British Columbia loses a champion for the environment: Jim Walker (1942-2017), former Assistant Deputy, BC Ministry of Environment

Note to Reader:

James H. C. (Jim) Walker trained as a fisheries scientist in New Brunswick, was widely known for his expertise in wildlife management and land use management. In his 28 years of public service, he held senior positions with the provincial government, including manager of habitat protection, director of wildlife, and assistant deputy minister in charge of fish, wildlife and habitat protection.

He was a respected leader in helping to develop and deliver a number of high-profile provincial initiatives, including the Forest Practices Code, the Muskwa-Kechika management area, the Tla-o-qui-aht land use plan, the grizzly bear strategy, biodiversity strategy, B.C. Trust for Public Lands, Vancouver Island marmot foundation and many more.

Photo Credit: Nature Trust of British Columbia

Photo Credit: Nature Trust of British Columbia 

“Jim Walker was a giant for the environment” – Eric Bonham

“I attended the Celebration of Life for Jim Walker last Wednesday in Victoria at the Uplands Golf Club. An incredible turn out with many familiar faces present,” wrote Eric Bonham, a former Director in two provincial ministries – Environment and Municipal Affairs; and a founding member of the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC.

“I got to know Jim well when I was manager of the Urban Salmon Habitat Program (USHP), and indeed, they are very positive memories. Jim was ‘one of a kind’ and in his 4_Eric Bonham_120pcapacity as Assistant Deputy Minister of the Fish, Wildlife and Habitat Protection Branch he was an exceptional individual and leader.

“There was never any doubt in Jim’s mind of the importance of defending and promoting  ecological integrity and the need for a long term vision to protect fish and wildlife throughout the province and beyond.

“A good example was his leadership in bringing back the Vancouver Island Marmot population from almost extinction to what is now a rapidly recovering species. Many other examples of projects throughout the province that Jim initiated were presented by colleagues at his Celebration of Life.

“He was also very supportive of his staff and was prepared to challenge politicians when he considered this to be necessary.

“John Cashore, who was Minister of the Environment in the Harcourt days was present at the event and gave an excellent talk on working with Jim whom he much admired for his passion and integrity. To quote Cashore:

‘Jim thought outside the box and was prepared to firmly argue against policies that did not take into account fair consideration and protection of the environment’.

“In retirement Jim was still actively involved in many projects and was always very generous with his time, whether it be framing a policy issue for government consideration or providing support to a particular stewardship initiative in the province.

“He was a giant for the environment and will be sorely missed by all who knew him. The same Jim will be warmly remembered by his colleagues and friends as someone who equally enjoyed sharing a beer and a chat at the local pub.

“I am still struggling with the reality that the rascal is no longer with us ! A sad loss of a sincere champion for the environment. Jim’s secret was that he could handle those of whatever rank who did not agree with him deftly, and with respect, often aided by his timely wit,” concluded Eric Bonham.

To Learn More:

Download The chandelier in the Forest, an article by Jim Walker that was published in the Vancouver Sun, August 2013.

Download a Tribute to Jim Walker as published by The Nature Trust of British Columbia on June 28, 2017.

Download Obituary: Jim Walker recalled as a fighter for the environment to read an article published in the Victoria Times-Colonist newspaper on July 4, 2017.