HOME ICE: Reveal gala co-chairs Clara Aquilini and Jill Killeen virtually skated into Rogers Arena recently and netted $1,022,000 for the Canucks Autism Network. “We both play offence,” fundraiser Killeen cracked during a VIP reception in the Vancouver Canucks’ dressing room. Singer-comedian Lady Rizo and local Underground Circus performers entertained 600 attendees.
Among them was city-based artist Athena Bax, who often concocts glamorous outfits from less than some spend on hairspray. For Reveal, she crafted a top hat from scrap materials, then glued glittering gewgaws to a $7.50 Value Village jacket she ripped apart and stitched to her dress. Countering such fiscal probity, Bax also donated a floral painting titled Love is a Garden that aided the network’s youngsters by fetching $30,000 at auction.
MERCHANT OF GASTOWN: Eighty-nine years have passed since steam locomotives hauled passenger and freight cars across the Hastings-at-Carrall intersection. Erected there in 1913, the Merchant Bank Building had its facade set back obliquely so trains could pass. The old railway right-of-way is now a triangular public space called Pioneer Place or, more often, Pigeon Park. Following years of decline, the neoclassical Merchant Bank building itself looks much as it did new, not that multicoloured nighttime floodlighting was common in 1913. Inside, following renovation by Peter Malek and brother Shahram Malekyazdi’s Millennium Development Corp., it has become technically current while retaining some marble-and-terrazzo flooring, moulded ceilings, iron staircase balustrades (there is a new elevator) and sash windows that actually open, albeit by the few centimetres now mandated. City hall wouldn’t renew the original design’s provision for four additional four storeys, but it did relent as regards a steel-and-concrete replacement for the mostly wood-framed top floor. Meanwhile, Millennium has begun a 37-rental-unit building alongside that retains the brick fascia of an 1880s structure. Oddly, the Merchant Bank building had a same-era predecessor that lasted barely 20 years. With several restaurant-bars nearby, another may occupy the street-level and lower floors. Colliers International realtors might welcome a tech firm leasing all 14,172 square feet. The peerless address — One West Hastings — would likely be an inducement.
SURGING FOR SURGERY: Pei Huang and Judy Leung co-chaired the Chinese Canadian community’s sixth annual Time to Shine gala that reportedly raised $3 million. That sum, including a $1-million donation from William Lin and An-Nien Lu, helped the VGH and UBC Hospital Foundation close its $60-million Future of Surgery campaign, although a similar major fundraising will doubtless follow.
The happy occasion saw foundation president-CEO Angela Chapman wear a timely, shiny gown from Vancouver’s Vimo Wedding boutique. Other attendees bid on barely-there custom dresses by Beijing designer Guo Pei. Not that any wearer would feel chilled after sampling the gala’s complimentary Lion Way cocktails: brandy, rum, mescal, amaretto, red wine and five spices.
EVEN-BIGGER DEAL: A bullet wound to 10-year-old Ian Gillespie’s head put paid to his piano studies but didn’t impede his property-development career. Now aged 58, and often partnered by Peterson Group principal Ben Yeung, Westbank Projects Corp. founder Gillespie has completed many major developments in Vancouver and Toronto. Six are proceeding in Seattle and others in Tokyo. While checking on Westbank CFO Judy Leung’s co-chairing of the Time to Shine gala, Gillespie spoke about a bigger-still project. That’s a $10-billion, five-million-square-foot development of primarily office space on six sites in San Jose, California. With Silicon Valley giants Apple and Google nearby, the energy-net-zero scheme will approximate “half the area of downtown Vancouver,” Gillespie said. It’s as well that that bullet didn’t penetrate deeper.
PARRYNOIA: Rolls-Royce’s claim that its $500,000 Black Badge Cullinan model “delivers a theatrical dreamscape within the cabin of the motor car” may not imply that its drivers tend to fall asleep.
DOWN-UNDER ORDER: Australia’s 23-year honorary consul, Kevin Lamb, likely sensed the irony of rainfall when he and New Zealand’s five-month consul general, Matt Ritchie, jointly celebrated their national days. Getting to the reception obliged them and guests to slosh through cascades that caused much flooding and cut road access to Hemlock Valley skiers and residents. For want of rain that day, out-of-control bushfires threatened widespread evacuation of Australia’s capital. Canberra itself earlier conferred the Order of Australia on Edmonton-born Lamb for “outstanding achievement and service.” Following his posting to Kuala Lumpur, trade specialist Ritchie is vigorously seeking New Zealand-Canada benefits from the two-year-old Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.
LIB AND LET LIB: One wonders whether B.C. Liberal Liberals would need to “bid for a political comeback” (Vaughn Palmer, Sun, Feb. 4) or practice lifeboat survival had Dianne Watts been elected leader Feb. 3, 2018. The former Surrey mayor and Tory MP led through four ballots until the lack of Liberal-caucus support, horse-trading among ballot losers and non-voting by her own supporters gave Andrew Wilkinson the win.
DOWN PARRYSCOPE: The U.S. might lose it world’s-highest-imprisonment ranking if ordinary citizens faced trials comparable to their president’s.