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FOUNDER, AQUILINI INVESTMENT GROUP | AGE: 82The Aquilini fortune is built on real estate. Patriarch Luigi started buying in East Vancouver in the 1950s and has never stopped. He and sons Francesco, Roberto, and Paolo may be best known as owners of the Canucks, but even that $275-million acquisition had land at its core. The first of four residential towers now rises above Rogers Arena and this year they added properties in Washington state, Montreal, Moncton, Burnaby, at Southeast False Creek, and on Vancouver Island. The future points to even more development, especially given their industry-leading strategy of working with First Nations on joint-venture projects in Tsawwassen, Vancouver, North Vancouver, Burnaby, and northern B.C. Supported by his sons, along with David Negrin‚ president of Aquilini Construction and Development, Luigi is key to these partnerships: one man able to shake hands on a deal—no bureaucracy, board of directors, or dicey financing to consider. The First Nations are the largest landholders in B.C., and building trust with them creates tremendous opportunities (an oil pipeline from northern Alberta to the coast among them) for this nimble private company. The Aquilinis have a broad range of businesses, from golf courses to blueberry farming, aquaculture to waste-to-energy, but mostly they hew to the advice Bob Hope once gave someone who asked how to get rich: “Buy real estate. Never sell it.”
PREMIER, BRITISH COLUMBIA | AGE: 49Premier Clark understands the power of simplicity. She defied the odds and won the 2013 provincial election on a single issue: the economy. Since then she has governed on a minimalist doctrine, focusing almost solely on a nascent liquefied natural gas industry she promises will create not only 100,000 jobs but unparalleled wealth—enough to wipe out the provincial debt. Staking the economic future of the province on this industry, she’ll need at least one big-name LNG proponent to commit to a multibillion-dollar venture here or her plan will almost certainly be in jeopardy. Her biggest gain of 2014: getting the teachers to sign a historic six-year agreement after being on the picket line for five weeks. It was a huge coup for the Clark government. She also managed to develop a workable relationship with many of the most powerful unions in the province, much to the dismay of the provincial New Democrats and their new leader, John Horgan. The future battles between Clark and Horgan, who is fiery and quick on his feet, should make for compelling political theatre.What was your high point in 2014? Reaching a negotiated settlement to end the teachers’ strike.Your low point? The Mount Polley tailings pond breach.What is one thing you’d change about yourself, if you could? It’s better to focus on what you can do differently in the future than worry about things you can’t change.
MAYOR, CITY OF VANCOUVER | AGE: 50If the measure of power is that every person in the city knows you well enough to either love you or hate you, Robertson has that in buckets. An Insights West poll showed only two percent of people had never heard of the mayor who bulled through the city’s most controversial bike lane on Point Grey Road, oversaw multiple contentious community plans and development projects, introduced a rigorous building code that brought howls of protest over doorknobs, and went to legal battle with CP Rail—to name just a few things on the mayor’s to-do list. Forty-six percent were positive about him, 39 negative—half of those “extremely negative.” Mission accomplished.Who do you rely on for advice and inspiration? I was inspired by the many aboriginal leaders during Vancouver’s Year of Reconciliation. We are committed to becoming the world’s first City of Reconciliation.
MINISTER OF NATURAL GAS DEVELOPMENT & HOUSING; DEPUTY PREMIER | AGE: 60The former RCMP officer, MLA from Langley, and reliable fundraiser for the BC Liberals has become so much more. Coleman is now the province’s LNG whisperer, flying to Malaysia to talk to companies like Petronas and dealing directly with the dozens of other parties embroiled in the race for LNG. He’s interpreter for the Treasury Board on how to negotiate, making the argument that a short-term win could kill everything. At the same time, he’s still overlord of all things social housing in Vancouver, the one who makes or breaks Gregor Robertson’s very visible efforts on that crucial front.
