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How this business is helping Canadians cure their COVID rage, one swing at a time – CBC.ca

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On a quiet crescent in suburban Ottawa, Grace Roswell is seeing red.

Crowbar in hand, Grace is celebrating her 12th birthday inside the crimson-lined Vengeance Van, a rage room on wheels that shatters neighbourhood calm with explosions of glass and booming bass beats.

“It doesn’t want to break,” Grace says, staring down a porcelain angel that stubbornly refuses to perish.

“You might need a sledgehammer,” offers Bren Walker, Vengeance Van’s owner.

One triumphant swing and the winged seraph falls, decapitated. Grace allows herself a sheepish smile, her home-school stresses already flitting away.

The ‘Vengeance Van’

In a year of periodic lockdowns and pent-up frustrations, the Vengeance Van has taken off as a novelty recreation service amid the COVID-19 pandemic, offering a high-energy outlet for letting off a little destructive steam.

Walker, 33, founded the mobile “rage cage” after his seven-year-old business hosting black-lit Nerf battles for kids and corporate teams shut down amid lockdown restrictions and physical distancing requirements. It’s closed for the foreseeable future.

“I was about to lose my shirt,” he said.

Walker mowed lawns and built decks while saving toward a 24-foot box truck. He transformed the interior with red particle-board panelling, armed it with “weapons” like golf clubs and lead pipes, then added speakers and protective gear.

Launched last summer, the Vengeance Van appears to be filling a pandemic-shaped void in the rage room market — Walker is fielding 20 to 30 calls a week.

“It’s just been relentless,” he said, noting bookings shot up after Ontario shut down in late November.

“We started off kind of as an experiment, and it just developed and developed … People are very angry, they’re frustrated.”

Some just want a bit of physical fun. Others covet a renewed sense of control — even dominance — amid the feeling of cloistered helplessness imposed by the pandemic.

“We get a lot of requests for construction material. `My ex works in construction … so I want to break drills and drywall,”‘ Walker said.

Demand is booming

Demand is so high that he’s planning a sister ship: a mobile archery and axe-throwing truck — “Bow ‘n Throw On the Go.”

The smashables, plucked from estate sales or suppliers who would otherwise haul the items to the dump, run the gamut from ceramics to tables, televisions and the odd cuckoo clock.

“I liked smashing the mirror, because I liked how it exploded,” says Grace.

“My favourite was the bottle against the wall,” her mom, Danielle, chimes in.

A VCR and padded chair prove the most resilient foes, with Grace and her sister Emma, 13, recoiling slightly as their father, Darren, kneecaps the furniture legs with a hammer.

Ice Cube lyrics issues from the speakers: “You can do it, put your back into it.”

For the Roswell family, it was about the release as much as the novelty.

Ottawa Morning5:24Vengeance Van

Have you had enough of the pandemic already? We hit the road with the mobile smash room. 5:24

“It’s been a year now and there’s been extra stresses and stuff. So to be able to get out and get some of that stress out and smashing stuff, it was great,” Danielle says.

Spirits seem high and safety precautions protect the sisters as they launch a dinner plate and tea saucer against the pockmarked wall Frisbee-style, their eyes shielded by visored headgear.

“We’ve had little cuts and bruises here and there, but no one’s ever been maimed,” Walker says.

The weapons rack — from hatchet to Easton baseball bat — is sanitized after every session. Hairnets are provided, along with disposable gloves for those who don’t bring their own.

The Vengeance Van was born after it’s creator 7-year-old business hosting black-lit Nerf battles for kids and corporate teams shut down amid lockdown restrictions and physical distancing requirements. (Patrick Doyle/Canadian Press)

Bookings cost $100 for 30 minutes and $175 for an hour, with the number of items at customers’ disposal ranging from 35 to 55. Insurance is the main expense, as well as gas; an extra fee attends visits outside the Ottawa area.

Whether the catharsis helps with mental health is far from certain.

A healthy outlet

Patrick Keelan, a Calgary-based psychologist in private practice, doubts that violence against inanimate objects provides a healthy emotional outlet.

“The notion of catharsis with aggressive behaviour” is not supported by research, he said, warning of the potential for “harmful effects.”

He said studies suggest that aggressive activity begets more of it, instilling habits of hostility rather than releasing it like a valve.

