proposed by the Westbank First Nation hopes through their negotiations to have a working relationship with one of the premier health organizations in the world, the Johns Hopkins Hospital group in Baltimore, Maryland. They have set standards in patient care, research and education.

Rumours coming out of the hospital here have many doctors very interested in this new project with an eye for future employment in the proposed new facility.

I don’t know if negotiations with the government have got off the ground yet but I am sure preliminary conversations are underway.

The business community looks on because many of the local financial people will be involved due to the need to supply the project from the beginning right through to when the facility is operating.  We are talking big bucks.

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The fast food business is stalled and although they seem to try everything, people may just not be eating the fast fare as much as they did. I can remember when we lived in Toronto and McDonald’s came to town.  That was the place to take the kids because that was their choice. Before that we would drive to Niagara Fall, U.S. on a Sunday to get our McDonald’s fill-up. In those days a family could eat for under $10.

Now the fast food chains are lowering their prices and adding new things to the menu on almost a weekly basis. Bacon has become the king and chains like Wendy's who started all the special bacon items came up with the Baconator.

Wendy’s chefs are in the test kitchen testing out items they can make with bacon. McDonald’s is giving away free coffee and those that know tell they have a fine brew. Wendy’s have also added the Quebec favorite, Poutine, to the menu.

A&W have their new Buddy Burgers with a root beer and fries that have no salt. When they first came to Canada A&W was the takeout place and we would go with the girls and buy a bag of baby burgers and a jug of root beer.  That was always fun.

Dairy Queen always seems to have a deal on and they make good hamburgers. Over at Burger King they have added a cinnamon bun with Cinnabon cinnamon being used. Every few months at KFC chain continues to promote something new that they can do with chicken breasts, lettuce and tomato. There is a new product with chicken strips in a bucket good for the playoffs and they make good chicken cooked in canola oil.

I can’t leave Tim Hortons out of this mix and I must admit that every time I go there to pick up something there is a lineup. I have to be careful in there because they do use a lot of sodium. Their breakfast sandwich continues to be challenged by the competition and it is very tasty. There is always something new at Tim Hortons. I just miss the sugar cinnamon plain donuts.

Enough about food - I can’t stand this any longer - I need a burger!

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We have written about this before - the School District 23 property on Dilworth Drive is for sale. My understanding is that the owners of Orchard Park were an interested party and it went further than that.  They made an offer based on some conditions. Their real estate people talked with the city at some length and agreed amongst themselves that this might not be the deal for them. Orchard Park has plans for the future for their property and with the changing retail scene in this country in the next few years they want to be ahead of the pack. Orchard Park is the largest enclosed shopping centre between Calgary and Vancouver. The major anchor, The Bay, is the largest anchor in the valley as well.

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More changes are taking place at City Hall as they move management positions and create new ones. It is all part of a master plan to make things easier for business and residential to get through the red tape that has been built into the system for years. It is an interesting process because City Hall is big business and they are trying to attract business and people to come to Kelowna to live and work.

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It came as a complete surprise when the deal was announced on Sunday that Leon’s had put $700 million on the table to buy their rival The Brick. Retailers in this country with the continuing expansion of U.S. chains are making some major changes to become stronger with more buying power to accommodate the changing marketplace. The stores will operate separately with The Brick retaining its head office in Edmonton and having 230 stores in mostly western Canada and Leon’s, not familiar to B.C. customers,  has 76 stores in Eastern Canada and the head office in Toronto.

This is a week for remembering because the story of The Brick goes back a few years when Bill Comrie, then a NHL hopeful in the Chicago Black Hawks organization, gave up his hockey career to come home to Edmonton to operate his dad’s furniture store, Comrie’s, in the city.  It wasn’t until 1971 that the move was made from the original store to a location closer to downtown that was in a brick building, thus the name The Brick.  Comrie was famous for his TV ads which he did himself until it got dangerous because of some threats and he went off TV never to be seen again doing an ad. This always has been one successful operation in spite some of the ups and downs of the financial world. They just knew how to make it work and their power in the  market was outstanding.

Bill Comrie sold most of his shares in The Brick in 2004 and moved his family to San Diego. Part of the sale of stock was to the employees of the company. Bill Comrie stepped back out of the picture.  Comrie’s sons Paul and Mike were NHL players and a third son Eric is a netminder for the Tri-City Americans in the WHL.

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Frank Stronach is a businessman we don’t talk about a lot.  His company Magna bought him out and he stepped away from the board.  The company did a record $303 billion in this past year. Frank, a billionaire himself, is starting a chain of steak houses with organic beef as their marketing tool.

This is a good way to lose some of those millions Frank.

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The U.S. Tanger Outlet Centers have joined forces with the Toronto based RioCan, Canada’s largest REIT, to plan for as many as fifteen outlet malls in Canada. RioCan have properties in Kelowna.

Last year the Simon Property Group signed an agreement with a Canadian partner SmartCentres to developed premium outlet malls across Canada. SmartCentres own the mall in Vernon where Walmart is the anchor.

Tanger already has one outlet mall in Ontario in Cookston. The closest Tanger Mall to us is in Lincoln City, Oregon. They own 38 outlet malls in the U.S.



Read more John Thomson articles

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About the Author

John Thomson is the Okanagan's pre-eminent business columnist writing his column, Rumours and Things, for over 24 years. Plugged in to the valley's who's who, John keeps his readers coming back for more with his straight talk and optimistic perspective on where we are headed next.

When John is not writing his column, he runs a sixteen year old think tank called the Executive Roundtable and holds his popular "Thomson Presents" quarterly business speaker seminars.

Have a comment, question, or tip for John? 

E-mail John at
[email protected]
or send him a fax at 250-764-8255.

 




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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet presents its columns "as is" and does not warrant the contents.


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