Dozens of police and security guards surrounded the Trump Tower in Vancouver on Tuesday as protesters arrived in advance of the building’s grand opening.
The building has become a focal point for demonstrations against U.S. President Donald Trump.
The $360-million hotel and condominium development, with a unique twisting design by late architect Arthur Erickson, had a soft launch last month. Trump’s sons, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, along with daughter Tiffany Trump, are scheduled to attend the grand opening of the 69-storey building.
Vancouver’s Trump International Hotel and Tower was built by developer Joo Kim Tiah, the president and CEO of Holborn Group, who is the son of one of Malaysia’s wealthiest businessmen. The Trump Organization does not own the tower, but licensed its name for branding and marketing, while the Trump Hotel Collection operates the 147-room hotel.
It has become a destination for protests over the president’s anti-immigrant rhetoric, comments about women and promises to build a wall to keep Mexican migrants out of the United States.
George De Young was outspoken about his opposition to the building’s namesake.
“Trump is very scary,” said the Vancouver native, shaking his head.
“I don’t like any show of acceptance for what Trump represents.”
Henry Ho, also from Vancouver, had never been to a protest before but arrived in front of Trump Tower carrying signs that read “Dump Trump” and “Is it 2020 yet?”
“We’re not just going to be quiet and let things happen the way they are,” said the 27-year-old self-described supporter of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
“We will show that we can come together and aren’t divided by all the hate he spews out.”
After Trump’s call in 2015 for a “complete shutdown” of Muslims entering the U.S., a petition urging Holborn Group to dump the Trump name attracted 56,000 signatures. Mayor Gregor Robertson wrote a passionate letter to Tiah in December 2015 urging that the name be dropped.
“Trump’s name and brand have no more place on Vancouver’s skyline than his ignorant ideas have in the modern world,” Robertson wrote.
The building’s more than 200 condominium units reportedly sold out last year.
Tiah told The Associated Press he’s now “locked” into his licensing agreement, with no legal grounds to back out of the deal, whose terms have not been released.
“There would be severe legal implications,” he said in a recent interview.
The 37-year-old has a picture on Instagram of himself at Trump’s Jan. 20 inauguration, along with a picture of his ticket for the Liberty Ball, one of three balls the president attended.
TA Global reported it earned US$10.4 million from the Vancouver Trump project in 2015, representing 57 per cent of its total profit.
In his recent interview with the AP, Tiah says he found Trump’s statements about Muslims, Mexicans and women “extremely stressful.”
“I did a lot of soul searching because people were attacking me for it,” said Tiah.
He says he chose the Trump brand in part because he felt a bond with Trump’s son Donald Jr.
“We’re both the oldest son and our fathers were really dominant and difficult at times,” he said. “We may be OK financially but we didn’t get the attention of our parents because our parents were always busy working. But at the same time there’s a big expectation to be perfect.”