Since 2007, the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association (DVBIA) recognizes deserving Vancouver recipients for their life-long contributions in a specific field. As this year’s award sponsor, Boughton Law is proud to present the Art Jones Lifetime Achievement Award to former city planner Ray Spaxman on June 20th, 2013. A couple of days prior to the award ceremony, we had the pleasure of speaking to Mr. Spaxman about his thoughts on the city he helped transform into one of the most livable places in the world.
As Vancouver’s Director of Planning from 1973 to 1989, Mr. Spaxman had a significant impact on the city’s urban planning, design and development as we know it today. He initiated local area planning processes that brought more citizen participation and community engagement into the mix.
One of his guiding principles was and still is Neighbourliness. “Everything is better when we do it with thoughtful regard for our neighbours”, he explains. By ensuring the public interest across all land uses, Mr. Spaxman is convinced that we can create stronger communities. Communities like South False Creek. Under his watch, South False Creek has been transformed into an area with a robust economic balance, parks and outdoor spaces as well as housing opportunities for everybody.
But the more the city continues to grow the more difficult it is going to be to sustain the level of contact between municipalities, citizens and neighbours. Rather than following a “more and more” directive, Mr. Spaxman emphasized the importance of maintaining respect for the unique geographical and environmental setting our city has to offer.
Being curious about his take on the role of corporate citizens, we asked him what he thinks a firm like Boughton Law can do to play its part in this changing environment. His answer was as simple as it is challenging: pay better attention to your neighbours and help the society’s weakest members. He especially referred to the Downtown Eastside and the area’s struggle with homelessness, drugs and poverty.
As a firm that describes itself as Uniquely West Coast and has been located in Vancouver’s downtown core since its inception in 1949, we are grateful to have such a considerate and far-sighted individual like Mr. Spaxman in our midst. We congratulate him on his award.