While most Vancouverites are well acquainted with Vancouver International Airport (YVR) and its position as a world-class travel hub, many locals don’t realize all the ways in which YVR is a leader in our community.
As a community-based, not-for-profit organization with no shareholders, YVR is able to funnel all profits back into the airport and the surrounding area, continually investing in initiatives and organizations making a difference in the region and beyond.
While its operating model makes these initiatives possible, it is YVR’s public interest mandate to provide economic and social benefits to the community that’s the basis for every decision the organization makes.
In addition to funding contributions, YVR demonstrates leadership by going above and beyond to promote inclusion, accessibility, and environmental conservation while developing meaningful, lasting partnerships with the organizations truly making a difference in their communities.
YVR is located on traditional Musqueam territory and has a unique responsibility to work with the Musqueam community to create a thriving and sustainable airport. In 2017, YVR signed the historic, 30-year Musqueam Indian Band – YVR Airport Sustainability & Friendship Agreement, a roadmap to create thriving, respectful, and resilient relationships with the Musqueam while fostering a sustainable and mutually beneficial future.
The agreement features a range of benefits including revenue sharing, scholarships, job opportunities, environmental protection, and support for the airport’s long-term development.
As part of the revenue-sharing agreement, YVR paid $5.3 million of the Airport Authority’s 2017 revenues to the Musqueam Indian Band in 2018. Other benefits of the agreement include the employment of 88 Musqueam people by YVR and its partners in 2018 alone and annual scholarships, valued up to $10,000 each, awarded to eight Musqueam members to date, with another 13 planned for 2019.
In addition to showcasing Indigenous art throughout the airport, YVR has created opportunities for 142 Musqueam artisans to sell their art in airport shops.
Community Investment Program
YVR’s unique operating model and public interest mandate have also resulted in the development of its Community Investment Program, which contributes over $1 million annually to more than 50 local organizations.
This program supports innovative organizations aligned with YVR’s pillars of community investment: environment, community, and accessibility. YVR’s position as a community-based, not-for-profit entity drives it to support organizations that empower communities throughout Metro Vancouver and beyond, such as First Nations and community building initiatives.
In pursuit of its goal to be a sustainability leader, YVR strives to build partnerships with organizations focused on reducing emissions, waste, and water consumption, as well as ecosystem health, and environmental stewardship. As inclusivity and accessibility are at the core of YVR’s business, it also prioritizes programs that support advancements in universal access benefiting the local community.
YVR is a world leader in providing accessible airport facilities and is committed to making air travel accessible for all. In 2018, YVR became the first airport to achieve an ‘Accessibility Certified Gold’ rating under the Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility Certification program. Notably, YVR was awarded the highest score of any rated building to-date with 93 out of 100 points.
YVR’s commitment to making air travel accessible for everyone drives the organization to continually invest in features like low-resistance carpeting for easier movement and greater stability, and curbside ramps and assistance. It has also allowed YVR to develop accessibility initiatives like I Can Fly with YVR in partnership with the Canucks Autism Network, along with resource kits and videos to assist individuals with autism in navigating the airport with confidence.
But YVR’s commitment to accessibility extends beyond airport facilities. Last year, in partnership with the Pacific Assistance Dogs Society, YVR sponsored a litter of puppies that are being trained as assistance dogs for individuals with physical disabilities, or who are deaf or hard-of-hearing. YVR also supports Vancouver Adaptive Snow Sports, B.C. Mobility Opportunities Society, and the Disabled Sailing Association in providing accessible activities to local community.
YVR is located in the Fraser River estuary – home to one of the world’s key salmon-producing rivers. In partnership with the Pacific Salmon Foundation, the airport invests in a future for salmon by removing tonnes of marine garbage from over 20 salmon estuaries along the Strait of Georgia with the help of volunteers.
Right next to YVR in the estuary is Swishwash Island, a nature sanctuary under the care of the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC). The island is home to migratory birds, waterfowl, and dozens of plant species and YVR has partnered with the NCC to support the conservation and safeguarding of this wildlife habitat.
In its commitment to sustainability, YVR partnered with the Vancouver Aquarium, an Ocean Wise initiative, to build a 114,000-litre exhibit housing more than 20,000 marine plants and animals. In collaboration with Ocean Wise, YVR also coordinates and sponsors the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup’s International Coastal Cleanup Day.
In 2018, over 315 volunteers scoured the beach, contributing to over 2,600 kilometers of shoreline cleaned across Canada.
Diversity and Equal Opportunity
YVR is proud of its diverse workforce and believes that diversity is essential to providing an exceptional airport experience for all. In addition to supporting under-represented groups like Aboriginal peoples, persons with disabilities, and visible minorities, YVR is committed to gender equity at all levels of the organization.
This is reflected in its Executive team, comprised of 60% women, and its Board of Directors, which is 50% female. But YVR doesn’t only demonstrate leadership in diversity through its hiring practices. It also includes diversity targets in its sustainable purchasing policy.
Its dedication to diversity and equality led to national recognition when, in 2018, it received Canada’s Best Diversity Employers award for its leadership in creating an airport representative of the communities it serves. YVR’s CEO was also the recipient of the Employment Equity Champion Award for his contribution to diversity at the airport and in the community.
YVR’s community-based, not-for-profit model is what enables the Airport Authority to deliver on its public interest mandate and demonstrate its commitment to the community by bringing social and economic benefits to the region. This is exemplified through initiatives such as YVR’s Musqueam Agreement, leadership in accessibility, diversity, and sustainability, and support of over 50 local organizations through its Community Investment Program. This model has also led to global recognition, as YVR has been named Best Airport in North America for a record 10 consecutive years by SKYTRAX.