WORK IN PROGRESS

From re­source giants to tech tri­umphs, we chart the evo­lu­tion of B.C. busi­ness over the past 45 years

BC Business Magazine - - Celebrating 45 Years - BY MATT O'GRADY

1970: In the '70s, B.C. gets two new sports fran­chises: the Van­cou­ver Canucks (en­ter­ing the NHL in 1970) and the Van­cou­ver White­caps (orig­i­nally of the North Amer­i­can Soccer League, in 1974, and, since 2011, Ma­jor League Soccer). Both teams fare bet­ter than the NBA'S ill-fated Van­cou­ver Griz­zlies, who crash and burn 25 years later. 1971: Out­door gear icon Moun­tain Equip­ment Co-op launches in Van­cou­ver with six mem­bers and $65 in op­er­at­ing cap­i­tal. To­day, it's the epit­ome of B.C.'S ac­tive-life­style cult, with more than 4.5 mil­lion mem­bers and re­tail stores across Canada. Life­time mem­ber­ships still sell for just $5.

1974: B.C. gets its first so­cial­ist gov­ern­ment in 1973, and true to form, NDP pre­mier Dave Bar­rett quickly finds ways to in­flu­ence the pro­vin­cial econ­omy. In­sur­ance Corp. of Bri­tish Columbia, launched in 1974, re­mains one of Bar­rett's last­ing lega­cies—un­touched by suc­ces­sive right-wing regimes. 1975: As Whistler Moun­tain grows in pop­u­lar­ity, the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment cre­ates Canada's first re­sort mu­nic­i­pal­ity and be­gins build­ing a vil­lage on the ta­ble be­tween Whistler and then-un­de­vel­oped Black­comb Moun­tain. The Aussies have been squat­ting there ever since. 1979: Geo­physi­cist Ge­of­frey Bal­lard– a fer­vent be­liever that the in­ter­nal com­bus­tion en­gine's days are num­bered–launches Bal­lard Re­search to help de­velop pro­ton ex­change mem­brane fuel cells. Al­most 40 years on, Bal­lard Power Sys­tems Inc. is sell­ing its fuel cells to a va­ri­ety of in­dus­tries, an­nual rev­enue re­mains un­der $100 mil­lion–and in­ter­nal com­bus­tion sur­vives.

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