The Vancouver Power 50 2013
Some uses of power are obvious. Christy Clark’s landslide win in May, for instance, spoke to the impressive influence the BC Liberals continue to enjoy in this province. Pollsters predicted her demise, but Clark never deviated from the plan. The next 49 on this list, however, have been trickier to nail. Business, education, trade, the arts, and, yes, marijuana are all represented. Underpinning every choice: a particular appreciation for those who are building this region. Sometimes that means actual towers, no matter how contentious. But at others, we have celebrated a clutch of people creating changes that may take years to become apparent
December 1, 2013
Her often wild and bumpy ride as premier was supposed to have ended in May, according to pundits and pollsters. But Clark never believed them. Instead, she led the B.C. Liberals to a historic, come-from-behind election win that has given her a grip on power she didn’t previously enjoy. No longer concerned about a fractious caucus that always seemed to be on the verge of rebellion, Clark rules the Liberal domain with an iron fist. After all, many of the MLAs in Victoria owe their jobs to her brilliant campaigning. The tireless Clark used the promise that liquefied natural gas development holds—to create jobs and eliminate debt—to persuade a skeptical public the Liberals deserved four more years in office. The only blotch on the victory was her defeat in her own riding of Vancouver–Point Grey. No problem: she coaxed Ben Stewart to step down as MLA in the safe Liberal riding of Westside-Kelowna and easily won a by-election. Where a year ago the Liberals were considering a name change to address a tattered and damaged brand, it’s now the New Democratic Party in search of an identity, not to mention a new leader. This has many now thinking that the unsinkable Christy Clark could be premier for some time.
Love him or hate him, Vancouver’s five-year mayor is remaking this city in a way that won’t soon be forgotten. In his dogged pursuit of Vancouver as a green city with a creative economy and housing for everyone, he has spearheaded an aggressive plan the last two years for bike lanes and future rapid transit and pushed through equally energetic efforts to make room for more apartments and townhouses. He has also redefined the city as a crucible for high-tech and small-business innovation—a far cry from its long-standing image as the service centre for a resource-based province. Plus, his increasingly fluent Mandarin is winning him fans in the city’s ever-more-influential Chinese community. A sign of how much Robertson matters: he’s got a lot of people in the city riled up, but just as many (polls say) admire his vision and determination.
What was your highest point in 2013? A tie: landing the TED Talks and seeing street homelessness drop 66 percent from 2008.
Lowest point? Learning new evidence on the random violent attacks related by people with severe, untreated mental illnesses, prompting VPD chief Jim Chu and I to declare a crisis.
Chair and CEO, Jim Pattison Group
B.C.’s richest man got his start selling cars and has since expanded into radio stations, outdoor advertising, and Ripley’s Believe It or Not! museums among other disparate businesses. But the corner of the empire earning the most attention these days is groceries. In Western Canada, the Overwaitea group has more than 125 stores operating under banners such as Save-On-Foods, PriceSmart, and Urban Fare, and it’s estimated to have annual sales of about $3.5 billion—accounting for almost half of his $7.5 billion annual revenues. In the wake of Sobeys’s purchase of the Western Canadian Safeway stores, Overwaitea is now a likely target for large eastern grocers, such as Metro, who want to expand west. Or the elusive billionaire might be planning to expand the Overwaitea chain on his own rather than selling out. As with much of Pattison’s very private business dealings—including the perennial question of who will succeed him as CEO—his next move is anybody’s guess.
Minister of Natural Gas Development & Housing; Deputy Premier
When many Libs were running for the panic room, Coleman stuck it out as Christy Clark’s chief ally in cabinet. At the time, observers thought his loyalty was quaint but misguided. Look who’s laughing now: not only is Coleman deputy premier; as of June, he is also in charge of Clark’s favoured file as Minister of Natural Gas Development, the resource that she keeps saying will change the face of this province. And he also hung on to the housing portfolio, which he’s used to rebuild social housing in Vancouver. (Half of the 14 major projects he steered through treasury board have now been built, housing more than 600.) He’s not done fixing this town yet.
Mayor, City of Surrey
The Surrey that Watts imagined eight years ago is finally beginning to rise. Amid what used to be big-box parking lots and fast-food joints, Surrey’s new City Hall opens any day now, joining the new library as a cornerstone of the new city centre. Towers are being built, and King George has become a boulevard instead of a highway. Watts doesn’t have quite the provincial clout she did last year at this time, when she was viewed by many (possibly even herself) as the likely leader of the B.C. Liberals once Christy Clark was wiped off the map. But she’s still a formidable force in the region, as she continues to fight to transform this one-time bedroom community into a city with a downtown, a light-rail network, and its own economy.
Founder, Wall Financial Corp.
Anyone who doubts what kind of pull developer Peter Wall wields in the city only has to look at his most prominent creation. Thirteen years ago, his desire for a tall black tower to complete his trio on Burrard Street led to a standoff with the city. He was ordered to put clear glass on the top part of the tower after a tussle partway through construction. This year, city hall allowed him to replace it with the black glass he’d originally wanted. (Sure, he was also a major backer of Premier Christy Clark when everyone else was ditching her.) He’s a cultural force in the city, putting up the money for everything from brain research to opera performances. And he manages to swing bold development projects with the Vision council (another recipient of his largesse) that no one else can. But the black tower kinda says it all.
CEO, Telus Corp.
