Kanata developer Bill Teron dead at age 85

Kanata developer Bill Teron dead at age 85

Ottawa developer Bill Teron, who played a major role in shaping the community of Kanata, has died at age 85.

Teron had been receiving care at the Queensway Carleton Hospital in recent weeks and died Monday. 

Known as "the father of Kanata," Teron was born in Manitoba and made a name for himself as an award-winning urban planner, philanthropist and Order of Canada recipient.

He moved to Ottawa in 1951 at the age of 18. 

Locally, he is known for building the Talisman Hotel and several communities including Kanata's residential Beaverbrook community, McKellar Park, Lynwood Village and Qualicum-Graham Park.

"In 1970 his decision to turn over derelict industrial lands in Toronto to the federal government at cost in return for a commitment to create a public park inspired the 1972 announcement of Harbourfront by [former] prime minister Pierre Trudeau — a decision that had a major impact on the city," reads an online obituary posted Tuesday.

'He was a real visionary'

Kanata North Coun. Marianne Wilkinson was among those grieving his loss Tuesday, and said Teron was an inspiration to her as a city leader.

"Bill's concepts are what changed my entire life," she said in an interview.

"He took his visions — and he was a real visionary — but he took them in practice. So often visionaries just have the ideas; they don't actually make them work. And he was dedicated, absolutely, to doing that. And he was like a bull in a china shop if you disagreed with him. He really saw the merit of it. So you had to work through it to make sure we could make it happen."

She praised his focus on community in his designs, and on giving each neighbourhood a distinct core character.

"The concept is so good that 50 years later, people moving in grasp [that idea]. And that's not something you always see in communities," Wilkinson said.

'No longer suffering'

"I'm glad he's no longer suffering. He did live a long life and a very, very full life. He achieved so much. If we could achieve just five per cent of what he did then I think we can be successful people."

The councillor has already reached out to Teron's widow about organizing a community event in the months to come to honour his legacy. 

Mayor Jim Watson said Tuesday that Teron would occasionally call his office to offer advice on city issues.

"It's a great loss to the community and that legacy will last on as [a] good planning example, setting the gold standard," Watson said. 

Ties to former PM Trudeau

In 1973, then prime minister Pierre Trudeau asked Teron to serve as president of the Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation, and later became the corporation's chairman. He also served as secretary deputy minister in the Ministry of State for Urban Affairs.

"At CMHC, he was especially proud of the assisted home ownership program, assisted rental program, rural and native housing, programs for non-profit and co-op housing, and the inner-city redevelopments in Montreal, Quebec City, Granville Island in Vancouver, and Marketplace in Saint John," reads the obituary.

The acclaimed developer and designer earned a host of awards over his lifetime, including a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal and a Doctor of Laws honoris causa from Carleton University. He was also a founding trustee of the National Arts Centre in Ottawa.

Teron is survived by his wife, Jean, his four children, his sister, and seven grandchildren. 

The family is holding a private memorial and interment for Teron at Pinecrest Cemetery and are asking those who wish to honour his memory to make a donation to the Queensway Carleton Hospital Foundation.