The native of Santa Barbara, Cal., opened with a 7-under 65 and leads Christo Greyling, Ryan Carter, Ryan Grant and Michael Sims by one stroke.
A total of 155 players from 11 countries began the 72-hole tournament at Los Serranos CC and Green River GC. With no cut scheduled, competitors will play two rounds at each site.
While Stankowski took on Green River on his opening day, the four players currently in second spot all played Los Serranos.
Stankowski, the older brother of PGA Tour regular Paul Stankowski, originally joined the Canadian Tour in 1997.
Once final round play has wrapped up Friday, the Canadian Tour will award exempt playing cards for the 2006 season to the low 20 finishers. The next 10 plus ties will earn non-exempt status.
The Canadian Tour season gets under way with back-to-back events in Austin, Texas, early next month. Barton Creek Resort & Spa will host the Yes! Golf Barton Creek Classic from Mar. 2-5, followed by the Yes! Golf Barton Creek Challenge the following week.