The smallest of Canada’s big three telcos has perfected the art of being the big fish in a small pond: Telus dominates the Western Canadian telcom market while eschewing the sexier broadcast assets that cause chief rivals Rogers and Bell no shortage of headaches. As a bonus, this September, U.S. giant Verizon Inc. decided to pass on the Canadian wireless market, despite mad efforts by the feds to boost competition, meaning your monthly bill isn’t coming down anytime soon. More good news for Entwistle: in July, his company announced a 58-storey, $400-million tower in downtown Calgary to be dubbed Telus Sky and designed by Danish rock-star architect Bjarke Ingels, following close on the heels of Vancouver’s own architectural marvel and new Telus HQ, Telus Garden. That $750-million mixed-use complex is expected to be completed by 2015.
Lowest point in 2013? The floods in southern Alberta this summer were Canada’s worst natural disaster to date, and impacted hundreds of thousands of Albertans—amongst them, 14,000 Telus employees and retirees.
Owner, Rennie Marketing Systems
“Just be you,” he’s said to have whispered to Christy Clark as she stood to acknowledge her win. He’d been by her side throughout the campaign, a formidable scorekeeper and fundraiser even when her capital was low. (He did stop dining at power centre Yew at the Four Seasons in the spring—political arguments with other diners kept spoiling the food—but he’s back now with a vengeance.) Days later she returned the favour at his annual development talk, where his insights into our demographics and his support of a subsidized retail zone in the Downtown Eastside defined a year’s conversations. In fact, with Shannon Mews nearly sold out and the Olympic Village (neither site likely for density even 10 years ago) down to a $300 million debt, it’s been a banner year. Now, if the collector and gallerist can just bury the hatchet with the vagabond VAG.
What’s your favourite way to unwind? Walking at 5:30 most mornings. Speaking to Europe and back East about the art collection.
What six words should mark your tombstone? It’s all happening at the zoo!
Chief of Staff, City of Vancouver
In the triumvirate running Vancouver, it’s chief of staff Magee who finesses the political strategy, massages reporters, and keeps the council team together. A volatile negotiator who can be Hollyhock Zen one day and Veep-level incendiary the next, he is the mayor’s sounding board and relentless promoter. The two even travelled together with their families to Nicaragua this year for a two-week volunteer stint at a nonprofit (plus some surfing). But playtime is rare. Magee, a former hockey player, still sees political life as a series of goals to be scored. Getting TED Talks to relocate to Vancouver, check. Positioning the mayor as part of the international smart-cities set, check. Negotiating with the province to get a win in the transit-funding debacle…working on that.
Highest point in 2013? A remarkable 70,000 people participating in the First Nations reconciliation walk despite the torrential rains. Made me very proud of Vancouver.
Lowest point? The death of Waldo Brino, a great leader from Vancouver’s Latino community.
What six words should mark your tombstone? I’ll be right back!
Chief Constable, Vancouver Police Dept.
In this age when every civilian does double duty as a smartphone-wielding whistleblower, being a police chief is no kind of fun. Luckily the Shanghai-born Chu (his family emigrated to the East Side when he was three) continues to be adept at getting ahead of stories—this year’s range from his support of the controversial Bill C-30 to a string of citizen-documented police incidents—by directly responding to the media whenever a fire flares up. His recent criticism of police having to deal with mental-health issues is striking a human chord, but it’s his commonsense approach to decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana that will really bolster public support and raise his profile nationally as pot politics take the federal stage.
Highest point in 2013? Going over 300 persons recommended for rioting charges after the Stanley Cup riots.
Lowest point? Seeing sad cases involving the mentally ill.
President & CEO, Port Metro Vancouver
Since taking over the port four years ago, Silvester has probably heard the phrase “Gateway to Asia” a million times. With its 600 kilometres of shoreline, 16 municipalities have their imprint on the port. One First Nation has claimed it, and many others see it in their traditional territory. “The port has become somewhat more controversial and it’s something Robin has become very aware of. He’s been actively trying to reach out to a broader community,” says Sarah Morgan-Silvester, the past chair of the port. “He’s very comfortable inviting input from others.” Last year, Port Metro Vancouver handled 124 million tonnes of cargo, and it’s expecting to exceed that this year. That’s partly driven by shipping more coal than ever before at the same time crude petroleum exports have risen 35 percent. Tanker traffic is also increasing. The port has always maintained Vancouver can handle more. A lot more. Currently about 100 crude oil and chemical tankers call on the port each year. If the Kinder Morgan project of sending Alberta crude through B.C.’s coast receives approval, the projection is 400 tankers a year. That’s a fraction of other major ports like Rotterdam, which handles 8,206 tankers a year. And Rotterdam looks like Vancouver compared to Singapore. That port takes in 22,280 tankers annually. That’s a gateway that thrills some, worries others.
Manager, City of Vancouver
Vancouver’s larger-than-life city manager is the most powerful person in the city, some insist. She’s not. But to many on the front lines, it seems like she must be. The former B.C. deputy health minister manages every file at the city “as though she’s saving the Olympic Village,” says one close observer. She is in the meeting and hands-on, whether it’s a question of coming up with a plan to tackle mental illness, deciding whether the Vancouver Art Gallery should get access to city land, or laying out a new deal for community centres. There’s some question about whether this polarizing commander might get out of the way before an election. But for now, Ballem rules city operations.
What six words should mark your tombstone? She had a wicked sense of humour.
Who should be #1? The new pope.
