Pacific Landings’ The Best in the Business – Part 3: An interview with Ray Parks

Welcome back Pacific Landing friends, family and followers. This is the third installment of our Best in the Business blog, in which we have interviewed Pacific Landing partner Ray Parks. Ray is an excellent businessman and an extraordinary family man. He is very knowledgeable and is always looking to put a smile on your face. So, without further adieu, Ray Parks.

Click here to watch / listen to the interview instead.

Q- Let’s start with a bit of background about yourself, where you are from?

A- “Okay, Well, I am an Island boy. I have lived on the island most of my life, this island or another one. I started on Quadra Island and then relocated to Port Alberni, the center of this island, and with few exceptions, I have been here the whole time. I went off to university for a while and came back and deliberately came to Victoria. For me it was the most beautiful place, it was the easiest place to live, the weather is the best. It’s on the island, it’s on the water and I couldn’t beat it. That’s why I came here. I finished my university here and loved it, still do.”

Q- What are your main hobbies and interests?

A- “Well, I have a lot and I stay busy. As a young person very involved in athletics, I participated in all sorts of sports and it stayed with me. I passed that to my kids and now my grandkids. I attend all sorts of sporting events in a year. I have season tickets to Grizzlies hockey just down the road, or to the HarbourCats baseball. My kids played sports. My youngest daughter went to the world series a few times, for little league. Which was pretty amazing. My son was a very good baseball player, and a very good basketball player. So I’ve always had that as an interest and I’ve stayed with it. I’ve followed that.

I’m interested in things, I like to do woodworking. I don’t have a hot rod at the moment but I hang with people that have hot rods. I help put on car shows. We had over 100,000 people at the last one that we put together, it was a big, big deal. Ah, so there’s lots that I am interested in and lots to keep my busy.”

Q- What got you started in the business?

A- “Well I had a career with government and it was an odd career, it was different but it worked for me. Part of what I did in the middle of that career was manage construction for government. So I got to build jails and courthouses.  And I travelled all over the province and I met city councils and I ended up hiring architects and engineers and construction people and managing the entire project for government.

I, by default, learned something about how the process works and I did it in a way that I wasn’t the one writing cheques so it was a pretty safe way to learn the business. And I liked it. I saw an opportunity for me, personally, to do little projects and I did. I bought lots of little houses, subdivided property, and renovated the houses and made that work.

So that’s how I kind of became interested. When I retired I didn’t want to do nothing, I wanted to do something. So I formed a little consulting company and took on projects.”

Q- So I guess when you were little this wasn’t necessarily what you thought you’d end up doing eh?

A- “Nothing about what I thought when I was little actually happened. Everything, you know the best laid plans of mice and men… yeah. I wanted to be industrious, as a little person I wanted to work hard, I wanted to do things. My grandparents wanted me to be a doctor, I have no idea why they thought that. I think I did nothing but disappoint them. So no, doing this had nothing to do with what I wanted to do as a young person. Um… yeah, I mean we’re out in left field here. Ha-ha.”

But it worked out well?

“I’d have to lie to complain, literally life is very, very good. If I had more money I’d spend it, give it away to the kids and grandkids. No, I .. my life is just about perfect. It’s very good.”

Q- What got you involved with Pacific Landing?

A- “I met Randy probably about 10 years ago, when I was managing properties for the government. And I met with Randy and Dave Howe and Randy’s father several times. We just talked about different projects or what if, and could we do this and could we do that. That relationship started and survived, we stayed in touch. When Randy began Pacific Landing he was in Calgary and he needed a contact in Victoria. He needed someone to run down to city hall or to find a chicken catcher, or to find something.

He would call and say ‘Gee Ray would you be interested’ and finally ‘would you be interested in working’ and offered me a contract. I was looking for something to do and said sure, sounds good to me. Eventually when Randy was putting the team together he came to the conclusion that he would like me to be a partner. So I needed to take some risk and he needed to find someone that could do what he needed done. I said yeah, you know we have each had a chance to sort of dance with each other and agreed that there’s been no stepping on toes so far, so we could make it work and it’s been fantastic.”

Q- In your words describe Pacific Landing and how you see Pacific Landing.

A- “Well Pacific Landing is unique. There have never been more or bigger developments in this region than there are to date. So there are lots to compare too, lots to look at and we stand out. Pacific Landing is different. It is a waterfront project and there are very few of those. There’s nothing about Pacific Landing that is ordinary. So Randy’s vision in the beginning was different and it’s held. So if you look at the buildings there is no stucco, there’s no boxes, there’s no square, ordinary shapes, they are interesting buildings with lots of detail. And the people that purchased phase 1 were all very happy. They purchased quickly once they saw what they could get for the dollar they had to pay. I think that is a very good thing, I think value is a very important thing in this or any other market.  

