Editor’s note: This is the 31st of 40 profiles for the Kelowna Top 40 Under 40 program presented by BDO Accountants and Consultants, Junior Chamber International (Okanagan branch), Kelowna Chamber of Commerce and The Daily Courier. Every week in this space, we’ll feature someone under the age of 40 who is making an impact through business, community involvement and innovation.
By Steve MacNaull
The Daily Courier
Renee Wasylyk is one heck of an Okanagan cheerleader.
“I choose to live, work and play in the Okanagan because it’s the entrepreneurial capital of B.C. and a great place to raise kids (her’s are age 18, 16 and 14),” she said.
“I could live in Edmonton or Winnipeg, where most of my work is now, but I’m so proud of the Okanagan because you can do anything and be anything here.”
Wasylyk, 39, is the founder and president of Kelowna-based Troika Group, a development company that has interests in Kelowna, Edmonton and Winnipeg.
“The reality is, I spend half of my time away working elsewhere, but I always love coming home to Kelowna,” she said.
“I love Kelowna’s focus on community and family.”
Wasylyk has helped build that community.
Seventeen years ago, when she first moved here, she found there weren’t very many good jobs for women.
So she created her own job and became a developer.
She started small and built a 19,000-square-foot medical and dental office building on Ambrosi Road.
Then it was an apartment building (Citybrook), condominium complex (Yaletown) and townhouses (The Gate).
Currently, she’s developing the Okanagan Lake neighbourhood, West Harbour, of 250 homes, the Green Square eco-townhouses in the Lower Mission and six-storey Upper Avenue office building downtown on Leon Avenue.
Tenants have already started to move into Upper Avenue with Procera software taking the top floor and an architect and marketing group also taking space.
Wasylyk will move her own company, Troika, into the building soon and another tech company is expected to sign shortly.
At West Harbour, 120 homes are already built with residents enjoying the lakeside lifestyle and 60 more are under construction.
The next phase of Green Square will be 100 condominiums in urban village modifications of the standard four-storey apartment building.
Those trips out of town are to work on Stewart Greens, the 1,000 home master-planned community in Edmonton; the 140-acre Stonebridge subdivision in Whitecourt, Alberta; and a 100,000-square-foot office building in Winnipeg.
As if all that doesn’t keep Wasylyk busy enough, she still finds ample time to volunteer, give back and advise.
She’s the only Okanagan woman to sit on Premier Christy Clark’s Women’s Economic Council; she’s served as chair of the Central Okanagan Economic Development Council and the Okanagan chapter of the Urban Development Institute; is on the board of Breakfast Clubs of Canada; and been on the board of the Westbank First Nation Economic Development Commission and Pacific chapter of the Urban Development Institute.
The awards have also poured in.
Thompson Okanagan Housing Awards (Tommie) wins have included community of the year for West Harbour, large volume builder of the year, multi-family home builder of the year and best customer service.
Last month, Wasylyk was the only Okanagan name on Business In Vancouver magazine’s list of six of B.C.’s Influential Women in Business.
She shared the honour with Fiona Macfarlane of Ernst & Young accounting and consulting, HSBC director Nancy McKinstry, Odlum Brown Investments CEO Debra Hewson, B.C. Hydro executive vice-president Susan Yurkovich and Ondine Biomedial chairwoman Carolyn Cross.
With such success and profile in Kelowna and B.C., Wasylyk is probably the second-best known of the 31 nominees so far featured for Kelowna Top Forty Under 40, behind only Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran.