THE NEW TOWER TEN­ANTS

Of­fice space goes dog-friendly

Regina Leader-Post - - WEEKEND - BILL GRAVELAND

CAL­GARY Man’s best friend is mov­ing on up — to the 16th floor of a down­town Cal­gary of­fice build­ing.

As the city con­tin­ues to suf­fer from a se­vere eco­nomic down­turn caused by low oil prices, real estate firms are strug­gling to fill a glut of empty of­fice build­ings.

When As­pen Prop­er­ties took over The Edi­son, a mostly empty 30-floor build­ing in the down­town core, it de­cided to fol­low busi­nesses in Sil­i­con Val­ley and make the tower dog-friendly.

At En­tu­itive, a con­sult­ing engi­neer­ing prac­tice on the 16th floor, 14-year-old Jazzy, a Shih Tzu/toy poo­dle spends most of her day sleep­ing in a small dog bed next to her owner Ni­cole Wil­son’s desk.

“My dog ac­tu­ally has sep­a­ra­tion anx­i­ety so be­tween my mom and my­self we have to co-or­di­nate who’s go­ing to take her be­cause she re­ally can’t stay home by her­self. She ac­tu­ally makes her­self su­per sick when she’s by her­self,” Wil­son said.

“Lots of peo­ple who are maybe hav­ing a rough day, they’ll come by our cu­bi­cles and give our dogs a pat and go about their day. It cre­ates a re­ally good aura through­out the of­fice.”

David Leonard brings his res­cue dog, one-year-old Ri­ley, to the 45-per­son of­fice.

“She’s got pretty high en­ergy and it’s good to men­tally stim­u­late her here. She just walks around the of­fice with me and that’s enough to keep her sat­is­fied,” Leonard said.

“She’ll just hang out in the board­room and do her thing and keep ev­ery­one com­pany. It kind of brings a lot of peo­ple to­gether.”

Scott Hutch­e­son, ex­ec­u­tive chair­man of As­pen Prop­er­ties, said the firm is look­ing at putting out the dog­gie wel­come mat at other build­ings.

“In Sil­i­con Val­ley, the bulk of the em­ploy­ees are prob­a­bly un­der 40 and prob­a­bly 10 to 15 per cent of the em­ploy­ees bring their dogs to work. It works,” Hutch­e­son said.

“There’s re­search done on it. You have three Cs: more cre­ativ­ity, more com­pas­sion and more con­nec­tiv­ity in a pet-friendly en­vi­ron­ment.”

There are strict rules in the build­ing, which is just over half full, he said. Badly be­haved dogs aren’t al­lowed and there are sep­a­rate el­e­va­tors for peo­ple with pets. An out­door park and pet spa are be­ing de­vel­oped on the third floor.

Hutch­e­son said com­pa­nies need to ad­dress whether hav­ing dogs is com­pat­i­ble with their work­force.

“Do you have peo­ple who are vi­o­lently al­ler­gic to an an­i­mal? If that’s the case then ... you prob­a­bly choose that per­son’s health over the dog,” he said. “If you de­cide that this floor has dogs on it, you might move an em­ployee to an­other floor or an­other area.”

With a va­cancy rate hov­er­ing around 27 per cent, other Cal­gary real estate firms are open­ing their doors to pets.

Ten­ants will be per­mit­ted to bring their dogs to work at the 12-storey Cana­dian Cen­tre run by Ar­tis Real Estate In­vest­ment Trust.

“Cal­gary is go­ing through some chal­lenges eco­nom­i­cally so there’s a lot of va­can­cies in build­ings ... We started to look around as to what peo­ple wanted in the mar­ket­place,” said Ar­tis leas­ing vi­cepres­i­dent Bruce Nimmo.

“There are a lot of peo­ple who would like to bring their dogs to work who just can’t to­day.”

While some might wel­come a furry col­league, a Cal­gary al­ler­gist says a dog-friendly work­place could cause prob­lems for peo­ple with asthma.

Dr. Joel Doc­tor said im­proved air fil­tra­tion and dog-free zones won’t solve the problem be­cause Cal­gary does not have the same cli­mate as Sil­i­con Val­ley.

“If a build­ing is very open to the out­side, it’s less of a problem,” Doc­tor said.

“If you look at our build­ings in down­town Cal­gary, where for six or eight months of the year the build­ings are tight, tight, tight and there’s a cer­tain amount of air re­cir­cu­la­tion, it could po­ten­tially be more of a problem.”

JEFF MCIN­TOSH/THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Ni­cole Wil­son at work with her dog Jazzy at En­tu­itive Corp. Dogs cre­ate a “good aura” in the of­fice.

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