CHAIR & CEO, JIM PATTISON GROUP | AGE: 86The rich get richer, unless they’re shortsighted or stupid. Pattison is neither. Now third wealthiest in Canada ($7.3 billion), he and his stellar team (which includes Glen Clark, Michael Korenberg, and Dave Cobb) keep driving revenues and profits. Their latest win is Ripley’s Aquarium in Toronto, an instant money spinner for the division overseen by Florida-based son Jim Jr. At 86, Pattison remains indefatigable, but he won’t be around forever; Clark looks ready to inherit his mantle and guide the diversified empire (groceries, packaging, port services, forest products, et al.) through its next evolution.
FOUNDER & CEO, WESTBANK PROJECTS | AGE: 53It’s not just that he has $25 billion in construction projects around the world or that he’s building the city’s most striking condo tower ever, the funnel-shaped Vancouver House. And it’s not just that he has a genius for getting the ear of whatever council and planner he has to work with. Gillespie ascended to a new level in 2014 by becoming the first city developer to move big-time into district energy—that concept of providing a single heat and power plant for a whole neighbourhood. Other builders are experimenting with smaller, local systems; Gillespie bought the giant Central Heat, which serves 200 downtown buildings, and said he will expand it significantly. The city will require new developments to hook into it, in exchange for Gillespie’s promise to find a new low-carbon fuel source.
CHIEF OF STAFF, MAYOR OF VANCOUVER | AGE: 50Want to know what the mayor is thinking? Talk to Gregor Robertson’s chief of staff—the person who articulates, explains, and amplifies the agenda of the inner circle. The former peace and environmental activist has been at Robertson’s side since 2005, frequently using the same phrases on key issues, particularly when it comes to developing policy and positions. Magee is also the enforcer, blowing up when a staffer or reporter or party operative has, in his mind, made a mistake of unbelievable magnitude. (Just wait two hours: the weather will clear.)Who do you rely on for advice and inspiration? I’m most recently inspired by the many service providers in the city who serve homeless people on a daily basis. They’re making a remarkable difference in improving and saving lives.Who should be #1? The chiefs of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh nations.
FOUNDER & DIRECTOR, RENNIE MARKETING SYSTEMS | AGE: 57No stranger to controversy, Rennie got tongues wagging earlier in the year when he held a cozy round-table discussion with Gregor Robertson to the tune of $25,000 a ticket. He made the news again when he was awarded the Order of B.C. He was honoured for his arts patronage—his contemporary collection is considered one of the finest in the world. But his power base is increasingly extending beyond city limits. He dined this year with guys like Steve Schmidt, chief strategist for Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign. And he is being courted by a “very big American museum” to sit on its board. (He’s already chair of the Tate Museum’s North American acquisitions committee.) “All this power is very fleeting,” he says with a shrug. “I’m just someone who gets things done.” To many, Rennie has long been the city’s top power broker, with ready access to VIP ears—especially those in government. He can be a valuable asset. This year, he became chair of fundraising for the B.C. Liberals. He also helped broker a deal between the City and the Aquilinis to sell off the remainder of the Olympic Village for $91 million, which paid off the City’s debt and saved the mayor face.High point in 2014? Receiving the Order of British Columbia.One thing you’d change about Vancouver? I would rezone it all to townhouses and start to solve affordability with real supply and stop the rhetoric and NIMBYism.Who should be #1? Anyone who actually signs their name when commenting online.
CHIEF CONSTABLE, VPD | AGE: 55There are marches in Surrey over growing public safety concerns, the policing situation at YVR is having yet another public inquiry, and in Vancouver…we’re having a one-day hearing into whether a cop who pushed a disabled woman in 2010 and admitted his guilt was dealt with severely enough. That the biggest municipality and its growing divide of haves and have-nots has such modest policing concerns is testament to the Shanghai-born, East Van-raised Chu, who likes his ship steady and his waves small. No one complains that the captain, at $267,000, earns almost double the mayor and no one asks whatever happened to all those security cameras installed for the Olympics, so long as he sees the waves—like the city’s growing mental-illness problem—and charts a safe course through them.High point in 2014? The police foundation sponsored a gala that raised funds to make the Vancouver Police Cadet Program a reality.Low point? The sudden passing of human-rights advocate Jim Deva.One thing you’d change about yourself? To be a better listener when my wife is talking.Who do you rely on for advice and inspiration? My executive team—I believe in the wisdom of crowds.Who should be #1? Christy Clark.
