Dear Associates,

Long weekends are traditionally a time for visits with friends and family, fireworks celebrations and mini-vacations.  Victoria Day will be celebrated differently this year, however with the provinces easing restrictions, depending on where you live in the country, your long weekend plans may include a round of golf, a game of tennis or even sailing; a welcome sign of the unofficial start of summer, and an indication of progress towards normalcy.

CANADA REOPENING

On Tuesday, Ontario will be entering the first phase of its three-stage framework for reopening the economy.  Retail stores with street entrances can reopen to the public, with physical distancing measures in place.    Furthermore, essential workplace limitations on construction will be lifted, meaning that we can resume all our construction in Ontario.

With unenclosed shopping centres representing 98% of our retail portfolio (inclusive of the outlets), most of our tenants are well positioned to reopen during the initial restart phase for each province.      We are supporting our tenants to help them reopen, and where applicable, we are proactively implementing heightened sanitization and security protocols at our centres to keep customers, tenants and associates safe.

While we work to safely reopen retail, we are also preparing to safely reopen the SmartCentres offices.  All suggestions and comments submitted via the “Ask the BCLT” survey are being considered as we outline the plans.  We will be holding a virtual townhall in a couple of weeks to review the details with you “live”.

BUSINESS PRIORITIES

There continues to be tremendous activity towards our business objectives, and we thank you for that.  This is the time to shine, and to get ahead:

  • The three Homecoming Committees continue to prepare for a resumption of business at our home offices, shopping centres and office properties;
  • The Change Agents Committee had its first meeting this past week, towards preparing for permanent changes to our business resulting from COVID-19;
  • Rent collections remains a significant focus for the Legal, Accounts Receivables, Cash Receipts and Leasing teams;
  • The Development teams are aggressively preparing and submitting applications for intensification opportunities on our properties;
  • The Construction team is gearing up to resume construction on all our projects;
  • The retail and office Property Management teams are maintaining our properties to enable our tenants to operate, and are preparing for more tenants to reopen;
  • Accounting, Finance, IT, HR, Office Services, Corporate Affairs and Marketing continue to provide essential support for all the activities listed above.

We need all these initiatives to proactively move our business forward.

DOCUMENT YOUR LEARNINGS
To help facilitate the documentation of your department’s lessons learned, a template has been saved to the SmartHub.  Please list the enhancement opportunities you have identified (e.g. protocols to reinforce, processes we can streamline, automation opportunities, etc.).  I look forward to reviewing these with each team, to align on what we can and should incorporate going forward.

 

GIVING BACK

I mentioned in my last email that we were working with Revera to identify ways to support the front-line staff and residents al local Revera residences.  Making a difference can be very simple and incredibly impactful.

In two weeks, we are going to deliver care packages to a number of local Revera retirement residences, including:

1) Food for their staff (catered by our local tenants),

2) Activities for their residents (purchased from our local tenants), and

3) Letters of encouragement and artwork (prepared by SmartCentres Associates and families).

Please take a few minutes to write letters of support and encouragement and/or have your children draw pictures for the Revera residents.  I assure you that the seniors would love to receive your children’s “one-of-a-kind” artwork… and this is a fun charitable project that can help keep your kids entertained for a while.

Please drop off or mail in your letters/pictures to Joanne Herbert’s attention at the Vaughan Home Office by Friday May 22nd.  While original hard copies are preferred, you can take a picture of your letters/pictures and email them to Joanne Herbert.   If you are interested in helping to organize and/or deliver the care packages, please reach out to Mandy Mail.

TAKE CARE OF YOURSELVES

I am very grateful that, as far as I know, no SmartCentres Associates have contracted COVID-19.  I assure you that I will let you know if that changes.  Also, despite significant pressure on our cashflow due to the non-payment of approximately 30% of our tenants’ rent, I’m pleased to report that we have been able to avoid temporary layoffs.

As fortunate as we are, the isolation and uncertainty caused by COVID-19 can take an emotional toll.  Our benefit coverage includes a leading Employee Assistance Program (EAP) called LifeWorks by Morneau Shepell, an external confidential service designed to assist with many of the challenges that may be impacting you and/or your dependents during these unprecedented times.  LifeWorks provides you and your dependents with free access to private counselling and support services for your mental health and wellbeing, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

HR will be sending out a detailed communication about LifeWorks and additional wellness resources later this week.  In the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact LifeWorks anytime at:

Phone:  1-877-630-6701 (English) / 1-877-588-1299 (French)

Online:  lifebalance.net  User ID and password rbceng (English) / rbcfr (French)

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS

Please continue to submit your questions, comments and suggestions via the anonymous “Ask the BCLT” survey.   We review all submissions, and where relevant, they are shared with the appropriate Homecoming/Change Agent committee for consideration as they build out their plans.

 

Stay strong, stay safe, and enjoy the rest of the long weekend.

Peter

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