Author Archives: Daniel Bida

Member Update – March 2017

The beginning of 2017 has been about focusing on a few key activities to keep our project moving forward. We continue to make progress, and thank our members for their ongoing patience as we continue to work through the challenges related to completing this project.

Specifically this means:

  • We are very pleased to announce that we’ve extended our relationship with Bullfrog Power, as our Education Sponsor, for an additional 5 years and have been working together to bring on a co-sponsor to further support for our project and educational programming.
  • Working with Miller Waste Systems and our legal counsel to execute on the 4 key agreements that collectively form our relationship. Negotiating and executing all of these agreements simultaneously is complex and time-consuming, but we have made good progress and continue to collaboratively work through the challenges with Miller.
  • We initiated discussions with TREC Education, and an engineer who is volunteering his time, about improving and adding to our educational offering. This will include an update to the in-class workshop, downloadable curriculums for teachers to build their own digesters with students, developing content for signage inside the Zoo and at the biogas site, and building a portable digester to be used as a demonstration in the classroom.
  • We have completed a feasibility study, together with a local farmer, exploring the costs and benefits of locating small storage tanks on the farms in the area and more regularly transporting digestate there throughout the year. The primary benefit of this plan is easier management of materials for the biogas plant and ready access to fertilizer whenever it’s needed for the farmer.
  • And while we’ve been working on the project, the Ontario Government provided some additional information about their Strategy for a Waste-Free Ontario, which included a target to ban organics from landfills in 2022. This ban, which still has a little way to go before being put into action, would greatly increase the amount of feedstock that needs to be disposed of at compost facilities and biogas plants, like ours. The primary impact on our business of this change is that it will provide upward support to tipping fees on a per ton basis, as demand for our services will increase. More information about the Province’s strategy can be found here.

Member Update – December 2016

The past couple of months for us have been all about contracts – editing language, making amendments, coordinating between the parties involved, and getting feedback from our Board.   While we’ve been working on those documents, the Miller Waste team has been working on the designs and narrowing down its list of equipment and service providers.  Everything is moving along nicely and we look forward to closing these contracts in the coming months and beginning construction in the Spring.

The highlights from the last two months included:

  • Received approval from the Toronto Zoo to contract with Miller Waste for the design, construction and operation of the biogas plant.  This included some amendments to our original agreements with the Zoo to reflect the changed market conditions since they were signed in 2012.
  • Completed first drafts and comments on the construction and loan agreements with Miller
  • Initiated discussions with Bullfrog Power about extending our current Education Sponsorship Agreement, and revamping our educational programming in 2017.

Design and Construction

As was communicated in the most recent newsletter, we executed a Term Sheet with Miller Waste Systems Inc. to Design/Build/Finance/Operate and Feed the biogas plant at the beginning of October.  Since that time, we have been working on the language in the various agreements that collectively will govern our relationship during the construction and operations phase of the project.  We anticipate closing these agreements early in 2017.

While this has been happening, the team at Miller has been refining the designs and budgets, and working towards making final decisions for the supply of various equipment and services.  This includes recently completing an Environmental Site Assessment to get a better grasp of the local soil conditions, and initiating an application to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to allow for the use of our digestate as fertilizer at nearby farms.

We are collectively making good progress, and are still on track to begin construction in the Spring.

Bond Sales & Financing

As noted in our previous update, bond sales closed on September 30th.  We don’t anticipate issuing any new bonds in the near future, but will update you if something changes.

We have, however, moved forward with a Long Term Debt provider, and have been negotiating a Term Sheet with them, that we anticipate will be signed early in the new year.  Ultimately, it’s our plan to execute the binding loan documents at the same time that we execute the construction and operations contracts with Miller.

Feedstock

As previously communicated, Miller’s role in the project alleviates the need for ZooShare to seek out and secure high quality feedstock from other producers.  We continue to maintain our relationships and agreements at the current time, and will work together with Miller to bring in any additional waste producers.  To ZooShare, these represent excellent sponsorship opportunities, and we are hopeful of adding at least one additional sponsor to the project in 2017, whether it is feedstock provider or another company working in a related sector.