DIRECTOR OF THE BC CENTRE FOR EXCELLENCE IN HIV/AIDS | AGE: 58Is it too much to say Montaner has figured out how to end AIDS? For almost a decade, the antiretro-viral-therapy pioneer has successfully identified and managed patients with HIV/AIDS; though his “Treatment As Prevention” approach is not the only one, it’s become the world leader, so much that Montaner was named this year to the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame and as global adviser for HIV therapeutics to UNAIDS. (Speaking of which, UNAIDS, which has formally endorsed his approach as the cornerstone to ending the scourge, visited this year to close the AIDS wing at St. Paul’s—not enough patients.) Next year he hosts 6,000 colleagues to further study the disease. He works in other areas of public health and addiction, and though he’s butted heads with Ottawa over TAsP and Insite, the world is paying attention as he gears up for the UN’s next target: the end of the epidemic by 2030.Low point in 2014? My father’s passing in May. He was a friend, a mentor, and an inspiration.One thing you’d change about yourself? I’d like to work out five times a week.Who should be #1? Christy Clark.
MAYOR, CITY OF SURREY | AGE: 56The popular Surrey leader’s final year in office is textbook for what happens when a mayor decides to actually wield her power. This spring, Watts opened the new City Hall she pushed so hard for, the six storeys of glass behind her, an enthusiastic crowd out front. (It’s the catalyst for bringing $5 billion in construction investment to the city.) She travelled to Cartagena to make her city’s pitch for the 2016 women’s world fast-pitch tournament and won it, setting the stage for an event that will bring 100,000 people to the region. And when she made up her mind that Surrey should have a child-protection centre similar to one she’d heard about elsewhere, she brought people together within two months to make Sophie’s Place a reality. Watts’s ability to harness many to pull toward a bold common goal has never been more evident than since she elected to leave civic politics, after 18 years, for the federal level. A seven-way race has broken out for her job, with plenty of mud and blame being tossed in all directions.
CHIEF JUSTICE OF CANADA | AGE: 71We remember her early judicial career fondly, starting with her 1981 appointment to Vancouver County Court. Madam Justice rose through B.C.’s Supreme Court and Court of Appeal to land up in Ottawa in 1989, but it’s not nostalgia that settles her here; rather, it’s her unparalleled pursuit of equality, undiminished by the years (she’s the country’s longest-serving chief justice). Last December’s ruling against the country’s main prostitution laws gave Parliament a year to figure out how to keep sex workers safe—a pressing file for this city. Government is also just beginning to understand the implications of the unanimous ruling she wrote in June, upholding the Tsilhqot’in Nation’s title to its land. That decision—widely viewed as a game changer for how First Nations will negotiate with resource companies, governments, and each other—is still being digested.
MINISTER OF INDUSTRY; MP, PORT MOODY-COQUITLAM-PORT COQUITLAM | AGE: 38At 38, the senior minister for B.C. has now spent half his adult life in politics. His first big gig, as Heritage Minister, diluted the Tories’ perceived hatred of the arts (the 657 CBCers fired this year might not agree); his current job, with its emphasis on economics—he pushed this year for stronger foreign investment in the country and more robust trade between provinces (domestic barriers are, he told our board of trade, “the perfect storm of dumb”)—brings him ever closer to the PMO. An iconoclast, he’s advocated for more wireless competition, “pick and pay” choice for TV viewers, more robust internet privacy, renewed space exploration, enhanced federal transfers in place of local taxes, and Google Glass.
