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How Surrey Residents Can Help Small Businesses During COVID-19.

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Since the outbreak of COVID-19, many people and businesses in B.C. have been impacted. With over 600 cases announced in B.C., many are beginning to distance themselves from others, and businesses are closing down.

The Government of British Columbia just announced the closure of bars and restaurants, and keeping gatherings of people to no more than 50. This is obviously going to affect big restaurant chains as well as small family or single person owned restaurants in Surrey.

However, there are ways to help out the restaurants that choose to stay open. Since the B.C. government has allowed some restaurants to stay open if they can limit their number of customers or move to takeouts.

Surrey residents can help out their local restaurants by ordering take outs or calling for their food to get delivered. This way residents can continue to practice social distancing while supporting the small restaurants that can’t afford to lose too many business days. Fiona Brinkman, SFU professor in the Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry writes about the safety of ordering in food, in an email.

“If the food is handled by someone uninfected, they are very safe. This is not a virus transmitted via food.”

For the small businesses that aren’t restaurants. Perhaps a gift shop, clothing store, nail or hair salon. You can always call them up and ask for ways to support their business.

One popular way that’s been trending all over Instagram is purchasing a gift card and using it at a later time, or ordering merchandise online. This way small businesses get some profit, you receive your items while distancing yourself from a large crowd, and you get to spend your gift card at your convenience.

We need to make sure we’re supporting our local businesses during this uncertain time. If there’s a local grocery store in your community that offers online orders or delivery, try to get some stuff from them. During this time it might feel easier to shop from large chain retailers, but we should try not to forget the small local businesses that have helped with the economic growth of the Surrey community.

While we’re using these tips to help out restaurants and small businesses, we should also remember the vulnerable residents living in our community. It’s important to remember that anyone can get infected with the virus, especially when that person isn’t listening to government and health officials. There are people in our community who are more vulnerable to COVID-19. Like children, seniors, those with a compromised immune system, etc.

We need to keep our community safe by listening to the guidelines set by the Government of Canada. Making sure to avoid unnecessary travels, and if you’ve returned to the community from abroad, listen to the government and isolate yourself for 14 days.

With the question of possibly contracting the virus twice, Brinkman writes,

“A person will develop immunity eventually after infection – usually about two weeks later – so a person can’t get infected with the same virus twice. If a new strain of the virus emerges [it’s] possible to get that virus if [it’s] different enough, but then [it’s] really a different virus infecting the person.”

“The biggest worry though is people, either sick, or not displaying symptoms, unknowingly transmitting virus to others in the meantime. Again, [it’s] critical we reduce the spread of this virus. If we don’t, people of a wide age range (not just the elderly) will die needlessly. Hospitals will become overwhelmed and unable to properly help people with other ailments,” she adds.

Let’s also make sure we’re not buying out everything in the store and leaving others with nothing to help them during this time. There are people who can’t stock up on their essentials at one shopping trip, we need to think of them. We also need to shop smarter. Buy what you need and consider others during this time. It’s a time for us to work together.

Esther Amankop Udoh is a Journalism and Creative Writing student. She enjoys reading and creating dramatic scenarios that usually end up in one of her many short stories. Along with her love for words, Esther loves seeking new adventures and spending time with family and friends.

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Incorporating Your Business: Record Books, And Why Using A Lawyer Makes Sense

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This is the first post of a new 4-part business startup series created by corporate lawyer, Anand Athiviraham. Anand is a Senior Associate at Watson Goepel LLP, a multi-service law firm based in downtown Vancouver BC, with additional offices in Surrey and West Vancouver.

It’s a brand-new year and the perfect time for those in the early stages of a new business to ensure they are on track for success. This first installment in my four-part series on the most important legal steps for new business owners focuses on incorporation, the key foundational element of any business. Future topics will address the best approaches to conducting business post-incorporation, financing, and selling your business, so stay tuned!

When incorporating a new business, budget-conscious entrepreneurs typically, and understandably, focus on minimizing costs. While many free or low-cost online legal resources promise bargain prices, bypassing qualified and tailored legal guidance to help with your specific needs often leads to significant problems down the road, and can result in substantial costs and expenses that could have been avoided by getting proper legal guidance at the outset.