Co-op Development

Speaking of sponsors, we sat down with Bullfrog Power this past quarter to discuss extending our sponsorship agreement.  Part of this discussion included ways to revamp and improve the educational programming currently offered, as well as planning for the post-start-up phase, which will include additional signage in the Zoo, tours and potentially an annual biogas design challenge for students.  These plans are currently in development, and so we welcome any feedback and ideas.  Please contact us if you’d like to get involved.

We have also been engaged in planning for the co-op’s budget and human resource needs for 2017, both of which are not substantial, as we head into the construction and operations phases of the project.

Member Update – October 2016

The highlights from the last two months include:

  • Bond Sales closed above expectations with a total of $1,154,700 raised.
  • Executed a Term Sheet with Miller Waste Systems Inc. to design/build/finance/operate and feed the biogas plant.
  • Continued progress in securing Long Term Debt, largely as a result of the above.  We received a Term Sheet with an offer to lend from a lender we’ve had a relationship with for a number of a years, and look forward to finalizing the terms of the loan.
  • As a result of bond sales ending, we are scaling back sales and marketing activities significantly, and therefore have been preparing to say goodbye to Frances whose last day will be October 14th.

Design and Construction

We are pleased to announce that we executed a Term Sheet with Miller Waste Systems Inc. to Design/Build/Finance/Operate and Feed the biogas plant.

Miller Waste has been providing composting services to Canadians since 1990. Each year, it processes valuable leaf and yard waste along with food waste from municipal and commercial sources. Miller Waste currently owns and operates four compost sites nationwide and has been increasingly involved in anaerobic digestion projects with its partners, including a recently commissioned organics decontamination facility at its Pickering Transfer Station. Collectively, Miller Waste processes 130,000 tonnes of organics annually.

Miller will leverage what it’s already learned in the sector and work together with equipment suppliers and a local engineering firm to complete designs and construction. As stated in the last update, we are excited to move forward with this relationship as it significantly reduces operating risk for the facility as a result of Miller’s access to and experience managing organics from the commercial sector.

With additional agreements to negotiate with Miller, final design work to be completed and then submitted for building permits, we will not be starting construction until Spring 2017.  This puts us on track to begin operations in Fall 2017.

Bond Sales

Community Bond sales closed on September 30th with the expiry of the Offering Statement.

We attended the usual number of events and markets during August and September, and reminded our many subscribers about the opportunity ending, ultimately helping us to exceed our $1,000,000 goal.  All together, a total of $1,154,700 was raised in this offering.

As noted in the previous update, this was not a simple decision, but it was the right one.  Ultimately selling bonds is a costly and time-consuming way to raise money in comparison to other forms of financing.  With the addition of Miller to the project, avenues that were not previously available to us became viable, and so we decided to shut down bond sales.  This is going to help us conserve cash and save money in the short term, while also allowing the organization to focus on completing the remaining milestones leading up to the Commercial Operation Date.

Feedstock

As stated above, bringing Miller into the project gives ZooShare an experienced operator that collects and manages sufficient volumes of commercial organics to more than meet our needs.

As a result of Miller’s ability to decontaminate and remove packaging, we will still be able to serve the needs of local grocery retailers while collecting market-based rates for the organics it accepts, and also leaving potential for sponsorship revenues to grow over time.

Co-op Development

Sadly the end of bond sales also means the end of our need for a full-time Sales and Marketing Manager.  Frances has been with ZooShare since February of 2014, playing a major role in all of our communications and bond sales over her 2.5 years with the co-operative.  She has personally spoken to almost every one of our members at some point, whether it was answering questions, organizing the AGM, or selling/processing bond sales.  As much as we’d love to keep her on, there simply was not enough work or budget to do so.  Frances’ contributions and presence will be sorely missed, but we know she will be moving on to bigger and better things and wish her nothing but the best. Please be sure to send Frances a note to say thanks before she goes.

