Michael Kluckner adds further insights to the era when Art Phillips led the TEAM Council (1972-77):
The Barrett government had been elected that August, 1972. Change was certainly in the air! Much of what the Barrett government did could be seen as either a nuisance or of no consequence to what TEAM accomplished, with one exception: the provincial government gave Vancouver the power to designate heritage buildings without compensation. More than 50 buildings – the best of historic Vancouver – were designated in 1974. That ability to designate was withdrawn in 1978 by the Bennett government.
(Several commentators have mentioned) how Phillips/TEAM had saved the entrance to Stanley Park. That project had fallen apart in August, 1972, when the federal government refused to lease a critical piece of foreshore; the upshot was the Four Seasons Hotel erecting its new building on Howe Street. Phillips, Hardwick, Brian Calder, Marianne Linnell and Harry Rankin voted against sending a telegram to Ottawa in March, 1971, reaffirming the city’s zoning approval for the Four Seasons project.
As an alderman (1968-72), Phillips was consistently against the NPA position on planning and development. In the scoring that James Lorimer did in his “A Citizen’s Guide to City Politics” in 1972, he had Phillips voting 10 times out of 11 against the “property industry’s interests” on various votes.
There’s one interesting piece in this: “calling an extra-quick public tender on city-owned lands at Cambie and Georgia which a developer wanted to buy, May 16, 1972,” which was defeated 5-4 (Phillips et al opposed), the mayor being absent that day. I’ll bet that was Larwill Park.
Another one that seems like only yesterday: “Beautification of Pigeon Park in order to please the property investors and merchants of the Gastown area who thought that changes in the park would discourage young people and vagrants from using it, so apparently making life more pleasant for suburban tourists and shoppers, May 30, 1972,” won by a 6-5 vote, Phillips et al opposed.
I’d also note that Pierre Trudeau was Prime Minister, beginning in 1968, a year after the Centennial and Expo ’67 – the highpoint of Canadian optimism and confidence in the 20th century. Trudeau was also re-elected in 1972 (two years after the October crisis) but with a minority government in which the NDP held the balance of power.
In other words, in both Victoria and Ottawa politics had been pulled hard to the Left just before the TEAM majority was elected in Vancouver, where the right-wing NPA, which had dominated civic politics since the 1930s, was tossed out. Art Phillips – a West-Side boy, investment banker, with support in the business community – seemed so moderate by comparison, and consequently could get away with policies that might have seemed too radical if promoted by those on the Left. He and TEAM couldn’t easily be outflanked on the Right.
Indeed, the TEAM Council appeared relatively conservative and establishment to some of the young community leaders in neighbourhoods like Kitsilano, who, unleashed by TEAM’s commitment to local-area planning, made life unpleasant for City Hall with their demands for more community control of development. And then there was Harry Rankin and COPE much further to the Left, without the counterbalance of the NPA.
The TEAM council came to power in a Vancouver that ready for new ideas, directions and experiments, buoyed by the spirit of a youthfulness not soured by the tumult of riots, assassinations, war and Watergate that was roiling the United States.
Canada, however, was caught up in the social revolution that accompanied the civil-rights and liberation movements (along with sex, drugs and rock-and-roll), reinforced by the draft-dodgers migrating across our border.
It was an extraordinary moment, and we had a Mayor and Council at the time to take advantage of it. (Here, thanks to City Caucus, is Phillips’s inaugural speech in January, 1973.) They changed the direction of Vancouver, and brought in policies and structures for governing that have stood the test of time. Councils have shifted left and right of centre since then, but this city still lives in the era that began with Art Phillips and TEAM.
Pictures from the Art Phillips celebration on April 26, 2013.