I learned Jim Green had died yesterday morning when I heard Allen Garr talking about him in the past tense on CBC's Early Edition. I was surprised, as were most others, since although we knew Jim was terminally ill, he had just had a 'Celebration of Life' on Sunday and was expected to have months, not hours, to live.
I first met Jim over 20 years ago when he helped me negotiate a payment in lieu of building family social housing at the Bayshore Project. The payment was to be used to help fund the redevelopment of the Woodwards Building.
In subsequent years we worked together on a few initiatives including a brief look at the feasibility of converting a BC Packers Cold Storage facility in Tofino into a Granville Island style public market. (I just googled the site and see that it is now a housing development http://www.theshoretofinoblog.com/updates/unique-tofino-real-estate-project.php
Jim also participated in my 'one year after' event held on the first anniversary of the 2008 Municipal Election. (He said he voted for me, but I never really knew whether to believe him!)
Over the years we shared a few beers, but were never close friends. While we did occasionally agree on things, as regular listeners to Bill Good's CKNW Civic Affairs Panel well know, we tended to disagree much more. (Yes, that's a photo of Jim with fellow panelist Frances Bula above. Since Jim preferred not to smile in photos, he did me a favour by sharing a wry grin.)
Jim was a very complex guy, with an unusual fashion sense. As Gordon Price once wrote, he often wore both a belt and suspenders. He loved his hats, and seemed to enjoy dressing like a gangster! He had a love of ties, but also had the unusual habit of tucking his sweater into his pants. I don't think I've ever known anyone else who always did this!
While I often didn't agree with Jim or his tactics, there is no doubt, as Frances said on yesterday's show, Jim was a doer...he made things happen, and he deserves the many accolades and recognition he's receiving for what he tried to do in the DTES with DERA and subsequently as a member of Council and community activist.
While we will remember the good things Jim did for the city, I'll will never forget the mean-spirited Op-Ed that he wrote in the Vancouver Sun in October 2010 criticizing me for my position on the Olympic Village Social Housing. This is something I never quite understood, (especially since he had helped me eliminate the social housing at Bayshore) although one of our mutual friends did subsequently tell me he was put up to it. I now believe this was true.
(I'll never forget our first meeting at the CKNW Studio the following Tuesday morning when Bill Good asked him if he would apologize and he said no. But then, that was Jim.)
Jim, you made your mark on our city, but died much too young. But then again, you chose to live each day the way you did because you weren't planning to live to 100! The city will miss you.