City planner and B.C. NDP politician Bob Williams has died. His legacy helped shape B.C. | CBC News (2024)

British Columbia

Prominent politician and B.C. New Democrat Bob Williams died at the age of 91 on Sunday.During his life, Williams was a city planner and highly influential political figure. During his prolific career, he served as a city councillor, provincial MLA and B.C. NDP cabinet minister.

Williams is remembered as an influential politician who helped set up resort municipality of Whistler

City planner and B.C. NDP politician Bob Williams has died. His legacy helped shape B.C. | CBC News (1)

Isaac Phan Nay · CBC News

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City planner and B.C. NDP politician Bob Williams has died. His legacy helped shape B.C. | CBC News (2)

Prominent politician and B.C. New Democrat Bob Williams died at the age of 91 on Sunday.

According to a post on his Facebook page, Williams died at St. Paul's Hospital in Vancouver.

"Concluding a famously bold and vigorous public life, Bob's departure was entirely peaceful," the post said.

In life, Williams was a city planner and highly influential political figure. During his prolific political career, he served as a city councillor, provincial MLA and B.C. NDP cabinet minister. He was the chair of the Insurance Corporation of B.C., and later joined the board of Vancity Credit Union.

He's remembered as an influential politician who spearheaded the creation of the West Coast Express train running from downtown Vancouver to Mission, Surrey Central City malland the Whistler resort municipality.

City planner and B.C. NDP politician Bob Williams has died. His legacy helped shape B.C. | CBC News (3)

"He was a tireless intellectual, constantly searching for new ideas," Geoff Meggs, former chief of staff for premier John Horgan, told CBC's On The Coast.

Williams was born in Vancouver in 1933. Early in his career, he worked as a city planner for the City of Delta.

His politicalcareer ignited in 1964, when Williams served as Vancouver city councillor — back then, the position was called Vancouver city alderman. He served for two years.

In 1966, as a New Democrat, Williams was elected to represent the Vancouver East riding in the B.C. Legislature.

City planner and B.C. NDP politician Bob Williams has died. His legacy helped shape B.C. | CBC News (4)

When Dave Barrett became the first NDP premier in B.C.'s history in 1972, he appointed Williams to his cabinet.

"Bob was a crucial figure in that entire administration, driving things forward, providing a lot of leadership and afflicting the comfortable," Meggs said. "He was critical to many of the achievements the Barett government was able to accomplish."

He was instrumental in the formation of the Whistler resort and the Agricultural Land Reserve, which prevents development on agricultural land. As minister of parks, Williams helped double the land area that is protected by provincial parks.

  • Bob Williams' NCHS deal
  • 'He has surely earned his rest': B.C. pays tribute to former premier Dave Barrett in state memorial

He served as an MLA until 1975, and one year later resigned to give Barrett his seat.

In the legislature, Meggs said opposing members were hesitant to clash with Williams.

"He had a withering wit and a very slashing way about him when he was angered, but it was those factors that allowed him to drive things forward," Meggs said. "He was impatient of privilege and entitlement … if he thought you were one of those people he could be merciless."

City planner and B.C. NDP politician Bob Williams has died. His legacy helped shape B.C. | CBC News (5)

On The Coast8:24Remembering NDP stalwart Bob Williams

Geoff Meggs is a co-author of The Art of the Impossible, a book which looked at BobWilliams's years in provincial politics, and the former chief of staff for premier John Horgan.

In 1984, when Barrett resigned to become a talk show host, Williams won a byelection to once again represent Vancouver East. He ran on a platform that the incumbent Social Credit party's spending on large infrastructure projects was too high.

"We care about this province, and think it can be run a different way," he said at a rally in 1984.

On Sunday, B.C. Premier David Eby took to social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, to post his condolences.

Bob Williams was a giant who helped shape BC. From BC Housing, to the ALR, Vancouver’s Robson Square, Surrey Central &amp; the Sea Bus, people continue to benefit from his lifetime of work.<br><br>My deepest condolences to his family &amp; to all those who loved him.<a href="https://t.co/6fvgfnaWa0">https://t.co/6fvgfnaWa0</a>

&mdash;@Dave_Eby

Ravi Kahlon, B.C.'s housing minister, said on the platform he's remembering Bob as a legend.

Sad day for New Democrats. Bob was a legend. He was always thinking 20 yrs ahead and had a no nonsense approach which I appreciated. Sending love to his family and friend🙏🏾❤️ <a href="https://t.co/xVgZcHN4Vt">https://t.co/xVgZcHN4Vt</a>

&mdash;@KahlonRav

According to his Facebook page, there will be a public memorial for Williams in September.

"Bob lived a remarkable life and was responsible for many important works," the post said. "He was to the end grateful for your collaboration and support, collegiality and friendship."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

City planner and B.C. NDP politician Bob Williams has died. His legacy helped shape B.C. | CBC News (6)

Isaac Phan Nay

Reporter/Editor

Isaac Phan Nay is a CBC News reporter/editor in Vancouver. Please contact him at isaac.phan.nay@cbc.ca.

    With files from On The Coast

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    City planner and B.C. NDP politician Bob Williams has died. His legacy helped shape B.C. | CBC News (2024)

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