Friday, November 4, 2011

Vancouver Mayors Part V

For a city that hasn't been around all that long - 125 years - we have had our share of mayors haven't we? Today is part five of that feature.

Taking over from acting Mayor George Miller who filled in Mayor Charles E. Jones died in office was Charles Edwin Thompson who presided as mayor for 1949 and 1950. Thompson was a man who believed that improvements to the public transit, roadways and sewer lines as well as an effort to equalize civic taxes should be provided to law abiding, upstanding citizens. Yet his office was plagued by civil liberties issues considering that all civic employees had to be screened to weed out communists or those with communist sympathies.
Taking over in 1951 was Frederick J. Hume. This wealthy philanthropist was born in New Westminster and Hume donated his mayoral salary to charity for the entire time he was in office. (He sat as mayor of Vancouver for eight years and before that had served as New Westminster's mayor for nine.)

Hume won with a 3-2 majority in an election that was noted for being absent of issues. Mayor Hume was concerned about issues such as smog and littering. He also hoped to do away with slum housing all together and worked to establish low rental  housing. Hume founded the radio station CJOR in 1924 and was owner/operator of the Vancouver Canucks from 1962 until his death in 1967. Over 2,000 people attended his funeral.

Following Hume, A. Thomas Alsbury took office from 1959 to 1962. He has the distinction of being the first Vancouver mayor to be born in the twentieth century. Alsbury was a hard nosed fellow - a Scotsman by birth - and gained notoriety by closing Board of Administration meetings to the public. Alsbury had progressive goals and humanitarian interests. Unfortunately his personality alienated many would be supporters causing the Non-Partisan Assocation (NPA) to withdraw from supporting his next run for mayor. Alsbury went on to have a lively career as a radio commentator. 

William George Rathie served from 1963 to 1966 and was the last in a long line of NPA mayors. Rathie is credited with beginning a twenty year program for Vancouver's redevelopment which included the transportation, low cost housing and downtown revitalization was all under consideration and led to things like the Georgia Viaduct. Some may not agree that having the viaduct built to give easier access to downtown was worth the destruction of historical areas in the Strathcona area but that is for another day.

Rathie was also credited with the establishment of low cost housing units such as MacLean Park and Skeena Terrace.

Our 31st mayor was Thomas (Tom) Campbell who held the office fromm 1967 to 1972. He was affectionately as Tom Terrific and was brash, controversial and confrontational. He once took a stance that advocated the building of a freeway through most of the historic east side and would have resulted in the demolition of the Carnegie Centre.

From 1973 to 1977 Arthur -Art - Phillips served as mayor. He took a more cautious approach to real estate and related development and was concerned about the environmental impact as well as the impact on people.

Our mayor from 1977 to 1980 was Jack Volrich. Volrich's administration proposed the construction of a trade and convention center and debated over the ward system of electing alderman to city council.

I have six mayors left to comment on but I will leave that for another day. Until then I hope you find the beauty around you.

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