19. Shayne Ramsay
CEO, BC Housing
November 17, 2015
Age: 54 | 2014: #19
When you’re CEO of the provincial agency responsible for creating social housing in one of the world’s most expensive real estate markets, you’re in the thick of one of the thorniest public-policy issues in the province. Welcome to Shayne Ramsay’s world.
Head of BC Housing since 2000, Ramsay has been at the heart of some of the most contentious debates in the city, particularly as they pertain to the Downtown Eastside and what to do about housing the troubled souls who walk (and often sleep on) its streets. Ramsay has overseen perhaps the most ambitious expansion of social housing in the province’s history. Over the past 15 years, billions have been poured into building supportive housing here and around the province, turning dingy single-room occupancy hotels in downtown Vancouver into something people are proud to live in.
His tenure has been productive and widely applauded, though it has not been without controversy: he’s married to Janice Abbott, a powerful housing advocate in her own right and executive director of the Atira Women’s Resource Society, one of the largest social housing agencies in the DTES. Given that Ramsay oversees the provincial body responsible for funding, there have been charges of conflict of interest. His response? He simply excuses himself, he says, whenever matters arise involving his wife’s non-profit.
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