North Pole coming to Lynn Valley!

Well, it seems that all the debate regarding high-rises, mall redevelopment and the like was really just a smokescreen. While petitions circulated and activists rallied, a secret development was taking place in the emptied Zellers building,  unbeknownst to all.

But we don’t expect a huge neighbourhood outcry. After all, how often does Santa set up shop right under one’s nose?

LynnValleyLife was  allowed behind the blue curtain this week, into the Zellers space that is in the process of being transformed into the North Pole by North Pole BC. Company owner Martin Miller showed us around the winterland village that will soon be bustling with traditional Christmas characters.

There will still be a free mall Santa, located in a ‘woodland’ just inside the old Zellers entrance. Those who wish to book tickets to the North Pole ($13.95 and up) step into a world of twinkling lights and fun activities.

Kids can decorate gingerbread cookies in the elves’ kitchen, read stories with Mrs. Claus, help the elves make toys in their workshop, visit with a snow princess, make their own gift wrap, write letters to Santa, and more.

Those who opt for a personalized visit with Santa get some scheduled one-on-one time with a Santa who knows just the right thing to say to each child (thanks to getting some info in advance from Mom and Dad), and go home with a small gift.

This is the fifth year that the company has offered the North Pole tours; last year it was at Maplewood Farm. Martin says he is delighted to bring the village indoors, where the weather can’t play havoc with the experience. He expects that once again the North Pole will attract visitors from all over the Lower Mainland and beyond.

Tours begin with the arrival of Santa to Lynn Valley Centre on November 23 (there will be free entertainment from 10:55 a.m. to 12:15 in the mall food court). North Pole excursions will primarily take place on weekends, but become more regular in the weeks leading up to Christmas. To assure availability, families should pre-book in advance, but impromptu visitors are welcome to inquire at the door to see if space is available. Group visits are common and special pricing starts at 10 people.

 

 

Green Coast Rubbish cleans up at awards night

Many congratulations to Lynn Valley’s Green Coast Rubbish, a local company that doesn’t just haul your ‘junk’ away … it finds good homes and uses for as much of it as possible. That dedication to waste reduction was recently recognized when the company was given the 2013 Better Business Bureau’s Torch Award in the Green Business category. Green Coast Rubbish joins other well-known  previous award recipients that include the David Suzuki Foundation.

It isn’t the first honour the company has received, as you’ll see if you read their LynnValleyLife Merchant Profile. But it’s great to hear they certainly aren’t slowing down any in their efforts to find ever more ways to divert waste from the landfill and incinerator.

These are some of the impressive stats from Green Coast Rubbish’s recent blog entry: “Whenever possible, we divert and donate materials to local non-profit organizations that can put them to good use (over 9 tonnes of goods & material in total, this past year alone). Since 2010, we’ve kept over 522 tons of waste materials away from our local landfills by recycling or diverting them (a 76% diversion rate), with our ultimate goal being a 100% diversion by 2020. And while our business is built upon helping clients effectively manage their waste, we also believe in consciously working toward bettering our own environmental footprint on a daily basis. In 2012, we managed to reduce our personal greenhouse gas emissions by 7.73%.”

Many congratulations again GCR, and remember, Lynn Valleyites, this company is happy to come to your home or business, so if you’re wanting a simple way to keep your own waste disposal as green as possible, keep Green Coast Rubbish in mind!

 

LV’s building supply landmark closing its doors

Whether you call it the “Irly Building Centre” or still refer to it by its earlier moniker, “Woodstop Building Supplies,” you’ll be sorry to hear this Lynn Valley landmark is shutting down operations.

Trevor Stephenson, the co-owner who founded the store in 1978, told LynnValleyLife that he first went into business in the adjacent lumberyard, which had been abandoned by previous operators. Trevor believes it had been run as a lumberyard since the 1950s; he says a six (not seven!)-digit telephone number is still written on the inside of the warehouse door.

Five years later, Trevor built the building supply store and was joined by recent Argyle Secondary grad John Horsnel, who later became a co-owner of the business.