 

Member Update – August 2016

The highlights from the last months include:

  • Initiated discussions and engaged in focused negotiations with one company who will be providing the biogas plant to ZooShare on a Design/Build/Finance/Operate basis, and also be responsible for feedstock over the long term
  • Attended nearly 40 events to spread the word about ZooShare and our bonds
  • Decided to stop selling bonds when the Offering Statement expires on Sep/30
  • Re-initiated discussions with long term debt providers
  • Added two new members to our Board – Andrew and Melissa

Design and Construction

We spent the first part of 2016 working with one company on a Design/Build/Finance proposal, and looking forward to beginning construction in May or June.  However, we were not able to come to an agreement that worked for ZooShare, and as a result, changed our approach and began working on a Design/Build/Finance/Operate model with a different company.  This change meant that we did not begin construction as originally scheduled, but it also means that we will have a well-run, well-fed biogas plant with reduced maintenance costs and higher average uptime from year-to-year.  All of this means a 4-6 month delay to the start-up date, but with more stable and sustainable cash flows once we get there.

At this point, we see construction starting in November and the plant reaching its Commercial Operation Date next Summer.

Bond Sales

As of August 16th, we have sold $622,600 of the 5% bonds, which are currently sitting in an escrow account awaiting the completion of construction.  Our Founders’ Club bonds also matured this month and we are pleased to share that over 70% of Founders Club members decided to roll-over their initial investment into new bonds.

As noted in the newsletter, we have made the decision to stop bond sales once the current Offering Statement expires on September 30.  This was not a straightforward decision – without all the feedstock under contract, we have not been able to get sufficient financing from a commercial lender, and selling bonds in small increments like we have has been an expensive way to raise money.  Ultimately, the path that we’ve been carving out over the last couple of months made the decision easier – with long term feedstock and operating & maintenance agreements with a reputable firm, we can get the funds we need all at once from a commercial lender at a lower cost compared to selling bonds.   Selling bonds also requires a lot of organizational attention, between attendance at the many events and speaking to so many current and potential investors, much of our time, energy and budget goes into this activity.  Once they’re closed we can focus exclusively on construction.

Feedstock

We have decided that our best approach is to align with a company that controls decontamination equipment that can meet our needs through their existing contracts and capacity.  This will not prevent us from receiving organics from local grocery retailers.  ZooShare will still receive market-based rates for the organics it accepts, while also leaving potential for sponsorship revenues to grow over time.

As discussed elsewhere in this update, we are negotiating this agreement in conjunction with the design/construction and operating/maintenance agreements to ensure that all integrate seamlessly and minimize operating risk.

Co-op Development

As you know, at this year’s Annual General Meeting, we added a new member to our Board of Directors: Melissa Felder has run her own environmental consultancy since 2001, with a focus on project management, business development, stakeholder engagement, research and technical analysis and environmental compliance.  She has specific academic and work experience related to bioenergy, and has a Masters in Biological and Chemical Engineering.

Andrew Tarasiewicz joined the Board more recently after Peter Roles stepped down for personal reasons.  Andrew is a Senior Consultant at KPMG’s Infrastructure Advisory practice.  Specializing in renewable power generation, Andrew supports clients with M&A, financial advisory, diligence, and strategic advice, he also previously worked at the IESO and had a hand in the designing and launching procurement initiatives, like the FIT program.

Both of their bios can be found here: https://zooshare.ca/team/

Printing, paper and power, oh my!

Summer is here!  Soon you will see us at an event, handing out information about ZooShare. Did you know the materials we use are sustainably printed and that the recycled paper is made using power from a biogas plant?

If you've seen us at an event, these materials will look familiar. We printed them with Warren's, who received the paper products from Rolland.

If you’ve seen us at an event, these materials will look familiar. We printed them with Warren’s Waterless, who received the paper products from Rolland.

ZooShare is a client of Warren’s Waterless, the most eco-friendly printer in Toronto. “We are a 0-discharge plant, both in air and water emissions, and our inks (exclusive to Waterless) are 100% VOC-free,” says Glenn Laycock, the Vice President Account Director of Warren’s Waterless.  While many printers may advertise themselves as “green”, in reality they are green-washed: The industry standard is to offer the option of recycled paper and to use vegetable-based inks, so most “green” printers are just regular printers with a different marketing strategy.  What you won’t hear is that “[a traditional] 40-inch printing press will discharge 80,000 litres of waste-water sludge down the drain per year,” says Glenn.  He was so frustrated by so-called “green” printers that during a staff meeting he exclaimed, “environmental printing is more than recycled paper!” which consequently became the company’s trademarked slogan.

