Building a Culture of Safety at Avenue Living

Safety at Avenue Living

A happy workplace is a productive workplace. But did you know that safety is a major contributor to employee satisfaction? Workplace injuries carry a significant impact, impacting tens of thousands of workers every year, affecting their families, co-workers, and communities. In 2022, Canada’s Worker’s Compensation Board (WCB) reported there were 4.33 injuries per 100 workers in Canada

One of Avenue Living’s core values is “Duty of Care,” and while we often talk about it in relation to our residents, customers, and our investors, it also applies to our workforce. That duty manifests itself in creating an environment that seeks to minimize risks for every member of our team, whether they work in our offices or out in the field.  

Safety is more than a set of policies and procedures, it’s part of an organization’s culture, and it flows from the top down.  

“Safety is connected to everything,” says John Price, Senior Vice President Health, Safety, and Environment (HSE). “The better your safety culture, the more engaged your teams are. Studies show that organizations who have highly engaged employees can reduce safety-related incidents by up to 70 per cent.” 

An article published by the Harvard School of Public Health notes that “engaged workers are more likely to be aware of their surroundings and best safety practices making them more likely to take steps to protect their co-workers.”  

This engagement also has a ripple effect. “Everyone wants to feel that they’re valued,” says John. “It’s true that happy employees are the best employees. It’s a key ingredient in building the highest performing teams.” 

In practical terms, facilitating safe work environments results in bottom-line benefits: reduced absenteeism, better employee retention, lower insurance costs (through reduced claims and a better safety record), and better overall performance. While there’s no way to eliminate risk completely, a positive safety culture increases trust throughout an organization — both with employees and their peers, and between employees and management, reducing disruptions to business. 

Avenue Living’s Culture of Safety 

“We’re focused on putting the tools for safety in people’s hands before they start work,” says John. Those tools include high-tech solutions but also plans and policies, training, and an organization-wide mindset that prioritizes everyone’s well-being. “Most workplace injuries are preventable when we’ve adequately equipped our teams with the knowledge, solutions, and planning necessary to carry out their jobs safely and effectively.” 

We achieved our Safety Certificates of Recognition (COR) from the Alberta government starting in 2020, which requires third-party audits of safety practices, and we’ve implemented various technological tools to help keep our remote workers safe, track incidents, and monitor hazards. Software such as SitePhotos allows us to share visual records of maintenance jobs, and the ClearRisk application helps us track hazards and document risk mitigation. For lone workers, SolusGuard provides an extra layer of security via a panic button and app that prompts regular check-ins. 

Always Moving Forward 

But technology is only part of the story. A culture of safety ensures that everyone in the organization, from the top down, is committed to preventing incidents and putting barriers in place so when an incident occurs, no one gets hurt. Humans make errors and it’s important that, as a company, we work together to build capacity around these situations. “It’s how we grow and improve. There’s no better teacher of how to make work safer than those who perform the tasks,” says John. 

Continuous improvement is a cornerstone of our organization, and we’ve taken a closer look at how our HSE team is structured and found a way to best serve the diverse needs of our different business units.  

“We’re creating some bench strength and giving each team dedicated specialists,” says John, who notes that the restructuring was in response to hearing different business units’ needs. Now our self-storage, property management, and other areas have their own single point of contact with the safety team. This structure allows our safety specialists to develop deep knowledge of each business and work closely with the team to identify challenges and create solutions. This is key to a proactive safety culture. 

Over the past year, we have also developed more robust emergency plans. For example, in March 2023, we launched an emergency response plan across the organization that outlines safety procedures for potential risks.  

Across our organization, we’re developing a robust incident command system to help our teams manage emergencies such as extreme weather events. This system provides a platform for how we respond and recover from major events that affect our customers, teams, and assets. 

Additionally, management performs regular site visits. “Being on-site is the best way for them to understand the safety requirements in our day-to-day operations,” says John. It also allows opportunities for the entire team to connect in person, strengthening trust and opening the lines of communication.  

All these efforts serve to keep us — and the communities in which we work — safe. And they have an added benefit. As a customer-centric organization, taking care of each other allows us to focus on the thing that sets us apart: delivering superior service to our residents and customers across North America.

This commentary and the information contained herein are for educational and informational purposes only and do not constitute an offer to sell, or a solicitation of an offer to buy, any securities or related financial instruments. This article may contain forward-looking statements. Readers should refer to information contained on our website at for additional information regarding forward-looking statements and certain risks associated with them. 

Investing and Connecting with a Community: Wetaskiwin Mall’s New Mural

Wetaskiwin Mall

Inclusivity can take many forms — the people who make up an organization’s team, the causes they support, and the principles they operate under. But it can also take the form of representation in other ways like in the case of Wetaskiwin Mall, an exciting piece of original art, painted by a local, renowned Indigenous artist.  

