Trevor Loke

Trevor Loke


AGE: 25

COMPANY: Vancouver Board of Parks

“I was nervous about being taken seriously at first, but you prove to people that you’re a hard worker, you’re smart, you know why you’re at the table and people start listening to you”

The youngest of Vancouver’s elected officials, Trevor Loke delves into the most mundane details of municipal government: a new garbage can at Kitsilano’s public pool, a water fountain in an east side park. But as chair of the park board committee, he has also played a lead role in one of its most politicized campaigns to date: consolidating access to the city’s 24 community centres under one universal card.

The park board may play second fiddle to Vancouver city council, but with an annual budget of $110 million and an additional three-year capital budget of $70 million, it plays a major role in shaping the city.

It’s a far cry from Loke’s start back in 2010, when he was trying to organize a fundraiser for his hockey team at the time of the Olympics. Volunteering for his hockey team, Loke had tried to organize a fundraiser at a West End community centre, but after selling 500 tickets, had to cancel when the venue was given to another party. “It was a frustrating experience,” says Loke, so he wrote to his city councillor, who put him in contact with board commissioner Constance Barnes, who ended up getting the team its venue back. And then the two hit it off, and Barnes asked Loke if he was interested in running for office. “I thought about it and in a moment of weakness I said, OK, I’ll do it,” Loke recalls.

Driven by his goal to increase access to the city’s recreational facilities, while keeping the board strictly in the black, Loke has been instrumental in moving toward realizing the board’s mission of reconfiguring its relationships with the city’s community centre associations, and reconfiguring ownership of park assets. The heated process reached a fever pitch in January 2013, when Loke, then 24 years old, addressed a hostile crowd of 400, mostly seniors, at the Killarney Community Centre. Loke recalls taking the microphone to a “loud chorus of boos,” and railing against the inequalities of the current system.

“Who the hell do you think you are?” one man yelled at Loke. And as he tells it, a former commissioner accused him of a “cynical, desperate and dishonest power grab.”

But by August the City had signed agreements with 16 of the 24 associations, and while the issue is still before the courts, with $7 million in annual community centre revenue under dispute, Loke has moved on to other issues, including questioning the use of chlorine in city pools. And all of this is in addition to his full-time job consulting a venture-backed, U.S.-based tech company on its social networking site.

“I was nervous about being taken seriously at first,” says Loke, “but you prove to people that you’re a hard worker, you’re smart, you know why you’re at the table and people start listening to you.” –Jacob Parry

Meet Trevor Loke at our 30 Under 30 event on April 30, 2014. Get your tickets here.