Skip to main content
Archives mensuelles

avril 2022

Three years after the raise: an update from the Argonaut Rowing Club

Par Témoignages de clients, Nouvelles

It’s been three years since the Club d'aviron Argonaut successfully completed their community bond raise of $1.2 million. The funds from their 90 investors were put to use to revitalize their facilities after a flood caused by the high waters of Lake Ontario resulted in severe damage, and today the Club is looking better than ever! “The renovations have changed everything,” shares Jason van Ravenswaay, President of the Club. “Members are proud of the facility, they are referring others to join, and we have so much dock space for our rowers. We have a real community feeling now, because we have this amazing space where people want to be and catch up.” 

In the wake of the flood, the Board knew they needed to make major repairs but they chose to view the renovations as an opportunity rather than a burden. They saw the opportunity to make the Club fully accessible to their para-athletes and all guests, create new gym space for erging and weightlifting, build new and much needed dock space, and give a facelift to their event space – an important source of revenue for the non-profit organization. And they chose to make this a reality by allowing their supporters to become investors.

 

 

The last few years have not been without hurdles but the Club weathered the storm that Covid-19 brought on, due in large part to the strong cohesion of their community. “Covid was a scary time because there were so many unknowns,” shares Jason. “We had no clue if it was going to continue for 2 weeks, 2 months or two years!”

The Club was closed for short periods in 2020/21 due to province and city-wide restrictions and faced challenges to run two of their most important programs as a result – Camp Argo et Learn to Row. Fortunately, through the perseverance and creativity of their leadership team, the Club was able to reopen through a pilot program launched with Rowing Canada. “The idea was that we could do a test run of how rowing Clubs across Canada could reopen safely,” Jason explains. 

The Club invested in a new fleet of single boats – a necessity with regulations on social distancing and maintaining bubbles. They also got creative with new equipment like oar boards (a quasi paddle board/rowing boat). “The great thing is that this ingenuity has led to some great new developments for the Club. The oar boards have been wildly popular and it’s a fun new offering for us,” says Jason with a smile. 

The tribulations brought on by Covid never affected the Argonaut Rowing Club community bond investors. “We were concerned about the bond holders and adhering to our repayment schedule,” Jason shares. “We considered a number of different options, including the potential to defer interest payments by a year, but we never needed to do that because we got creative with new sources of revenue and really cut costs – all while keeping our employees on board.”

The Argonaut Rowing Club has a close relationship with their investors and believe in always keeping an open and transparent channel of communication. “Our investors were very supportive, they applauded our leadership, offered to help, and many even chose to donate their interest payments back to us,” says Jason. “Through it all, the Club really came together.”

The future is looking very bright for the Argonaut Rowing Club. They are seeing great demand for their event space now that restrictions are being lifted, the rowers are eager to get back out onto the water (in some of the Club’s beautiful crew boats this summer!) and members are gearing up to celebrate the Club’s 150th anniversary this June. The Club has also established a diversity and inclusion committee and allocated 10 free memberships to remove barriers to youth in the local community. 

ARC recently made a momentous announcement that they will become the official rowing center of the University of Toronto (U of T). “A partnership with a university is something we have wanted for a long time now,” says Jason, who is clearly excited about this new development. “We have this brilliant juniors program and so many talented young athletes. We have watched so many of them graduate and leave the Club to pursue rowing at universities outside Toronto.” The hope of the Club is that they can support the university with their recruitment and create continuity to keep their former Junior Argos at the Club. “We are confident that we can help U of T transition into that brand of being a rowing school.”

The Argonaut Rowing Club has a track record to back this up. They have seen their Argo rowers off to a multitude of national and international competitions. Three Argo alumni (Gavin Stone Men’s 4-, Sydney Payne Women’s 8 and Vicky Nolan in the PR3Mix 4+) competed at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games this past summer. “We hope with this new partnership with U of T, we will see more amazing young athletes sticking around to become the next leaders of the Club.”

When asked if there are future projects on the horizon for the Club, Jason said “I’m the type of person that is always thinking of what I can do next, but to be honest, the Club is looking great and there aren’t many items on my to-do list anymore.” For the time being, ARC is focused on growing their membership, developing its staffing model and continuing to provide the high quality programming that they are so well known for.

Welcoming three new staff members to the Tapestry Team

Par Nouvelles

We are thrilled to welcome three new team members to Tapestry! As our team grows, so too does our breath and depth of expertise. Marzie Aghdaee, Suzanne Faiza and Baljmaa Zorig are helping us to expand the reach of the community bond model through research and innovation in the affordable housing and clean energy arenas. 

Meet our new team members below!

 

Marzie Aghdaee, Senior Researcher, Affordable Housing

Marzie describes herself as a jack of all trades, with a career path that led her from cell biology to civic tech, youth empowerment, political engagement and education. The constant throughout her career has been her deep interest in, and passion for, systems thinking and people-centered research design. She has spent the vast majority of her career working with nonprofits, first with rural and marginalized communities in Iran, and more recently in Peru and Canada. For the past 8 years, she has focused on mix-method research, and measurement and evaluation. 

Marzie has joined our team to design and lead an in-depth stakeholder engagement with affordable housing providers, supporters and activators, as part of Tapestry’s participation in the CMHC Housing Supply Challenge. Marzie brings a personal lens to this work. “Being an immigrant to Canada, and coming from a low-income background, I understand the anxiety of finding affordable housing. Affordable housing is one of, if not the greatest, challenges faced by our country today,” she shares. 

 

Suzanne Faiza, Researcher

Suzanne is currently pursuing her Masters in Planning at the University of Toronto, with a concentration in Housing and Community Economic Development. The focus of her research is to assess the feasibility of crowdfunding platforms to facilitate land acquisition groups such as community land trusts. Suzanne is joining our team in a part-time capacity while she completes her studies and is working with Marzie and support our progress in the CMHC Housing Supply Challenge.

Suzanne is trained as an architect, and worked in the field for 6 years before beginning her Masters program. She brings a new element of creativity to our team, with excellent graphic design skills and a love of finding ways to display complex information in easily digestible formats. She is an active volunteer in her community, working closely with the Muslim Food Bank & Community Services, COVID-19 Coming Together Vancouver, and the B.C. Community Alliance, and is passionate about finding innovative solutions to Canada’s affordable housing crisis. 

 

Baljmaa Zorig, Climate Finance Specialist

Baljmaa’s interest in climate change mitigation began early in her career while she was working as an internal auditor at a commercial bank in Mongolia. Her role took her to remote regions of the country where she could see the impacts that climate change was having on local people and businesses, from drought to extreme heat waves. 

With a strong desire to build a more technical skillset, she pursued her Masters in Quantitative Finance at Bentley University as a Fulbright Scholar. During her graduate studies she helped to establish and manage an ESG strategy for the university’s endowment fund, gaining valuable experience in capital markets. She then went on to work with a boutique ESG investment firm in Boston, and later with two international development financing organizations.

Baljmaa joins the Tapestry team to support a new project we are undertaking with a municipality in Eastern Canada to design and implement an investment system to finance their community energy ambitions. Baljmaa loves big data, financial modeling and finding creative financing solutions. “We don’t need fancy solutions, we need practical solutions,” she shares. “As an ESG professional, creating a circular economy is the goal. I think community bonds offer a double win of raising impact capital while also sending profits back into the community.” 

X