The Aquilini Family: Luigi, Francesco, Paolo & Roberto
Aquilini Investment Group
The greatest Aquilini-related disappointment this year—well, except for Game 4 against the Sharks—was the sealed settlement in September of Francesco and Taliah Aquilini’s divorce; gossip mongers hoped through trial discovery to receive, for the first time, a clear and public accounting of a family empire reportedly worth over $5 billion. Instead, we must make do with a diligent accounting published in the Sun, listing, in addition to sports assets like the Canucks and Rogers Arena, land holdings (over 30,000 acres in Canada, the U.S., and Italy; 5,000 acres near Pitt Meadows, almost all within the ALR, form the largest holding in Greater Vancouver); a three-million-square-foot blueberry/cranberry processing plant (they’re North America’s largest producer); a 670-head dairy farm; real estate and 44 hotels across the continent; and development partnerships under way with the Tsawwassen, Musqueam, and Tsleil-Waututh first nations—that last, a 2,000-home, $1.8-billion development in North Vancouver. Their philanthropy is said to be equally diverse and equally tight-lipped.
Chief of Staff, British Columbia
Of the many appointments Christy Clark has made since becoming premier, none has been as important as Doyle’s. He arrived in Victoria in 2012 with Clark in the midst of another crisis: the sudden resignation of then–chief of staff Ken Boessenkool over an inappropriate encounter with a government employee in a Victoria bar. Doyle took over the position and instantly instilled a discipline and professionalism in Clark’s office that had been largely absent. The former BC Hydro board chair and VANOC executive leaves partisan gamesmanship to others, preferring to focus on the many tough policy challenges the government faces. Most consider him the second most powerful person in the capital.
CEO, Westbank Projects
Gillespie keeps changing Vancouver’s skyline. He did it with Woodward’s and then the Shangri-La. And in his latest twist, he’s behind one of the most talked-about buildings in recent years: the 52-storey swirling towers project by Danish architect Bjarke Ingels. In late October, the city unanimously approved rezoning for the development, with its 500 units and pointy bottom broadening as it twirls toward the sky. The towers will have a prime but under-wowed downtown location by the on-ramp to the Granville Street Bridge. Gillespie, who first met Ingels in former city planning director Brent Toderian’s office, says he believes people are really trying to have a more creative and innovative city. “Architecture has the ability to solve many of the problems we face: the issues of sustainability, the issues of affordability.”
Minister of International Trade
There isn’t a federal cabinet minister who spends less time in Ottawa than Fast. As Minister of International Trade and Asia-Pacific Gateway, Fast Eddie, as he’s been known since childhood, spends four months of the year in Asia trying to deepen Canada’s trade and investment ties. The three-term MP, lawyer, and Mennonite from Abbotsford played a key role in the recently announced trade agreement with Europe. Next up: the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership accord that will significantly liberalize trade with Asian nations. Among his many tasks, Fast is trying to entice Asian multinationals to set up North American home bases in Vancouver.
President & CEO, Fiore Financial Corp.; Founder, Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership
We have our share of millionaires, but none quite like this one. The CEO of investment bank Yorkton Securities in the 1990s spent the 2000s valuating resource companies including Wheaton River Minerals and Northern Orion into the stratosphere. Fortified financially, he’s spent the 2010s following his many interlocking passions: film (having revived Lionsgate, he’s now pushing hard with producer/distributor Thunderbird Films; big pending project? Blade Runner 2); social justice; and, unexpectedly, olive oil. The justice comes supersized courtesy of a close friendship with Bill Clinton; the pair front the Clinton Giustra Sustainable Growth Initiative, which brings market thinking to Third World philanthropy. Clinton’s many Vancouver visits (a Board of Trade talk by Hillary is coming in 2014) are courtesy of Giustra, as was International Crisis Group president Louise Arbour’s in 2012. (He’s on that board, too.) And the oil? A business that started on a holiday whim led, owing to his characteristic drive, to gold (of 700 entries) at May’s inaugural New York International Olive Oil Competition.
What six words should mark your tombstone? Born 1957. Died 2093.
Codirector, Urban Health Research Initiative
This internist has more letters after his name (MD, PhD, ABIM, FRCPC) than a Scrabble board, but pedigree aside, he’s more comfortable strolling the Downtown Eastside (he was recently named research chair in inner city medicine at UBC) than the fairways of Shaughnessy Golf Course. He made his name with his work on HIV-treatment strategies, but these days he’s known for being the most lucid voice speaking out for marijuana legalization or going toe-to-toe with the feds over the survival of Insite and winning.
What Vancouver intersection best represents for you the heart of the city? Hastings and Hamilton brings together the edge of the Downtown Eastside with the cruise ship and other tourist traffic as well as the edge of the central business district.
CEO, BC Housing
Every year, a list of the biggest new-home builders gets published and the usual suspects are named: Polygon, Concord Pacific, Onni. But one name is always left off the list: BC Housing, where Ramsay presides over what is in essence a massive development company that builds or renovates 1,000-plus units a year, year after year. (It also provides subsidized housing or rent supplements to 98,000 B.C. households and manages a budget above $600 million.) Ramsay has been remarkably resilient despite being head of the kind of government operation critics love to go after. Since taking over in 2000, he’s survived the Liberals’ initial freeze on all social housing, media stories about BC Housing expense reports, numerous reports about wife Janice Abbott’s management of Atira (which always mention their connection), and Vancouver’s constant demands to build faster and house more homeless people.