Keelan cited the concept of an “anger iceberg,” where surface acrimony belies deeper causes that should be confronted head-on, such as frustrations at work or at home. He suggested more productive ways to vent include physical activity like martial arts, football and other sports.

“If it’s a one-time thing that’s in good fun ‘I don’t have a problem with it,” he qualified.

Kevin Bennett, a psychology professor at Penn State University and a fellow at the Centre for Urban Design and Mental Health in London also discourages the idea of rage rooms — stationary or mobile — as a therapeutic prescription.

“I don’t know of any counsellor who would say to their patient, `You’re feeling anxiety and frustration, I want you to go out and smash wine bottles and glass tables and you will feel better in the long run,”‘ Bennett said.

“The good news is, for most people, it is a reasonable way to spend an evening. It’s probably fun,” he added.

“I would love to try it, to be honest.”

Back in Ottawa, Grace feels her birthday wish was worth it.

“I’ve been less active because of the COVID restrictions,” she says. “But this really helped.”

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3 Ways to Incorporate CBD Into Your Spring Wellness Plan

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Canada’s cannabis market has grown significantly since it first became legal in 2018 — when the federal government legalized the plant for recreational use. Since that time, the market has developed into a variety of avenues. From edibles to beverages and beyond, the number of legal products available continues to grow.

As spring weather takes over from the cold winter months, there is an opportunity for novice and experienced CBD users to incorporate this newly legal plant into their diets and wellness routines. Let’s take a look at three popular ways to incorporate CBD into your spring diet.

1.   Food & Drink

The food and beverages we consume have a significant impact on our overall health and wellness. The incorporation of edibles is one of the fastest-growing avenues of legal CBD production in Canada. Consumers are gravitating towards the discretionary and efficiency functions of edibles.

As more licenced businesses begin to set up shop across the country, the variety of products available shows genuine promise — whether it’s with gummies or a sweet chamomile herbal tea, this is where Canada’s entrepreneurs are shining.

The CBD properties in edibles are becoming a go-to for many consumers looking to regulate their appetites, improve muscle function, and treat mood irregularities. Incorporating CBD into your spring diet may be a gradual process, particularly if you’re new to the experience. The easiest way to experiment is with the smallest dosage recommended and gauge your body’s reaction — as time goes on, you may be able to incorporate a higher dosage into your food or drink.

2.   Improving Sleep

Developing a healthy sleep pattern is a crucial part of your mental and physical health. The conversation around CBD and improved sleep is ongoing, though it shows promise. Since CBD is a non-psychoactive compound of the cannabis plant, it could offer therapeutic benefits without the attached high that comes with the same plant’s THC compounds.

Oils are one of the most popular ways to incorporate CBD into a sleeping ritual — consumers can choose to add the oil directly to their skin or add a few droplets to their diffusers while they sleep. The way the CBD compound reacts to the body’s serotonin receptors and the brain’s receptors is continuously studied. Consumers can use the available research and reports to decide whether adding CBD to their nighttime routine is the right choice for their lifestyle.

3.   Fitness Routine

Incorporating CBD has been a growing fundamental practice for anyone looking to improve their physical fitness. We know CBD is one of the many chemical compounds found in cannabinoids. Still, Cannabinoids actually exist in our bodies via our endocannabinoid system — which is known to regulate various functions in our body from appetite and mood to sleep and memory.

For those looking to add a therapeutic remedy to their active lifestyle, topical CBD products could be the answer. Massage oil or body cream has the potential to improve circulation, reduce muscle tension, and aid in the recovery of soft tissue injuries.

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Rogers Communications revenue boosted by cable power

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(Reuters) -Canadian telecoms operator Rogers Communications Inc trumped first-quarter revenue estimates on Wednesday, buoyed by strong demand in its cable unit that provides internet and cloud-based services.

Total revenue rose 2% to C$3.49 billion ($2.77 billion) in the quarter, compared with analysts’ average estimate of C$3.35 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Telecom providers have benefited from a surge in demand for high-speed internet from the COVID-19 pandemic caused shift to remote working and entertainment.

Revenue from the media segment, which includes television, radio broadcasting and digital media, rose 7% to C$440 million, boosted by the return of live professional sports broadcasting.

Cable service revenue increased 5% during the quarter.