Over the years, Trevor says they have served many longtime customers; about 80 per cent have been contractors and 20 per cent homeowners. He’s been in business so long, he says, that he’s seen some contractors through their entire career. As for himself, he’s still getting used to the idea of semi-retirement.

“I’m still in denial to some extent,” he says. But he’s warming up to the thought. “The beauty of retirement is the ability to be on your own schedule, not someone else’s. I’m looking forward to that flexibility.” That’s no wonder, considering that Trevor has been up at 5 a.m. for the past 35 or so years, in order to commute from his Port Coquitlam home to be at work by 6:30.

But it won’t be all play, no work. Trevor and John also own North Shore Door, which sells doors, windows, moldings and door hardware from its shop at 103 – 2433 Dollarton. John has been working full-time at that location for the past year, and Trevor intends to lend a hand to help the shop build its brand.

The owners have sold the property to a residential developer, a land use that Trevor feels is a better fit for that corner of Lynn Valley. They plan to close the lumber yard on October 31 (all materials are currently being sold at cost) and he says that from November 1 to December 15 the contents of the building supply sale will also be sold at cost. He hopes to have the business wrapped up by December 31.

Trevor says he’ll definitely miss his customers and the relationships he’s developed through his work. “It’s not a job, it’s a lifestyle,” he notes. He asked LynnValleyLife to pass on his and John’s appreciation to all their longtime customers. “We’re awful thankful for their support over the years.”

Trevor, John and the rest of the Woodstop crew will certainly be missed by Lynn Valleyites, most of whom will never have known their neighbourhood to be without this stalwart landmark. On behalf of the community,  thanks for everything and we’ll see you at North Shore Door!

Council ponders LV town centre feedback

North Vancouver District Council is on the hot seat as it ponders a report describing options for the implementation of the Official Community Plan (OCP) in Lynn Valley.

The report was presented at a regular council meeting on September 23, in front of a gallery of citizens representing a wide range of opinions.

The OCP, which was passed in June 2011, projects the addition of up to 5,000 people in Lynn Valley over the next two decades, and opens the door to the development of a range of low to higher-density housing options within the town centre. In September 2012, Bosa Developments accordingly submitted a preliminary application that included a 22-storey tower in its proposed redevelopment of its shopping centre property.

The resulting controversy over building heights, traffic and increased density meant everyone went back to the drawing board – including the District, which launched extended public education and feedback events in mid-2013.

The results of that feedback are now encapsulated in the recent Golder Associates report, which is available on North Vancouver District’s Identity website.

Perhaps unfortunately for council members, the report notes that there is no clear consensus amongst local residents as regards to the preferred maximum building height. While many have stated their preference for no change to the existing neighbourhood, or the inclusion of buildings that are no taller than five storeys in height, one method of calculating the feedback indicated that the 12- and 16-storey building options led in popularity.

If that’s the case, it’s happy news for Mark Sager, who was hired by Bosa Developments to collect public feedback and work with a new architect to create a proposal in keeping with what residents say they want to see in Lynn Valley. Sager unveiled the new drawings in front of a crowd of approximately 200 residents at Lynn Valley Mall on September 12. All audience comments at that event were supportive of the suggested redevelopment proposal, but Bosa  Developments will not be submitting a preliminary application to the District until Council chooses between the options presented in the Sept. 23rd report.

Council deferred the vote after requesting that staff ‘expediently’ investigate the comparative economic impacts of choosing a five-storey height maximum over the other option, which allows for five through eight storeys, with the option of allowing for exceptions of up to 16 storeys in the town core.

Bosa’s revamped drawings include two 12-storey buildings and a completely redeveloped interior and exterior shopping centre. They can be viewed in the Bosa storefront in Lynn Valley Mall, in the former pet store premises, from noon to 6 p.m. every day except Sundays.

Restaurant adds some spice to the valley

Kevin Li has lived in many places – northern China, Richmond, Burnaby and finally North Vancouver – but wherever he is, he’s always at home in the kitchen.