Chair, Polygon Homes & Audain Foundation for the Visual Arts
The developer calls 2013 “the most thrilling” year of his life. His Polygon Homes, which this year completed its 23,000th dwelling, has now built and sold more than $7.5 billion worth of suburban townhomes and condos—with 7,000 in the pipeline, soon to pop up in 10 municipalities around the region. Such success bolsters Audain’s connection to the art world: he was appointed to the Director’s Council at the Museum of Modern Art (“a good place for stock tips”); construction is under way in Whistler, where the $30-million-plus Patkau-designed Audain Art Museum will open in late 2015; and the Charles Edenshaw exhibition at the VAG—a long-time goal of Audain’s—was principally sponsored by his Audain Foundation.
Minister of Industry
Our man in Ottawa only grew more powerful this spring when Harper announced (via Twitter; the media aren’t to be trusted) that his erstwhile heritage minister was moving up to industry. Moore will be missed on the museums beat, but his corporate matchmaking skills are already in strong demand. In charge of competition, he’s overseeing acquisitions by Telus and Shoppers Drug Mart, as well as sorting out the telcom sector as a new player enters the market. In concert with Tory policy, he’s signalled it’s consumers first on the wireless front, also making noise about legislation to control our credit card fees (the world’s highest) and to allow subscriptions to TV stations outside bundles. If that sounds like big government interference (he’s also meant to nudge Christy Clark on the energy file), don’t kid yourself: he’s Harper’s man—for now.
President, Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs
The priority that Ottawa and the B.C. Liberal government have attached to resource development has given aboriginal groups in this province leverage—and power—they’ve never known before. That newfound clout is often verbalized by Phillip in his role as president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs. His has been the resistant voice the federal government has encountered in its efforts to get B.C.’s First Nations leaders onboard with building oil pipelines to the coast. Meanwhile, the former chief of the Penticton Indian Band has also been a strident critic of the RCMP, saying the relationship between First Nations communities and the Mounties is broken and needs to be addressed.
What was your lowest point in 2013? May 16, 2013, and the outcome of the B.C. provincial election.
What Vancouver intersection best represents for you the heart of the city? Main and Hastings—it’s a graphic reminder of the urgent need to reform this province’s, and this country’s, socioeconomic legislation and policies.
It hasn’t been a great year and a half for Vancouver’s tech scene, with Disney closing down its Pixar Studios in October, laying off 100, and Rockstar Games and Radical Entertainment both shuttering in the summer of 2012. But if your name is Ryan Holmes, all of that hardly matters. The man behind HootSuite (which now counts over seven million users of its social-media dashboard) went to the venture capital markets in August and raised US$165 million, the largest private placement for a Canadian tech company in years. Then, in October, HootSuite held a job fair to fill 100 new positions. Holmes—who last year secured city-owned land to help his company expand from Gastown to Mount Pleasant—has big ambitions for Vancouver but thinks much more needs to be done to nurture the local tech community. “I want to make my city, Vancouver, into a real Silicon Valley North,” he wrote in a September op-ed piece in the Province. “My colleagues and I want to grow HootSuite into a billion-dollar company, then fund a new generation of tech ventures in the city. But without homegrown talent, it’s never going to happen. High schools and colleges need to funnel students into engineering programs now and send the message that the jobs of tomorrow are in tech.”
What was your lowest point in 2013? I try not to think of it that way. I don’t have time to sit around wishing I could change what has happened.
President & Vice-Chancellor, SFU
Simon Fraser University, incorporated 48 years ago, has—like everyone since the ’60s—traded in its granny glasses and placards in favour of Clearly Contacts and iPads. Its current iteration, defined by president and vice-chancellor Petter, focuses on community engagement, a canny choice for an institution seeking to differentiate itself from the big (UBC, with its sponsorship and research heft) and small (the five colleges elevated to university status under Gordon Campbell). This engagement picked up steam in 2013, with new branding, a Public Square conference on the province’s economic future, and ongoing green innovations at UniverCity, the Burnaby Mountain development that will generate its own energy (and controversy, through its application to TransLink for a dedicated gondola). Before Petter taught constitutional law, he was part of Mike Harcourt’s NDP caucus, tasked with the tough portfolios: aboriginal affairs (during the treaty commission startup), forestry (during the renewal plan), health (more sweeping changes), and attorney-general’s office, where he advocated for same-sex marriage—a first for a provincial government. Beneath that smiling exterior, then, a warrior’s heart.
President & Vice-Chancellor, Emily Carr
When the London-born academic joined the college back in 1996, he was bullish on three things: the importance of art in everyday life, the role of partner businesses in offering excellence to students, and the need to transform the school (then a college) into a 21st-century institution. Ten years on, he’s seeing his dreams come to life. Next summer Emily Carr University of Art + Design chooses its P3 partner, who will build, finance, and for 30 years maintain a $134 million Great Northern Way campus geared to modern (read: digitally connected) students, come 2016. Partnerships are up tenfold to 300, and new media and design are so enmeshed in this city, Gregor Robertson puts us in the No. 3 slot across the continent. Our $3 billion sector will see many of its employees coming out of this forward-looking institution or the district it anchors.
What six words should mark your tombstone? He always tried his best.
What Vancouver intersection best represents for you the heart of the city? Cambie and Broadway. An area that has grown and reveals the best combination of density, transportation, and diversity.
