New Telus Headquarters Downtown Vancouver

New Telus Headquarters Downtown Vancouver
A rendering of Telus's proposed downtown Vancouver headquarters.

Telus announces that it’s building a showcase high-tech headquarters on an old block in downtown Vancouver. That’s good news for the city’s digital industry.

Telus's announcement yesterday that it’s building a million-square-foot, $750 million project in downtown Vancouver came as a pleasant surprise.

Not because it will change the downtown urban landscape – which an entire block of commercial, retail, and condo development will certainly do – but because of its emphasis on technology and what it means to Vancouver.

Let’s strip away all the green building rah rah that it had to trumpet to bring Mayor Gregor Robertson and his group and get down to what this really means.

Telus is admitting that it’s the biggest player in the technology scene in Western Canada, and especially Vancouver.

For a long time Telus wasn’t quite sure where it belonged. Was it going to stay in the west, its ancestral home, or move to Toronto, where all big companies in Canada go to suffer a slow death of artery-clogging corporateness?

Telus apparently decided it was a dynamic, fast-moving technology company and not some corpulent corporation. So it picked Vancouver as the place to – cliche alert! – sink its stake in the ground.

This made sense. Telus has avoided the techniques of other “media” companies to buy up everything in sight so as to cover all the bases. Instead, its strategic plan is, it seems, to leap whole hog into the digital technology space of wireless, new media, new television transmission, and anything online.

And in Vancouver the digital technology industry is booming, with some 1,200 companies generating $3 billion a year and employing almost 17,000 people. Last year’s Olympics was the first real digital games and highlighted Vancouver’s expertise in this area.

With this new high-tech HQ, Telus is saying it’s going to be the industry’s anchor, the giant sun that generates its own gravity and fosters life in many smaller satellites.

And in the process it will address a long-time lament of the industry that we lose our best companies before they can become those giant suns.