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Around Town: An Old Town welcome for PwC

Apologies to the Poltergeist II team for using their catchphrase, but “They’re baaaack!” We’re not referring to evil spirits invading suburbia, but the local reincarnation of PwC, a.k.a.

Apologies to the Poltergeist II team for using their catchphrase, but “They’re baaaack!”

We’re not referring to evil spirits invading suburbia, but the local reincarnation of PwC, a.k.a. PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, 11 years after selling its local consulting practice to IBM.

Like that well-worn movie expression, the professional services firm never really went away. It just reinvented itself and has returned with fanfare, this time in cool Old Town heritage digs.

Dozens of local financial wizards, biztypes and clients celebrated the opening of PwC’s new office in the historic Temple Building at 525 Fort St. on Thursday. The elegant Victorian-era landmark highlighted by its red brick walls, gleaming hardwood floors, large arched entry and windows seemed apropos considering its new tenants appear poised to help revitalize the local economy — a mission that began in 1893 after entrepreneur Robert Ward commissioned the Samuel Maclure-designed commercial building.

“We really wanted to have a presence here,” said John DeLucchi, the B.C. region’s managing partner. “We decided to open another because we do a lot of our work here in the public sector. Having a presence in Victoria makes a difference not just for our own people, but our clients. And we hire a lot of people out of UVic, so it makes sense.”

Public-sector consulting partner Mike Harris said with the increasing amount of business being done in Victoria, the timing was right.

“We also want to draw on our vast resources in Vancouver and across the country,” he said. “It’s so close to the seaplanes and our client offices, so it’s a perfect location.”

Two executives with VIH Aviation Group — chief financial officer Charles Hodgins and special projects manager Rick Senkler — were among 100 guests who sampled chef Castro Boateng’s gourmet fare, including Saltspring goat cheese and beet lollipops, charcuterie such as wild boarizo and African-spiced chicken, plantain and root chips, and wild greens.

“We’re always at the airport, so it’s nice to get away,” said Hodgins, who uses PwC for tax advice, auditing and corporate financing for the Sidney-based consortium of international aviation businesses.

Other familiar faces at the reception organized by event planner Heidi Barlow-Lee included CHEK News personality Veronica Cooper, her husband Ross McIntyre, the voiceover artist, broadcaster and GRM Communications owner, and his brother Bruce, PwC’s Vancouver office consulting partner and forest, paper and packaging industry practice leader.

Toggling between the reception area housing rows of sleek white workstations, an upstairs lounge and the sun-drenched rooftop patio, Victoria office leader Owen Taylor was a man in motion.

“A lot of decisions for government that affect other places are made in Victoria,” said Taylor, who began his career with the provincial government in 1985, moving to the private sector in 1998.

“You need to be in the community, living and working and associating with people. I’ve lived here my whole adult life and travelled to other places for years, so it’s nice to come home.”

While the office has a five-person staff serving local government and businesses, he said the space can accommodate 30.

Before joining Taylor to cut a massive cake, Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce CEO Bruce Carter noted the Temple Building was also once home to the chamber.

“It’s a great spot,” said Carter, who raved about the rooftop but noticed something missing. “I’m the chamber guy, so I know a guy who can get you some barbecues.”

Taylor also added levity when he commented on flower bouquets adorning window sills.

“They won’t be here every day,” he deadpanned, prompting one wag to wonder aloud: “What about the wine?”