The company started out as a film shop, but as film started to disappear, they transitioned into a printing company.  “We got into waterless because of the higher quality print,” says Glenn, “but we very quickly shot ourselves in the foot, because if you advertise yourself as a high quality printer, there’s implied cost.” As the company began to recognize the environmental benefits of waterless printing, they built on their environmental identity, receiving numerous environmental certifications and powering their entire plant with Bullfrog Power.  “When we started marketing ourselves as an eco-printer, we very quickly shot ourselves in the other foot, because there’s implied cost.” But there isn’t extra cost: Warren’s Waterless doesn’t buy the chemicals and additives needed by a traditional printer, nor do they pay for water.  Warren’s found a loyal following in the not-for-profit community. “It’s been fantastic for us, we are incredibly busy,” says Glenn.

Glenn Laycock, Vice President Account Director of Warren’s Waterless at their printing house in Toronto.

Glenn Laycock, Vice President Account Director of Warren’s Waterless, at their printing house in Toronto.

In addition to being a waterless, 0-discharge plant using safer inks and supporting renewable energy, Warren’s Waterless uses Rolland paper products: “Paper of virgin fibre is substantially cheaper than recycled paper,” explains Glenn.  “Cascades [now Rolland] was the first one to come along with a recycled sheet that got the price point closer to where clients would go ‘ok, I’ll spend a few dollars more’, now they got the price point in where it’s almost a wash between a virgin sheet and their sheet.”

The landfill site from which Rolland gets its biogas.

The landfill site from which Rolland gets its biogas.

Rolland is the only fine paper manufacturer to use biogas in North America. The Rolland website explains, “energy is a major factor in determining a paper’s environmental impact…As a renewable energy source derived from local landfill methane, biogas drives our carbon footprint to the lowest levels in the industry.”  Their biogas is transported from a nearby landfill via an 8-mile pipeline to fulfill 93% of the paper mill’s needs, reducing their CO2 emissions by 70,000 tons, or 23,400 compact cars, annually.

“Using biogas at our plant has allowed us to stabilize our energy supply and to reduce our costs. Despite the tremendous initial investment, this project is, simply put, profitable,” explains Julie Loyer, Commnication and Sustainable Development Manager at Rolland.  She writes: “The idea to use biogas in this way did not come from paid consultants, or even from Rolland’s own scientists, but rather from a single, curious and passionate employee. It was the director of purchases at that time who had the idea while watching a television program on the reduction of greenhouse gases. He dug a little deeper only to discover that his idea had some potential for Rolland…Eventually, several departments and specialists – both internal and external – had to get involved, and millions of dollars had to be invested to implement this.  The birth of such a massive project, which involved a non-traditional process of inspiration and execution, was made possible by a company’s open leadership that continues to leave room for its employees to generate and develop new ideas.”

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So there you have it: Recycled paper is created at Rolland, powered by their biogas plant, where it is then sustainably printed at Warren’s Waterless into ZooShare brochures, that end up in your hands…We look forward to seeing you at our next event!

The ZooShare Groundbreaking

On April 19th 2016 at 9:30am we gathered with our members, The Toronto Zoo, Bullfrog Power, and TREC Education to celebrate the groundbreaking of the ZooShare biogas plant. Speakers included the Minister of Energy, Bob Chiarelli, the Chair of the Toronto Zoo board, Councilor Raymond Cho, and the CEO of Bullfrog Power, Ron Seftel. Media at the event included Global News, CityNews, The National Post, The Scarborough Mirror and more!


All photos below are © ZooShare/Rob Elliot 2016.

People walk to ZooShare groundbreaking ceremony, a large white tent is in the distance, across a dirt field.

The event was held at the ZooShare site, on the east side of Meadowvale Road, across from the Toronto Zoo.

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It was a great turn out!

Paul Ungerman speaks at a microphone.