Liz Evans & Mark Townsend
Cofounders, Portland Hotel Society
The influential Portland Hotel Society, begun in 1993, oversees an impressive roster of diverse community, health, and housing agencies in the Downtown Eastside. Its head and heart: Liz Evans, a psychiatric nurse, and her partner/codirector, Mark Townsend. PHS’s newest social enterprise, East Van Roasters, provides employment for the female residents of the Rainier Hotel, creating organic “bean-to-bar” chocolate and serving coffee roasted and prepared on site. And its supervised-injection flagship, Insite, which it operates along with Vancouver Coastal Health, celebrated 10 years (with zero overdose deaths) in September. Said Evans: “Insite is just a tiny step forward but more it’s an icon of our collective humanity. It is a symbol of systemic change. It welcomes people who are broken. It allows us to heal together.”
What was your lowest point in 2013? The federal government’s cuts to the Rainier Women’s Treatment Program resulted in the effective closure of the only dedicated women’s residential treatment facility in the Downtown Eastside. It was heartbreaking as hundreds walked to raise the profile of these events on the same day the Missing Women Commission of Enquiry report was released.
What Vancouver intersection best represents for you the heart of the city? Main and Hastings. Shocked by the Downtown Eastside when we arrived, we had family from England cry when they came to visit. It seemed abhorrent that this degree of poverty and suffering should exist in this city, in such a beautiful country.
Minister of Justice & Attorney-General
Only 11 years ago, she was a rookie park-board commissioner, elected partly on the basis of her sterling record with Dunbar soccer parents. Now, this former Crown prosecutor, who had the smarts not to go after Clark personally during the run-up to the 2005 civic election when Clark was trying to win a mayoral nomination against Sam Sullivan, is the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General. (Sullivan, who called Clark an interloper from the ’burbs, is not a cabinet minister of any description.) That’s a big, complicated portfolio that has her in charge of everything from liquor licencing (should we lighten up?) to delicate negotiations with the federal government about any number of issues (supervised-injection sites, anyone). So far, Anton has kept things light—“Celebrating Official Opening of Aboriginal Children’s Village.” But her job will get weightier very fast.
What six words should mark your tombstone? Always keep moving forward.
CEO, Fairchild Group
The retail/media mogul opens the 300,000-square-foot Aberdeen Square—the third phase of his Richmond commercial, residential, and shopping empire—next summer with a budget of $90 million, just one project in his eclectic holdings. For more on the activities of the Fairchild CEO and aspiring screenwriter, see page 48.
Lowest point in 2013? It has yet to be profitable.
What is your favourite way to unwind? Hanging out with unsophisticated pals.
What six words should mark your tombstone? Work hard. Play hard. Die hard.
Executive Director, Coastal First Nations
Of the many voices rising up against the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline, perhaps none carries more weight than Sterritt’s. The executive director of Coastal First Nations has been an articulate and strident opponent of the Enbridge project from the beginning. He has warned Ottawa that any attempt to push on with Gateway over the objections of north coastal aboriginal groups will be a messy mistake; no one thinks he’s bluffing. Gitxsan-born, Sterritt is popular on the speakers’ circuit. His topic? How protest movements can mobilize broad public support for their cause. If Gateway does perish, Sterritt’s fingerprints will be all over the death certificate.
Executive Chairman, Seaspan Corp.
As the oldest offspring of self-made billionaire Dennis Washington, Kyle could have gone more Vanity Fair than Bloomberg Businessweek, but instead of kicking it at the Chateau Marmont he moved to Vancouver to take work at the family’s expansive marine operations. That was in 1994 and since then he’s moved up through the ranks (with a three-year venture capitalist sojourn) such that since he took the top job in 1998, he’s helped Seaspan’s shipyards division secure a lucrative $8 billion federal shipbuilding contract and another $3.3 billion order this past October, and oversees the company’s control of the largest container ship fleet in the world. It’s clear that for the foreseeable future the company remains the area’s dominant player both on land and on sea.
Councillor, Musqueam Indian Band
This young aboriginal politician, the son of former Musqueam chief Wendy Grant-John, is an influential actor in the band’s attempts to use land to build an economic future for its members. Grant, the band’s business development officer, is involved in negotiations over the Musqueam proposal to build housing, a hotel, and a retail village on land in Pacific Spirit Regional Park transferred to the band as part of a 2008 agreement with the province. He was also a key player in the recent purchase by the band of a plot of land in South Vancouver that was set to become a five-storey residential building until human remains were discovered on the site, sparking a Musqueam protest.
What was your highest point in 2013? The purchase of the Marpole site and protection of the remaining burials located underneath.
Lowest point? The death of former chief Ernest Campbell—a mentor for me and someone I had a tremendous amount of respect for.
Don Millar, Patrick Kinsella, Mike McDonald, Dimitri Pantazopoulos
BC Liberal strategists
When Christy Clark told supporters, “Well, that was easy,” nobody appreciated the irony so much as this back room quartet who strategized and engineered the landslide majority win. Campaign manager McDonald—a long-time friend and BC Liberal supporter dating to Gordon Campbell’s mayoral days—put the pieces in place. Three notable drivers: Kinsella, a powerful lobbyist who chaired several of Campbell’s Liberal wins and Clark’s leadership bid; Pantazopoulos, the pollster who identified her campaign theme andwas bang on with the poll results at a time when every other firm pointed to an NDP rout; and Millar, an advertising and image consultant with, like them all, experience in Ontario and the States. It was his Dix-as-weathervane ad, a natural culmination of their combined work, that crystallized voter discontent.
