Tom Campbell, one of the most controversial mayors in Vancouver’s long colourful history, has passed away, according to a statement released Friday by Mayor Gregor Robertson.
Known by his nickname “Tom Terrific”, Mr. Campbell waged war on the city’s swelling counter-culture during his terms of office from 1967 to 1972, denouncing hippies, threatening to use the War Measures Act to round up radicals, and trying to put the Georgia Straight out of business.
He also spearheaded a plan that would have put a freeway through the city’s historic Chinatown neighbourhood, a proposal that galvanized the Chinese-Canadian community to rise up against the project, aided by many community activists.
The anti-freeway forces were successful in stopping the proposal, a victory considered a significant event in community activism and making Vancouver a more liveable city.
There was a backlash against Mr. Campbell’s pro-development policies in 1972, when a new municipal party, TEAM, swept the civic elections, with Art Phillips taking over from Mr. Campbell, who chose not to run again.
That election became a turning point in Vancouver’s switch away from development at almost any cost, a philosophy that had dominated the city for years.
Despite his many pitched battles against the counter-culture, however, Mr. Campbell won three successive elections as mayor.
In his statement, Mr. Robertson made no mention of the many controversies that erupted during Mr. Campbell’s tenure, paying tribute to other legacies.
He said such significant projects as the two Bentall Centres, the Bloedel Conservatory, the Centennial Museum, H.R. MacMillan Planetarium and the Pacific Centre were completed while Mr. Campbell was mayor.
“He also saw the acquisition of the south shore of False Creek in 1969, decades before it became one of the most sought-after places to live in the city,” Mr. Robertson said.
“These achievements have left a lasting legacy on Vancouver, giving the city some of its most well-known structures and areas,” the current mayor’s statement said.
“He will be remembered for his dedication to public service and shaping the city.”