MANAGER, CITY OF VANCOUVER | AGE: 65
DEPUTY MANAGER, CITY OF VANCOUVER | AGE: 40The yin/yang of city hall’s management. Ballem, the former doctor and deputy health minister, is omnipresent, prodding staff to be more efficient, more effective, more concise, which has resulted in some being more gone. No one is exempt: developer Ian Gillespie came out of a negotiation about the Oakridge redevelopment with Ballem last year several tens of millions poorer. She casts such a shadow that people don’t always notice her deputy, the environmental-policy whiz kid imported from Chicago five years ago. But Johnston has been quietly pushing through the green initiatives that are the bedrock of Gregor Robertson’s agenda. He is overseeing the city’s pioneering efforts to expand district-energy systems, which has entailed working with Gillespie on his takeover and future remake of the massive downtown district-heating system. Johnston also shepherded through the city’s policy on energy retrofitting, which has us as the lowest North American city per capita for greenhouse-gas emissions.High point in 2014? Johnston: Getting over 700,000 votes for the official-city-bird competition.Low point? Johnston: Seeing CPR removing community gardens along the Arbutus Corridor.
MINISTER OF TRANSPORTATION & INFRASTRUCTURE; MLA, KAMLOOPS–SOUTH THOMPSON | AGE: 40If you’ve waited for a bus or a ferry, wondered why you have to pay a toll for one bridge but not another, or longed for a subway along Broadway, then Stone is a very powerful man in your world. The Kamloops MLA, elected for the first time last May, is in charge of all that, heading up one of the power ministries in the newcomer-heavy Liberal cabinet. Stone has a difficult file, especially when it comes to negotiating the often testy relationship between Lower Mainland cities and the province. He’s shown leadership by suggesting the province needs to develop a holistic policy on tolls for the region, and by calming infighting, a huge plus as next year’s promised transit referendum creeps ever nearer.
PRESIDENT & CEO, PORT METRO VANCOUVER | AGE: 46Geography and timing—both loomed large over Port Metro Vancouver in 2014. Silvester had a big year, finalizing nearly three-quarters of a billion dollars in infrastructure from Powell Street in Vancouver to Roberts Bank to the Low Level Road on the North Shore. It all leads to one destination: delivering more goods to the rest of Canada, or the other way. “Geography is clearly the advantage we have, and fundamentally we’re doing a good job. We’re the envy of our competitors, especially south of the border.” Silvester can afford to paint a rosy picture now, six months after a rancorous labour dispute with container-truck drivers that ended when the province legislated the striking workers, who wanted higher pay and shorter waits at the port, back behind the wheel. “That was undoubtedly a black eye for us; we lost volume because of that disruption,” says Silvester. The spring labour dispute may have slowed some shipments, but another potential strike—this one with American longshoremen in protracted negotiations—has shifted goods north to Canada. The port projects another record year.
FOUNDER , WALL FINANCIAL CORP. | AGE: 75With his eponymous dark-glass obelisk, Wall built one of downtown’s defining towers, and his aesthetic sensibilities now touch every corner of the city—and region. Development pays: Wall Financial Corp. booked revenues of $209 million for its 561-unit project in False Creek. What keeps Wall busy these days is building. He has $1 billion (2,631 residential units, plus a subdivision in Abbotsford) under development. Shovels are in the ground in Richmond and Kerrisdale, at UBC, and with his massive four-tower, 1,048-unit Central Park project at Boundary and Vanness. He remains a man of many interests. In politics, Wall is still a major backer of Christy Clark and Gregor Robertson, and last winter Wall and Bob Rennie were set to pay $50,000 for Deputy Mayor Tim Stevenson to advocate for gay rights at the Sochi Olympics before city council realized how unseemly that would appear, and used civic funds instead. On the philanthropy front, his nexus of interdisciplinary studies, the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies at alma mater UBC, was busy as usual, with myriad new issues explored, including what happens when foster kids turn 19 and are left on their own, and a costume designer fashioning 10 ball gowns that aimed to discuss beauty, body image, and cancer.
