Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Mayors of Vancouver Part VI

(I must apologize to those people who are signed up to receive automatic notifications of additional entries. While working on this entry on Sunday I accidentally pushed the publish button instead of the save. I then reverted it back to a draft and finished writing it.)

I told you Friday that we had an election on Saturday. Before I tell you who our new mayor is I want to go over the last few mayors in our great city's history.

We last left off with Jack Volrich who served from 1977 to 1980.

Next was Michael Franklin Harcourt - 1980 to 1986. Previous to that he had served as city alderman from 1973 to 1980. His term in office was dominated by the planning of Expo 86. From 1991 to 1996 Harcourt was our 30th premier. And on December 12, 2003 he was named as a special advisor on cities to Prime Minister Paul Martin.

In 2002 Mike Harcourt received an outpouring of sympathy and support from British Columbians after he had a near-fatal fall at his cottage on Pender Island in which he suffered a severe spinal-cord industry. His rapid recovery astonished the doctors and after several months in GF Strong he published a book about his ordeal called Plan B.

After Harcourt, Gordon Campbell became our 35th mayor. He served three consecutive terms from 1986 to 1993. This former real estate developer and teacher began his political career as executive assistant to Mayor Art Phillips until 1976. He worked development manager and developer until 1986 when he became mayor.
From 2001 until 2011 Gordon Campbell served as the province's premier and he is currently Canadian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.

One of our longest serving mayors was Phillip Walter Owen who served from 1993 to 2002. Owen's father, Walter S. Owen, served as Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia from 1973 to 1978.

Owen entered civic politics in 1978 when he was elected to the Vancouver Parks Board and in 1986 he became a member of the Vancouver City Council.

In 1993 Owen was elected to the mayoral seat and became the longest consecutive serving mayor in our history. While he was in office Vancouver maintained a Triple-A credit rating and was rated the number one city in the world for quality of life by the William Mercer Study. Owen is best known for his drug policy reform. He believed in a Four Pillar Approach which is a comprehensive program with provisions for prevention, treatment, enforcement and harm reduction. Thanks for his policies North America's first safe injection site, Insite, for intravenous drug users opened in 2003.

Larry W. Campbell was our 37th mayor and is presently a member of the Canadian senate. Campbell was a former RCMP officer and coroner. (The show DaVinci's Inquest is based on him)

When Campbell was elected in 2002, he became the first mayor elected from the Coalition of Progressive Electors party.

Campbell was against the city bidding for the 2010 Winter Olympics and even held non-binding city wide plebiscite. (Premier Gordon Campbell refused Larry Campbell's request to hold a province wide vote) When the citizens of the city said they wanted the Olympics Campbell changed sides.

Campbell's two main projects while in office were the redevelopment of the Woodward's building and the creation of Insite, following his predecessor's Four Pillar approach to drug control.

Sam Sullivan was next up as mayor. He was born in East Vancouver and his father had run Sully's Autoparts on East Hastings Street. At the age of 19  a very active Sullivan had a skiing accident which left him a quadriplegic. He successfully completed a Bachelor of Business Administration at Simon Fraser University and established six non profit organizations to help the disabled. All of these organizations are linked to the Sam Sullivan Disability Foundation which has raised 20 million dollars and touched the lives of 10,000 people since its inception. Sullivan has received the Christopher and Dana Reeve award, the Terry Fox award and the Peter F. Drucker award for innovation.

On September 11, 2001 at Nat Bailey Stadium Sam Sullivan became the first quadriplegic to throw the opening pitch at professional baseball game. He accomplished this feat with the help of a device made by Tetra Society volunteers.

At the suggestion of former provincial cabinet minister Grace McCarthy, Sullivan ran for council and was elected to the Vancouver city Council in 1993. He was to remain there for the next fifteen years.

In 2005 Sullivan ran for mayor against several opponents and, by a narrow margin, won. He was our first mayor that was capable of reading Chinese and speaking basic Cantonese and he learned to give speeches in Punjabi. Sullivan was the subject of a Gemini nominated documentary entitled Citizen Sam which was made by the National Film Board of Canada.

In 2008 Sullivan was replaced by Peter Ladner as head of the NPA party and Ladner ran for mayor in place of Sullivan.

Peter Ladner lost the race to Vision Vancouver member Gregor Angus Bethune Robertson.

Robertson campaigned on issues of ending homelessness in Vancouver and making it a greener city. He also stated that he would establish a mental health advocate if he were elected. (Once in office he didn't do that and said the duties would be done by the city hall staff)

He has opened shelters in residential areas - much to the dismay of  residents who objected to the problems brought on by the shelter and were never consulted about it- and none of the merchants that were affected by the bike lane across Burrard Bridge were consulted beforehand. These merchants claim that their business were affected negatively by the bike lane.

Gregor Robertson's time in office has been controversial with the Stanley Cup Riots and the Occupy Vancouver tents at the Vancouver Art Gallery. Robertson also appears to quite often change his opinion and position on issues. But considering that he was re-elected on November 19, 2011 it appears that the majority of Vancouverites are happy with the job he is doing.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

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