“You try and stay ahead of the curve. If you wait until everything is obvious there is no opportunity for gain.” – Don Lowry

“It seems like a long time ago … but it really wasn’t,” says Don Lowry, Alberta’s Business Person of the Year award winner in 2010. But while that was a mere six years ago, Alberta was a very different beast then. The province had eased into recovery mode, and banks and business owners could breathe a sigh of relief as economists predicted a sunnier outlook. To help matters, foreign buyers started eyeing Alberta’s oil sands as a safe and secure bet for energy investment. Most notably, Chinese giant Sinopec bought nine per cent of Syncrude for $4.65 billion. The memory that stands out from that year for Lowry, then the CEO of Epcor, was the decision to create an independent power generation company, Capital Power. “People looked at this like ‘Epcor is growing – why would you spin that off?’” Lowry says. “You try and stay ahead of the curve and if you wait until everything is obvious there is no opportunity for gain.” Now, Capital Power owns more than 3,200 megawatts of power generation capacity at 18 facilities across North America and boasted $229 million in revenues in the second quarter of 2016, up from $83 million the same time last year. Recently, the company made headlines for being one of a handful of Alberta power companies to have a “more unprofitable” clause in its power purchase arrangement, allowing it to terminate agreements with coal-fired power plants and return them to a provincial agency, The Balancing Pool. Lowry calls the province’s decision to launch a lawsuit over the clause a red herring. “If the objective was to be sensational, they’ve achieved that in spades,” Lowry says. “We welcome the opportunity to go to court and have all the facts on record.” But Lowry won’t be heading to court; he officially retired in 2013. He remains as Capital Power’s chairman of the board and also sits on the boards of Stantec and Melcor REIT, among others. But his board meetings have not taken away from his favourite pastime: fish watching – like bird watching, but with fish. According to Lowry, his reef tanks are looking better than they ever have. If only Alberta’s economy could flourish like Lowry’s fish. “I don’t know whether it’s me getting old or not, (it’s not),” he says, “but I have a sense there is a lot more adversarial sentiment and behaviour in business and particularly politics.” Lowry says today’s Alberta has fallen off the tracks and needs collaboration between business and government. “I would like to see us get back to those businesses, those leaders that epitomize serving everyone,” Lowry says. To do so, he believes our missing ingredient is leadership. “We need leadership now at the heads of businesses and governments that says, ‘How can Alberta collaborate as being part of Canada and the world?’ Not Alberta against Canada and against the world.”

The Year that Was 2010

Alberta’s Population 3.5 million

Shaw Communications buys the distressed broadcast assets of CanWest Global for $2 billion

Movie director James Cameron meets with Premier Ed Stelmach and tours Alberta’s oil sands