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Former Burnaby councillor Doug Evans dies

When longtime Burnaby councillor Doug Evans retired in 2005, he said he was looking forward to spending more time with his pin collection. - MARIO BARTEL/NEWSLEADER FILE
When longtime Burnaby councillor Doug Evans retired in 2005, he said he was looking forward to spending more time with his pin collection.
— image credit: MARIO BARTEL/NEWSLEADER FILE

Former Burnaby city councillor Doug Evans has died at the age of 84.

Evans had Alzheimer's disease for nine years and passed away Jan. 9 of a "superbug" infection in his lungs after being admitted to Burnaby Hospital just after Christmas with a bladder infection, said his daughter, Diane Evans.

"He just wasn't able to fight it off."

It's believed his immune system may have been weakened following three bouts of C. difficile contracted when he first ended up in the hospital in 2012 as a result of his Alzheimer's, she said, noting his health and care improved significantly once he was moved to Normanna Care Home later that year.

Doug is survived by wife Loretta, three daughters, five sons, 10 grandchildren and seven great-grandkids.

A public memorial is being planned to be held in Burnaby in early February, Diane said.

Doug was a Burnaby city councillor from 1990 to 2005, and had served as president of both the Vancouver district of the International Woodworkers of America (IWA) and the Vancouver District Labour Council.

"I remember him just always being happy to help anybody," Diane recalled. His focus during his years with the IWA was looking out for working people, protecting jobs and ensuring fair wages.

And he was generous. "In the summer when we were little kids he wouldn't just buy popsicles for us, he'd buy them for the whole neighbourhood."

His children would tease him for always being on the front line. As a city councillor, "people would phone him at home and say, 'there's a rat in my backyard,' and dad would go down to city hall and find the right department and say, 'you'd better go over there and take care of this guy's rat.'"

Even as a girl, Diane recalled, she'd be on hand watching her dad show his care for workers.

"He would love to just load us all up in the car as kids and we'd go drive down to a sawmill. He'd go in and check what was going on and what was happening with the workers," she said with a laugh. "We didn't mind, we'd sit in the car and he'd take us into the sawmills and stuff. We knew all the sawmills."

Doug's time in the union was when the forest industry was powerful and the jobs plentiful.

"Those jobs are gone, I know that broke his heart."

Burnaby-Edmonds New Democrat MLA Raj Chouhan became friends with Doug starting in the 1970s and '80s when he was organizing farm workers.

Chouhan recalled organizing a union meeting at the Carpenter's Hall in New Westminster. The room was packed with several hundred people and "the PA system didn't work," he said.

"When [Doug] came on stage he said, 'forget about it.' He was very loud. It was no problem for him to communicate with 400 people in the hall."

Burnaby Coun. Nick Volkow recalled that Doug's years on council included four years spent on the city's transportation committee with the late councillor Jim Young.

"Every time you'd go over a speed bump you were always reminded of Doug Evans. He was a big proponent of speed bumps to calm traffic in neighbourhoods," Volkow said with a laugh. "Most of them were put in under his watch."

Volkow noted Doug Evans' death came within a couple months of the passing of fellow IWA leaders and contemporaries Jack Munro and Don Jantzen.

"Doug was a member of the working class … He never forgot where he came from, he was a real advocate for working people."

wchow@burnabynewsleader.com

twitter.com/WandaChow

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