What Vancouver intersection best represents for you the heart of the city? Millar: Hornby and Dunsmuir. Separated bike lane intersection—forward-looking and healthy.
What was your highest point in 2013? McDonald: The birth of my daughter, Audrey. Winning the election was pretty good, too.
Founder, James KM Cheng Architects
His glass-skirted towers have defined Vancouverism—dozens of downtown examples are exemplified by his 62-floor magnum opus, Living Shangri-La. But Cheng worked closer to the ground this year, reimagining an ever-hated 1973 department store (formerly Eaton’s and Sears) into a glassy Nordstrom (opening spring 2015). Towers are still the focus, though: Cheng is lead on the master plan of Concord Pacific’s eight-tower neighbourhood at the North Cambie bridgehead, and a nearby Plaza of Nations reboot will include upward of 2,000 housing units, including some built into an enormous mirrored-glass archway (which will nicely echo the city’s first “skybridge” across the water on Main Street). Meanwhile, in the ’burbs: Cheng is refashioning the 1300 block of West Vancouver’s Ambleside neighbourhood and master-planning both Brentwood Town Centre in Burnaby (for about 4,000 residents) and the 20-acre Langara Gardens site at Oakridge.
Founder, Prospero International Realty
“I’m not really an academic person,” Lee told his fellow UBC governors soon after he joined his alma mater’s board in 1984. “But I do know a little bit about real estate.” Modesty indeed for the co-founder of Wall Financial Corp. plus his own Prospero realty, which has brokered property worth over $1 billion—coincidentally, also how much Lee envisioned his UBC Properties Trust could net the university back when he assured them he could monetize their land holdings. The land, now leased out as the south campus University Town, is in sight of that mark after only 30 years, and the area has become a self-sustaining village—all thanks to Lee’s foresight. He’s a go-to for visiting politicians, as connected as they come, and having profited so handsomely with Hong Kong investment money, he’s giving back generously, including $5 million to UBC’s Sauder School of Business and $2 million to the Robert Lee YMCA downtown.
What was your highest point in 2013? After 26 years, my dream of raising close to $1 billion for UBC Properties Trust has finally come to be a reality.
What Vancouver intersection best represents for you the heart of the city? Georgia and Burrard—mostly because it is the historical centre, with Christ Church Cathedral and the Hotel Vancouver.
Who should be #1 on this year’s list? Robert H.N. Ho. He donated millions of dollars to the Vancouver community—especially hospitals and health care.
President and CEO, Concord Pacific
The man who made his name reshaping the Expo lands into Concord Pacific Place—North America’s largest master-planned community—isn’t done yet. In early October, Hui and Concord announced a new neighbourhood of eight buildings and 1,300 condominiums near BC Place, to be called False Creek Central, on some of the last remaining Expo parcels. (“Last remaining” is going to be the real estate motto of the decade.) The proposal is aligned with a reprisal of the controversial downtown casino project by Paragon Gaming. Six of the eight buildings have been approved, and if everything gets the green light, Concord expects the project to be completed by 2020, at a cost of $1.3 billion. Meanwhile, buildout continues in Toronto’s largest master-planned community, Concord CityPlace, with 22 of 28 buildings along that city’s lakeshore done. As if Hui weren’t busy enough, in September he was named to the VAG’s architect selection committee, tasked with finding someone to design the gallery at Larwill Park. A builder’s work is never done.
President, London Drugs; Chair, Provincial Health Services Authority
The head of London Drugs, a 31-year vet of the $1.65 billion company, is renowned for his focus on customer service and his Jim Pattison–style belief that to know a corporation’s health you have to see operations with your own two eyes. That’s a lot of work hours and a lot of travel for a man who’s also president of three other H.Y. Louie companies. But tenacity and accountability are what’s required—and not just for London Drugs. Powell chairs the Provincial Health Services Authority (B.C.’s only non-geographic health authority), which runs B.C. Children’s Hospital and B.C. Transplant. An activist chair with strong views on governance, fiscal discipline, and reform, Powell may be the biggest driver of the six authorities’ attempts this year to fall into line with straitened budgets from Victoria. Rookie health minister Terry Lake has indicated business-as-usual six-point increases will drop by half; if anyone can find a win, it’s Wynne.
Councillor, City of Vancouver
Vancouver councillors Raymond Louie and Andrea Reimer are viewed as powerful voices inside Vision Vancouver’s caucus, but in the public world, Meggs, a former assistant to premier Glen Clark and mayor Larry Campbell, is the councillor people pay attention to. With a long history that predates Vision, he operates independent of the mayor’s cabal, isn’t afraid to speak out on unpopular topics, and comes up with original ideas and fights to carry them through. Meggs championed the contentious proposal to take down the viaducts (assisted by planning manager Brian Jackson).
What six words should mark your tombstone? Believed there was a better way.
Who should be #1? Perhaps Bob Rennie, whose involvement in business, the arts, and politics, combined with his unshakable loyalty to Christy Clark when others were jumping ship, will put him at the centre of the city’s affairs for many years to come.