Paul Ungerman, ZooShare’s Board Chair, was the MC for the event. “We’ve all come here today, during the start of Earth Week, to mark the start of construction of our 500 KW community owned biogas plant, right here at the Toronto Zoo…Thank you. Thank you for your support, commitment and help in reaching this major milestone…It’s not often an easy choice to invest with your heart, but we’re really glad you made it.”

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Ontario’s Minister of Energy, Bob Chiarelli, congratulated ZooShare on their project, saying the plant was part of a province-wide shift to renewable energies. “You’re showing leadership, you’re showing excitement for the community, you’re giving new life to the zoo,” he said. [Source: http://goo.gl/k8rbSJ]

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Councillor Raymond Cho, Chair of the Toronto Zoo board, said the biogas plant off Meadowvale Road perfectly fits the zoo’s strategy of turning itself into a conservation centre of excellence. [source: http://goo.gl/k8rbSJ]

Ron Seftel, CEO of Bullfrog Power, speaks at the ZooShare groundbreaking event.

Ron Seftel, CEO of Bullfrog Power (our Education Sponsor) said “We really believe it’s the way of the future.”

Group photo of speakers and dignitaries holding shovels and holding up ZooShare logo sign.

From left to right: John Tracogna (CEO of The Toronto Zoo), Councillor Raymond Cho (Toronto Zoo Board Chair), Ron Seftel (CEO of Bullfrog Power), Minister of Energy Bob Chiarelli, Paul Ungerman (ZooShare Board Chair), Daniel Bida (ZooShare ED) and Toronto Zoo Board members Paul Doyle and Councillor Paul Ainslie.

ZooShare members group together in front of a manure track and a pile of compost.

ZooShare members lined up for their big media-moment.

ZooShare members, family and friends, gather around a pile of what will soon be one of the ZooShare biogas plant’s by-products: a high nutrient fertilizer created from zoo poo.

A pile of compost lit up by the morning sun. (It was a beautiful day, not a cloud in the sky.)

ZooShare’s Executive Director Daniel Bida and ZooShare’s Sales and Marketing Manager Frances Darwin, dig in.

A manure truck leaves the ZooShare site, soon to be back with fresh ingredients for the compost…By the end of the year, the manure will be fuel for the ZooShare biogas plant.

To learn more about our new bonds, click here.

 

Member Update – May 2016

The highlights from last month include:

  • ZooShare Groundbreaking ceremony
  • Executed Connection Cost Agreement with Toronto Hydro
  • Continued progress in our pursuit of additional feedstock, with positive movement on 2 different fronts, and can see a path to executing the appropriate agreements.
  • Continued progress in our negotiations to sign a binding turnkey design/build/finance contract

Bond Sales

As of May 9th, we had sold $433,600 of the 5% bonds, which are currently sitting in an escrow account awaiting the completion of construction.

If you would like to invest in the latest bond offering, please fill out the form here (if you you a ZooShare member, make sure to check the “Yes, I’ve paid my ZooShare membership fee” box).

We attended a number of events this past month, in addition to leveraging the amazing media attention received at the Groundbreaking Ceremony.  ZooShare was featured on City TV, CP24, Global News, CBC, and Yahoo! Canada, among others – which caused a spike in website traffic, Facebook engagement and bond sales, exactly what we were hoping would happen.  Building off this momentum and continuing to grow our database of potential investors, we hosted a booth at Seedy Saturday in Scarborough, the Green Living Show and the Zoo Earth Day Festival.  We plan on attending a fair number of farmers markets and street festivals around the GTA this summer with the help of students and volunteers to keep the momentum going.

Feedstock

Nothing significant to report on this front other than progress – conversations with waste producers and haulers continued and have been positive in tone, and have also included a couple that control transfer station capacity equipped with de-packaging equipment.  As discussed in the past, this transfer station capacity is key, as we cannot deploy this equipment on site, and almost all available waste is in a package or a bag.  With a contractual relationship with a transfer station owner, we can serve our current partners and/or take on others that can provide our needs.  We are heartened that all of these conversations include the counter-party highlighting our terrific location, which continues to get more valuable as fuel costs increase and we get closer to a potential ban on organics going to landfills.  Without being able to disclose the details, we see a path towards signing the feedstock supply contracts we need for a sufficient term to secure long term project financing.