Kevin and his wife Cindy Feng are the proud owners of the Wonderful Szechuan Restaurant, which has opened its door in the Ross Road Plaza after two months of renovation. Formerly a Greek restaurant, the premises now glow with a warm Asian ambience, with mocha-coloured walls and gleaming wooden floors.

They bring to the Wonderful Szechuan Restaurant two decades of experience – Kevin was a chef for 10 years in China, and the couple subsequently owned a restaurant in North Vancouver – and LynnValleyLife was fortunate enough to get a sneak preview of their labours the day before they started serving customers. (While the restaurant is open now, a grand opening is planned for October 2.)

We had the chance not only to tour the sparkling premises, but to meet the couple’s children, William and Vicky, and learn a bit about the family’s goals for the restaurant.

Cindy explained that Szechuan cuisine is a branch of “Chinese food” that emerged from northern China. Cantonese food, which is served by most North Vancouver Chinese food restaurants, hails from the south. While many of the dishes are the same, Szechuan cooks are known for kicking up many of their recipes with the addition of spices.

However, that doesn’t mean that all the dishes are hot and spicy – there’s a full range, and you’ll know which is which by the little chili icons next to the menu items. The couple knows that many people, especially children, prefer milder seasoning, so there is something for everyone in the family.

We were able to watch Chef Li at work in the kitchen, and witness the skilful transformation of fresh meat and vegetables into a range of steaming, colourful – and perfectly seasoned – dishes.

We sampled their boneless sweet-and-sour pork, shrimp fried rice, hot and sour soup, pepper chicken on dry spinach, and sauteed vegetables. Each was beautifully presented, fresh-tasting and delicious, and quite an improvement from the eating-out-of-tinfoil-containers Chinese food we usually experience at home.

We are happy to recommend this new establishment to our Lynn Valley neighbours, and wish Kevin and Cindy every success in a location that hasn’t always proved an easy one for restaurateurs.

They invite their guests to dine in for a nice evening out, or take advantage of free delivery and order from the take-out menu for a relaxing evening at home.  Prices are comparable with other local Chinese food restaurants (dinner for four = $47.95), and there are a wide selection of daily $7.95 lunch specials. To learn more about Kevin and Cindy, read their merchant profile on our site.

Hours are 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., seven days a week, at 1238 Ross Rd., North Vancouver. Call 604-988-9927 for information and delivery.

Lynn Valley gets first glimpse of mall sketches

About 200 people came out on Thursday, Sept. 12 to an informal presentation that brought residents up to date on the evolving proposals for the Lynn Valley Mall of the future.

While host Mark Sager, who is handling public consultation and overseeing the new designs on behalf of mall owner Bosa Developments, emphasized that the evening was not a formal hearing or open house, it did give attendees a peek at what may be coming down the pipe.

(Mark said that Bosa Developments has “total, complete respect for the process” and won’t be submitting a preliminary application until North Vancouver District votes on the manner in which the Official Community Plan (OCP) will be implemented in Lynn Valley. Click here for our post explaining the process that takes place once an official application has been made to the District.)

The evening started with a talk and slide presentation that provided a good history of the process, including Mark Sager’s own belief that Bosa Developments’s original proposal, which included a 22-storey building, was not a good fit for Lynn Valley. He explained that the design was based on the OCP’s allowed Floor Space Ratio (FSR) of 3.5, meaning that for every square foot of land one owns, 3.5 square feet can be built on top of it.

Mark showed computer renditions of what a 3.5 FSR would look like if the Bosa property was developed with the goal of keeping buildings as low as possible. The result, shown on the screen, was shoulder-to-shoulder buildings built out to the sidewalk,  each several storeys high. This, Mark indicated, was untenable and a design disaster.

Instead, company owner Nat Bosa agreed to take an economic hit and voluntarily drop the FSR to 2.5, which allows for building height to remain moderate, but still leaves room for plazas, green space and community amenities. (The current mall, by comparison, has a 1.75 FSR.)

