September, 2014

  1. The Victoria Maker Community

    September 24, 2014 by Tessa Bousfield


    As everyone knows, we’re excited that Fort Tectoria has opened its new space on Fort Street. Not only are there a lot of tech companies nearby, Fort Street is home to fantastic places to eat, book stores, coffee shops, music stores and a ton of other eclectic shops.

    But there is another new neighbour on Fort Street who we think is worth getting to know: the folks at the Makehouse.

    The Makehouse

    Located just a block up from VIATeC at 833 1/2 Fort Street, the Makehouse offers workshops for people who value traditional hand-crafted skills and creative self-satisfaction.

    The Makehouse is the brainchild of Jenny Ambrose, a familiar face at another Victoria cultural institution, Hermann’s Jazz Club.

    Thanks to Ambrose’s vision, the Makehouse workshops typically focus on textiles. In fact, Ambrose, a Tectoria transplant from the UK, got her start launching the cult-favourite Enamore eco-fashion brand.

    Before long, Ambrose became involved in teaching, mentoring and lecturing, and got to know a lot of other fashion and textiles companies most of whom are also working to ethical practices.

    When Ambrose relocated to Victoria a couple of years ago, she continued her work to help anyone and everyone unleash their latent creativity.

    One recent Makehouse project you may have seen this past summer was the Fort Street Yarn Bomb:


    And now the Makehouse is just up the street from us!

    The Maker Economy

    The Makehouse is part of a growing global community of “makers” — people who take a do-it-yourself approach to construction and design projects.

    Some people create their own tools, others build robots from scratch, while others like Jenny Ambrose and her Makehouse community create the unique designs that become the high fashion of tomorrow.

    The key to the Maker movement is pooling resources together in a common space. That way everyone gets access to cool technologies, tools and ideas to make things happen.


    Victoria’s Makerspace

    Located at Vancouver Island Technology Park just down the street from Camosun College’s Interurban Campus, Victoria Makerspace is a community-operated, shared workshop, where people can meet, learn and work on their creative projects.

    Their home base at VITP have a wood and metal shop, and a ton of tools:

    • Laser cutter
    • 3D Printer
    • Propane forge
    • Wood shop
    • BioSpace (DIY biology lab)
    • Electronics workshop
    • Various other tools and gadgets

    Members pay monthly dues to use the space and tools in the workshop. Makerspace holds classes and workshops so anyone can learn to use the tools independently, with the hope that you will eventually be able to teach everyone else something new as well.

    It’s all part of a world-wide community of “makers” inspired by Maker Faire and Make: Magazine.

    The movement is perfect for kids, combining creativity, design, and applied science – the very essence of innovation, with all being the key ingredients for entrepreneurial success.

    And entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial thinking are what’s needed to continue to transform Victoria into Tectoria, a truly “great”, prosperous city.

    So, do you have a DIY idea you want to show and tell others?

    Consider joining Tectoria’s Makerspace community (open house every Tuesday evening, 7-9pm), or heading on up Fort Street to the Makespace.


  2. Fish Hook on Fort

    September 16, 2014 by Tessa Bousfield


    While Tacofino’s arrival may be a month or so away, in the meantime Fort Tectoria won’t starve.

    That’s because we’re a hop, skip, and a jump away from the stretch of Blanshard between Johnson and Broughton known affectionately by Tectoria foodies as “Eat Street.”

    The Pink Bicycle is right around the corner from us, as is the Clay Pigeon.

    And like all things Tectoria, the good stuff on Eat Street seems to be expanding.

    Fabulous Fort’s Fish Hook

    Just up Fort from our new location, on the other side of Blanshard Street, lies the fabulous Fish Hook lunch counter.

    This uniquely Victoria deli is the successor to The Hook deli that was located at the same spot.

    Fish Hook sees “Top Chef Canada” contender and Red Fish Blue Fish mastermind Kunal Ghose joining forces with Steve Kerr, the entrepreneur behind Hook Fine Foods gourmet smoked and cured seafood delicatessen.