The importance of record books

While it may appear both easy and convenient to incorporate your business using an online service, such as government-run portals like BCOnline or OneStop Business Registry, problems can often arise for business owners when they attempt to open a new bank account, prepare a tax return using an accountant, or bring additional investors into the business. They may discover that they haven’t carried out all the necessary steps and prepared all the important documentation.

This is because online incorporations typically do not include a complete set of record book documents. As a result, the client ends up with a “half-baked” incorporation that lacks the necessary organizational resolutions, central securities register, director/officer register, transparency register, share certificates, and other material documents that are provided when a client incorporates their business with a corporate lawyer.

What is a corporate record book?

All corporations in British Columbia are required by legislation to prepare and maintain an up-to-date record book pursuant to the Business Corporations Act (British Columbia) (the “Act”). A record book is often referred to, and reviewed by, accountants, lawyers, banks, and other stakeholders when a transaction or filing involving the corporation occurs, or by the CRA, BC Securities Commission or other regulatory authority on an audit or investigation.

A corporation’s record book serves as the official legal record of the corporation’s activities. Essentially, the record book should document all material corporate transactions that affect and involve the corporation, including its creation and records of share ownership.

The documents typically generated through one of the online portals include:

  • Incorporation Application
  • Certificate of Incorporation
  • Notice of Articles
  • Articles (typically only the prescribed, standard-form Articles that are provided in the Act)

The above listed documents make up only a part of the full record book. A complete record book, which is what is often needed by other stakeholders, would contain additional documents including:

  • Special Rights and Restrictions within the Articles (to create different share classes with different attributes typically used for tax and other corporate planning)
  • Post incorporation, organizational resolutions to appoint first directors, officers, and waive auditors (an annual requirement under the Act), appoint signatories, appoint a bank and accountant, and confirm the legal registered and records office
  • Central Securities Register (these set out the various shares issued in each class authorized by the Articles)
  • Directors/Officers Register (setting out the current and past officers and directors of the corporation)
  • Transparency Register (a new requirement since October 1, 2020, that requires all BC corporations to maintain at their registered office)
  • Registered and Records Office Agreement (to ensure the corporation is continually maintained and kept up to date by the law firm)
  • Shareholders’ Agreement (this is separate from the incorporation, and highly recommended if there are multiple shareholders – setting out the relationship between them)

A failure to maintain a complete set of record book documents can result in administrative penalties under the Act and can have other practical negative repercussions when attempting to make use of the corporation in any transaction.

Savings in the long run

Simply put, most online portals are not equipped to generate a full set of record book documents required for compliance with legislation. Their focus is to register the business with a simple set of articles, without any guidance as to what may be necessary or appropriate for the new business being undertaken by the founder(s). Fees on these online portals, while appearing attractive, are priced to solely reflect the cost for registration.

A good corporate lawyer will help you understand what needs to go in a record book for your business, and will not only advise you if any customization or planning in establishing the corporate share structure is appropriate based on your particular circumstances, but will also ensure that the incorporation is carried out properly and efficiently the first time.

This will reduce the likelihood of incurring unnecessary future costs. The cost for a lawyer to review, correct and prepare the corporation’s missing record book documents after a self-incorporation often exceeds the cost of incorporating a new company, had legal counsel been used in the first place.

Rectifying or correcting record books

Clients are often surprised to find that, upon consultation with a lawyer regarding their self-incorporated entity, any perceived savings have evaporated as the inadequate product they received did not provide them with the fulsome and complete set of documents that they needed to move forward.

A good business lawyer will help clients identify and understand any missing record book documents which would be necessary before the corporation can be considered “ready” for sharing with banks, accountants, investors, and other stakeholders. Such a process typically involves a record book review, rectification, or reconstruction. The cost to rectify a record book typically depends on how much time has passed since the entity was originally incorporated, and the number of transactions that took place in the interim.

Conclusion

It is highly recommended to avoid incorporating your new business on your own, and instead to work with an experienced business law professional to ensure your business is set up and organized as intended for your particular situation, and to ensure compliance with the complex web of legislation which must be adhered to at all times. Starting your business on the right foot will go a long way in reducing unnecessary costs and headaches down the road.