Mark then introduced renderings of the new design, and explained some of the major changes that would ensue if it, or something similar, was approved. Important to note is that the proposed redevelopment under discussion would encompass the Zellers area, the old library, and the adjacent concrete parking garage. If passed, Bosa would purchase the old library site from North Vancouver District in a multi-million deal, money which the DNV would use to help pay off costs of constructing the new library.

Inspiring the design is a mountain village look that has outward-facing retail outlets at street level, which terrace back into higher elevations, including two 12-storey residential buildings. On top of this retail “podium” would be acres of usable green space for the building residents, while two new plazas at street level would provide gathering space for community residents.

A new, landscaped high street would connect 27th Street (where one currently enters the Safeway/Zellers parking lot) with Lynn Valley Road, while another new throughway would travel along the back of the current mall, providing a better connection from 27th to the new library and likely housing a number of ‘live/work’ studios for home-based businesses such as accountants, notaries public, etc. Parking for the redeveloped area would be underground.

The development would include approximately 379 living units, to be built over a five-year period, with the needs of Lynn Valley downsizers and younger families in mind. A 6,000 square foot community space would be included as well, for North Vancouver District to consider for uses such as a community theatre or North Shore Disability Resource programs.

This development would see a flagship Save-On-Foods go into the old Zellers location, while Shopper Drug Mart would move to the current Save-On space. The rest of the existing mall, he explained, would retain the same footprint and parking, but have a complete interior/exterior makeover, with more a more interactive, engaging street presence. He is looking at creative uses for the existing huge, flat roof, and hopes the 175,000 square feet can be transformed into a green roof or other attractive feature. And, to the delight of pedestrians everywhere, the renovation will ensure a better connection between the mall and Lynn Valley Village.

Mark is planning for a climbing wall to be situated in the mall, and hopes that existing tenants will be joined by such additions as good family restaurants and a cross-fit gym.

The floor was opened up to a number of questions and comments, all of which were supportive of the revitalization project. Linda Findlay, 25-year resident of Lynn Valley, had brought a prepared address.

“We consider ourselves extremely fortunate to live here,” she said, “Growth in our community is natural, and not any one group is going to get everything they want [in the design plans.]” Given the controversy that has surrounded some aspects of the project, she said “I would like to thank you and Nat for not giving up on Lynn Valley.”

Michael Edwards, a former president of the Lynn Valley Community Association, recalled  previous occasions in which the LVCA had spoken against developments, some of which were later approved. “It wasn’t such a shocker after all,” he said of the McDonalds going into Lynn Valley, prompting laughter from the crowd. He also referred to the number of failed attempts at Lynn Valley Centre revitalization over the years, and said that Bosa’s current sketches “are the most beautiful plan [he’s] ever seen.” He did not want to see “months and months of work for naught,” and emphasized that “we have no right to stop young families from living here.”

Doug Curran commented that he had been working with people in the Lower Capilano neighbourhood to help residents understand and envision the design possibilities that could be expressed within a higher density allowance. He said that he has attended a number of meetings and listened to residents concerned by the prospect of higher buildings in Lynn Valley, and notes that he has “heard statements without foundation, without logic, and prejudicial to the future wellbeing of Lynn Valley.” He encouraged residents of all persuasions to get more engaged and informed about the process.

Some residents commented that the current mall is ‘dying,’ and Mark agreed it was a struggle to get new tenants with the existing set-up. He says the tenant businesses rue the fact that the parking lot is often full – discouraging their customers –  while the mall itself is empty. Mark said his team has spent a number of hours out in the lot, talking to people parking there,  and finding that it is sometimes being used as a park-and-ride, and often used for people going only to Lynn Valley Village. The latter group, he said, commonly expressed the feeling that they did not like the design of the stairwells in the Village’s underground parking, so the mall design team has taken that into account and has allowed for more open, inviting stairwells in their own redevelopment design.

After the discussion, a number of sketches were unveiled and people circulated to look at the various views and floor plans, ask more questions, fill out feedback forms and, if they chose, to add their name to a petition lending support to the revitalization. If people do want to see change, Mark emphasized, it is important for them to express their opinions to North Vancouver District Council.

