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Council to hear motion on memorial for Jim Deva

Vote expected to take place in two weeks, says Vancouver Councillor Tim Stevenson

Councillor Tim Stevenson (seen here delivering a eulogy for Jim Deva on Sept 27) says the late co-owner of Little Sister’s was such a pivotal figure and so engaged with Davie Street that it’s essential to mark his legacy in a significant way.  Credit: James Loewen

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson told city council Sept 30 that he is bringing forward a motion directing city staff to propose options for a site to be named after Jim Deva in recognition of his advocacy for LGBT rights, social justice and freedom of expression.

The notice of motion states that staff will work with Deva’s family, the city’s LGBTQ advisory committee, the park board and the civic-asset-naming committee to identify an appropriate memorial site.

Deva, 63, died Sept 21 after a fall at his Haro Street home.

Robertson had indicated he would introduce the motion at a Sept 27 celebration of life service for Deva held at St Andrews-Wesley United Church.

The motion states that Deva’s death led to “a remarkable outpouring of community reflection on his life and legacy as a champion for LGBTTQ equality, free expression, and social justice.” The city is grateful to Deva for his prominent role in shaping Vancouver and for his leadership and advocacy for human rights that resonated in Canada’s highest court, the motion reads. It also states that the city “is committed to building on Jim Deva’s legacy by continuing and expanding its leading advocacy for LGBTTQ equality, rights, and inclusion.” Councillor Tim Stevenson, who seconded the motion, says Deva was such a pivotal figure and so engaged with Davie Street that it’s essential to mark his legacy in a significant way.

“It seems to be really important that we move as quickly as possible to remember him in the Davie Street area.”

The motion directs city staff to explore the Davie and Bute plaza as a potential site to mark Deva’s legacy and the queer community’s contributions to Vancouver, based on the results of a recent consultation on the future of an “enhanced, permanent plaza” at that intersection.

The motion notes that the city-council-approved West End plan recognizes Davie Village as an important historical and cultural hub for the city’s queer community and identifies Davie and Bute as the heart of the Village.

Stevenson says other options for memorializing Deva will be investigated but says the Village plaza is “pretty high on the list,” pointing out that the late co-owner of Little Sister’s was involved in its creation. “With the rainbow crosswalks there, it seems really fitting,” Stevenson adds, noting that Deva had “lots of ideas” about how the site could be upgraded.

Apart from the Bute Street plaza, Nelson Park has been suggested as another possible option, Stevenson says, but notes that the park is farther away from Little Sister’s. Finding a memorial site that is geographically close to the bookstore is preferable, he says.

Stevenson told Xtra that a vote on the motion is expected to take place at the next council meeting, Oct 14, to allow for public discussion. If there are speakers, then the vote will most likely be held Oct 15.