Former Vancouver city councillor and activist Jim Green dead at 68

Green received Freedom of the City award Sunday

Less than 48 hours after receiving the citys highest award, former city councillor and community activist Jim Green died Tuesday at home surrounded by family.

He was 68.

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Green died at 6:15 Tuesday morning in his apartment at the Woodwards building on West Hastings after battling a second round of cancer.

He was still making plans yesterday for meetings later in the week and so on, said friend and Vision Vancouver Coun. Geoff Meggs Tuesday. But early this morning, as he was waking up, he fell asleep and passed away very peacefully.

On Sunday afternoon, a frail Green put on a grey suit, pink shirt and pink striped socks to attend a private tribute at the Vancouver East Cultural Centre to him and his work.

About 200 people turned up to see the Alabama-born draft dodger receive the Freedom of the City award, the citys highest honour for citizen service and leadership.

Mayor Gregor Robertson bestowed the honour on Green, who spoke briefly to an audience that included current and former politicians, labour leaders, community activists, musicians, artists and business people.

Three hours after Green died, city council met for its regular meeting at city hall, where the mayor and councillors observed a moment of silence in their colleagues memory. A short slide show featuring images of Green was shown.

Robertson and Coun. Tim Stevenson spoke highly of a man who sat in the same council chambers between 2002 and 2005. Green, a former COPE member, was one of the founders of Vision Vancouver, the party that dominates city council.

Jims record has been a consistent and tireless oneactivism for social justice, democracy, for the arts, for shaping an inclusive and sustainable city, said Robertson, who conducted the meeting with Greens trademark pork pie hat on his desk.

Stevenson sat next to Green in the chambers during the pairs first term in office. He spoke of how Green could be gruff at times but was driven to help people.

He was a friend to many, he was a mentor to many and we will miss him greatly, Stevenson said. We will miss his care and concern for all those he encountered.

Green ran unsuccessfully for mayor twice, most recently in 2005 when he lost to the NPAs Sam Sullivan. After politics, he worked as a consultant, taking contracts with development companies and businesses.

When people speak of Green, the Woodwards development on West Hastings is often mentioned. It was his desire to see the former department store redeveloped into a large complex where market housing, social housing, businesses and Simon Fraser University could serve as a progressive anchor in the troubled Downtown Eastside.

Green, who lived at Woodwards, was recognized by his former political foe Gordon Campbell at an official opening of the development in April 2009.

Without the leadership that we saw from former mayor [Larry] Campbell and, of course, the leadership that we saw from Jim Green, we would not be seeing this truly exceptional project coming up from the ground today, said Campbell, who was premier at the time.

After fleeing the United States in 1968 to avoid being drafted to fight in the Vietnam War, Greens life in Vancouver became one of many careers, including taxi driver, longshoreman, marine boilermaker, anthropology instructor, union organizer, activist and politician.

Green was a driving force with the Downtown Eastside Residents Association to get social housing built and the key person behind the opening of the now-closed Four Corners Bank.

He loved opera, shooting pool at the Yale and watching football. But Vancouver, as his friends say, was his great lovea comment he made when campaigning for mayor in 2005.

I really and truly love this city, and I love the people here, he said in a speech, while standing on a patio in the sunshine at Monk McQueens restaurant.

When he lost the race, he was in tears.

I really wanted to be your mayor with all my heart and soul.

A public memorial is expected for Green and will be announced at a later date. Anyone wishing to send condolences to the family may do so at friendsofjimgreen@gmail.com

mhowell@vancourier.com

Twitter: @Howellings

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