Mark will be re-opening his former storefront in the old pet store premises across from CIBC, so people can drop in to have a closer look at the designs and continue to make suggestions. Also in the works is a website for the same purpose. LynnValleyLife will publicize further details, and a variety of design sketches, as they are made available.

– Peggy Trendell-Jensen, editor

 

 

Starbucks celebrates 20 years!

It’s hard to believe, but our local Starbucks coffee shop has been in business for 20 years, and LynnValleyLife was fortunate enough to be there to celebrate the occasion.

Friday, September 13 was anything but unlucky for people who were in the shop just after 11 a.m. They were treated to a cake-cutting, a mini coffee ‘tasting’ tutorial, and a generally festive atmosphere.

More than that, however, it was lovely to hear a Lynn Valley Lions member, Mayor Richard Walton, and building owner Trudy Duller speak so warmly about the staff’s commitment to community service and the important role Starbucks has played in the neighbourhood.

That commitment was underscored by Dionne Richmond, who has been manager of the Lynn Valley Starbucks for the past six months. She encouraged groups and individuals to approach with community requests, saying she loves to get on board. “If you want us, we’re here,” she emphasized.

Local residents may not know that the Starbucks building has been owned by Trudy and Karl Duller, former owners of the Family Gourmet Deli in the mall, for more than two decades. In her short talk, Trudy laughed at herself for being a little tearful at the happy occasion, but said how satisfying it was for her to have such community-minded tenants.

She and the mayor later shared a laugh, too, recollecting that Richard Walton had originally wanted to lease the space for a business venture in his pre-mayoral days. Now, he told the guests, he is just glad to have Starbucks shops on hand to send people happy on their way to work in the morning, and complimented them on their high standard of customer service.

Trudy, who recalls early Starbucks founder Howard Schultz being present at the Lynn Valley grand opening  two decades ago, says another celebration will happen next year, when Pizza Hut will be marking its own 20-year anniversary in our small town. Like we said at the beginning – time flies!

 

 

Nat Bosa a “different cat” on local development scene

LynnValleyLife  likes to profile notable neighbours who play interesting roles in our community. If you’d like to know more about someone who makes a contribution in our neighbourhood, in large ways or small, drop us a line at info@LynnValleyLife.com.

He tells us he’s outspoken and doesn’t beat around the bush. And with that understatement, Nat Bosa launches into a wide-ranging, hour-long interview that’s peppered with colourful anecdotes, salty language, and bold visions for the future.

Natale (“Nat”) Bosa is the owner of Bosa Development Corporation, which in turn owns Lynn Valley Centre. The company didn’t build the mall – it was purchased some years ago  – but Nat Bosa is looking to rebuild it, in line with North Van District’s Official Community Plan.

Some might think it’s a small-potatoes project for a man whose decades-old company is busy building internationally. But while he acknowledges that his focus now is south of the border, where he’s had a major hand in developing areas of San Diego, San Francisco, and Seattle, he says “I don’t want to overlook [Lynn Valley]…. This is home. It sure would be great to be able to drive by and say ‘I’m glad I did this.’”

Pointing to the widespread popularity of his mixed-use Newport Village development in Port Moody, Nat says that on a slightly smaller scale “we can do that in Lynn Valley. We can be proud. You think I’m doing this for myself? Listen, I’m not a young puppy anymore. I don’t need to do this… we can lease that box that’s there for something, and we’re fine.”

But Nat believes Lynn Valley mall is ripe for change. “Change is good,” he insists. “Let’s put it this way, that area is ready. Let’s change the damn suit. You’ve had the same suit on for 40 years.”

Change, of course, comes easier for some people than for others. But everything about Nat Bosa – his seven bikes, his carefully chosen cars, even his kayaks – indicates that he’s all about forward motion. Even when he was in his teens and 20s, swinging a hammer and framing houses with his brothers, he was known for being fast – “really fast, I can tell you.” Now, with dozens of successful, city-changing developments under his belt, he is known as somewhat of a visionary – a man who can look at bare land, or a run-down area, and see its potential before anyone else can.

