On Sunday I attended a “celebration of life” for former city councilor Jim Green at the Vancouver East Cultural Centre. Jim, who was gravely ill, listened as our current mayor, another city councilor, and a steady stream of musicians paid tribute to someone who has embodied the transition of this city, for better or for worse, from resource port to tourist mecca, from a site of beehive burners and fishing boats to one where transportation stops for film production.
As I write this, there are a number of obituaries and life summations appearing online (Jim passed away at 6:15 this morning), so I will stick to what Jim said on Sunday, when he spoke of the positive changes that have occurred in the city since his arrival, but also that which has remained the same, like the way strangers say good morning to each other, something I experienced recently on Denman Street with some of our city’s seniors.
I did not agree with everything Jim Green said and did during his time in Vancouver, but I appreciate his engagement with the city and what he brought to it, be that as a longshoreman, a member of the Downtown Eastside Residents Association, the force behind Bladerunners and a player in the Woodward’s (re)development. Knowing that we will be without Jim Green feels a lot like how I felt in 1989, when I watched the demolition of the Georgia Medical Dental Building. Jim was that present. No one can take his place.