Rogers, which is looking to expand its 5G infrastructure, said in March it was buying Canadian telecom services provider Shaw Communications Inc for about C$20 billion ($16.02 billion).

However, the company’s wireless service reported a 6% drop in revenue, hit by lower roaming revenue from fresh pandemic-induced travel curbs.

Net income rose to C$361 million, or 70 Canadian cents per share, from C$352 million, or 68 Canadian cents, a year earlier.

Excluding items, the company earned 77 Canadian cents per share, while analysts had expected 66 Canadian cents.

U.S.-listed shares of Rogers, which did not provide second-quarter forecast due to pandemic-led uncertainty, rose nearly 1% in low pre-market trading volumes.

($1 = 1.2596 Canadian dollars)

(Reporting by Tiyashi Datta in Bengaluru; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips and Sriraj Kalluvila)

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Canadian National challenges Canadian Pacific with $33.7 billion Kansas City bid

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By Shreyasee Raj

(Reuters) -Canadian National said on Tuesday it had offered to buy Kansas City Southern railroad for about $33.7 billion, and shares of U.S. company soared as investors anticipated a potential bidding war with Canadian Pacific.

Canadian Pacific had agreed a deal to acquire Kansas City Southern for about $25 billion last month. Either combination would create a North American railway spanning the United States, Mexico and Canada as supply chains recover from being disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The acquisition interest in Kansas City Southern also follows the ratification of the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement last year, that removed the threat of trade tensions which had escalated under former U.S. President Donald Trump.

Kansas City said it would evaluate Canadian National’s offer. If it found it could lead to a better deal, Canadian Pacific will be given the opportunity to raise its bid.

Canadian National’s cash-and-stock offer, worth $325 per share, is at a 26.8% premium to Kansas City Southern’s offer as of Monday’s trading close.

“We are surprised by this move given the healthy valuation Canadian Pacific had already offered to Kansas City Southern shareholders,” Stephens analyst Justin Long wrote in a note to clients.

Kansas City Southern shares rose 15.8% to $297.12, indicating most investors deemed it unlikely the company would stick with Canadian Pacific’s offer.

One investor that took a different view is Chilton Investment Co, which has a less than 1% stake in Kansas City Southern. Citing regulatory hurdles, it said it preferred a deal with Canadian Pacific.

“There’s more overlap with Canadian National deal which makes it harder to get (regulatory) approval. The Surface Transportation Board (STB) doesn’t like overlap,” Chilton CEO Richard Chilton said.

Canadian National CEO Jean-Jacques Ruest said his network and that of Kansas City Southern are “highly complementary networks with limited overlap.” They only run parallel for 65 miles, between Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

Kansas City Southern has domestic and international rail operations in North America, focused on the north-south freight corridor connecting commercial and industrial markets in the central United States with industrial cities in Mexico. Calgary-based Canadian Pacific is Canada’s No. 2 railroad operator, behind Canadian National.

The STB updated its merger regulations in 2001 to introduce a requirement that Class I railways have to show a deal is in the public interest. Yet it provided an exemption to Kansas City Southern given its small size, potentially limiting the scrutiny that its acquisition will be subjected to.

Canadian Pacific agreed in its negotiations with Kansas City Southern to bear most of the risk of the deal not going through. It will buy Kansas City Southern shares and place them in an independent voting trust, insulating the acquisition target from its control until the STBLatest clears the deal. Were the STB to reject the combination, Canadian Pacific would have to sell the shares of Kansas City Southern, but the current Kansas City Southern shareholders would keep their proceeds.

Canadian National said it was willing to match these terms. It said its offer does not require approval from its own shareholders because of how much cash it has, eliminating a condition in Canadian Pacific’s offer.

Bill Gates’ Cascade Investment, which is Canadian National’s biggest investor with a 14.25% stake, said it fully supports the combination.

A private equity consortium led by Blackstone Group Inc and Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) made an unsuccessful offer last year to acquire Kansas City Southern. But it was Canadian Pacific’s announcement of a deal with Kansas City Southern that spurred Canadian National into action, as it raised the prospect of losing out to its rival, according to people familiar with the matter.

(Reporting by Shreyasee Raj and Ankit Ajmera in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Greg Roumeliotis in New York; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli, Anil D’Silva and David Gregorio)

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