Robert H.N. Ho
Vancouver isn’t much of a dynastic philanthropy town—there’s the Segals, the Diamonds, and after that you start searching for names. One that seemed to come out of nowhere in 2013 was Ho. A low-profile West Van resident, the Hong Kong merchant family scion quietly plunked down a million dollars in October to help underwrite The Forbidden City, a groundbreaking exhibit arriving first at the Royal Ontario Museum in March 2014 and by October, the VAG. It’s part of a bigger move by Ho’s family foundation to establish Vancouver as something of a cultural gateway between China and North America, with talks ongoing between Ho and others to build a Chinese art museum in town, perhaps at the current VAG site. Ho—a graduate of Columbia’s journalism school—has lived in Vancouver since 1989 and is perhaps best known as one of the region’s biggest health-care donors, giving $15 million to VGH in 2009 and $10 million to Lions Gate Hospital in 2011. He is also a prominent Buddhist, donating $4 million to UBC in 2005 to establish North America’s first Centre of Buddhist Studies.
What was your lowest point in 2013? As a Buddhist, one avoids getting too excited or depressed. The point one should focus on is the present.
What six words should mark your tombstone? Happiness never decreases by being shared.
What Vancouver intersection best represents for you the heart of the city? The Millennium Gate at Pender and Taylor. It represents what we have been working toward in many ways: connecting China with the people of Vancouver, providing that gateway to understanding and cooperation.
Director, Vancouver Art Gallery
In 2013 a decade of strategizing came to a head with the City’s designation of Larwill Park as the site of a new 310,000-square-foot, $300 million Vancouver Art Gallery. And Vancouver raised a collective eyebrow—is Bartels at last going to manage it? Next up, an architecture selection committee will review qualifications from 77 firms from 16 countries. Bartels, who has led the VAG since 2001, had her detractors this year (and her fierce supporters) as the gallery’s future wobbled and discontented staffers threatened a strike. This coming year will be a race: Bartels must raise $150 million for the project by the spring of 2015 (it’s been a slow start) or the City may rescind its offer—and with it, a mighty legacy for the director.
CEO, Rize Alliance
We’re not saying the Rize CEO invented Yaletown, though his was the first residential upgrade in the then-industrial district. We’re not saying he controls the city’s planning department, either. But the controversy that has sprung up around his redevelopment at Broadway and Kingsway proved to be the flash point for neighbourhood groups dissatisfied by city hall’s approach to public engagement. The Residents Association of Mount Pleasant, Lin’s most vocal opponent, has built momentum built online and at a September City Hall rally into a genuine coalition of groups distrustful of density and sharply hungry for a place at the table. The City has been quiet in response, though four neighbourhood plans—including adjacent Grandview and recently politicized Marpole—are now on hold. The one city tower project seemingly still full steam ahead? Rize, thanks in part to $4.5 million in new community-amenity contributions.
Lowest point in 2013? None. Even low points mean improvements are imminent.
Way to unwind? I took off to the Peruvian Andes for 10 days.
Chair, Vancouver School Board
In the 2011 municipal election Patti Bacchus received 72,000 votes, second only to Gregor Robertson. That’s highly unusual for a school trustee: chalk it up to her visibility and tenacity, and her willingness to go toe to toe with the ministry over—what else?—shrinking budgets versus capital needs. Bacchus presides over a massive expansion plan (three-quarters of a billion dollars over five years) that will see the building of schools in Coal Harbour, UBC, Southeast False Creek, and East Fraserlands, as well as seismic upgrades to many existing facilities, required to be completed by 2020. That old quagmire—which heritage buildings can be saved, which must be torn down—is also under Bacchus’s purview.
What was your lowest point in 2013? I spent Easter Weekend at my mom’s bedside saying goodbye. She died Easter Sunday, and I miss her every day.
What six words should mark your tombstone? Education’s the solution to (almost) everything.
Who should be #1 on this year’s list? Gregor Robertson. I respect and appreciate the hard work the mayor is doing to make this the kind of city I want my kids and grandkids to inherit.
MLA, Vancouver–Point Grey
It’s no surprise that this passionate lawyer, who knocked off Premier Clark in her home riding, is considered a potential candidate for the NDP leadership. The dragon slayer is respected in the party for his legal activism on behalf of the poor and for civil liberties. But the Advanced Education Critic will be hard-pressed to pitch himself as a leader who could win back blue-collar support in the Interior. Eby embraced and benefited from Adrian Dix’s surprise opposition to the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion proposal—a switch that scuttled the NDP’s hopes for crucial gains in the hinterland.
CEO, LX Ventures Inc.
Dropped out of university, worked for a painting company, moved west, ended up in food retail, started an internet business that dot-busted, then hit the big leagues. As a résumé, it’s eerily similar to Ryan Holmes’s (see No. 23). Alongside a 25-year marriage and two kids, he built several online businesses (one sold high-end imported bikes with funding from Jack Evrensel; a second was a talent agency with Sam Feldman) and the Whistler-based Lift coffee chain. The big break was the $17.5 million sale of AreaConnect.com in 2006; since then, he’s put his own and others’ money into 40 startup ventures, making him, through his recently public LX Ventures (funded at $4.5 million and growing), what fellow angel investor Boris Wertz has called “the centre of startup activity in Vancouver. If you come to town as a newbie, this is where you would first meet people.”
What Vancouver intersection best represents for you the heart of the city? Cambie and Cordova—home of Revolver. Coffee shop culture started a revolution in France and continues to be the home of innovators in the 21st century.