As property owners and operators, we know our investments have an impact on the people who live and work in the communities in which we operate. We invest in spaces — multi-family homes and commercial space — that people develop deep connections with. The mural at Wetaskiwin Mall aims to showcase the culture of the community and evoke the theme of “Healing Medicine.” 

Collaborating with a Local Artist 

Painted by distinguished Indigenous artist Lance Cardinal, the 50-foot mural in the north wing of the mall symbolizes many ways of healing: ceremonial, medicinal, cultural, and healing through dance — a fitting subject given its location right outside an Alberta Health Services office and the Care Gateway Clinic. Cardinal painted the mural over ten days, with the help of an assistant.  

Cardinal, from Big Stone Cree First Nation, is an artist and entrepreneur on the rise. In 2022, he collaborated with the Edmonton Oilers to write and produce the team’s new land acknowledgement and design their Turtle Island logo, which helped raise funds for Edmonton charities, while being one of the most popular and beloved alternate designs in the team’s history. His shoe collection with Kunitz Shoes, an Edmonton-based company, is set to launch this year and is currently on display at the Royal Alberta Museum.  

Wetaskiwin, Alberta, which is 70 km south of Edmonton, is a community of around 13,000. The city is located on Treaty Six territory, bordered by two of the four Maskwacis First Nations — the Ermineskin and Samson Cree Nations — and serving two others — the Louis Bull Tribe and Montana First Nation. Wetaskiwin has rich Indigenous history; its name (which means “the hills where peace was made”) is a direct reference to the outcome of a battle between the Cree and Blackfoot. 

Bringing People Together 

Our strategy with Wetaskiwin Mall has always been to create a “community hub,” a place that provides customers with the essential services they need all in one place. In addition to national retailers and locally-owned stores and services, the mall is also home to Alberta Health Services, a pharmacy, medical clinic, optometrist, and more. Avenue Living has invested in Wetaskiwin for over a decade, with a presence that includes 401 multi-family units and 158,000 square feet of commercial space. In keeping with a key tenet of our strategy as an active manager, we have developed a deep understanding of the market and its residents.  Since acquiring the shopping center in 2017, Avenue Living has carefully curated a roster of retailers and services that reflect the needs and wants of area residents.  

“You don’t usually see local art in a retail environment like this,” says Slava Fedossenko, Director, Commercial Asset Management for Avenue Living, “but we wanted to create something that reflects the culture of the community.” 

Avenue Living is immensely proud of our partnership with Lance Cardinal and the finished mural. While it is one of the first projects of its kind for us, we have plans to ensure it is not the last, and we look forward to working with local artists in other communities to showcase the places our residents and customers call home.  

Read more about Lance Cardinal and this exciting project in The Wetaskiwin Times. 

This commentary and the information contained herein are for educational and informational purposes only and do not constitute an offer to sell, or a solicitation of an offer to buy, any securities or related financial instruments. This article may contain forward-looking statements. Readers should refer to information contained on our website at for additional information regarding forward-looking statements and certain risks associated with them. 

International Women’s Day 2023

International Women's Day

International Women’s Day provides an opportunity to reflect on the progress made toward gender equality — and the work that still needs to be done. 
We believe every employee should have the opportunity to reach their full potential and are committed to creating a culture of respect, inclusivity, and diversity. By providing equal opportunities for all employees, we’ve created a business that’s stronger and better positioned to serve our customers and communities. 
Hear firsthand from our team about how they’ve navigated leadership roles and fostered inclusivity.

Continuous Improvement: How Focusing on Customer Satisfaction Also Boosts Employee Morale

“In everything we do, we focus on our residents and customers first.” This is a common phrase used by Avenue Living’s Chief Investment Officer, Jason Jogia, and a sentiment that reverberates throughout the organization. This laser focus on the customer drives our investment strategy, our approach to service, and our operations as a whole. 

Since 2006, we’ve learned that superior customer service requires ongoing adaptation from our team. Employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction are uniquely linked; when a process is smooth and easy for our leasing specialists, maintenance associates, or regional portfolio managers, it usually means it’s convenient for our customers.  

“We centre our operations around the customer and employee experience. We want to make tasks easier for everyone,” says Winford Rader, Vice President of Continuous Improvement. “Creating efficiencies means doing our research, evaluating the tools we’re using, and aligning our teams to best serve our customers.” 

Avenue Living’s Continuous Improvement department develops better processes for our team and customers. Officially formed in 2019, the group of almost 20 includes business analysts, data analysts, and operational efficiency experts. They break procedures down and examine how each component can be streamlined. And sometimes, they uncover simple, time-saving solutions to a host of challenges. 