Nat is the force behind the look and feel of downtown San Diego, parts of which he started developing in 1998. Is shaping a neighbourhood’s future a big responsibility, we asked him? “Yes,” he replied emphatically, “Big time.” He repeats himself: “Big time. Big time. I have all the finest sites in San Diego. I have them all…. I have a huge responsibility. I want to give them the finest buildings on the West Coast.”

His involvement doesn’t stop at the residential and commercial opportunities he brings to a community. Part of his San Diego commitments included the donation of an art gallery, and, near to his heart, the building of the Nat and Flora Bosa campus of the Monarch School, a place of learning for homeless children that’s the first of its kind in the United States.

Recent examples of his local largesse include a Bosa condominium prize in the current B.C. Children’s Hospital lottery, and funding that made possible the new Bosa Centre for Film and Animation at Capilano University.

“It’s a lot more fun to do that than to make the money,” he says. “I enjoy what I’m doing, but that stuff is really good. Our plan is to give away most of our money…. We want to do a lot of that, my wife and I. That’s what gets us up in the morning. Our kids don’t need us anymore, per se. They’re not kids any more, for starters.”

“The kids” are Jim, Ryan, Jason and Natalie. Jim and Ryan have followed in their father’s footsteps and have their own development companies. Jason is his youngest son, and works with his mother, Flora, who owns the Palladio jewellery store.

Throughout the interview, Nat keeps giving a tip of the hat to the patience displayed by Flora throughout their marriage. Both teenage immigrants from Italy, they met in Vancouver and wed when they were 23 and 19 years old respectively.

How would Flora describe him, we asked? Nat laughed. “ADD plus.” After a pause, he elaborates: “I would say this: I’m a different cat… I’m definitely not the easiest cat to live with. I’m quite strongminded.” He pauses, and gives us another animal analogy. “Let’s just put it this way, I’m not a little poodle on a leash…. I have to give a lot of credit to Flora, to really put up with it.”

His wife tells him that he’s ugly when he’s mad.  “She’s probably correct,” he concedes. But he’s fair, he emphasizes. And what really makes him mad is people who don’t play by the rules.

He relates a story about a long-ago purchase in West Vancouver, a small lot that was already zoned for redevelopment. It didn’t require a public hearing, but the mayor at the time decided to call for one anyway – and got an earful from Nat the next day. “When you see things like this, you gotta stand up,” he tells LynnValleyLife. If a smaller company than his had been faced with such a turn-about, he points out, it could have lost its shirt. “It could destroy people. And I don’t like that.”

He doesn’t ask for or expect concessions from politicians. “I don’t want no favours,” he emphasizes in a strong voice that still bears traces of an Italian accent. “You must understand – every city says one thing: I’m incredibly fair. I just want to be treated equal to everybody else. I don’t want preferential treatment. I don’t need it.”

He just wants to be told the rules, he says, and then he’ll play well within them. That goes for his personal life, too – when building a fence around his West Vancouver backyard, his strict instructions to the contractor were to build it one inch inside the property line.

So Nat was – to put it mildly – frustrated when Bosa’s redevelopment proposals for Lynn Valley Centre were stalled last year. He describes a long history with North Vancouver District that started years ago with an invitation from then-mayor Don Bell to work together on a joint development that would encompass the new library building.  Bosa financed the architectural planning, but Nat says the plug got pulled when Bell left district council to run for federal office.

His development company didn’t get involved again until after the district passed the Official Community Plan, which stipulated heights and densities.  “Now, as long as you come in underneath that, or not exceed that, you think you’re safe,” said Nat. “That’s the way it works. Every jurisdiction in which I work, that’s the way it works. So we go in. We meet with staff, staff was great, the whole works… so we start going.”

The Zellers store in the mall had been purchased by Target, but as North Van District wouldn’t permit the second storey that Target required, Bosa Development knew that option was a non-starter.

“So we bought out Zellers’ lease a year early,” Nat says. “We knew they were going to leave, so we said ‘Let’s get a head start here.’ So that’s what happened. And then all of a sudden the brakes go on.” Controversy among residents had started, and the District decided to once again re-open the Official Community Plan implementation to public feedback.

