Times change and so do citizens’ needs. It is essential for municipalities to reflect this as they plan infrastructures, equipment and the sport, leisure and culture services offered.

During the 60s, 70s and 80s, this was a relatively easy exercise, for many reasons:

  • Demographic forecasts were growing;
  • Clienteles were uniform;
  • Citizens needed few activities;
  • The services were provided almost exclusively by the municipality.

It’s clear that this same exercise now requires municipal leaders to have more skills and abilities than in the past.

In the past 20 years of our sports, leisure and culture practice, we’ve identified seven complex, challenging planning issues.

Clienteles are varied

They are in all age groups, come from various cultural backgrounds, have different ways of life and use services differently. This new information must be properly understood to identify innovative municipal strategies.

Competition is increasing

More and more businesses and organizations provide leisure equipment and services, sometimes placing the municipality in a competitive situation. This situation should be transformed into an opportunity to enter into partnerships. While some municipalities have already opted for this model, in the coming years, it will become more common and essential. To give just two examples, consider the need to coordinate with other government bodies regarding community and sports equipment in schools and the cultural equipment financed by the Ministère de la Culture.

Trends are evolving rapidly

Citizens’ leisure tastes and interests can change at the speed of light, which means that a municipality’s investment choices can quickly become obsolete. When making development and management choices, municipalities must ensure that their infrastructure and equipment will stand the test of time and not become costly and obsolete. They sometimes need to make difficult choices that consider citizens’ concerns and the social and political context.

Managing finances must be equitable

In the coming years, there will be increased pressure on ensuring financing equity between activities and organizations. In the past few decades, municipalities made choices to support activities and organizations (directly or indirectly, by financing infrastructures). With the sometimes explosive growth in the number of sports, leisure and cultural organizations and activities, municipal authorities need relevant, powerful analysis and decision-making tools. Unlike Issue on partnerships, where municipalities have made some inroads, there is still much work to do to ensure the fair and strategic management of municipal financing for sports, leisure and cultural organizations and activities, for example, events and festivals.

The environment is taking on greater importance

It is increasingly important to consider climate and technology issues. Some of the infrastructure and development planning challenges include outdoor skating rinks, air conditioning in schools (gyms and common areas, etc.), parks, green spaces and public spaces (shaded areas), etc. In terms of technology issues, there is a distinction to be made between improving management tools and service-related tools (for example, the library of the future). Technological progress will help managers improve client services and support the development of true scorecards and performance indicators (in line with Issue on financing).

Citizens are becoming increasingly involved

Over the years, citizens have become increasingly involved in the planning process. However, they no longer limit their involvement to surveys or meetings with organizations, they want to be part of the analysis and determination of strategic directions. They even want to take part in the equipment concept and design (co-creation). Municipal managers therefore need to master new planning skills and abilities.

The increase in tools requires extensive coordination

The extent of sports, leisure and cultural planning tools available to municipal mangers is expanding: policies (family, cultural, healthy life style, etc.), master plans (parks, green spaces, sports or cultural equipment, etc.), segment strategies (elite sports, technological or climate adaptations, public health, youth, etc.). While these tools are essential for a structured planning process, they should be fully integrated with each other and very often, we find that this is not the case.

The financial and political importance of properly managing municipal sports, leisure and cultural events requires municipal decision makers to find new ways of planning infrastructures and the service offering.

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Supply chains have evolved significantly over the years, and they are now on the verge of even more transformative changes driven by the digital revolution. This new momentum could benefit the Canadian forestry industry.

Our expert, Mathieu Leblanc, spoke with Francis Charette, from FPInnovations, about the Forestry 4.0 initiative to bring the forestry industry up to speed with the new revolution.

How does the Industry 4.0 concept apply to forestry?

The fourth industrial revolution, as it is called, is characterized by an interconnection of machines and systems within the production sites as well as between them and the outside world, to optimize decision making for each piece of equipment, simultaneously, for the overall supply chain.

Information collection and transmission have progressed to the point where it is now common to exchange data in real time from anywhere in the world. In Canada, the resource sector is facing an enormous technological challenge. To continue as a major player in the global network, it must adapt, for example, by further developing its data collection and transmission system.

Which explains the need for a project such as Forestry 4.0?

Exactly. FPInnovations has launched Forestry 4.0, an initiative aimed at enabling the upstream part of the forest value chain in Canada to fully leverage the agility and power of the fourth industrial revolutions.

You have identified four themes for this initiative. What are they?

The first is analyzing the real environment of production. Receiving real-time information on resources makes it possible to dynamically adjust the supply chain to processes based on market demand. Data may be collected through remote sensing, satellites, drones or aircraft, imagery and LiDAR 3D cloud points, infrared cameras, high resolution camera etc. The second theme is the connected forest.

You’re referring to the connectivity of various machines?

Yes, it’s the Internet of forest, which is a collaborative system based on real-time communication between machinery, infrastructures and digital devices to control operations, even remotely. Production can be quickly adjusted to conditions and needs with optimized communication. The biggest challenge at this time is communicating in remote areas, since only 45% of Canadian forests have cellular coverage. Because of the high cost of satellite communication, we are testing various technical ways to extend cell coverage to our operations.