So Pacific Landing, to me is unique. It is a village concept, meaning it’s likely that you will get to know your neighbours. Whereas in a lot of situations today people have no idea who their neighbours are. By design it brings people together, people will share the amenities, the pool the yoga studio, the kitchen and so on. I think that’s a good thing that people have to interact, people get to know each other, people will be active. I think it’s a brilliant concept and I think it’s going to work like a charm.”

Q- In your opinion what is the most unique feature of Pacific Landing?

A- “Well probably the property to start with. The property itself is distinguished, it’s more than just waterfront. It’s waterfront with a view. There’s something interesting everyday on the waterfront, whether it’s the navy ships coming or going, cruise ships entering victoria harbour, you can see the Coho from here, at night you see the lights of downtown Victoria. It’s gorgeous, it’s a great place to be.”

Q- I agree, What are you most looking forward to about the project?

A- “I’m looking forward to completion in the sense that we will have built the dream that we have talked about. We started with just a piece of dirt on the ocean and we will have brought together a few hundred families to create their new home, their new living situation and there will be surprises along the way. So I am looking forward to that.

I don’t know what we will do with the old house, whether it will be meeting space, a pub a restaurant, wine tasting, whatever, it’ll be fun. I think when we see all of those pieces come together, the pool, all of it: A day care for example. We haven’t thought about that but now we are. So I think seeing it come together is what I am looking forward too.”

Q- What is your favourite part about the project?

A- “The people. We have it, it’s family, but the people are doing this with their brains and their own hands. They are actually building, starting from pretty much zero, through hard work and a lot of thought and effort, they are coming up with something that we can collectively be very proud of. I am thrilled to be a part of it and to watch the other people as they grow and do what they are doing. It’s fantastic.”

Q- Is there anything that you would like to specifically mention about the project or about anything you are doing?

A- “Well I think the challenge with the project is that it is going to be hard to find another one. How do we top this, how do we better what we have done, how do we take what we have learned here and use it someplace else to build a better project. Well, we need to find a superior site, we need to keep the team together. It’s a big challenge, but I think it’s worth it. I think it is worth looking at to keep it going. That’s what I spend a lot of time on actually, is looking for that property and looking for the challenge. All the bits and pieces that go into the part of the project that people don’t see. So the dealing with the public and all of that.”

Q- We are just finishing Phase 1. Can you speak to the future phases?

A- “Well, the future phases, conceptually, were designed a couple years ago. So we knew where we wanted to place buildings on the property. What we didn’t understand were the details that would go into each building.

So when we sold phase 1, we didn’t learn much from the people that purchased. They said “we’re happy, here’s a cheque”. From the people that didn’t buy into phase 1 we learned all sorts of stuff. They told us the units were too big, too small, we wanted a one bedroom, we wanted an office, we wanted an office on site but someplace other than phase one. They told us everything that they were looking for, they wanted a place to hang kayaks and their gear and wow. So in phase 2 we tried to build all that gathered information into the drawings. A couple of families said that they wanted to approach their unit and drive their car at ground level, straight into their building like a brownstone/townhouse. And that’s why we have brownstone/townhouses. We will have a penthouse in this case, it will be larger, and will be different, and it will have a spectacular view.

In Phase 3 we have similarly, more exotic information to build into it. People have told us what they want and we are going to build it all in. And folks will be happy because they are getting what they asked for.”

Q- Anything to the environmental side of Pacific Landing? Because we are doing quite a bit in that aspect.

A- “Well I think we have honoured the site, we will continue to develop the bird sanctuary in a way that honours the intent of the sanctuary. We will have places to people to walk around and through, on purpose built trails. We have built a fish spawning bed, which was a very good idea. We’ve got a terrific stream that runs through the property and the fish spawning bed will only allow more fish to hatch in the area. Which is a brilliant idea, we should do it on every stream. And I think if we apply that same enthusiasm to the bird sanctuary, nature will flourish and there will be lots of interesting things to look at and it’s the right thing to do. So I am happy to see it carry on.”

Q- My only other one is that Pacific Landing has kind of become a family atmosphere, can you speak to that?

A- “Well, personally family is important to me, it is the only thing I really value in life. So, when I talked to Randy about what I could bring to the job it was myself and family. He agreed, he wanted to bring his family, and my other partner Dale wanted to bring his family, and there is something unique about family. Without question we trust ourselves and each other and have faith that we can deal with each other in a very secure, caring, strong way that is not always possible in the new age, sensitive world that we live in. I think that it is brilliantly important and unique that we have a collection of families come together to become one. I am thrilled, that to me is hugely important. If this works well, it will survive long after I am gone.”

It adds to the projects feel, brings in the community.

“The fact that it is working today, that all of those next generation family members from 3 families can get together and make it work is exceptional. That in itself is an accomplishment, it’s something we can all be proud of and the fact that it’s working is fantastic, I love it.”

Well, perfect. Thank you very much Ray.

“We need more barbeque days”

Click the links below to see our previous installments of Pacific Landings The Best in the Business.