“I approached Mark [Sager] after I was pretty much exhausted by what was going on in Lynn Valley,” Nat says. He asked Mark to bring his consultative style to garnering feedback that would help a new architect develop plans more in keeping with what the neighbourhood said it wanted.

He says he hired Mark to run with the ball, and Mark – a lawyer and former mayor known for his listening skills –  hasn’t tossed it back to him yet. But what Nat does know about the new plans, he likes. “This here is gentle,” he says, pointing to sketches of the new Lynn Valley Centre concept. “It gives this incredible, real warm feel. It makes you feel good to go there.” He believes that the two, 12-storey buildings that are part of the revamped proposal can exist practically unnoticed by local residents, similar to the manner in which the 16-storey Kiwanis Tower blends into the landscape.

We wondered what someone who so obviously embraces change might, if given the chance, change about himself. “My wife would change all of me,” Nat laughs, but then reflects: “We all have faults. We are all very good at seeing other people’s faults, but we can’t really see our own. “ That said, with whatever faults he may have, he’s had “a hell of a life…. I’ve had a great ride. Everywhere I’ve built, it’s been accepted. Never screwed anybody.”

That’s one piece of wisdom he’s tried to pass on: “I always tell my kids one thing: never step on someone’s toes to advance yourself. Because that’s not how it’s done.”

And if anyone is in any doubt about their faults, Nat suggests they might want to pick up a putter. He advises everyone to play a little golf;  he himself tends to follow each great round with a terrible one. “It’s a humbling game…. When you get upset about a putt that you just missed, you’re getting upset at you – you’re the jerk that missed it! You’re not blaming anybody else, that’s what’s good about it.”

If you wonder how the head of a company with several international developments on the go has time for golf, Nat is quick to credit his team. “I hire the finest people, I pay them well, and I expect the best of them,” he says. He likens himself to an orchestra conductor. “I don’t have many musicians, but we make great music.”

Knowing that his projects are in good hands allows him to avoid the workaholic lifestyle. “If I don’t go by the jobsite,” he notes, “that means they’re doing the right thing.”

He admits, though, that his mind is always active with work-related thoughts. We asked if he could picture an alternate reality for himself, one that didn’t see him entering the construction trade as a young immigrant. The thought, Nat says, has never entered his mind. “[Construction’s] my game. I think I’m pretty good at it and that’s what I like.” He thinks for a moment. “For me to re-invent myself….I think I’d probably be miserable at it. Of course, we adapt… but mind you, [at my age?] I’m at the bottom of the sixth inning.”

He may be turning 69 years old this Christmas Day, but the strength of his parting handshake could make lesser men weep. Our interview time is up, and Nat is out the door into the August sunshine, off to see what the gods of golf have in store for him today.

– Peggy Trendell-Jensen, editor

Mark Sager is inviting Lynn Valley residents to an unveiling of the above-mentioned designs for the proposed Lynn Valley shopping centre redevelopment on Thursday, September 12 at 7 p.m., in the old Zellers premises (access via exterior doors facing Safeway). If you are unable to attend that evening, please contact LynnValleyLife, which is arranging a sneak preview for its LVL Network members. Be sure to drop us a line at info@LynnValleyLife.com if you’d like to come!

Coach Janet’s Top 5 tips for delivering legendary customer service

If you have customers, you are in the customer service business. The purpose of a business is to create and keep a customer base through delivering legendary customer service. Over 80 per cent of all sales in North America originate from the recommendations of satisfied customers. Dedicating yourself to excellent customer service is one of the smartest and most profitable things that you can ever do for your business.

 1.   Understand customer expectations

Do you know what’s important to your customers? Very successful salespeople are repeatedly referred to as friends and advisors by their customers. If you can explain the need, want or frustration better than the customer can, they will automatically assume you know how to solve the problem.

