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Vancouver moves ahead with motion to honour Jim Deva

City council votes unanimously to ask staff to recommend options

The City of Vancouver’s West End plan displays photos of Davie Street’s new plaza and rainbow crosswalks and offers a dreamscape (left) of the heart of the Village. The Davie and Bute intersection is being explored as a potential site to memorialize the legacy of Jim Deva, who died Sept 21. Credit: City of Vancouver

Vancouver City Council unanimously passed a motion Oct 14 directing city staff to recommend a number of options for a site to be named after Jim Deva in recognition of his legacy of fighting for LGBT rights, social justice and freedom of expression.

The motion, brought forward by Mayor Gregor Robertson and seconded by Councillor Tim Stevenson, 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.

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.”

City staff have been asked to report back on consultation over the future of “an enhanced, permanent plaza” at the Davie and Bute intersection,” one of the areas being explored as a potential option for memorializing Deva’s legacy and the queer community’s history and contributions to Vancouver.

The motion notes that the council-approved West End plan recognizes the 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. 

Brian Jackson, Vancouver’s general manager of planning and development, told council that a significant majority of people surveyed as part of the West End planning process indicated support for a permanent plaza at that intersection. “We’ll be presenting a number of options, both in terms of what could be considered as a permanent plaza, together with the costing on the various options,” Jackson said.

City staff would likely be ready to recommend memorial options to council by February or March 2015, Jackson tells Xtra. “We’re not going to let too much more time go by, because we do want to get the work done as quickly as we can,” he says.

Stevenson welcomed the city’s bid to honour Deva. “This seems very fitting. We’re looking at various aspects that might be incorporated into this, [like] a museum-like plaza that talks about other people who have gone before us who also made huge contributions.”

Councillor Adriane Carr, who spoke in support of the motion, said it’s important for the city and council to honour in a public and lasting way the achievements and work of people who have made a huge, positive difference in citizens’ lives.