One of the kindest people I have worked with and without a doubt one of the smartest has just announced he is stepping down from the executive of COPE-the Coalition of Progressive Electors after three decades of public service. Lawyer Tim Louis served two terms on the Park Board and two terms on the City of Vancouver Council. He truly did read the Council package before each meeting and knew the names of each city hall staffer. Tim articled with and was mentored by Councillor Harry Rankin who was also a lawyer with the same quick and dry wit, if not slightly more irascible.
I’d ask Tim if I could speak to him before a Council meeting and he’d respond that it would be fine as long as I “was not a card-carrying conservative”. He chaired committee meetings, understood Robert’s Rules of Order, delegated with a strong sense of humour and responded to every phone call he received. He often wore a Che Guevara Shirt to events, bright red, and moaned about the days when people asked him it was an image of Fidel Castro. It’s no surprise that a huge party is being held for Tim in February and it is sure to be packed full of people wanting to have one more chat and laugh with him.
Gordon McIntyre of the Vancouver Sun interviewed Tim about his remarkable achievements and accomplishments. I was aware that if we were going to be in front of a committee meeting that Tim was chairing or sitting in on, that we needed to be prepared for those piercing blue eyes and quick intelligence that could quickly sift through any policy or program city planners had not really thought about in advance of the presentation. Tim calls this process “intellectual wrestling”.
While studying Law, Tim also was one of the founders of the Pacific Transit Co-operative. The founders were all in need of disabled friendly transit, and they basically set up their own system which was in operation for 20 years commencing in the early 1980’s. Remarkably this enterprise was operative in 19 days, a testament to this group’s organization and abilities.
Reporter McIntyre asked Tim directly what he thought of the Mayors of Vancouver he has worked with and known. Typically, Tim spoke directly and held back nothing in his terse and connected responses that also give a historical timeline on the politics of development.When asked to rank Mayor Mike Harcourt, Tim responded ” Harcourt, I’d give a good mark to. It was a Harcourt-COPE council where we saw council really put to work on behalf of the entire city, the citizens of Vancouver, and not on behalf of the developers.”
With Gordon Campbell Tim stated “We went back to a developers’ council with Campbell. You can see that very clearly when you look at the north side of False Creek with its high towers and density developed under Campbell and compare it to the south side of False Creek, where there is mixed income, low-rise and much lower density.”
With Philip Owen Tim states “Philip was a very decent man. Give him credit for bringing in the four pillars (drug strategy), the supervised injection sites.”
And then there was Mayor Larry Campbell, who as the City Coroner was the inspiration for the television show Da Vinci’s Inquest. Larry was also opinionated and outspoken, and Tim notes that COPE made a “mistake” and that feelings have still not been resolved
Tim perceives Mayor Sam Sullivan as “another developers’ mayor. He called it eco-density, which was just a greenwashing, taking density and giving it a green veneer. ”
And for current Mayor Gregor Robertson? “As far as I’m concerned Vision is the NPA, only with bicycle lanes”.
This is an individual that was concerned and represented the average voter at City Hall and urged controls on gambling expansion within the City. Tim was also against Wal-Mart operating in Vancouver, forecasting a world where there would be a “race to the bottom” when foreign-owned businesses put local retailers out of business. Tim is passionate, refreshing, and speaks his mind. He will be very much missed, but I’m sure there will be more endeavours. If you want to go to Tim’s party, details are here.