Remembering Dr. Brian Scarfe
February 2, 1943 – July 18, 2017
Brian Leslie Scarfe was born in England to academic parents who immigrated to post-war Canada, giving Brian the opportunity to pursue a rigorous education. Completion of his undergraduate degree in Economics at UBC took him on to Oxford as the 1963 B.C. Rhodes Scholar, where studying economics culminated with his D.Phil. Brian’s subsequent 45 year academic career, spanning four universities in Manitoba, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and British Columbia, included teaching, academic research, and administration. His academic writings can be found in learned journals, monographs, and textbooks. An early focus on macroeconomics shifted to resource economics in Alberta and B.C. Retirement brought relocation to Victoria where he applied his economic knowledge to B.C. issues such as the longstanding stumpage-royalty debate and the softwood lumber dispute. In “retirement” he continued to teach at the University of Victoria where he was a popular and valued teacher.
Upon hearing of Brian's death, Luca, a former student wrote "After being at University of Victoria, I continued my research work in Europe and kept contact with Brian via email. He was always helpful in answering to my questions or in serving as a reference. I was impressed by his spirit and by his passion for natural resources. As a passionate traveler and hiker, I was fascinated to hear him talking about his travels and his work in close contact with the nature. I can genuinely say that he inspired my study choices for my masters and PhD."
Brian believed that his economic analyses and input were valued and assisted in policy debate while serving the public interest. A Greater Victoria resident for the past 17 years, he more recently volunteered thousands of hours of professional expertise to the James Bay neighbourhood and communities beyond. As Chair of the Quality of Life Committee for the James Bay Neighbourhood Association (JBNA) Brian focused on how land use and environmental conditions impact the quality of life of James Bay residents, seeking answers on noise, pollution and accessibility.
Never one to shy from controversy, Brian led the JBNA Quality of Life Committee in an impact assessment of the cruise-industry on the community of James Bay. The project included five-pillars: a comprehensive residents’ survey, an air quality analysis, traffic volume studies, traffic noise studies and a cost-benefit analysis. This impact assessment continues to drive environmental related discussions regarding development of the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority Master Plan for Ogden Point. A preliminary analysis (in 2009) had suggested that the annual economic benefits to Victoria of a multi-ship cruise season were no larger than the annual economic benefits of the MV Coho. The resulting well-documented study confirmed the preliminary analysis, highlighting the marked differences in social and environmental costs to Victoria. The still-relevant March 2011 study is available at http://jbna.org/2011_cruise_ships_march.pdf.
The study led to an invitation to make a presentation at an international conference focusing on the impact of cruise ships in historic ports of the world. As one of two Canadians invited, Brian presented Victoria's cruise-ship experience at the World Monument Fund Symposium: "Harbouring Tourism: An International Symposium on Cruise Ships in Historic Port Communities" in Charleston, South Carolina in February 2013.
Brian was much more than an economist and a statistics wonk. He was a man of many passions, committed to sharing his extensive knowledge with his students, and an enthusiastic hiker and mountaineer. Extensive travel and a love of hiking provided Brian with experiences and lifelong memories gained in the mountainous regions of six continents. He never hesitated to share his love of high-level experiences and his unrivalled knowledge of the geography of the Canadian Rockies and Swiss Alps with family and friends.
A Service of Thanksgiving Celebrating Brian's Life was held at Fisherman's Wharf Park on Friday, July 21, 2017. Friends and family remembered love of family, love of community, and the commitment of his exploring spirit, a scholar and a gentleman in every sense of the expression. Brian took great pride in his four children. In his final months, he found great joy in being a grandfather, a role that he treasured. Our condolences to his wife Marg and family.