If you have already incorporated your business yourself using one of the online portals, we strongly recommend having your incorporation documents properly reviewed and rectified by a corporate lawyer to ensure that you are not running afoul of the Act.

Most law firms provide registered office services at modest fees to ensure your record book remains in compliance with the legislation. It is in every business owner’s best interest to develop a strong relationship with a legal advisor practising in this area of law who understands your business and the people involved, and who can guide you through the complex regulatory world of business.

Next month’s article will discuss the important steps to take after you have established your corporation, and why they are necessary.

Anand Athiviraham is a Senior Associate in the Business Law Group at Watson Goepel LLP and understands the unique needs of startups and entrepreneurs, having established and managed his own e-commerce company for several years.

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24,000 Jobs Now Recovered In Surrey

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Surrey Board of Trade Pandemic Rapid Response Business Centre now releases the 4th Surrey Labour Market Intelligence Report on COVID-19-related impacts.

The Surrey Board of Trade has released the only Surrey-focused labour market report to inform decision-making and planning on recovery and resilience for this month.

“Surrey has recovered over an estimated 24,000 jobs from July to November. Last month it was 17,000 jobs from July to October, but caution reigns as we moved into further restrictions in December to January 8.”

HIGHLIGHTS FOR SURREY:

  • The total estimated net deficit of jobs in Surrey since February is now just over 12,000 jobs, down from a peak of over 37,000 jobs lost.
  • Since the end of July, Surrey has recovered over 24,000 jobs (over 66%) with 6,972 of those being attributed to the month of November (Last month’s report indicated 17,000 jobs recovered). The number of jobs recovered since July is almost the equivalent to the number of jobs lost in the first two months of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Although the Utilities sector gained jobs in the first 7 months of the pandemic, it has faced a loss of almost 14% of jobs since October, with the majority of job losses coming in November 2020.
  • Surrey continues to see an increase in jobs in Accommodation & Food Services with 7.7% more jobs in the industry by November 2020 than those in February 2020 (pre-pandemic) and almost 7,000 jobs recovered since July 2020.
  • The greatest gains in the number of jobs recovered in November 2020 were seen in Educational Services (approximately 1,741 jobs); followed by Information, Culture and Recreation (approximately 901 jobs) and Transportation & Warehousing (approximately 878 jobs). These three industries made up for more than 50% of the job gains in November 2020.
  • The greatest overall losses since March 2020 were seen in the Retail & Wholesale Trade (over 6,400 jobs lost), followed by Construction (over 6,400 jobs lost). Over 3,200 (or 50%) of the jobs lost in the Construction industry came in October and November 2020, though at least some of this loss could be attributed to the seasonality of this industry.
  • The greatest employment losses by occupation in November 2020 in Surrey were seen in Health occupations (7.3%), and Art, Culture, Recreation & Sport occupations (5.5%).
  • The following classifications of occupations have seen a net gain in jobs when compared to February 2020 (pre-pandemic): Natural & Applied Sciences occupations (over 3,400 jobs); Business, Finance & Administration occupations (over 2,000 jobs); and Manufacturing & Utilities (over 1,600 jobs).
  • Over 55% of businesses in BC were forced to change their business status as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Over 34% of businesses in BC laid off at least one staff member since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • More than 54% of Accommodation & Food Service industry businesses in BC have laid off staff, 20% higher than the BC average.
  • Seventeen percent of businesses in BC expect 100% of their staff to continue primarily tele-working or working remotely, even after the pandemic.
  • More than 50% of businesses indicated that they expect less than 10% of their staff to tele-work or work remotely, after the pandemic:
  1. Other Services (except Public Administration (72%))
  2. Manufacturing (70%)
  3. Arts, Entertainment & Recreation (59%)
  4. Wholesale Trade (54%)
  • Overall, Canadians reported a significantly lower Mental Health Index score compared to the pre- pandemic benchmarks.
  • Those working for employers with 51-100 employees reported the lowest score and those that are self-employed / sole proprietors reported the best score, in November 2020.
  • Overall, British Columbians have indicated a slightly better Mental Health Index score (in November 2020) when compared to Canada as a whole.
  • Visible minorities reported a significantly lower mental health score than their white counterparts.
  • Those who are employed but saw reduced hours or reduced salary reported lower mental health scores than those who were unemployed, while those who saw no change to their employment indicated the highest mental health score.
  • Full-time students have reported the lowest mental health score for six consecutive months.
  • The highest mental health scores in November are stated among those in Real Estate, Rental and Leasing, Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting, and Mining and Oil and Gas Extraction.

