Why hello there! My name is Colin O’Leary and I am the Principal of O’Leary and Associates, a consulting firm based right here in Kamloops. Our team works with Businesses, Cities, Regional Districts, Provincial and Federal Governments, and Indigenous communities to help find innovative and collaborative solutions to cutting edge issues. The idea is to help people make this world a better place!
I’m excited to spend this week with you highlighting some of my favourite local businesses, the impactful organizations I spend my time volunteering with, my home life, and some of the work O’Leary and Associates does in the community.
Businesses are facing a difficult time navigating the COVID-19 pandemic, so supporting local shops is one way you can do your part to keep Kamloops’ economy thriving.
There are a lot of fantastic International food options in Kamloops (we are very lucky that way and I am sure TRU’s international programming has played a helpful part in this). Everything from Jamaican (the best club sandwich in town bar none is from @JamaicanKitchenKamloops) to Vietnamese (@lemongrasskamloops) to authentic Ramen (@tigerramen).
But @thecoconutkamloops is one of my new favorites. I have a soft spot for entrepreneurs just getting their foothold in town and The Coconut, besides having mind-blowingly good curry, just made a move from a food court to a full-blown restaurant just before the COVID lockdown hit.
Our friends and neighbours who run these establishments, trying to make a living while sharing with us a world of flavours, could really use our help through these tough times. I challenge you to find these restaurants and try something new – for an idea, order a Badam Milk from The Coconut; a friend introduced me to this authentic treat recently and it’s incredible (think of a chai milkshake!).
I can’t talk about retail shopping without mentioning @princess_auto (my favorite store in town). Yes, it is a chain, but it’s a Canadian chain and still supports local jobs. I’m a very DIY guy and love making and fixing things, and I can always find what I need there. Their stock goes beyond “auto” – farming supplies, welding gear, any tool you can imagine; even unexpected finds like a giant Deadpool coffee mug that I use daily to fuel up. The staff is always smiling and happy to help, making the shopping experience like no other!
I am a firm believer in the paraphrased quote from Mahatma Gandhi: “Be the change you want to see in the world”. What does that mean? Don’t wait for others to fix the problems in the world – be a leader – there is nothing stopping you from fixing them. For me, that manifests through volunteer work.
An example I’m proud of is STEPS. A small group of us, a little over 3 years ago, decided (as volunteers) to start a non-profit organization to make primary healthcare better in Kamloops, the Province, and Canada. The idea was that access to primary care (a family doctor) was a real problem – we also felt there could be more innovation and creative thinking when it comes to serving the health of a community. What have we managed to accomplish in 3 years?
Here are some highlights:
✔️ We employ and empower an amazing team in a clinic we opened (Orchards Walk) that now serves over 8,000 patients in Kamloops (approx. 10% of the population).
✔️We are seen as a leader provincially, have earned a seat at the table with the Ministry of Health, and are sharing everything we have learned as an example of an “open-source model” – enabling other communities to copy our success to help even more people.
✔️We serve underrepresented minority groups as well as general family practice including care for Indigenous and refugee populations, gender affirming care for LGBTQ2S+ clients.
Acknowledging last week being Transgender Awareness Week, STEPS was recently recognized internationally as one of the most accessible programs for care to support trans people within Kamloops and across BC with gender-affirming medical services they need to lead a dignified life as their authentic selves.
✔️Every day we are pushing the envelope of innovation and leadership in primary healthcare and this is just the beginning.
We are STEPS, a not-for-profit society with a volunteer Board of Directors trying to do great things for health care in Kamloops! Visit our website stepshealth.ca for more information or to contact us.
COVID has changed our economy in ways we have not yet even fathomed. One trend that is clearly emerging is the accelerated transition to a Digital Economy. This was already expected to happen, but what COVID has done is accelerated this timeline to now.
What does this mean? An estimated 70% of new value created in the economy over the next decade will be based on digitally enabled businesses. However, 47% of the world’s population remain unconnected to the internet.
Helping everyday businesses make the transition to the digital economy is crucial when we think of an economic recovery from COVID. This is why O’Leary and Associates is proudly working with @kicpeople and to roll out a new @innovate_bc program locally – Digital Economy: Rapid Response + Resiliency (DER3). Available for small-medium sized businesses (operating with less than 500 employees) across six regions of BC, DER3 offers businesses support in undertaking the adoption of new technologies to support their operations.
-personalized advisory services and connections
– digital service providers
– providing access to resources and materials
– understand best practices for becoming digital-ready
This free program is a great opportunity for business owners to future-proof their company as technology plays an increasing role in our lives.
Land Trust Initiative
As you can probably tell by now, I love to give back to the local community and volunteer with great causes in Kamloops. One of the most meaningful of these roles is my place on the Board of Directors for @kamloopschamber. While the Chamber does a lot of work to support the Kamloops business community, it also plays a large role in national advocacy for policies that matter to local residents. A policy recommendation I’ve worked hard on, the Land Trust Initiative, was recently adopted at the national @cdnchamberofcom Annual General Meeting.
This policy empowers an innovative and proven model the world had forgot about: Community Land Trusts. These vehicles have a rich history around the world which actually originated in the Civil Rights Movement as a new way to achieve access to land for African American families. Since then, they have accomplished amazing things – like the one Bernie Sanders started in Vermont or Cano Martin Pena in Puerto Rico – which has been recognized around the world as a replicable model to help marginalized populations everywhere.
If passed into law by the federal government, this policy would unlock the power of Community Land Trusts in Canada and be a huge step towards addressing the lack of affordable housing and homelessness, across our nation. Learn more about this initiative here.
Wear Your Masks
Family life is always exciting, especially during a pandemic. On top of myself, my wife, and our four kids, we have a few animal family members – including Millie the Old English Sheep Dog and Rapella, our Juliana miniature pig.
Besides sleeping and eating (and bringing a lot of joy to the household), Repella just wanted to take a moment to remind all of us that we can do our part to make the community safe for everyone!
He is always careful to wear his PPE (Piggy Protective Equipment) when he can’t social distance properly. If a pig can do his part to halt the spread of COVID-19, I think us Kamloopsians can make sure to don our own PPE. Click here to purchase your own YKAStrong mask online.
O’Leary & Associates
O’Leary and Associates works with various cities, regional districts, different levels of government, and communities throughout the province, supporting with economic development and community engagement initiatives.
For an example of some of the projects I do:
This week, I spent time with Indigenous knowledge keepers to gather and learn about their traditions and culture, particularly as it relates to forest management and how we could work in partnership with the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development.
I am working with Neskonlith Indian Band and the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure to do meaningful, community driven consultation for the design and expansion of the Trans-Canada Highway.
I had an opportunity to lead the Thompson-Nicola Regional District Board and senior staff through a strategic planning session, with a special session focused on Regional COVID Economic Recovery.
I worked on a special community project, that could redefine an entire industry around the world, which will be announced publicly this spring (stay tuned for that).
Here is a short video about myself and the work I do, which was pulled together very graciously by my good friend and collaborator on many projects, Nolan McAllister @orendafilmsca.
Thanks for tuning in and getting an insight into what O’Leary and Associates does in the Kamloops area. Check out more of the YKAStrong partners here.