CEO, Hootsuite | Age: 39His success story is the epitome of modern West Coast entrepreneurialism, seemingly as much a product of futurist-minded innovation as hippie altruism. Growing up without electricity on a Vernon farm, he had to power his first computer (won in a local programming contest) with a car battery. Fast-forward to September 2014, and the UVic dropout’s social-media-management firm, Hootsuite, had reached a reported valuation of $1 billion, amidst speculation that it would soon go public. Having ignored the call of Silicon Valley, the company remains rooted here—an implicit pledge of allegiance from Holmes to his homeland, which stands to benefit handsomely from his growing empire. Meanwhile, the company’s offices offer employees the use of a nap room, and Holmes makes a point of noting in his Twitter profile that he’s “addicted to yoga.” Because…Vancouver.Low point in 2014? January 1. Our numbers have only gone up since.One thing you’d change about Vancouver? Whether it starts with education or skills retraining, I’d love to see and contribute to resources so our best and brightest don’t feel like they have to move elsewhere for a fulfilling career in tech.Who do you rely on for advice and inspiration? I go with gut instinct. I gather the facts, make a decision, and don’t worry about what could have been. I’m not headed back there, so why focus on it?
CEO, BC HOUSING | AGE: 53The CEO of one of the province’s biggest development companies did something this year that no one thought possible: he quietly engineered the resignations of Mark Townsend and Liz Evans, the top leaders of the Downtown Eastside’s legendary PHS Community Services Society—and without provoking a mass protest among community activists. Housing Minister Rich Coleman relies on him, so when Ramsay said he’d had it with trying to deal with the always-confrontational PHS, that was the end of the story. Ramsay, who oversees the agency’s $1.5-billion portfolio serving 100,000 households, has been in the job for 14 years and appears to be impervious to any of the controversies that have occasionally descended on his employer.High point in 2014? Reaching the halfway point in the renovation of 13 SRO hotels under a $143-million public/private partnership arrangement: 900 rooms that will mean better living spaces for some of Vancouver’s most vulnerable.Low point in 2014? Tent city at Oppenheimer Park.
PARTNER, FARRIS, VAUGHAN, WILLS & MURPHY | AGE: 65As a wheelchair-bound paraplegic (after a car crash at university), Arvay knows what it’s like to be part of a minority. As an expert in constitutional law, he’s the go-to guy for those who feel their civil rights have been trampled, and has been ever since he started representing (for 17 years) Little Sister’s, the bookstore that Canada Customs decided was carrying obscene material. Having represented Insite doctors, advocates of same-sex marriage, the children of sperm donors, and countless other plaintiffs, Arvay is among the country’s most renowned civil-rights lawyers; his legacy may be confirmed when the Supreme Court passes judgment on Carter v. Canada, which sent him to Ottawa in October to seek the legalization of physician-assisted suicide.
ROBERT LEE: FOUNDER, PROSPERO INTERNATIONAL REALTY | AGE: 81CAROL LEE: PRESIDENT & CEO, LINACARE COSMETHERAPYThis past May, Robert Lee was feted at UBC, where his $18.5-million Robert H. Lee Alumni Centre was formally announced. Outgoing UBC president Stephen Toope couldn’t think of anyone more deserving than the former chancellor, Board of Governors member, and creator of the UBC Properties Trust, where nearly $1 billion raised through real-estate transactions will endow the fund for the foreseeable future. Neither Robert nor his high-achieving daughter, Harvard-educated Carol, is content to coast, though. Real-estate marketer Bob Rennie counts the Lees among his inner circle: “Bob and Carol don’t just show up with the chequebook. They show up and they participate, and they give back intellectual capital.” Carol established the Vancouver Chinatown Foundation in 2009, to revitalize the area where the family has its roots. (Her skin-care company is in the building that housed her grandfather’s store in the 1920s.) That foundation’s impressive roster of directors, including Brandt Louie, Robert H. N. Ho, and Caleb Chan, seeks to conserve the district’s cultural heritage. She also chairs the Vancouver Chinatown Revitalization Committee and vice-chairs the Asia Pacific Trade Council. The obvious next step? She’s just bought area icons Foo’s Ho-Ho and Garden Villa restaurants.
