Former Vancouver police chief Jim Chu joins TransLink board

Jim Chu (pictured with Kristi Gordon, Global BC meteorologist; and Chris Gailus, Global BC News anchor)

Plus, Tesla’s new showroom and a startup with a thing for spit

Constable for transit
The B.C. government has recruited Vancouver’s former top cop, Jim Chu, as well as the former city manager of Surrey, Murray Dinwoodie, to serve on TransLink’s board. The move comes weeks after the province ceremoniously purged the transit authority’s C-Suite of two senior vice-presidents and a CEO. The duo join Barry Forbes, former Westminster Savings CEO and chair of TransLink’s board of directors. The expansion of the board, which includes the mayors of Vancouver and Surrey—follows a late July cabinet shuffle that left former education minister Peter Fassbender in charge of the TransLink file, formerly under the Ministry of Transportation and perennial foe of municipal politicians Todd Stone.

In the wake of the spring referendum on a funding increase for TransLink, which in effect became a vote on the organization itself, the government has honed in on the organization’s leadership and governance. TransLink’s leadership, their pay and perks, turned into targets, and the composition of the board became as much an exercise in public relations as in corporate governance—cue the ad that asked for a “regular transit user.” So in the absence in changes to governance, the government has focused on leadership. Enter Jim Chu, a 36-year veteran of the Vancouver Police Department who retired in May after serving eight years as chief constable. He is currently a vice-president with the Aquilini Investment Group.

Go Electric
Tesla, the maker and dealer of high-end electric vehicles, has leased a showroom and garage at a new development on 4th and Fir at the foot of Granville Street Bridge in Vancouver—significantly ramping up its presence in the city. The California-based automaker opened a small showroom on Robson Street last year after years of selling its $70,000 vehicles in the Vancouver market, most of those sales onlineAccording to the Vancouver Electric Vehicle Association, There are 1,381 electric vehicles (most of them are not Teslas) registered in B.C.

Spit on it
A Richmond startup plans to launch a mail-order DNA testing service—think WebMD meets Gattaca—for cancer screenings, disease predictions and tests for traits of obesity and genetic ancestry. That is, if it can get approval from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of B.C. GenomeMe plans to launch in January, selling a selection of tests from $50 to $950 that will predict susceptibility to certain diseases and prevalence of traits and allergies—all off of a saliva sample. It’s testy waters for a small B.C. company, which will go up against 23andMe, a genetic testing startup with connections to Google that operates exclusively in Canada and Western Europe. That company was denied permission from the FDA to operate in the U.S., for reasons that are stoking similar concerns in Canada—patients (mis)reading their own results:  “there are concerns that testing will lead to all these anxious patients coming in,” said one doctor to the Vancouver Sun.