Design and Construction

As previously communicated, the 30% project design and drawings have been completed and building permit applications have been submitted to the respective authorities.  We have also met with and received comments from the City, the Zoo and TRCA about the designs, and the appropriate responses have been prepared.   The turnkey contract continues to be our primary focus, but disappointingly, it is not yet ready for signing.  We continue to work on it, and are confident that this issue will be resolved in the coming weeks, without causing significant delays to our construction schedule.

Toronto 2066: The Future of Waste

Right now, we are facing a decision that will affect Toronto for the next 50 years.  How will we deal with the city’s waste?

Credit: Flickr/Daniel Calero Jimenez 2014

A future vision of Toronto.  Credit: Flickr/Daniel Calero Jimenez 2014

Over the next 6 months, members of the public and city councillors alike will discuss and debate the fate of Toronto’s waste via the proposed Long Term Waste Management Strategy.  At ZooShare, we firmly believe that there is no such thing as “waste”, only wasted resources.  But how does a city like Toronto implement this philosophy into a 50-year plan?

Here to help kickstart our imagination is a new report by Toronto Environmental Alliance (TEA), “Zero Waste Toronto: A Vision For Our City“.

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A Zero Waste future is “a future where there is no waste, where everything is designed to be reused or to become the materials and resources to create something new”.1  As you know, at ZooShare we’ll be doing just that.  There are other local examples too: Take our former contest partners Furniture Bank and/or Toronto Tool Library (read more about each of us in the report). We are all examples of local businesses participating in the circular economy, “where unwanted materials are not disposed in a landfill or incinerator, but…keep valuable resources circulating in the local economy, supporting good green jobs, benefitting the community and reducing harmful environmental impacts”.2

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Credit: Toronto Environmental Alliance “Zero Waste Toronto A Vision for Our City” 2016 Page 7

But Toronto still has a ways to go.  According to TEA’s report, a lot less could be going to landfills, especially organic waste (food, plant and yard waste). Despite the Green Bin and Yard Composing programmes, 182,000 tonnes of organics are still put in the garbage and sent to the landfill each year!4  This is why waste Education and Effective Communications is one of the priorities outlined in TEA’s report.

Credit: Toronto Environmental Alliance Zero Waste Toronto A Vision for our City 2016 Page 15

Credit: Toronto Environmental Alliance “Zero Waste Toronto A Vision for Our City” 2016 Page 15

Toronto is ready to take the next step towards a zero-waste future.  As outlined in TEA’s report: “We have the programs and infrastructure to reduce, reuse and recycle almost all of our waste.  We have an excited and robust group of businesses and communities ready to scale up with creative solutions that support a circular economy.  Now is the time to continue our zero waste journey.”5

Hopefully, in 2066, Torontonians will be living in a zero-waste city.  Make it happen.  Do your part now.

Credits:

1 Toronto Environmental Alliance “Zero Waste Strategy A Vision for Our City” 2016 Page 03
2 Toronto Environmental Alliance “Zero Waste Strategy A Vision for Our City” 2016 Page 06
3 Toronto Environmental Alliance “Zero Waste Strategy A Vision for Our City” 2016 Page 16
4 Toronto Environmental Alliance “Zero Waste Strategy A Vision for Our City” 2016 Page 18
5 Toronto Environmental Alliance “Zero Waste Strategy A Vision for Our City” 2016 Page 24

Member update: March 2016

The highlights from last month include:

  • Completion of 30% design and drawings
  • Submission of building permit applications to the City of Toronto and TRCA
  • project design, preparation and submission of building permit applications;
  • We also made good progress in our pursuit of additional feedstock suppliers, and have a plan in place to ensure we have all of the organics contracted within the coming months.   This is an extremely exciting and critical time for our project, with much work to get done to be operational by year end.
  • In addition, while the construction is taking place, we will continue to explore every possible avenue to maximize project revenues (primarily on the fertilizer side) and minimize future operating costs.

Bond Sales

As of March 1st, we had sold $363,600 of the 5% bonds, which are currently sitting in an escrow account awaiting the completion of construction.

