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Hayley Woodin Hastings: Thirty-five years have changed much at BIV – but not everything

B.C.'s leading voice in business news celebrates its 35th anniversary this year
BIV marks a milestone with it 35th anniversary edition.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Indeed, much has changed since BIV published its preview paper in the fall of 1989. We no longer carry advertising that trumpets the wonders of the fax machine like we did in those early years, nor do we carry any advertising from B.C. Tel, a regular buyer back then.

The classifieds are long gone, and so too are some of our lists: B.C.’s biggest book publishers, and the largest companies listed on the Vancouver Stock Exchange, are two that did not stand the test of time.

For several years, prominent local business leaders graced the covers of our paper, striking amusing and memorable poses. Yves Potvin, then the founder and president of Yves Veggie Cuisine Inc., was pictured smoking a plant-based hot dog in 1992. Large cereal flakes covered the eyes of Nature’s Path co-founder Arran Stephens in another cover shoot the same year. For a time, this page and the back cover were the only ones printed in colour—and on pages that were about 50 per cent longer in length than the size of our pages today.

In preparing the content for our 1800th edition of BIV, I spent some time looking through the several dozen encyclopedic-looking books that constitute our bound archive. It gave me an opportunity to travel back in time (because, I’ll admit, I wasn’t reading BIV in the 1990s).

There is a kind of magic to a printed archive: It serves as a dusty but immutable record of moments in time that were meaningful. And it’s not just the stories that matter—the op-eds, the ads, the special sections, the layout and aesthetic of the paper are all testament to what our newsroom and the world were like back then.

Much has changed since, including virtually every aspect of how we assemble our weekly issue.

But what struck me most was what had not changed. In that initial test run of BIV, datelined Sept. 11, 1989, we covered Ballard Power Systems, which was “developing a new type of fuel cell,” partner Paul Howard said at the time. We covered the latest from the legislature, led by Bill Vander Zalm’s Social Credit Party, as well as the “slow march towards more on-site daycare,” luxury real estate on Beach Avenue, development along the Cambie Corridor and business opposition to yet another tax increase.

The players have changed, but the issues in many ways remain the same.

Over three and a half decades, we have also managed to maintain the weekly publication of a physical print edition. This, in and of itself, is no small feat. It also would not have been possible without the loyalty of our subscribers, and the continued support of our advertisers, partners and sponsors.

As we navigate continued change—the significant impact to our business of the Online News Act, Meta no longer carrying news on its platforms in Canada, rising costs and growing distrust, to name a few disruptive forces—our need for this support stays the same. In fact, it’s critical, and we’re grateful for it.

In writing what is my first column in BIV, I looked to what BIV co-founder Peter Ladner wrote in his inaugural publisher’s column in 1989.

“This is our first cold call to more than 100,000 potential subscribers who have never heard of us,” he wrote nearly 35 years ago. “We’re here to give Vancouver a new level of business information, and to give the business community a newspaper it can be proud [to] call its own.”

Much has changed, but this core commitment stays the same.

Hayley Woodin Hastings is editor-in-chief of BIV, Western Investor and The Orca.

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