In summary, despite significant job losses in some Surrey sectors and the uncertainty of the future, some sectors and occupational groups have higher levels of employment in November than before the pandemic (February 2020):

Recovering Industries

  • Accommodations & Food Services (+ 7.7%)
  • Natural Resource Industries (+ 28.9%)
  • Professional, Scientific & Technical Services (+ 2.9%)
  • Utilities (+ 40.3%)

Recovering Occupations

  • Business, Finance & Administration (+ 5%)
  • Manufacturing & Utilities (+ 12.7%)
  • Natural & Applied Sciences and Related (+ 17.7%)
  • Natural Resource, Agriculture and Related Production (+ 15.2%)

CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL REPORT.

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A Successful Online Business – How to Start One

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When it comes to the topic of starting a new online business, most entrepreneurs think that trial and error is the way to go but this isn’t so. A number of experienced business people can give you details as to what went right during their venture into the world of startups, and what went horribly wrong. Based on these assessments, there are certain combinations of practices that, if done right, can result in starting a successful business. Here’s what most online business owners swear by.

Analyzing the Market

Nowadays, the market is somewhat similar across the world so it doesn’t take much time for a certain need to go global. That’s why you’ll need to look into your market for shortages before you can think of a product and assess whether it has an unfulfilled demand in the market. Scour the internet to find answers to your questions.

Have a look at common online forums like Quora and Reddit for people’s questions about the availability of a certain service and product to solve a particular problem. Look for keywords that have a high number of queries but much fewer valuable results. This will be an indication of a market that doesn’t have enough solutions.

Of course, you will have a few competitors in the field so it’s best to examine their marketing strategies and products before you start working on your own versions. This will help you create something innovative that adds more value for the consumer.

Post Good Content

Are you worried about how you’ll convince customers through an online sales call? Here’s what you need to explain so they go through with the entire process, up until the final purchase.

  • Give headings that pique consumer interest
  • Address the problem that your brand can solve
  • Ensure your reliability by giving details of your experience and the people on your team
  • Provide testimonials of happy customers
  • Make a good offer
  • Provide them with a guarantee so they feel reassured
  • Make it a matter of urgency so they can’t refuse
  • Make the sale

While walking your customer through the website, make sure that you’re focusing on their need and how you’re helping them.

Deliver a Proper Website

For a business that operates solely online, a website serves as a headquarters and you sure as heck can’t compromise on the quality of yours. Take it from online selling pros, most retail brands keep their websites fairly simple; they know that they have less than 15 seconds to capture consumer attention, which means a smaller business like your has less than 10. So remember:

  • No funky colors or fonts; clear, dark fonts on white works well enough
  • Make it simple to navigate to and from pages
  • Grasp consumer attention on every page with interesting images and videos
  • Collect e-mail addresses from visiting traffic to give updates on sales
  • Shorten the number of clicks it takes to confirm a transaction; one to add card details and one to confirm
  • Optimize it for mobile devices

Search Engine Help

Operating a business online requires that you be on good terms with the search engines, especially reigning power, Google. Using a PPC (pay per click) scheme to advertise your new business is effective at drawing more traffic towards your website. This will work much quicker than waiting for organic traffic to trickle in.

Advertising through Google AdWords’ Network Display strategies gives the benefit of your brand’s banners being up within a matter of hours. Moreover, utilizing such a system offers the benefit of letting you test how effective other keywords are for driving more traffic.

Once you’ve determined which keywords work best, you can then incorporate them into your advertisements, social media posts and most importantly, your website. This will boost your rankings on SERPs.

