Thank you Art Phillips

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Thank you Art Phillips.

Those of us who are lucky enough to call Vancouver home lost one of our greatest and most iconic city-builders last week. For many years beginning about a decade ago, I had the great pleasure of working with former Vancouver Mayor Art Phillips in his capacity as a strata council president for a beautiful Coal Harbour strata corporation. Perhaps a little over-qualified, but how was he supposed to turn down that nomination? To say that the ownership was lucky to have the always diplomatic leadership of one of Vancouver’s greatest mayors is perhaps obvious… to say I learned a tremendous amount from this incredibly accomplished, very intelligent, and yet uncommonly kind and humble man is perhaps an understatement. Art always treated me with respect, he always had time to chat and laugh, and he genuinely appreciated what I had to offer to resolve a given issue or challenge… I have no other relatable experience, but I would say that may be atypical for a ‘former all-star mayor/property manager’ dynamic.  My first thought when I think of Art is his laugh, and his manner was always gracious. Echoed in much of what has been written since his passing, my personal experience is that Art was quite simply an exceptional guy and a true gentleman that was always looking to improve things for everyone and to move forward together to a better place. I admire the man and his accomplishments very much, and it was a real treat to have the opportunity to work with him… and you just can’t do much better than having a former mayor chair an AGM or having a founder of Phillips, Hager & North provide guidance for the strata corporation’s investment strategy.

While a life well-lived cannot be summed up in a handful of bullet points, here are some impressive highlights from Art Phillip’s time in office and beyond:

  • He helped launch a successful new political party known as TEAM that responded to citizens’ pent-up desire for political reform and greater community involvement.
  • While serving as the 32ndMayor of Vancouver from 1973 to 1977, Art presided over a dramatic switch in the city from emphasizing towers and freeways to quality of life and sophisticated urban planning;
  • …in fact, the Vancouver Park Board recently named a small downtown area adjacent to the Burrard SkyTrain station after Art in recognition of his role in saving the open space (currently home to blossoming cherry trees) from development.
  • The improvements in living downtown, overall quality of life, waterfront walks, and protecting neighbourhoods are all credited in part to Art’s leadership.
  • He played a huge role in the City turning Granville Mall into a car-free zone.
  • Art was a huge part of the ‘driving’ force that ended the controversial plan for waterfront and Chinatown expressways (no doubt saving parts of Gastown and Strathcona in the process).
  • He is credited for transforming False Creek from industrial lands into a residential community. In fact, Art and his wife Carole moved into Leg-in-Boot Square shortly after they were married.
  • Art was presented with the Freedom of the City Award in July, 2010…
  • …and he recently donated $60,000 to the City’s breakfast program for hungry children – the fund’s largest gift ever.
  • Art was a UBC Thunderbird basketball player, a successful business man, a Mayor and public servant, an MP, a friend, a father, a grandfather, and a husband.

On behalf of myself and all of us at Stratawest, our sincere condolences to Carole Taylor and the family, and our heartfelt, shouted from the roof-tops thanks to one of Vancouver’s best. Thank you for everything Art, may you rest in peace.

Cory Pettersen, President
Stratawest