Graeme Roberts, who was mayor of Nanaimo from 1984-86, died this month at age 89. (Photo courtesy Nanaimo Community Archives)

City of Nanaimo flags at half-staff as former mayor Graeme Roberts dies at 89

'Giant-killer' beat out Frank Ney in mayoral election in 1984

  • Jun. 15, 2021 12:00 a.m.

Graeme Roberts, who was mayor of Nanaimo when the city was proclaimed the ‘Harbour City,’ died this past weekend.

Roberts was mayor of Nanaimo from 1984-1986 and was the only person other than Frank Ney to hold that office during the 1970s and ’80s.

Nanaimo Mayor Leonard Krog issued a statement Monday, June 14, extending deepest condolences to Roberts’s family and friends.

“While we mourn the loss of Mr. Roberts, we also reflect on the legacy that he left behind as mayor of Nanaimo, which has helped make Nanaimo the spectacular Harbour City it is today,” said Krog.

In 1986, Roberts presented the Prince and Princess of Wales with a carved First Nations mask after the royals unveiled a ‘Harbour City’ plaque at Maffeo Sutton Park during Expo ’86.

Historian Jan Peterson wrote in A Place in Time – Nanaimo Chronicles that Roberts’s years in office were “heady times” in Nanaimo.

“The face of the waterfront changed through development. The revitalization of the downtown, begun in 1981 under Frank Ney, was completed in 1985. The lagoon park opened on the waterfront as did the seaplane terminal, and construction began on the Bastion Hotel. The city was moving forward…” Peterson wrote. “[Roberts was] proud of the small part he played in the city’s colourful history.”

Roberts lived in Brentwood Bay in his retirement but kept up with Nanaimo news and regularly wrote letters to the editor of the News Bulletin, weighing in on politics which he called “fascinating” and “absorbing.”

“I much admire and respect those who give of their time and precious family life to get elected and serve in public office,” he wrote. “In most instances [it involves] dedication and darn hard work.”

Roberts was a member of the B.C. Games Society board and numerous transportation-related boards.

City of Nanaimo flags will be at half-staff this week.

READ ALSO: Mayor recognizes 25 years of Harbour City

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