As a principal of Pottinger Bird Community Relations, Virginia Bird has made a name for herself by building strong relationships between developers and other stakeholders across the Lower Mainland.
Holding a bachelor of arts from Queen’s University, Bird began working as a junior associate at Pottinger & Associates in 2006 and was promoted to project manager four years later. She became owner and director of client services in 2013 and is currently sole principal of the company.
“I was fortunate enough to benefit from the strong mentorship of our company founder [Andrew Pottinger], who provided somewhat of an apprenticeship when I began working in the industry,” Bird said.
With more than 10 years’ experience in the real estate development industry, Bird is skilled in building relationships in municipal planning processes for new development. Many of her new clients are gained through word-of-mouth referrals.
The Vancouver-based company creates community relations engagement strategies for various development projects, managing the public approval process of millions of square feet of residential and commercial space.
When it comes to new developments, Bird said one of her greatest challenges is working to create a balanced community dialogue. A large part of her role is to inform residents affected by proposed developments about how they can participate through open houses and public hearings and get their opinions on record.
“Well-planned developments deliver a wealth of needed community amenities like new parks, upgrades to community centres and libraries, affordable housing, improved public safety, daycare,” she explained. “Unfortunately, the folks who would naturally support or benefit from a project like this are less likely to participate in the planning process than those folks who naturally resist change.”
Bird sits on boards and committees for numerous organizations including the West Vancouver Chamber of Commerce, the Vancouver Resource Society and the Urban Development Institute, and is a board trustee for the YMCA of Greater Vancouver Foundation.
Where you live now: Riley Park, Vancouver
Highest level of education: Bachelor of art history (honours), Queen’s University
Currently reading: Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan
Currently listening to: Black Pistol Fire
When you were a kid, what you wanted to be when you grew up: Garbage pickup
Profession you would most like to try: Art auctioneer
Toughest business or professional decision: It’s always painful for us, as well as our clients, when we have to raise our fees to keep up with our costs or to handle more time-consuming projects
Advice you would give the younger you: Get active sooner volunteering in industry and non-industry organizations
What’s left to do: The business we’re in is constantly changing and evolving, so there is no one specific thing left to do, but we must adapt and grow to stay current, and where possible, help influence the way both our industry and municipalities engage the public. That way we can increasingly see more productive dialogue and, as a result, more responsive and meaningful projects
Join us to celebrate the 2018 Forty under under 40 Awards January 24, 2019, at the Vancouver Convention Centre. For tickets and event info visit www.biv.com/40-under-40