The property management industry is in the middle of significant change, as new technology and changing customer needs push managers to consider how to attract and retain residents. The Entrata 2022 Renter’s Report notes that 62 per cent of renters surveyed prefer interaction with a real person — and it builds greater trust. Renters listed responsiveness, ability to give feedback (renter input), and face-to-face interaction as the top items they wanted their property manager to improve. 

For Avenue Living, delivering industry-leading customer service has been a key differentiator from the very beginning. Providing a positive experience means re-examining our processes and adapting, whether it’s improving our response time to maintenance calls (99 per cent of which are fully resolved within 1.85 days) or making showings, rental applications, or the leasing process easier. 

Sometimes the solutions to our biggest challenges lie in the smallest details.  

Using data to drive improvement 

The Continuous Improvement department looks at data from numerous sources, such as Google My Business, and Yardi Voyager to consolidate one “curated, validated, and trusted source of data.” With this one source of truth in hand, teams across the Avenue Living platform can begin to see where processes are performing well and where improvements can be made. 

“It’s easy to get hung up on how we’ve historically done things,” says Winford Rader. “But sometimes asking the right questions and understanding the end result can help us arrive at an improved destination sooner.” 

Humanity + Technology 

The insight we get from front-line interactions between our residents and our Regional Portfolio Managers (RPMs), leasing specialists, and maintenance associates has led to simple solutions that can have a big impact. For example, improving the outcome of the leasing process by tailoring appointments to times when potential residents are most available, or creating tools that allow a smoother application and signing process. 

The Continuous Improvement team works in tandem with business units across the organization to arrive at solutions, rather than prescribing them. The team gathers data and provides analysis that allows each group to determine a feasible endpoint. This collaborative effort creates greater buy-in and personal investment in the results. 

Smoothing out these processes often has reduced costs by eliminating redundant efforts. Innovation that allows our team to save even minutes a day has a significant impact throughout the calendar year. Coupled with responsive customer service and a focus on retention, it has helped us create value for our investors, today and in the future.  

The Continuous Improvement team allows us to think strategically and see how our end-to-end customer service processes work together. As the market evolves and resident demands change, we’re able to respond more effectively and work toward a shared vision that serves our customers, employees, and investors.  

This commentary and the information contained herein are for educational and informational purposes only and do not constitute an offer to sell, or a solicitation of an offer to buy, any securities or related financial instruments. This article may contain forward-looking statements. Readers should refer to information contained on our website at for additional information regarding forward-looking statements and certain risks associated with them. 

This Year’s Most-Read: Our Top Content in 2022

We’ve gathered the blog posts, articles, and white papers that garnered the most interest from our readers last year. They cover a diverse range of topics, from our partnership with the Canada Infrastructure Bank to the complexities of the private rental housing market, but they all come back to one thing: understanding the real estate investment landscape. As investors seek opportunity in a changing market, it’s important to explore and analyze the fundamentals that impact our industry to refine our strategy and provide value for our residents, our investors, and the communities in which we operate.



This announcement is the next step in our commitment to ESG — one we officially started when we began a relationship with PRI (Principles for Responsible Investing). Our partnership with Canada Infrastructure Bank will allow us to undertake capital improvements that reduce our carbon footprint and provide comfortable homes for our residents, without compromising affordability.


RE-EXAMINING A HEDGE AGAINST INFLATION: Multi-family Residential Real Estate 

This paper examines the effects inflation and rising interest rates have on affordability, and how investors may find opportunities in multi-family real estate. 



Our founder and CEO, Anthony Giuffre, collaborated with the University of Regina’s Dr. Grant Wilson on this examination of the North American rental housing market, identifying the lifestyles, demographics, and value propositions that make up six major groups in the housing spectrum. The peer-reviewed paper was published in the International Real Estate Review in April 2022. 



This white paper explores how diversification in real estate portfolios — across asset types and markets — can enhance value for investors, helping them minimize risk and maximize the potential for returns. 



We examined factors that make the workforce housing market an attractive investment opportunity and  why it’s the focus of our multi-family strategy.  

This commentary and the information contained herein are for educational and informational purposes only and do not constitute an offer to sell, or a solicitation of an offer to buy, any securities or related financial instruments. This article may contain forward-looking statements. Readers should refer to information contained on our website at for additional information regarding forward-looking statements and certain risks associated with them. 

Avenue Living’s 2022 Year in Review

In 2022, Avenue Living grew in more ways than one. In addition to expanding our footprint and operations with new offices in Toronto and Dallas, we improved our customer satisfaction through active management, invested in technology, and elevated our ESG efforts.  We’re also entering our third year as signatories for PRI and since signing on, we have partnered with the CIB to sustainably retrofit nearly half of our multi-family portfolio. In 2023, we look forward to commencing phase one of the project and making a positive impact.