Why Ryan and Cindy Beedie give back

Ryan and Cindy Beedie | BCBusiness

A conversation with Ryan Beedie, president of The Beedie Development Group, and Cindy Beedie, chair of Powell Place’s private capital campaign

“I just think it’s the right thing to do,” Cindy says. “I feel compelled to give back to a community that has given us so much. It’s a privilege to give, but it’s also about walking the talk.”

Part of walking the talk has been donating to the institution where the couple first met in 1986 (“our business success would not be possible without the education I received at SFU,” says Ryan, who took philanthropy advice from Vancouver’s feted benefactor Joe Segal) and connecting people with resources to those who need them at the Powell Place shelter.

In 2012, matched donations of $375,000 to expand the Downtown Eastside’s Powell Place women’s shelter; donated $22 million to Simon Fraser University in 2011.

Noting that the shelter for women at risk is a “little edgy,” Ryan adds: “Whereas some people might shy away from that and be uncomfortable, we are actually more attracted to it because it’s an area where there is tremendous need and is off the radar. It’s an eye-opening experience to see the lives some people actually experience.”

Just as Cindy suggests how many women at Powell Place arrive there as the result of bad luck, Ryan points to the couple’s own good fortune as a driving force in their philanthropy. “In any business that’s been successful, there are so many factors beyond one’s control,” he says. “We have done well as a company because the market’s been there for us, and we’d be nowhere if it hadn’t been. So if you’ve been so lucky to have had success, should you not reciprocate?”

Both express a desire for their children to know the importance of giving, and Ryan adds a further personal rationale for the donations. “Selfishly,” he says, with a laugh, “another thing that motivates me is that I love it. It feels so good to know that you’re having an impact. The personal, human impact on someone else is so powerful, and it makes me want to work harder and continue to grow the business so we can do more things like that.”

This is the seventh in a series profiling eight local powerhouse philanthropic duos.