City’s real estate manager to retire

Friday, March 31st, 2006

Bruce Maitland has a reputation as a tough negotiator

Frances Bula

VANCOUVER – Bruce Maitland has been the City of Vancouver’s master real estate manager, tough negotiator, co-parent of the city’s Southeast False Creek project, and fierce guardian of the now $1.3-billion property endowment fund for 20 years.

But he’s decided that it’s time for him to move on, making him the third top-tier Vancouver administrator to announce his retirement in the past two months.

The city’s two co-directors of planning, Larry Beasley and Ann McAfee, announced their departure in February.

Maitland, 60, was less well-known outside city hall, but inside he was seen as the person who was responsible for the city’s ability to pull off some unusual accomplishments.

“The city has had some tough situations and Maitland would go to work and, all of a sudden, up would come a deal,” says former mayor Philip Owen, who was on council when Maitland started pushing to assemble land in southeast False Creek, which was then a forgotten zone of old industrial sites. “He was very tough. The industry people used to say that he would squeeze the last nickel out of them. He looked upon [the city’s assets] as if it was his own money.”

Former mayor Larry Campbell also praised him: “I think he’s one of the reasons the city is in such good shape.”

Maitland, whose official title is manager of real estate services, said one of the things he’s proudest of is that Vancouver never once lost an opportunity to get federal or provincial money for social housing because it didn’t have any land available, as other municipalities have.

He shows the greatest glee when he talks about the great deals he got for the city. Among them: the recent purchase of a building on Boundary Road for $24 million that the Vancouver Olympic organizing committee will use (now assessed at $36 million); the new library building where he got the province to build two floors and turn them back over to the library in 20 years, as well as getting the federal government to pitch in with building an attached tower; $24 million for the old library building at Robson and Burrard, plus saving the heritage building by using a new strategy he came up with — imaginary floor space that owners of heritage buildings could get from the city and sell off.

Maitland, Beasley and McAfee are part of a flood of senior city staff who could end up leaving in the near future.

Maitland’s retirement, which will take effect June 9, hasn’t been officially announced yet, nor has his replacement.

© The Vancouver Sun 2006


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