Tom Baker wanted everyone to enjoy the Royal City to the fullest
By Lauren Kelly, Assistant Editor
The flag at New Westminster City Hall was flying at half-mast to honour Tom Baker, the city’s mayor from 1982–1988. Baker passed away on September 1 at the age of 83. He was surrounded by his family.
Baker grew up and started his family in Liverpool before they moved to New Westminster in 1968. Although they arrived with only $200 to begin their new life, not 10 years later Baker was sitting on the city council as an alderman. This was a drastic change from his previous career as a carpenter, but Baker wanted a role in helping to shape the city. New Westminster historian Archie Miller told the New Westminster NewsLeader that “He [Baker] was an ordinary, common man, but he wanted things to change from the routine.”
After four years of working as a city councillor, Baker successfully ran for mayor of New Westminster. During his six years in office, Baker revitalized New Westminster. He took every opportunity he could to draw the people in and have fun with them. He wanted everyone to truly enjoy and love New Westminster.
Baker was in office when Douglas College opened; when Expo 86 took place; Transporama, a transportation exhibition; and the city’s 125th anniversary. During Expo 86, he hosted additional events in the city, and for Transporama, he installed halls along the waterfront. He cared deeply about making the waterfront enjoyable for New West’s citizens, and worked to continue its transformation from a warehouse district to the pedestrian-friendly, beautiful place it is today.
He was also present to officially open New Westminster’s SkyTrain stations in 1985, greeting the inaugural train’s many important political passengers, including both BC and Ontario’s premiers. He told the crowd that day: “[The] SkyTrain is playing a vital role in the rejuvenation of New Westminster. It provides a new exciting transportation route into the Royal City.”
After retiring as Mayor, he ran in the 1991 provincial election for the city as part of the Social Credit party, but did not win the seat. After this, his family moved to Maple Ridge, where he ran for Councillor and won the seat without campaigning.
Baker’s daughter, Karen Baker-McGrotty, told the New West Record after her father’s passing that, “He was a man of the people. He was an incredible individual. He was a great contributor in the community.”
Baker will lie in state on September 17, and his funeral will take place the following day on September 18.