West Van: Top 10 difference makers
From an Olympic-tested ski hill and tourist-attracting boat-rental marina to thriving independent retailers and a world-class shopping mall, West Vancouver boasts a wide diversity of businesses.
These companies — private and public, large and small — are making a big difference in the community, either in terms of employing people or their overall economic impact.
And for many of these businesses, the bottom line isn’t the only thing that matters.
“Our West Vancouver business leaders not only provide jobs and pays taxes but many believe in the value of giving back,” says Leagh Gabriel, executive director of the West Vancouver Chamber of Commerce.
“Having been entrenched in this amazing community for over three years I’ve been impressed with the local businesses and their generosity in donating their time and money into the local arts and charities. This all contributes to a thriving community, one that I am proud to be part of,” she adds.
Recently The Outlook got to thinking about local companies that were making a difference and we wanted to learn more about them. This is by no means a definitive list of top employers in West Vancouver — only a selection of some businesses that stand out (in no particular order). No doubt there are countless others that are also making equally significant contributions to our community — and we’d like to hear about them too. You can drop us an email to email@example.com to tell us more.
The Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal is the gateway to island adventure.
With the picturesque Howe Sound as their office, BC Ferries employees are naturally inspired at work.
The approximately 400 staff that work out of the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal include seasonal employees which are hired during the summertime and other peak periods such as Christmas and spring break.
“This has proven to be a popular option for many students and we have had great success with employees returning season after season,” said BC Ferries spokesperson Deborah Marshall.
BC Ferries works with several local charities and not-for-profit organizations that are engaged in environmental initiatives such as the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup. It has also been involved in significant shoreline rehabilitation along the Horseshoe Bay waterfront.
With a peak-season team of more than 800 lift operators, mechanics, ski patrol members and support staff, the Cypress Mountain ski area is a major winter sports attraction for both would-be workers and weekend warriors throughout the Lower Mainland. But aside from the alpine, Cypress also offers tubing, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing in the winter and hiking and wildlife-viewing in the off-season.
As an outdoor recreation destination, Cypress naturally supports environmental sustainability initiatives like Cool Earth, as well as youth fitness projects in several local schools. But don’t ready your resumé just yet. Cypress is already fully staffed for the 2011-12 season, receiving more than 650 applications at this year’s job fair alone.
For 80 years Sewell’s Marina in Horseshoe Bay has provided nautical adventures for seasoned and wet-behind-the-ears sailors including locals, prime ministers, actors and athletes.
What started as a sport fishing operation has morphed into a multi-faceted marina offering moorage, boat rentals, fishing charters and eco-tours overseen by a fourth generation of Sewells.
The marina is bustling between May to September when it employs approximately 40 high school and university students to help run the various operations.
The Sewells consider themselves a leader in the marine industry. Through the Climate Smart program they have reduced the company’s carbon footprint by introducing a variety of eco-friendly measures: encapsulated foam for dock construction, environmentally safe paint and coffee grounds integrated into the landscaping.
Some of the 70 non-profit or charity organizations that Sewell’s supports include the Howe Sound Research and Conservation Group from the Vancouver Aquarium, SFU’s Fisheries Science and Management Research Group and the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation’s CIBC Run for the Cure.
Hollyburn Country Club
Hollyburn Country Club employs a myriad of skilled professionals who create a home away from home environment for its members.
The club is a private hub for activity, sport, dining, entertainment, socialization and business. There are approximately 220 staff at Hollyburn — a combination of employees and contractors such as coaches and personal trainers.
Every summer, the Oldlum Brown Vancouver Open at Hollyburn attracts 10,000 spectators who flock to the club to watch world class tennis pros battle for rankings and the tournament’s purse.
This September, Hollyburn’s tennis community ran a mixed doubles tournament to raise money for cancer research. And from November to December the “Angel Project” allows both members and staff to participate in various charity endeavours including packing a shoebox full of goodies for children in third world countries.
On the eco-friendly side of the Hollyburn operation, the club is currently undergoing a full energy consumption assessment which will result in roughly $50,000 in upgrades.