If you would like to invest in the latest bond offering, please fill out the form here (if you you a ZooShare member, make sure to check the “Yes, I’ve paid my ZooShare membership fee” box).

We have begun booking events for the Spring and Summer, in addition to what is coming up (Seedy Saturday, Green Living Show), and have submitted an application to the Canada Summer Jobs program in order to get a couple of students to assist with the effort. We are also planning for our groundbreaking ceremony, which will take place around Earth Week – an event we believe will attract strong media attention and help to further drive project momentum and bond sales.

Feedstock

Nothing significant to report on this front – conversations with our current and potential alternate retailers and waste management companies continued and have been positive in tone.  The various parties involved are interested in working with us, and see the positives of participating in our project, however it takes time to sort through the complexities together and create a strong agreement (as we’ve experienced over the years).  Our experience to date helps to expedite the conversation somewhat, and we continue to diligently follow up and answer questions, but ultimately it is a slow moving conversation.  At the point that we are ready to move on from the retailers and sign with a waste management company, the contract can get done much faster as those are more standardized agreements.  As a reminder, our focus continues to be first on retail-facing food companies who see the PR value of a long term relationship (20 years), followed by waste management companies that more easily serve our needs but on a more short term basis (1-5 years).

Design and Construction

Bioferm and their engineers completed the 30% project design and drawings this month – which have been submitted to the Zoo for approval and used to support building permit applications submitted to the City and TRCA.  We anticipate receiving the building permits by late March, early April, but may be impacted by the current labour dispute between the Inside Workers and the City. The turnkey contract is not yet ready for signing, but we continue to work on it together, and we are confident we can complete negotiations and execute in the next 4 weeks, prior to starting excavation and site preparation.   As stated above, there will be a groundbreaking ceremony at the site, taking place around Earth Week.  More details on this event will be made available once they are finalized.

“Investing” in your savings account?

RRSP Season is here, are you saving wisely? In this article by MoneySense, we learned that a “whopping 60% of the typical [Canadian] portfolio is being held in cash–far too much to meet most retirement needs when you factor in record-low interest rates and inflation.”

This trend seems to be mirrored in ZooShare members as well: When asked, “Not including ZooShare, where do you invest?” 56% of ZooShare investors said “In my savings account”.

Graph of ZooShare investors other investments

In the MoneySense article, when people were asked “why [they] were sitting on so much cash, the majority cited accessibility and/or convenience”.

Well, we’ve made it easy for you:  Here’s a list of 3 resources to learn how you can align your investment portfolio with your values and perhaps earn more by becoming an impact investor.

Disclaimer: we are not legally allowed to offer financial advice, so please do your own research and speak to a professional. These suggestions are just starting points!

1) Read this:

The Responsible Investing Association recently published their Guide To Responsible Investment.  It’s available online and chockablock full of great articles like “Climate Change and Responsible Investment” (page 12) and even features a list of Responsible Investment Funds (page 23).

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2) Research these:

Since 60% of ZooShare members also invest in Mutual Funds, we thought it would be useful to share these recent developments:

  • NEI has recently announced plans to launch a new fund called the NEI Environmental Leaders Fund. The fossil-free fund will invest in companies providing solutions to environmental problems (focusing on energy efficiency, alternative energy, waste management, water, and sustainable agriculture).
  • IA Clarington’s Inhance Global Equity SRI Class has divested from fossil fuels.
  • OceanRock’s Meritas SRI Funds are the only mutual funds in Canada with an impact investing component. A portion of all portfolios is allocated to “Community Development Investments”. Read more here

In addition to the funds listed above (and in the Guide), here are EVEN MORE responsible funds you can talk to your financial advisor about (if you have one) or research yourself.  PS: If you don’t have a financial advisor and you’re looking for someone who knows about responsible investing, the RIA has an online directory of advisors.

3) Buy a Community Bond!

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And of course, ZooShare is now offering a new series of bonds that are construction risk-free and earn 5% each year for 5 years. Help generate renewable power, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and return nutrients to the soil. You can learn more about our newest bond offering by clicking here.  There are also other options to diversify your community bond portfolio, like:

Happy responsible investing this RRSP season!

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