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John Wong appreciates that amenities and washrooms can be found easily at YVR, which he says isn’t so at many airports.John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail

For much of the year, Globe and Mail journalists in the B.C. bureau worked to reveal the work of policy makers, authority figures and ordinary citizens. Much focus was on safety in British Columbia's mills and mines, concerns over resource development, labour strife between the province and its teachers and the future of transit investment. Our job was to raise questions and look at the impact of weak links.

Over the holiday period, our reporters are turning their attention to the things that are working well in British Columbia.

The first series – Things that Work – takes a look at businesses, services and infrastructure that are not often heralded because, well, they actually work well. We will profile a company on Vancouver Island that has revived the Twin Otter aircraft and a woman who runs a home-based business helping embarrassed and itching families get rid of head lice. We will look at the Sea to Sky Highway improvements and the Point Grey bike lane.

The second series introduces readers to the next generation of innovators, the people you have never heard of but soon will. We asked prominent British Columbians to nominate people they are keeping an eye on. Among our instalments: Grand Chief Ed John has nominated a busy aboriginal doctor, and former premier Glen Clark has nominated an environmental entrepreneur.

John Wong figures he's spent time in 70 airports around the world and he's learned to appreciate even the most mundane of features in terminals that can all start to look the same.

"The green carpet at YVR is very calm and soothing," said Mr. Wong, a 24 year-old pharmacy student who uses his summer vacations to travel to the most obscure places he can think of.

"Other places feel very 'airport-like' because of the concrete and steel," he said.

Vancouver's airport, known by its YVR letters, has won Skytrax's Best North American Airport five times in a row, starting in 2010. Skytrax conducts surveys of millions of passengers every year to determine who wins these awards.

Vancouver International Airport was also voted the least frustrating airport in North America, according to a 2014 Bloomberg survey.

YVR is known for displaying local artwork, including many First Nations pieces. It also has two aquariums in the international departures area showcasing local species of fish and jellyfish.

"We focus on the sense of place," said Anne Murray, vice-president of marketing and communications at Vancouver International Airport.

She noted the airport authority works hard toward "making people feel like you've arrived in British Columbia even if you're only travelling through the airport."

Airports that go to great lengths to brand their terminals have done well in collecting accolades for their efforts. Asian airports are far ahead of everyone else, according to Adrian Leung, who studies airport management and design at Cranfield University in Britain.

Singapore's Changi Airport has a butterfly garden and Kuala Lumpur's airport has a rain-forest exhibit. Changi Airport has been voted best airport worldwide two years in a row.

Recreating British Columbia inside Vancouver's airport may have been key to its recent awards, according to Mr. Leung, who is originally from Vancouver.

"YVR has incorporated a sense of place into the hardware design of the airport, reflecting the local brand," he said.

But sometimes it's the simple things that people notice.

The Bloomberg survey for least frustrating airport in North America asked respondents to consider security, flight delays and the quality of terminals, restrooms and amenities.

Water fountains and bathrooms can be found easily at YVR – which isn't the case at many airports, in Mr. Wong's opinion.

YVR is considered to be a medium-sized airport, serving approximately 50,000 passengers a day in December. About 23,000 planes take off and land on YVR's runways during this busy month.

The Vancouver Airport Authority and the food services and airlines altogether employ 24,000 people and served 19.4 million passengers in 2014.

Calgary International Airport earned fourth place in the Bloomberg survey, while Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International came in eighth and Montreal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau came in 20th. Toronto Pearson Airport came in 30th out of 36 airports.