Vancouver’s ruling civic party has already raised $2.2-million this year alone, with corporations – especially those in the local development industry – accounting for two-thirds of that.
Vision Vancouver has also received $320,000 from unions so far. About 4,500 individual supporters have contributed nearly $500,000 through small donations.
It is unusual for Vancouver residents voting in the civic election have that kind of information prior to election day.
But the two major parties, which raised $5-million between them in the year prior to the 2011 election, have come under increasing pressure to be open about who is funding their campaigns.
Under B.C. law, parties don’t have to file campaign finance disclosures for 90 days after the Nov. 15 election.
The Non-Partisan Association’s Kirk LaPointe was the first to promise to release the information, after a meeting with The Globe’s Vancouver reporting team last week. He had said the campaign-finance list would be ready by Thursday, but his team is now saying it won’t come out until Friday morning.
Vision had originally said no to the idea, but then said it would produce a list by Monday, and then delayed it, claiming it had to add in a lot of new donors from a fundraising dinner last week.
The Green Party, OneCity and the Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE) have all released their contribution information, although none has raised anything near the Vision and expected NPA amounts.
COPE, the city’s long-established left-wing party, had raised the most of the three minor parties, with $60,000 in 2014. About $18,000 came from unions and $5,000 from one of the party’s stalwarts, lawyer Tim Louis.
The biggest donor to Vision Vancouver in its 119-page list appears to be a local restaurant magnate and his chain. David Aisenstat is recorded as having given $100,000, while his Keg Restaurant donated $40,000, and the Charles F. White Corporation, which is affiliated with it, gave $75,000. (Totals for corporations may change, as the list includes some numbered companies and some companies whose connections can only be ascertained by a check of corporate records.)
Mr. Aisenstat had been on the board of the Vancouver Art Gallery for many years, as it pressed to get city support for building a new facility. The gallery has been given tentative permission to build on a city block, if it can raise enough money without city help.
Another prominent donor is Lululemon founder Chip Wilson, who gave $75,000 through a combination of an individual donation and one through his company Low Tide Properties. He has repeatedly said he supports Mayor Gregor Robertson’s green vision for the city.
Critics have claimed that the new Point Grey bike lane, which runs in front of his $54-million house, was created for him, a charge he has laughed at. Other non-development-related donors include MCL Motors ($50,000), the Vancouver Taxi Association ($53,000), Busters Towing ($10,000), Cactus Restaurants ($25,000), mining financier Russ Beaty of Lumina Group ($30,000) and Great Canadian Gaming Corporation ($10,000).
But the city’s development industry is by far the biggest contributor. Among the many development, construction, marketing, and architecture companies that donated were:
- PCI Group and Andrew Grant, who got a rezoning from the city for the Marine Gateway tower, now under construction at the foot of Cambie Street: $35,000 through his company Faith Hope Investments Corporation and $1,000 through PCI
- Magnum Projects, a major marketing company currently handling the new Telus Garden and Trump Vancouver projects: $75,000
- Aquilini Investment Group, the Aquilini family company that is currently building office towers around the stadium where the Aquilini-owned Canucks play: $60,000
- Holborn Holdings, the Malaysia-based company that is redeveloping the former Little Mountain social housing site and building the Trump hotel on Georgia Street: $75,000
- Rennie Marketing, the company owned by Bob Rennie, who marketed the Olympic Village: $26,000
- RPMG Holdings, a company affiliated with the development company Onni: $50,000.
- Wall Development, which gave nearly a quarter million for the 2011 election: $15,000
- Gordon Nelson, a Vancouver rental apartment owner who has been in the news on occasion because of renovictions at a couple of his properties: $25,000.