Vancouver’s housing market has claimed a high-profile victim. Jordan Tinney, the Vancouver School Board’s deputy superintendent, is leaving his position for a job with the Surrey school district.
Tinney was a superintendent in Comox Valley before landing his VSB position in 2010. He’s been commuting back and forth to Vancouver Island, where his family still lives, ever since.
He has two children—one who’s graduated and moved out, and one in Grade 2. The 50-year-old rents in Dunbar, but his family had expected to be reunited by now.
Tinney said he underestimated how high house prices were in the city before he moved here. “I went on a walk at night [in Dunbar] and a house was there and then the house was gone and there was a lot for sale. It went for, I think, $1.6 million for just dirt,” he said. “I just couldn’t believe it…When you come from Vancouver Island and you look to buy in Vancouver, there’s a dramatic difference. So it was certainly a factor. I just want to have my family over here.”
Tinney’s family favours a detached home with a yard, and they searched for property across the Lower Mainland.
His first appointment with a realtor was to see a home in Port Moody but it took him two-and-a-half hours to drive there due to an accident on the highway. Frustrated by the prospect of a long commute, Tinney also looked at renting or buying in Vancouver.
“We considered very strongly Yaletown and around downtown, just getting a condo as a family, but we’re used to a yard. We’re a family, right. We’ve got kids and a dog and moving into a condo is not necessarily the easiest thing… our criteria has always been a detached home with a yard,” he said. Tinney also wanted his son in the same school district in which he worked, which was looking less likely if he remained in Vancouver “unless we made a very, very, significant life adjustment,” he said.
The Vancouver School Board tried to keep Tinney happy. He was hired as an associate superintendent, but soon became deputy superintendent, partly as a retention strategy and to recognize his important role in the district, according to board chair Patti Bacchus. The VSB also considered making his schedule more flexible and discussed his housing problem.
“Shortly after he arrived in Vancouver, we very quickly saw how lucky we were to have someone like Jordan Tinney. He is absolutely outstanding. He’s our key problem solver—very quickly he showed himself to be someone who was able to resolve what sometimes seemed like impossible problems—very visionary. Just an amazing leader,” Bacchus said.
She added there’s a lot of competition amongst districts for senior managers of Tinney’s calibre.
“We knew he was being recruited by other districts. We knew he wasn’t able to find housing he was looking for,” she said, calling his departure not a surprise, but a disappointment.
“It is a huge gain for Surrey and it is a loss for Vancouver.”
Tinney starts his new job Aug. 1. “Vancouver is a great district and I am proud to be associated with them. They have treated me very well and while I am excited about new opportunity, I am very sad to leave,” he said.