What else can be done to adapt the procurement system?

The third component of Forestry 4.0 is advanced procurement systems to meet clients’ specific needs on demand. We are currently facing a major shortage of workers and machine operators which will likely grow. The production chain must be updated using the latest technological developments, such as sensors, augmented reality devices, more autonomous intelligent transportation systems (self-driving vehicles). The aim is to make the forestry sector more appealing to the next generation of workers while relying on automation of equipment to reduce resource needs.

What is the fourth theme?

Data analytics. It’s essential that decision making throughout the supply chain be aligned to optimize the value to be derived from forestry resources. Using advanced simulations (data twins) and artificial intelligence and decision-support tools will enhance our agility and adapt production to meet market needs.

By launching the Forestry 4.0 initiative, FPInnovations hopes to align the forestry industry with the cyber revolution to respond more effectively to market changes.

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Donald Savard
Partner | CPA, CA, CEE | Assurance

Selling your business is a big decision, one that should be well planned, often years in advance. In many situations, it may be to your advantage to maximize its value.

Several internal and external considerations come into play. While it may not be possible to impact external factors (such as the competition or government regulations), the same is not true for internal ones.

To increase your business’s value and maximize its selling price in a potential transaction, we recommend the following.

1. Sales growth

Investors will find a developing business more interesting than one in decline. If you can show sustained sales growth, it’s more likely that a potential buyer will be prepared to pay a higher price.

2. Earnings quality

This is vital. How can you expect someone to be interested in buying a business with astronomical sales and no profits? For a shareholder or business owner, earnings (or cash flows) are the return on invested capital. The higher they are, the greater the value.

3. Human resource stability and quality

A buyer will find an organization with a well-structured work force more attractive (regular employee turnover, well-trained employees, low occupational accident rate, etc.).

4. Brand image

This includes the reputation of the business’s products and services on the market as well as the quality of its marketing process.

5. Contracts

The existence of exclusivity contacts, procurement agreements, advantageous leases, franchises or patents can set the business apart from its competitors, providing added value.

6. Sound financial situation

Is the debt level appropriate? How does its working capital compare to the industry? The better the ratios, in comparison with other industry sector businesses, the better its chances of a higher sale price.

7. Client variety and loyalty

It is generally acknowledged that 20% of clients generate 80% of revenues. While a diversified clientele is important, it’s also important to instill client confidence and encourage loyalty by being attentive to their needs.

8. State and value of tangible assets

Consider the business’s capital assets (land, building, state-of-the-art equipment, etc.).

9. Growth potential

This could be unused production capacity that a potential buyer could use to increase sales and earnings.

10. Market niche

A business in a market with attractive growth perspectives is more appealing to a buyer, it should be innovative and always stay ahead of the competition.

We can help you plan your business’s sale and maximize your sale price. Our firm has experts and contacts in all areas of management, particularly tax, business valuation, human resources and financial advisory.

Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have business valuation questions or requirements.

01 Mar 2018  |  Written by :

Mr. Savard is a partner at RCGT. He is your expert in assurance for the Rivière-du-Loup office....

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In preparation for your old age, you regularly put money aside to fund your retirement projects. Here are a few tips for reducing your taxes at retirement and preventing the Tax Man from taking a significant chunk of your savings.

1. Since your personal tax rate is based on your total income, make sure to contribute to your spouse’s RRSP so that your pension fund will be divided between the two of you. Upon retirement, you will have succeeded in splitting your income, which will reduce your tax bill.

2. If your spouse’s pension income is lower than yours, because the RRSP contribution had not been maximized over the years, for example, every year, you can allocate up to half of your own pension income from your RRSP or pension fund, other than government funds. Make sure you do this every year.

3. Ask the Régie des rentes du Québec (RRQ) to share your pension. This way, you will reduce your income and the related taxes.

4. Since all tax-free investment income accumulating under your RRSP will be entirely taxable once it is withdrawn, be sure to hold investments that generate interest through your RRSP.

5. Benefit from the advantageous tax rates of capital gains and dividends by personally holding investments with this kind of income. Upon retirement, you will benefit from a 27% income tax rate applicable to capital gains and 40% for dividends.

Our recommendations

  • With regard to the 2nd tip, remember that public pension plan income (federal Old Age Security and the RRQ) cannot be split with your spouse.
  • If you receive income from your RRSP or private pension fund, you could benefit from a $2,000 pension credit each year that can reduce your taxes. Splitting your pension income will enable your spouse to also benefit from this credit.
  • When you retire, if you continue to receive investment income from non-RRSP investments, you will be able to continue deducting your investment and interest expenses.
  • Since the tax rules change regularly, make sure you review your retirement planning in order to reflect these changes.
  • Get advice from your tax specialist who can suggest strategies tailored to your personal situation.

This article was published in French in Journal de Montréal and Journal de Québec on 2018, February 17.