    Fish Hook’s claim to fame? It’s something called a tartine, a French-style open-face sandwich.


    Served on a toasted Irene’s Bakery sourdough baguette, their tartines combine delicious local ingredients with sustainably caught local fish.

    You can get everything from a tuna melt to salmon bacon and more. If fish isn’t your thing, they also have deviled egg tartines or Greek salad as a topping. Check out their menu here.

    For those in the know who can resist the temptation the tasty tartines, the main draw of course is the daily local fish & curry.

    “Chowder is something I’m known for on the Island, says Ghose. “My newest chowder may be one of the biggest draws for Fish Hook,” describing his soon-to-be famous hot fix as a “thyme-chili roasted potato chowder, combining a coconut-smoked fish broth with a halibut confit.”

    Fish Hook offers not only tartines, but a wide selection of salads, soups and daily-produced pickles, all featuring a variety of sustainable, locally sourced and farm fresh ingredients.

    Ocean Wise-Certified

    And of course the fish is sourced from Ocean Wise-certified suppliers. Ocean Wise is an initiative launched by the Vancouver Aquarium to help connect consumers with sustainable seafood choices. So the fish is fresh and caught locally from sustainable fisheries.

    Maintaining Ocean Wise, local and organic standards, Fish Hook also offers dairy-free, wheat-free and mayo-free alternatives.

    It’s all about providing healthy food options for lunch and dinner while celebrating Victoria’s rising food culture.

    Local suppliers include Saanich Organics for fresh produce Kid Sister for ice cream.


  3. Tacofino: Feeding Fort Tectoria

    September 10, 2014 by Tessa Bousfield

    tacofino victoria blue truck

    It’s official: the fabulous folks at Tacofino are poised to become Fort Tectoria’s newest next-door neighbour.

    “The rumors are true! We’re opening a location on the 700-block of Fort Street next to Fort Tectoria sometime this fall,” says Josh Carlsen. Carlsen has operated the “Blue Truck”, Tacofino’s Victoria food truck, since May 2013.

    Tacofino is said to be taking over the space where The Binge Eatery had been located on Fort before it closed over the summer.

    Described by media reviewers as possibly the best Mexican, or at least the best fish tacos in BC, Tacofino’s offerings are “made from scratch with love but without the wait.”

    Thanks to a tasty, budget-conscious a menu that includes Baja-style fish tacos at $5 and spicy braised pork burritos at $10, Tectorians are voting with their stomach.

    Strong local community support is helping the legendary Tofino-based food truck franchise expand the number of places Tectorians can snack on these tasty street eats.

    And fish-taco fueled juggernaut is just getting started, expanding from from Pacific Rim Highway in Tofino, to Vancouver, Victoria and, this past summer even Kelowna.

    Each city has a different-coloured truck: for example, Vancouver gets orange, Kelowna gets white, while Victoria get a blue truck. Noted Vancouver designer Robert Mearns provides the look and feel of the franchise.

    What’s the origin story of this fleet of multi-coloured trucks?

    Just two years after launching their food truck business in Tofino selling Baja-inspired tacos, the Tacofino team was so successful they were able to expand to Vancouver.

    The move came after a competition where Tacofino impressed the judges and managed to land a coveted Vancouver food truck license.

    The Robson Square food truck has proved so popular the company has vaulted from the selling off the street to opening an actual restaurant they call The Commissary, located in Vancouver at 2327 E Hastings Street, just west of Nanaimo Street.

    The Commissary restaurant in East Van is receiving rave online reviews for its banana churros and the chain’s trademark pork jowl tacos.

    This pattern of success, establishing a street-based beachhead and expanding to an actual restaurant has been replicated here in Victoria.

    For the past two summers, Tacofino has received rave reviews at the Tectoria-sponsored annual Food Truck Festival in July and August.