Be a Leading Authority in Your Niche

Aside from being your source of income, the internet serves as the population’s largest source of authentic information in a hundred different forms. If you appeal to the people looking for information, and not just those who set out to make a purchase, you end up building traction among a larger group of people.

Hence, lure in information-seekers by giving your expertise-based articles on different websites. You can create other forms of content, such as videos, info graphics, and images that are sure to make an impact on readers who might end up making a purchase later on. On every informative piece, add the option for them to share it with their friends.

Be active on the very platforms where your target audience asks questions relating to your field, and answer them. After all, what’s more, appealing than a CEO who actively answers questions on the internet?

Leverage Email Marketing

When you give visiting traffic the option to submit their email addresses, you get a valuable list of potential customers who have opened the doors to their inboxes for you. Essentially, it indicates that they have developed an interest in your brand, are willing to form a long-term relationship with your brand.

Individuals who visit your website and leave their email address are basically giving you permission to contact them. They are potential customers and email marketing is the best way to follow-up with leads.

Enhance Customer Loyalty

Customers look for value wherever they go and that’s what you need to offer. It’s quite possible that over a quarter of people who made a purchase from your website would be willing to do it again if you contact them again with a good deal.

The first sale you make is the most crucial but it’s also expensive. Hence, you’ll need to offer them related items that go well with their purchase and send redeemable coupons to ensure that they return. If you reward them with incentives to buy again, your customers are sure to be loyal to your brand.

Even though the online-world is faced paced and dynamic, it isn’t the case for markets and businesses that are operating through the internet. The basic aspects of starting a profitable online business are still the same as before.

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2.2 Million Canadian Seniors On The Guaranteed Income Supplement Can Now Get A Free Smartphone And Subsidized Rate Plan From TELUS

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TELUS launches Mobility for Good for Seniors to help address isolation and wellbeing concerns for vulnerable seniors amidst the COVID-19 pandemic

Vancouver – TELUS has launched Mobility for Good for Seniors, which provides Canadian seniors receiving the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) access to a free smartphone and subsidized mobility rate plan. Available now, Mobility for Good for Seniors includes a free refurbished smartphone, unlimited nationwide talk and text, and 3GB of data for only $25 per month.

Mobility for Good for Seniors will ensure more seniors have access to the technology they need to help address feelings of isolation, manage their mental wellbeing, stay connected to loved ones, enjoy their favourite online games and books, and access important healthcare resources and information.

“At a time when the human connection has never been more important, TELUS remains committed to ensuring all Canadians can stay connected to the people and information that matter the most,” said Darren Entwistle, TELUS President and CEO. “Throughout the pandemic, our globally leading network has enabled Canadians to work and learn remotely, access critical government resources, receive medical support and stay in touch with family and friends.

Our country’s seniors have contributed significantly to the fabric of this nation, having built and supported the infrastructure, economy and social services that we enjoy today. Disconcertingly, these same elderly Canadians have been disproportionately impacted throughout the health emergency as many have had to isolate from loved ones and support networks in order to stay safe.

Through Mobility for Good for Seniors, we are providing some of our most vulnerable Canadians with access to the vital tools and resources they need to stay safely and meaningfully connected, and in time for the holiday season.”

Across Canada, 2.2 million seniors receive the Guaranteed Income Supplement from the federal government, and are eligible for TELUS Mobility for Good for Seniors. This program is entirely subsidized by TELUS, and comes at no cost to the government or taxpayers.

To get set up, program participants are required to provide proof of receiving the GIS benefit and then will receive a unique code. Participants are also encouraged to download the Federal Government’s Covid-19 Alert app to stay updated on critical health information. Additional details and instructions on how to apply are available at telus.com/mobilityforgood.

“This year in particular has demonstrated how critical it is that more older Canadians have access to virtual healthcare options that can help them to stay healthy and safe,” said Dr. Samir Sinha, Director of Geriatrics at Sinai Health System and the University Health Network in Toronto.

“TELUS’ Mobility for Good for Seniors will significantly increase access to virtual healthcare technology, such as video conferencing from a smartphone, for older and low-income Canadians who may have previously faced barriers to accessing and affording a smartphone.