 2.   Exceed expectations

Disney calls this delivering a “WOW” experience. You want to be remembered, and it takes a lot for that to happen in the eyes of a customer. Expectations are high. Even if you are dealing with a complaint make it a “WOW” experience. Organizations are often remembered for how they deal with difficult situations more than how they perform on a daily basis. If you are not exceeding customer expectations then you are just like every other business out there.

 3. Create customer service systems

Set out to create internal systems that enable the consistent delivery of legendary customer service. Create simple processes, policies and tools to support the delivery of your quality service standards. Processes should never be hassles; they should be designed to remove barriers to providing legendary service.

 4. Make people happy to do business with you

People are predominantly emotional; we are greatly impacted by the warmth, friendliness, cheerfulness and helpfulness of others. Make sure ALL of your staff are capable of making a good first impression within the first 10 seconds of an interaction. It is very difficult to provide a legendary customer experience if YOU are not in a warm, friendly and personable mood.

 5. Do everything to make it right

When you mess up – and you will – how you deal with it will define your business. When faced with an issue, own the issue and promptly do EVERYTHING in your power to make it right. WOW your customer with how you deal with issues and you’ll be forever remembered as an organization that cares. Remember, you are in business not for just this one sale but for the many more to come from that customer in the future.

Janet Bonaguro is a Certified Business Coach with FocalPoint Coaching. She works with business owners and executives in order to improve revenue, profitability, productivity and teamwork. For more information please visit her website; for more of her coaching tips see her Merchant Profile on LynnValleyLife.

Lynn Valley Day 2013 will hit new heights (literally!)

There’s always something new to look forward to at Lynn Valley Days, and 2013 will be no exception!

For starters, we want to give a big community thank-you to William F. White International, which is sponsoring all of Lynn Valley Days’ cable and power needs. (And thank you to Lynn Valley’s Garin Josey, the William F. White VP who is making this happen for us!) Amongst other things, what this will mean is no more distressing generator failures, and a much better-balanced sound system at the sold-out Gala Dinner Dance. And if the weather cooperates, it will also mean some amazing light-up-the-sky special effects on Friday night!

People, businesses make it happen

It’s thanks to business sponsorships of all shapes and sizes that Lynn Valley Day has become the great event that it has. Please have a look at some of the other sponsors who stepped forward to support the community festival this year (list is not complete, we know more names are yet to be added!). But it’s not just businesses that make it happen – Lynn Valley Day is the result of months of hard work by host organizations Lynn Valley Lions and Lynn Valley Community Association, and many individual volunteers.

Shirin Ismail of the LVCA is once again coordinating volunteers, and would love people to step forward to offer just a couple of hours here or there. Whether you lean towards traffic control during parade time, staffing a ride on the midway or site clean-up, there is definitely a place for you to earn your karma points. The times and tasks, along with Shirin’s contact info, are listed here.

New ride promises good view

We’re definitely looking forward to watching people’s faces as they take in the new Euro-Bungee ride. Thrill-seekers will be strapped into this new attraction, then bounce on a trampoline that will shoot them 40 feet into the air – so hang onto your dentures!

People looking for more old-fashioned fun will once again be glad of the free games and races that the LynnValleyLife team will be organizing in its corner of the field. Egg-and-spoon, gunny sacks, three-legged races, ballon toss, the ever popular Hyak Rafting Super Soaker…. what more could you want for some good old family fun? (Well, if there IS something more, please tell us – it’s not too late to incorporate some other favourite races! Just email info@LynnValleyLife.com.)

Also new in our neck of the woods will be the chance to have your photo taken with our custom-painted Project Sunflower photo board (thank you, Julie Jay!) If you haven’t already picked up your free packet of seeds for Project Sunflower, please stop by and do so – we’re hoping to see hundreds of sunflowers blooming in the valley this summer!

Rain or shine, there will be something old and something new, something borrowed and …. oh, right, that’s weddings. But it holds true for Lynn Valley Days as well, and we know you’re not going to want to miss the Lions Cook Shack 7:30am Pancake Breakfast, the 10 a.m. parade, and all-day fun at the park. Keep our special Lynn Valley Days section handy so you’ll have access to all the entertainment schedules and other details as they are finalized!