    The blue Victoria taco truck is often stationed anywhere from in the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre parking lot behind Rifflandia HQ on Pandora just before Douglas Street, and serves about 100 customers on an average day.

    And sometime this fall, says the Blue Truck’s Josh Carlsen, Tacofino should open up shop next door to 777 Fort Street and Fort Tectoria.

  4. Fort Tectoria: Your Home Away From Home

    September 4, 2014 by Tessa Bousfield

    Fort Tectoria is on: VIATeC’s new space at 777 Fort Street will open on September 11th. There is going to be a big party, and you’re invited.

    Fort Tectoria is the name of the four-storey building on Fort Street VIATeC purchased earlier in 2014.

    The building, across the street from iconic Ditch Records (the best record store in Canada), will expand VIATeC’s footprint to a humongous 15,600 square feet of space.

    Make sure you’re there on September 11 to see us launch!

    exp-tectoria-logo-main.preview-500x84Fort Tectoria: Your Home Away from Home

    But Fort Tectoria is so much more than office space.

    Number one: We want this this to be your fort, where you feel at home, where you go to hang out.

    Number two: Fort Tectoria will also be a great new public space downtown for holding celebrations and events, for launching new companies, and for providing a place for like-minded creators and entrepreneurs to meet and share ideas.

    Why “Fort Tectoria”?

    The name is a reference to the former HBC trading post down the street where Victoria got its start.

    And as any regular reader of this blog should know, Tectoria of course is a reminder that technology is our region’s top private industry, and is playing an important in transforming downtown Victoria into a creative hub.

    Why move downtown?

    Community awareness of the tech sector went through the roof after VIATeC moved to the corner of Douglas and Hillside a couple of years ago in 2011.

    But everyone also said VIATeC ought to be even closer to the downtown core. And they wanted us to be located right at street level, rather than being somewhat hidden like we are now, on the second floor of an office building.

    Many of the more than 300 technology companies that have set up shop in downtown Victoria are also working away, largely invisible behind closed doors in office buildings, high above the streets.

    So no one walking on the sidewalk below may know there companies in downtown Victoria playing a key role driving our economy and making our community more creative, vibrant, and fun.

    Walk in off the street and hang out at Fort Tectoria

    But tech’s presence downtown won’t be hidden any longer.

    Anyone in Victoria will be able to walk in right off the street to visit VIATeC at their new location at 777 Fort Street.

    The building has four floors and a basement, and the ground floor is a community space.

    For starters, a café will sell coffee and food throughout the day to anyone walking in off Fort Street.

    Fort Tectoria’s ground floor, which also includes a large private meeting room big enough for forty people, features removable walls and partitions, quickly converting the floor into a large space suitable for holding events.

    Besides making space at street-level on Fort available for the community to host events.

    We’re also looking forward to a hosting a lot of live music.


    Photo courtesy Al Smith / Vic42

    More space for tech startups

    The building at 777 Fort, with 15,600 square feet of space, will be home to VIATeC’s massively successful Accelerator Program that guides, coaches, and grows technology startup companies.

    So far the 123 applicants to the Accelerator program have created 121 new jobs, generated $1.8M in new revenues, and have attracted $8.7M in new investment.

    We need more room to grow the Accelerator Program, and Fort Tectoria is just the place to do it.

    Space for tech entrepreneurs and creators to connect and collaborate

    In addition to providing a home for Accelerator participants, the four floors of the new Fort Street location will also provide coworking space, encouraging entrepreneurs and members of Victoria’s creative industries to rub shoulders, connect, and collaborate.

    There will be several different meeting rooms and board rooms throughout the building, and the basement will also have showers for people to bike to work or like to get a run in during the work day.

    The basement of Fort Victoria is going to be like that cool unfinished basement hideaway that one kid in your high school always seemed to have.

    There will be kitchen for tenants to make lunch, but there will also be a turntable, couches, lava lamps, and a total mellow 70’s vibe.

    Fort Tectoria is your home-away-from-home.