William Grant Anderson laboured in the law, quiet, unassuming, confident and in an utterly professional way. His manner was unruffled, methodical, thorough, understated and always gracious. His eye to the law was almost invariably correct, his judgment sound, and his common sense acute. He had a general tolerance for disagreement and a sense of humour that he played below the surface like the fisherman he was. His practice of law was in the finest tradition of the profession – his clients respected him, sought him out and befriended him. His relationship with them extended to a foundation far deeper than the more modern veneer of, “cost efficient and effective legal services”. The news of his untreatable cancer was a tidal wave for those who loved him, and a mere ripple in his calm resolve to carry on and finish off. Strength was one of his defining characteristics.
Grant was an urban planner as well as a lawyer. Born and raised in Nanaimo, he attended UBC receiving a first degree in Geography. Subsequently, he migrated temporarily to Ontario to earn a degree in Urban Planning. After working for several years as a planner in British Columbia, Grant returned to UBC to obtain his law degree (1983). He articled initially at Harper, Grey, Easton and latterly at MacKenzie Lidstone. In 1987, he joined Ray Young and Jonathan Baker, as a founder of the present firm Young, Anderson.
Grant’s practice was exclusively in the field of local government law, and his background as a planner signalled a special interest in, and predilection for, planning and land-use law. He enjoyed both counsel work and solicitors challenges. As counsel over the past two decades, he argued many of the leading subdivision, zoning and planning cases in this Province. To my knowledge, despite his frequent court appearances, he was only once at a loss for words. Arguing on behalf of a municipality for damages against a defendant who had nefariously under cover of darkness cut down a dozen or so large trees in a City park in order to increase the view, Grant commented (off-handedly) in argument that the deed had been done on “Earth Day”. His Lordship (crusty and evidently hard of hearing) snapped, “Please get on with your case. I don’t see any relevance in that fact that it was his birthday.” Grant proceeded without comment.
Grant’s contributions to local governments in British Columbia, local government law, planning and land use law, and to municipal officers and legal, professional, and continuing education over the twenty years of his practice, was sustained and significant. His various recorded presentations, lectures papers and publications in innumerable professional venues, constitute an important and influential body of work, and his efforts in this regard display an unstinting dedication to his chosen field and to assisting all of the various different professions that play a part in making local government better in this Province.Grant was a golfer, an avid fisherman, and an incorrigible collector. He organized - truly organized - all that he collected. In that regard, it was never clear whether he collected because he liked to collect, or because collecting was a prerequisite to organizing. He did both in the same way he did everything – well.
Grant died on September 14, 2003 at the age of 51 – before he should, but prepared and ready as ever. .