Unlimited vacation time is now a reality at one Vancouver startup

BuildDirect CEO and co-founder Jeff Booth announced the new policy on LinkedIn

Plus, a new $100-million tech fund with oil sands backing, and the Internet decries the closure of Victoria’s Bengal Lounge

Time off, no strings attached
Take all the paid days off you want, achieve that elusive work/life balance. Sounds nice, doesn’t it? The dream for most office drones is now reality at one Vancouver tech company. BuildDirect, the e-commerce retailer that has positioned itself as the Amazon of home improvement, has made unlimited vacation time its de facto in-house policy. In a LinkedIn post, BuildDirect CEO Jeff Booth announced that starting this year, all company employees will be entitled to unlimited paid vacation. Policies of unlimited vacation time, which have picked up steam in the tech sector, are still relatively rare in Canada, and there’s an ongoing debate as to whether they are a boon or a mixed blessing for workers. But for the leadership of BuildDirect, which employs just over 300, it was a no-brainer.

“We have a team of capable, conscientious people and we think they are the best judge of how they need to manage their responsibilities and their lives,” wrote Booth in his post. “We trust them to manage what they need to get accomplished and how best to deliver results, whether that involves vacation or when and how they work.” And the rationale? “We treat our people like owners, and in most cases, they treat the company in the same way.”

Clean tech fund
Two of Canada’s biggest oil sands producers are pouring $50 million a piece into a new Vancouver-based fund to early stage clean technology companies. On Thursday, Cenovus Energy and Suncor Energy announced that they had partnered with the B.C. Cleantech CEO Alliance to launch Evok, a new $100-million venture fund. Clean tech? Oil sands? It’s not as odd a match as you might think: both the head of the Alliance, Jonathan Rhone, and the new head of Evok, Marty Reed—the former the CEO of Axine Water Technologies and the latter an ex-board member—have experience in developing technology that reduces the environmental footprint of energy extraction. The fund is a coup of sorts for the provincial government, which has landed major investment in Vancouver’s tech sector from two of Alberta’s largest companies, at a time when Calgary is bleeding jobs. Premier Christy Clark herself lauded the fund in a release. The announcement also comes days before the B.C. Tech Summit, into which the government has poured significant resources. Expect to hear more in the coming days.

Bye, bye Bengal
First the reminiscences of the wood-panelled dining room and the curry buffet, and then the backlash. Hours after the new owners of Victoria’s Empress Hotel announced that they were shutting down the iconic Bengal Lounge, a longtime haunt for the legislature crowd (and also those who cover them), fans of the joint took to social media to decry its closure online, turning into a trending topic on Twitter. Are you too outraged? There’s a petition for that.