PRESIDENT & CEO, BC HYDRO | AGE: 45Of the many Crown corporations in B.C., none is more important—and politically fraught—than BC Hydro, which McDonald was named to lead in June. She comes well prepared for the battles she faces; from 2005 to 2009 she served as deputy minister to then-premier Gordon Campbell and head of the 36,000-member public service. She played a central role in crafting Campbell’s New Relationship doctrine with First Nations. Her understanding of aboriginal concerns has already come in handy as the province negotiated with Native groups in northeastern B.C. over energy resources and the contentious hydroelectric dam proposed for Site C on the Peace River. She takes over at a time when Hydro is under pressure to restore and enlarge an aging provincial electrical system while keeping rate increases reasonable.One thing you’d change about Vancouver? I wish public spaces were more dog friendly.One thing you’d change about yourself? I’ve always wanted to be better at public speaking.Who do you rely on for advice? Anderson Cooper.Who should be #1? Spoken-word poet Shane Koyczan.
PRESIDENT, TECK RESOURCES | AGE: 56Mining was a tough go this year, with sizable disappointments every quarter for shareholders of city-based Teck, thanks to ongoing sucky prices for coking coal and copper. But with a couple billion in the war chest and expenses reined in through a five percent cut in staff (600 jobs), the company looks set to rally once the coal market learns to discipline itself. In the meantime, Lindsay has stayed busy, focusing on zinc (“the commodity for 2014”) and restarting a mine in Washington state to meet its rebounding demand. And he put his company’s fortunes and his own network to bear contributing $27 million to the $200-million Teck Acute Care Centre at BC Women’s and Children’s Hospital to open 2017, coincidentally when mining should be looking up again.
COO, HSBC CANADAStuart knows why HSBC customers stay with her bank and how easy it could be to lose them. That’s why the chief operating officer (and rumoured next CEO) of HSBC Bank Canada considers it her job to work hard to connect customers to the 150-year-old banking group that has been in Vancouver for three decades and the only major bank headquartered in B.C. “We recognize that to help our customers prosper we have to be mindful in how we operate, and that includes being mindful of the environment and how we work with the next generation,” says Stuart, who joined the bank in 1980. In 2011, HSBC launched its Women in Business Leadership program at eight Canadian universities; last year it funded LGBTQ awards at universities; this year, it launched programs to support indigenous education. “We are one of the few banks that can trade in renminbi, and we focus on providing services for customers to build on their growth internationally. And we are proud of our focus on the commercial side. We are really proud of our staff as being a force for good.”
BOARD DIRECTOR, BC HYDRO; CHAIR, MITACS; ADVISER TO CHRISTY CLARK | AGE: 56There may not have been a more important person on Christy Clark’s 2013 winning election campaign than Bennett, who was with the premier every step of the 28-day battle. His job: keep her on message; give her honest feedback. He’s remained a close confidant to B.C.’s top office holder ever since. Grandson of the Social Credit icon W.A.C. Bennett and son of long-time Socred premier Bill Bennett, Brad has eschewed repeated overtures to run for office himself. He’s seen up close the toll politics can take on a person, so he’s chosen instead to play the role of adviser, something he does on a number of high-profile boards, including BC Hydro and UBC president Arvind Gupta’s Mitacs, and as vice-chair of the Fraser Institute. He has the ear, and phone number, of virtually every power figure in the province.
PRESIDENT & CEO, BUSINESS COUNCIL OF B.C. AGE: 51Born in Chilliwack, D’Avignon resides in North Vancouver, co-chairs the Surrey Regional Economic Summit, and works out of Vancouver to oversee a group that represents 250 organizations. One of the distinct features of the B.C. Business Council under him is the acknowledgment of the unique nature of our province’s political dynamic. At a time when young British Columbians are consistently and unfairly regarded as lethargic and unengaged, D’Avignon is calling for more collaborative approaches to meet public policy challenges, with a special emphasis on involving young people in discussions. The BC Agenda for Shared Prosperity, co-authored by the council, set the stage for a new way of discussing projects and proposals th