Ideas Forum Speakers and Presenters 2023

Speaker Bios and Topics 2023 Ideas Forum

Lisa Mackie, Partner at Alexander Holburn LLP – November 8 at 11:15 am – Topic: License to Occupy vs. Tenancy

Lisa Mackie is a partner of the Vancouver-based law firm of Alexander Holburn LLP and the leader of the firm’s Rental Property Practice and Strata Property Practice. Lisa has represented clients before all levels of Court in British Columbia on strata property and residential tenancy law matters. Lisa also regularly represents and advises clients on human rights complaints, privacy disputes, employment disputes, and defamation matters. She is a trusted legal resource for various print and television media publications including: CBC Radio, CBC News, Canadian Lawyer Magazine, CityTV Breakfast Television, Times Colonist, The Province, and Canadian Property Management Magazine.

Matthew Stovold, Franchise Development Manager, KOA – November 7 at 10:15 am – Topic: SWOT Analysis and Trends

Matt Stovold with KOA (Kampgrounds of America) was a past campground owner himself, with his family owning and operating the Toronto North / Cookstown KOA in Ontario.  Prior to that he spent time working for a corporate KOA location in Okeechobee, Florida, and working down under in Australia for the Discovery Holiday Parks Group. He, along with his wife Alison, were relief managers for the company and would step in to run operations when managers needed to be one extended leave.  This was a great way to immerse themselves in the culture and really get a good understanding for the campground industry in Australia and also take in the sights across the country. Matt has also sat on many boards and associations, including the Care Camps board, which the BCLCA also raises funds for throughout the year to helps kids with cancer enjoy the great outdoors.

James M. Grant, R.I.B. (Ont.) CEO, Signature Risk Partners – November 7 at 11:15 am – Topic: Risk Management and Insurance Purchasing Tips.

James Grant is the President & CEO of Signature Risk Partners Inc., which he co-founded in September, 2006.  Prior to founding Signature Risk, James was Vice President at Talvest Fund Management Inc., a $5 billion dollar asset management company. Talvest was part of TAL Global Asset Management, one of Canada’s largest investment managers, with more than C$60 billion under management. TAL and it subsidiaries were fully acquired by CIBC and renamed CIBC Asset Management effective January 01, 2006. James has over 25 years of financial and asset management industry experience.

Walt Judas, CEO, Tourism Industry Association of BC – November 8 at 9:15 am – Topic: Tourism Industry Association of BC Advocacy Update

Walt Judas has been involved in the tourism industry for over 30 years, having worked at BC Pavco, Port Metro Vancouver, and Tourism Vancouver prior to joining the Tourism Industry Association of British Columbia (TIABC) in May 2015.  As CEO, Walt leads multiple advocacy/policy files, sets the strategic course for TIABC, builds relationships with members and industry stakeholders, and communicates the value of B.C.’s visitor economy to various constituents. Before TIABC, Walt spent 15+ years at Tourism Vancouver as Vice President of Marketing Communications, Membership and Sport.

Cara Csizmadia President, Canadian Camping and RV Council – November 8 at 10:15 am – Topic: National Campground Issues and Programs

Cara Csizmadia President of the Canadian Camping and RV Council (CCRVC). Before joining the CCRVC team and becoming President in 2023, Cara owned and operated a 200-site RV park in Alberta from 2007 to 2019. This hands-on experience, coupled with her extensive involvement with the CCRVC, has allowed her to develop relationships with hundreds of campgrounds nationwide and has given her deep insight into the needs of the association’s 1900+ members. Cara has a background in campground management, payroll, bookkeeping, accounting, and several years in customer service roles.

Connor Schwab,  Head of Outdoor Hospitality at Sage Outdoor Advisory – November 7 at 2:15 pm – Topic: Glamping

Connor Schwab is the Head of Outdoor Hospitality at Sage Outdoor Advisory. He provides feasibility studies and other strategic consulting to help bridge investment and outdoor hospitality companies. One of Connor’s major contributions to the industry is creating the first quantitative USA glamping report in partnership with KOA. This report provides launching outdoor resorts with the critical rate and occupancy figures they need to estimate business projections. Connor graduated with an MBA in 2018 with a Master’s Thesis in privatized camping. Since then, he has been fully immersed in the outdoor hospitality sector and completed 50+ site visits in the USA and Africa.