Beyond being able to better access health services, information and apps, a smartphone can be a critical tool in allowing older Canadians to more safely navigate their communities and help prevent the mental and physical health challenges associated with isolation and loneliness, particularly as more older Canadians are staying home and increasingly avoiding gatherings to protect their health.”

As the COVID-19 pandemic evolved earlier this spring, TELUS donated more than 14,000 free mobile devices and $0 rate plans, valued at $9 million, to hundreds of organizations across the country including long-term care facilities in support of seniors.

TELUS Mobility for Good for Seniors is part of the TELUS Connecting for Good portfolio of programs that gives Canadians in need access to TELUS’ world-leading technology. Additional programs include:

  • TELUS Internet for Good, offering high speed broadband Internet to qualified low-income families and people living with disabilities for only $9.95 per month;
  • TELUS Mobility for Good for youth, offering a free smartphone and a fully subsidized 3GB data plan to youth transitioning out of foster care for two years;
  • TELUS Tech for Good, helping differently abled Canadians facing challenges using smartphones and tablets with assistive technology and training that help them live more independently; and
  • TELUS Health for Good, enabling TELUS mobile health clinics to bring primary healthcare directly to people in need and living on the streets in urban centres across Canada.

TELUS also empowers Canadians of all ages to stay safe in our digital world with online resources and workshops through TELUS WiseⓇ, which covers topics including protecting your online security, privacy, and reputation, rising above cyberbullying, and using technology responsibly.

Seniors advocacy and support organizations are invited to book a free, virtual TELUS Wise Seniors workshop for the seniors they support at telus.com/WiseSeniors. The workshop educates participants on common online scams and threats and provides Internet, smartphone and social media safety tips, helping seniors to stay safe and get the most out of our digital world.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, TELUS has committed $150 million to support Canadians with the services and resources they need. For the latest information about how TELUS gives back visit telus.com/givesback.

About TELUS

TELUS (TSX: T, NYSE: TU) is a dynamic, world-leading communications and information technology company with $15.3 billion in annual revenue and 15.7 million customer connections spanning wireless, data, IP, voice, television, entertainment, video and security. We leverage our global-leading technology to enable remarkable human outcomes.

Our longstanding commitment to putting our customers first fuels every aspect of our business, making us a distinct leader in customer service excellence and loyalty. TELUS Health is Canada’s largest healthcare IT provider, and TELUS International delivers the most innovative business process solutions to some of the world’s most established brands.

Driven by our passionate social purpose to connect all Canadians for good, our deeply meaningful and enduring philosophy to give where we live has inspired our team members and retirees to contribute more than $700 million and 1.3 million days of service since 2000. This unprecedented generosity and unparalleled volunteerism have made TELUS the most giving company in the world.

For more information about TELUS, please visit telus.com, follow us @TELUSNews on Twitter and @Darren_Entwistle on Instagram.

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Win One of Six Cars Of Cheer With Titanium Autogroup

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Well, Natalya Cannon is just spreading the cheer this year! (You may recall, I had previously written about her Facebook post regarding the London Drugs Stockings for Seniors).

In advance of their four year anniversary next February, her and her team at Titanium Autogroup, founded by Derek Scherk, are giving away 6 cars to 6 lucky individuals before the year is out. That’s right – SIX chances to win a car, or other prizes. Specializing in used cars, it’s a way for the young dealership to give back to the community that has been so welcoming to them.

Contest rules are simple! Just like, tag, and share any of their Facebook posts (https://www.facebook.com/titaniumautogroup), or follow, tag, and share any of their instagram posts. Vehicles will be unveiled as they go!

Check out one of their first winners as she picks up her Fiat 500 from the Langley dealership!

You can find the Titanium team at their dealership in Walnut Grove (9494 200th Street, Langley, BC – T1), or at their newest location (since August 2020) across from Willowbrook Mall, at 19602 Fraser Highway, Langley, BC (T2).

If you’re looking for a car, the bus can’t stop at a better location – right in front of their dealership. Talk about convenience… If you need an upgrade, or just want to ‘treat yo’self’, visit the team – they’ll be happy to help you find the right car for you.

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