York Region
Insurer Aviva picks Markham for new head office

Published in yorkregion.com, February 26, 2014

Aviva is making waves in Markham.

Aviva Canada Inc. announced today it plans to relocate its corporate head office to Downtown Markham.

The company will occupy the majority of the new 12-storey building, which has yet to be named, and will house more than 1,500 employees.

That’s the largest attraction of people in Markham’s recent history, Mayor Frank Scarpitti said.

Much like how the development industry is competitive, so too is the city.

“We could have rested on Markham being the tech capital of the world since IBM is here,” Mr. Scarpitti said.

Instead, the city opted to broaden its economic horizons at attracting large financial and insurance corporations is part of the city’s economic strategy, he said.

Since 2008, the city has attracted more than 190 companies with more than 8,300 employees.

Having Aviva headquartered in Markham will start the next wave of economic activity in the city, much like how IBM drove Markham into the high-tech capital spotlight, Mr. Scarpitti said at yesterday’s ribbon cutting presentation.

“When IBM moved up here, there was nothing around. Bay Street said, ‘Where the heck are you going up to Markham?’” he said. “Aviva will do the same thing for the city as IBM did when it first arrived.”

There were a number of factors that made Markham top of the list for Aviva’s new head office, Aviva Canada CEO and president Greg Somerville said.

Some factors included the number of amenities such as restaurants, hotels and shopping within walking distance of the new building along with prominent access to several 400-series highways.

But he said the main factor is the complete community vision offered by both the city and the Remington Group, the developer behind Downtown Markham.

“There is a vision of what a great work environment looks and feels like,” Mr. Somerville said. “Aviva made the right choice. How can you argue with what we’re looking at here (in Downtown Markham). Our team will have no problem fitting in here.”

Downtown Markham is a mix of retail, commercial and residential, with more than 2 million square feet of retail space and 72 acres of natural landscape and greenspace.

“This is a bold approach to urban design,” said the Remington Group’s Chris Bratty.

“This is a great day to be in Markham. Aviva understands and recognizes what’s going on. Downtown Markham is not campus-style office buildings. It is an urban office complex with people living, working and shopping here.”

Aviva Canada is one of the largest insurance companies in the country and is part of the Aviva Group servicing more than 34 million clients in 17 countries.

Aviva has provided more than $4.5 million in funding to more than 40 community organizations and projects through the Aviva Community Fund.

Last year, the Joy Beyond Vision Community received $5,000 to fund the Cultural Café in Markham. The café projected was established to create jobs for the visually impaired.

Aviva joins other companies such as Worley Parsons and Motorola that have selected the LEED certified space within Downtown Markham to call home.

The new Aviva offices are set to open in 2017.

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