Nick Purslow,  Managing Director of Glampitect North America – November 7 at 2:15 pm – Topic: Glamping

Nick Purslow is Managing Director of Glampitect North America and Business Development Manager at EJH Distribution. Nick helps people through the process of starting a glamping business. Through zoning checks, feasibility studies, supplier recommendations, permit applications and more, we’re the turnkey solution for anyone looking to start a glamping business in the US and Canada. 

Brian Searl, CEO, Insider Perks – November 8 at 8:00 am – Topic: Marketing the Chatbot Revolution

Brian Searl is the Founder & CEO of Insider Perks | Founder of Modern Campground | Host of MC Fireside Chats | Pioneer in AI-driven Marketing | Advocate of Positive Karma | Grateful for Everything

Steven Mah, WorksafeBC – November 7 at 1:15 pm – Topic: Mental Health Presentation

Steven has been in the health and safety field for over 15 years. Steven has worn multiple hats at WorkSafeBC, including his current role as OHS Consultant for Mental Health Injury Prevention. Steven holds a Master of Science and is a registered counsellor and safety professional. Outside of WorkSafeBC, Steven works as a counselling therapist, specializing in solution-focused therapy. 

Jennifer Irwin, WorksafeBC – November 7 at 1:15 pm – Topic: Mental Health Presentation

Jennifer Irwin is a safety and mental health professional who’s career has spanned over 15 years. Her career in safety has had a focus on heavy industry including mining, road building, container terminals, and municipal government.  Jennifer holds two diplomas and professional designations; one in Occupational Health and Safety and the second in Counselling with a certificate in Life Coaching. Jennifer is passionate about mental health and how it is so connected to the “health” in occupational health and safety. She encourages her team and colleagues every day to incorporate a safety mindset from the start of work through to the close of the day. She firmly believes that we work to live rather than live to work, and so everyone should go home healthy and safely each day.

Imran Gill,   – November 8 at 12:15 pm – Topic: Destination Management

Mark Schmidt, Visitor Experience Manager, Mount Revelstoke and Glacier National Parks and Rogers Pass National Historic Site – November 6 at 2:40 pm – Topic: BC Parks, Parks Canada and Recreation Sites and Trails BC Panel

Mark Schmidt began working for Parks Canada in 2010 as the National Trails Specialist in the Visitor Experience Branch in the National Office. He developed several guidelines and policy documents, such as the trail classification system and the trail standard. Over the years, his role evolved to Senior Advisor for Visitor Experience Infrastructure, where he worked on planning tools for campgrounds, trails, and day-use areas. Then, Mark moved to the Visitor Experience Manager at Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site in Nova Scotia. Now, Mark is the Visitor Experience Manager for Mount Revelstoke and Glacier National Parks and Rogers Pass National Historic Site in British Columbia, a location that sees over 1.3 million visitors annually. 

John Hawkings, Executive Lead, Recreation Strategy and Service Transformation in the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy – November 6 at 2:40 pm – Topic: BC Parks, Parks Canada and Recreation Sites and Trails BC Panel

John Hawkings is the Executive Lead, Recreation Strategy and Service Transformation in the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy. Prior to his current role, John was the Executive Director of Recreation Sites and Trails BC from 2015 to 2022 and the Provincial Trails Manager before that.  Before joining the Public Service in 2007, John spent much of the previous 15 years involved in forest-based recreation planning and implementation throughout the Sea to Sky Corridor in both the public and private sector and also worked for 3 years in US National Parks. John completed a B.Sc. in biology at the University of Victoria in 1998 and has a diploma in outdoor recreation from Mount Royal College, in Calgary.

Matt Weller, Senior Project Manager, with GreenStep  – November 7 at 9:15 am – Topic: Sustainability

Matt brings more than 15 years of sustainability, environmental management, and small business management experience to GreenStep. Relocating from the “most sustainable region” in Australia in 2022 (the Sunshine Coast, Queensland) to the Okanagan, Matt brings to Canada his experience in sustainability certifications and a worldview shaped by his travel, his passion for food and creating better communities.  Matt has a Bachelors in Environmental Management (Sustainable Development). He is an Envision Sustainability Professional, an Infrastructure Sustainability Accredited Professional and a Green Star Accredited Professional (Communities). Matt’s passion is to simplify sustainability and embed it in everything society does.