A former City of Nanaimo environmental planner has died.
City of Nanaimo officials and friends confirm that Rob Lawrance died recently. He began working for the city in July 2001 and retired this past September.
“He died quite suddenly at a race,” Leonard Krog, Nanaimo mayor, told the News Bulletin. “He was quite athletic and healthy and pursuing all sorts of good activities. Very sad … he was a very private man, well-respected, well-liked, admired and a leader for the city.”
Dean Mousseau, city manager of development engineering and environmental protection, worked with Lawrance for 20 years. Lawrance was competing at the Sea to Sky Race at Whatcom County, Wash. May 29 and was running the cross-country/mountain bike portion when he had a medical emergency, Mousseau said.
Lawrance was very capable and very good at bringing consensus to a group, Mousseau said, who brought a “nice, calming influence and made everybody feel at ease.”
“We also played ball hockey for years and he was a fierce competitor,” Mousseau said. “He’s the type of guy you didn’t want to go into the corner with, so he sort of had this dichotomy to his personality where professionally, and other than in a competitive, athletic event, he was just big teddy bear-type guy everybody gravitated to.”
In an e-mail, Coun. Ben Geselbracht, said he was sad to hear of Lawrance’s passing and had the privilege of working with him on the environment committee.
“He was a dedicated public servant that was the main go to when it came to anything about the city’s environmental health,” Geselbracht said. “Rob made enormous contributions to the well being of our community and had his hand in everything from drafting important city environmental policy to working alongside community groups with shovel in hand restoring sensitive stream sides. My condolences to Rob’s family, he will be sadly missed.”
Lawrance also taught at Vancouver Island University and will be missed by the community, said Pam Shaw, a friend and VIU master of community planning director.
“Rob Lawrance was an amazing friend of the master of community planning program,” said Shaw. “He was a guest lecturer, a mentor. He was always helpful to students and so generous with his time and really had the job every student would like to have.”
Krog said city staff will gather to remember Lawrance on Friday, June 10 at 5:30 p.m. at Woodstream Park, 1555 Bay St.
“The fact that staff wanted to gather at Woodstream Park I think tells you the kind of regard in which he was held,” said Krog.