Park Royal Shopping Centre
With more than 280 distinct shops, restaurants and services, Park Royal is a major West Vancouver employer. And it’s expanding.
There is major retail growth planned for the Village at Park Royal in 2012, which will translate into more jobs not only for those retailers but for the landscapers and construction workers who build it.
Mall staff and administration continue to support local not-for-profits like North Shore Family Services, the Heart and Stroke Foundation and also provide scholarships to area students.
According to VP Rick Amantea, Park Royal employees are committed to giving back to their community through environmental sustainability and community service.
Whole Foods has been nourishing its employees and the greater West Vancouver community since opening its doors at Park Royal Village in 2004.
One of three Whole Foods locations in Canada, the Park Royal store employs 362 people.
Based on strong sales and community giveback, among other factors, Whole Foods Park Royal ranked number one and two out of 300 stores in 2010 and 2009.
This location’s Community Chest program benefits both the environment and people in need: When you reuse your own bag, you can take a bag discount or donate the 10 cents to a local organization. Past recipients include the Edible Garden Project and Lookout Emergency Aid Society.
British Pacific Properties
British Pacific Properties and their early employees can single-handedly take credit for carving out the West Vancouver community.
In the 1930s, the company hired the Olmsted Brothers, a renowned Boston firm of landscape architects known for their design of New York’s Central Park, to transform the area.
They conceived a plan for the British Properties — an exclusive sanctuary from the pressures and distractions of city living that incorporated winding, treed streetscapes, parks and spectacular vistas.
BPP’s construction of the Lions Gate Bridge in the1930s was a vital employment investment during the Great Depression.
Today, British Pacific Properties and British Pacific Homes employ 75 people year-round.
BPP, which remains a syndicate company of the Guinness family of London, has a formal commitment to sustainability that’s reflected on two fronts: Green Building and ClimateSmart carbon footprint management.
Over the last few years, the company has designed their charity commitment profile to focus the benefits almost exclusively on the North Shore.
District of West Vancouver
Challenging, meaningful work and a fair wage at the end of the day. That’s the promise that working for West Van offers.
And it’s one that approximately 1,000 employees, including police and transit operators, have taken.
Recent accolades garnered by the district and its employees include the 2011 Global Green City Award and a 2010 “best practices” recognition from the province for the district’s “Access and Inclusion Policy” for seniors.
The district offers a range of different administrative jobs and seasonal work year-round, from life-guarding to badminton instruction, building maintenance to group fitness leadership.
Amica at West Vancouver
Amica at West Van is a boutique-style rental residence nestled between the North Shore mountains and the Pacific Ocean.
Here, residents have their independence with support from employees if needed. Chefs, 24-hour concierge staff, housekeepers, bus drivers and guest services personnel are among the 74 employees that make Amica West Vancouver an inviting place to live.
All of these hardworking employees are recognized by Amica with internal awards for going ‘Above & Beyond’.
Last year, Amica at West Vancouver staff, residents and their families raised close to $2000 through various efforts including selling jam at craft fairs.
The company’s charity, HELPING HANDS, provides basic necessities, comforts, equipment and holiday gift baskets to local seniors who are usually alone and living in poverty.
Richard Jaffray started the first Cactus Club on the North Shore in 1988 at the tender age of 23 and since then his casual fine dining empire has grown to 20 restaurants employing more than 2,000 people in two provinces.
In 2007, Cactus Restaurants Ltd. acquired the Village Taphouse at Park Royal Village with a vision to make it more than just a brew pub.
Across the street, the Park Royal Cactus Club is busy serving customers — and the community. In October, employees staged a fundraiser for breast cancer research, raising roughly $6000.
With its motto of “Every customer leaves happy,” the company has proved innovative in its embrace of sustainable seafood initiatives like the Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Wise program for environmentally sustainable seafood, allowing customers to enjoy a fresh, guilt-free catch year round.
The Cactus Club also spearheaded the Green Table Network, becoming the only chain-wide “green restaurant concept” in B.C.