2011 Vancouver Municipal Election: In an attempt to revive the party, Vancouver’s longstanding Non-Partisan Association has brought together some of the city's prominent conservative leaders for the cause. With the Rocky Mountaineer’s Peter Armstrong acting as chair and Norman Stowe of the Pace Group managing the campaign, NPA mayoral candidate Suzanne Anton appears to have some serious artillery. And their aggressive ad campaign would never be possible without a hefty budget – one the party owes in large part to their fundraising campaign chair, well-known Vancouver developer Rob Macdonald.
Background and Industry Experience
Rob Macdonald is the owner of Vancouver-based firm Macdonald Development Corporation. The company was established in 1983, and has made a name for itself in the real estate community with its extensive background developing residential and commercial properties. Macdonald Development, along with its subsidiaries, has developed buildings and communities in cities across North America – and they own thousands of acres of land to develop in the future.
Holding degrees from UBC in both Commerce and Urban Land Economics, Rob Macdonald has become an industry leader, both locally and outside of Vancouver. Macdonald Development has built condominium complexes and luxury housing developments all over BC, including recent projects in Kelowna, Nanaimo, and other small communities on Vancouver Island.
Macdonald’s work and experience extends to philanthropy as well, having provided considerable support for a number of non-profits and offering consultation to other groups or organizations. The firm won a 2009 Heritage Award from the City of Vancouver for restoring The Hudson at 610 Granville Street, preserving the Gotham Steakhouse and the St. Regis Hotel.
His company profile also boasts an impressive history of private-public partnerships, including the Britannia Mine north of Vancouver, the Orpheum theatre expansion and the Translink Skytrain station at Granville and Dunsmuir. Claiming to have saved the City of Vancouver millions of dollars, Macdonald has strategically placed himself at the forefront of the industry as well as within a broad network of politicians, groups and organizations.
Macdonald has been involved in BC politics as a donor for years, and is known for throwing his support behind former Premier Gordon Campbell (once a developer himself). Reports say Macdonald’s donations to the BC Liberal Party have reached up to $100,000 since they won the election in 2001. And since Campbell’s resignation, Macdonald has continued with his support for the party, backing contender Kevin Falcon in the leadership race earlier this year.
In addition to his political ties at the provincial level, Macdonald has been outspoken on a few key civic issues over the years. He is fiercely opposed to additional bike lanes downtown, as he made known in an op-ed published in the Vancouver Sun about why "Downtown bike routes are a disaster".
This issue is of particular concern to him as one of the newly constructed lanes cuts directly in front of his prestigious St. Regis Hotel property on Dunsmuir Street. His views on financial losses due to bike lanes correspond directly to the platform put out by Suzanne Anton and the NPA.
In an interview with the Observer, former mayoral candidate and Vision Vancouver founder Jim Green explained that Macdonald's involvement in this election has a lot to do with his views on the subject.
"He is pissed off about the bike lane. I tried to talk him into getting over it, but he doesn't like them, that's the way he works...he thinks they're bad for business," said Green.
"That's what kind of got him going. There wasn't consultation with the business community as much as he thought there should be."
The Olympic Athlete’s Village is another issue Macdonald has been known to vent about. In an essay printed in the Vancouver Sun, he explained in detail the many ways he believes the city has “messed up” the project. He called attention to a number of factors he said increased the cost unnecessarily, including delays, contaminated soil and excessively high environmental standards.
Before the major campaign announcements, rumours were circulating about Macdonald running as a potential candidate in the election. A story from the Vancouver Courier stated that Macdonald had "considered seeking the NPA's mayoral nomination but backed off because of health issues."