UBCM’s Executive and staff are saddened to hear of the recent passing of Gary Paget, a man who left an indelible legacy on BC’s local governments.
“Gary was well known to local governments throughout the province,” said UBCM President Jen Ford. “He was pragmatic and solution-oriented but had the gift of seeing the big picture on issues. He had a deep and long-term commitment to strengthening the framework that supports local government. He has been missed since his retirement, and now we will miss him even more.”
Gary was instrumental in the development of a local government system in B.C. that is based on concepts of autonomy, accountability, empowerment and collaboration. He was a long-time friend of UBCM, working consistently to strengthen the relationship between local governments and the Province.
In 1977 he joined the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and worked for four decades to help design policy mechanisms to address pressure points identified by local governments.
“We’re the interface between local governments and the province. We believe in local autonomy, and we provide tools for local governments to be autonomous, but at the same time we look at a broader interest,” he said when he was inducted into the BC Public Service Hall of Fame in 2014. He worked on the ground with communities and regions tackling the tough issues: governance, planning, intergovernmental relations, finance and infrastructure.
Over the course of his career, Paget was directly involved in the development of numerous building blocks of the local government system in BC, including the creation of the Community Charter and transformation of the Local Government Act; strengthening development finance; developing a new model of resource town governance; and multiple projects to strengthen regional governance and planning.
Dale Wall, a former Deputy Minister and colleague of Paget offered the following tribute:
“Gary was a wonderful public servant who had an enduring impact on this province through his brilliant work in creating new municipalities, developing innovative planning tools, improving the provincial government's relationship with Indigenous governments, building up the regional district system and mentoring a generation of planners and policy analysts. His work has certainly made B.C. a better place. Through all this, Gary was a delight to work with, as his creativity, enduring optimism, dedication to finding common ground between divergent interests and ability to see the good in virtually anyone made him a gifted problem solver and a wonderful colleague.”
His collaborative leadership approach at numerous boards and committees was only matched by his willingness to serve as a mentor and teacher to all who had the privilege of working with him.
Gary was awarded the Legacy Premier’s Award along with his colleague Brian Walisser in 2010, was inducted into the BC Public Service Hall of Fame in 2014, and was presented with a UBCM Life Membership award in 2018.