LOCAL GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENT HISTORY

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Arthur Wellesley Gray (1934-1944)

Arthur Wellesley GrayThe provincial government created the Department of Municipal Affairs in 1934, and appointed Arthur Wellesley Gray as its first minister (1934-1944). Gray led the ministry for 10 years until his death in 1944. During the early years of the department, the province was coping with the Great Depression and several municipal bankruptcies. In response, the government assumed some of the costs of welfare services (previously a local responsibility), enacted legislation that enabled municipalities to create and set aside reserve funds, and made changes to assessment provisions. The government also increased its supervision over municipal borrowing.

Gray began his political career as a city councillor in New Westminster in 1907. He later served as the city’s mayor (1913-1919). He was the president of the Union of British Columbia Municipalities from 1914-1915, and its secretary-treasurer from 1917-1933. In 1927, he returned to the mayor’s office and was elected to the B.C. legislature as a Liberal MLA. He held all three positions until his party won the 1933 provincial election and he became the minister in charge of the departments of Municipal Affairs and Lands.

Wells Gray Provincial Park is named in his honour.
 

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Sources

 
Bancroft, Wendy, et al. Union of British Columbia Municipalities: The First Century. Vancouver, B.C.: Granville Island Publishing, 2006.
 
British Columbia Archives.  "Mr. A.W. Gray".  Call number: B-06778.