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HomeBusinessCutbacks at Vancouver business booster agency, which spent almost $32,000 on a brand makeover

Cutbacks at Vancouver business booster agency, which spent almost $32,000 on a brand makeover


Bob Mackin

The executive director of the Vancouver Economic Commission’s Asia Pacific Centre is gone.

“The pandemic and the ensuing economic challenges have changed the environment around us,” said an email from Joan Elangovan to her contacts. “VEC has had to redesign its mandate and make some hard decisions.”

Joan Elangovan (second from left) in Beijing in 2017 with Mayor Gregor Robertson.

Elangovan wrote that that the Asia Pacific Centre closed July 13.

The 2014-founded centre’s budget has fluctuated, depending on trade missions. Much of Mayor Gregor Robertson’s trade mission spending to China and Europe came from VEC accounts during his 2008 to 2018 tenure in office. Mayor Kennedy Stewart has not travelled offshore since winning the 2018 election.

Last year, the Pacific Rim-focused division spent just over $179,000 on salaries (mostly Elangovan’s). Spokeswoman Ingrid Valou said there are no anticipated cost savings from the closure in 2020.

“We have not yet established a projection for 2021,” Valou said. “Uncertainty around the pandemic continues to present challenges in forecasting and planning international initiatives or events. Much of APC’s resources, including staff, have been reallocated or reassigned to other divisions or projects.”

For the year ended Dec. 31, 2017, the most-recent published on its website, VEC lost $217,709 after spending just over $4.06 million. City taxpayers funded VEC to the tune of $3.48 million.

Vancouver Economic Commission’s old (left) and new (right) logos.

“The VEC continues to refine our services and programs to play our role to meet the businesses needs of the Vancouver economy and we expect to reallocate funding for the Asian Pacific Centre to other strategic initiatives,” said acting CEO Eleena Marley.

VEC’s board chair is Sadhu Johnston, Vancouver’s city manager. Johnston did not reply to City hall is struggling with the instant recession caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Unemployment rose to 13% in June, from 10.8% in May.

Meanwhile, VEC has spent $31,810 on rebranding, including $9,260 for a new logo by Tim Hoffpauir and $21,450 for web services from Domain7.

The other directors are chief financial officer Patrice Impey and deputy city manager Paul Mochrie.

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