It’s a testament to the mainstreaming of marijuana that in 2013, the face of decriminalization is no longer that of the U.S.-incarcerated Prince of Pot, Marc Emery. It’s true Larsen’s publishing past includes editing Emery’s Cannabis Culture magazine. It’s also fact his political career consists mostly of dropping out as federal NDP candidate for West Van after a video showed him taking hallucinogens and driving stoned, and finishing last in the recent NDP leadership race, despite an endorsement from comedian Tommy Chong. But his current Sensible BC initiative—to force a referendum on decriminalizing pot in B.C.—is the real deal and could free the system of as many as 15,000 possession charges a year and save us an estimated $10 million in court costs. With successful referenda in B.C. (HST) and neighbouring Washington state (pot), Larsen’s drive to sign up 10 percent of B.C. voters no longer seems so far-fetched.
Founder & Owner, Black Press
These days print companies are all about diversifying to stay solvent, and for this community newspaper baron (seven dailies, over 100 weeklies), with reported revenues of $420 million, solvency means oil. His $26 billion plan? To build a refinery in Kitimat with his company, Kitimat Clean, that could serve the proposed Northern Gateway project. If Enbridge’s scheme goes belly-up, he’s even prepared to build his own pipeline and is looking at a rail option to transport as many as 500,000 barrels of bitumen a day from Alberta. This spring he’ll be seeking loan guarantees from the feds (about one-third of total financing). If successful…page A1! If not…are there still classifieds buried at the back?
President & Publisher, Pacific Newspaper Grp.
Postmedia Network (the financing consortium behind 11 Canadian dailies) has, in recent months, attempted to staunch ongoing losses with restructurings and buyouts. For this city, that has meant the Sun and Province fall under the purview of this president/publisher and onetime Sun managing editor. Since “voluntary staff reductions” in April, 100 have left the newsroom, including storied business reporter David Baines, former editor-in-chief Patricia Graham, and veteran foreign-affairs correspondent Jonathan Manthorpe. Two floors of Granville Square have been sublet. (A third went last year to Vision Critical.) Our city deserves a paper of record: that challenge now lies in the hands of this man, the author of a memo that warned: “If we don’t find ways to dramatically reduce costs, the answer is clear. The business is unsustainable.”
Lowest point in 2013? Rupturing a muscle running in Stanley Park. Six months later, I’m still recovering.
What is your favourite way to unwind? Reading newspapers from around the world (digitally, of course).
CEO, Native Shoes
This investment banker turned cultural fairy godfather (Hawthorn was among the first organizers of the now ubiquitous alfresco flash-mob dinner parties, he kicked off the communal dining trend with business partner and restaurateur Sean Heather, and he’s donated space in one of his Gastown buildings for emerging artists and retailers to install pop-up shops and exhibitions) came into the spotlight in July when he was appointed CEO of Vancouver-based Native Shoes—those lightweight, Croc-like, washable, waterproof shoes with a cult following (seen on celebs, beloved by the Jolie-Pitt kids) and distribution in 45 countries. The footwear—which shares an ethos with certain butt-flattering yoga pants—needs an operation model to keep up with demand (the summer collection released in May sold out online within a month) and to scale up, something Hawthorn will address in the coming months.
What is your favourite way to unwind? Walking in my orchard in Naramata. It’s my art project and where I go to think.
What six words should mark your tombstone? Cremated to make more room. Enjoy.
What Vancouver intersection best represents for you the heart of the city? Water and Carrall. The city’s original intersection is regaining its heart as one of the few areas where all demographics walk the same street.
This entrepreneur prefers to fly under the radar, but his profile rose once he began buying up SRO hotels in the Downtown Eastside eight years ago. He’s now a big target for anti-gentrification activists, who demonstrated outside his West Vancouver house last year to protest his practice of upgrading suites and then charging slightly higher rents. The same protesters attacked Lippman earlier this year when the upscale Latin restaurant Cuchillo opened in one of his Downtown Eastside SROs. He says a third of his rooms rent to welfare recipients and the others to low-income people. Don’t expect him to return to obscurity anytime soon.
Highest point in 2013? Completion of our four-building rejuvenation project in the 100 block of West Hastings.
Who should be #1? Lorne Segal.
Every city has a cluster of the unelected who don’t run anything yet manage to shape public opinion. In Vancouver, Bateman, the local voice of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, is one of that group’s most effective. He’s quoted relentlessly by local media, blasting hospitals for buying art, the premier for promising a new bridge over the Fraser, or, his favourite, TransLink for doing almost anything. Transit advocate Gordon Price singled out Bateman, a former Langley Township councillor and Rich Coleman ally, earlier this year as a prime reason why the upcoming referendum on transit financing could fail. Bateman, he said, is a genius at undermining the agency, with the goal of getting people “to vote against their self-interest in order to effectively disable TransLink.” Quite an accomplishment for one guy standing against a billion-dollar organization.
Executive VP, Western Access, Enbridge
In early October a cozy Enbridge ad campaign, which could’ve been a plug for Tourism BC with all its lush scenery, aired. It was designed to play up environmental stewardship and it starred Prince George native Janet Holder, a long-time Enbridge employee tasked with the tricky business of heading up the proposed $6.5-billion Northern Gateway pipeline project (which will transport bitumen to Asian markets by moving 525,000 barrels per day of crude from Alberta to Kitimat). A federal joint review panel vetting the project application is scheduled to issue a decision at the end of the year; Cabinet will respond to its decision next summer. Meanwhile Holder, a former competitive weightlifter, must contend with the triple threat of opposing First Nations groups, mobilized environmental organizations, and a disobliging public.