Murray Zides was born in Poland in 1920 and immigrated to New Brunswick with his parents at an early age. His early education was in Saint John, leading to a B.Sc. in Civil Engineering in 1944 from the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton. He attended both Yale and MIT, receiving certificates in Traffic Engineering and City and Regional Planning, respectively. While at University, he was also a member of the RCAF militia.
Murray was the Director of Planning for the Province of Saskatchewan prior to returning home to Saint John in 1956. He was appointed Director of the Town Planning Commission of Metropolitan Saint John. After the 1967 amalgamation of the municipalities that made up the Commission, he was appointed Director of Planning and, ultimately, Commissioner of Planning and Development, from which he retired in 1985.
During his 29-year career in Saint John, he was highly regarded as a conscientious team player in the modernization of Saint John. Major urban renewal projects, city centre improvements, a new Harbour Bridge, and improved highway access were all undertaken under Murray’s guiding hand. These developments are still seen as a credit to the City. He also supervised the development of the Comprehensive Community Plan, which was a major undertaking for the time. This plan was effectively the foundation for much of the development in future decades.
Murray was one of the planning pioneers in Atlantic Canada. Early meetings of planners in the Atlantic affiliate comprised typically less than a dozen people—Murray was always a key participant. He was always ready to contribute to planning endeavors in other jurisdictions. He was part of the early network of planners. His 1956 application to Saint John had professional references from Humphrey Carver and Wilber Smith.
Murray was an avid supporter of the Institute. He was President of the Town Planning Institute in 1960-61 and editor of the TPIC News for five years. He was elected a Fellow of CIP in 1989 when the CIP National Conference was held in Saint John. More recently, the CIP 1997 Award for Planning Excellence was given in his name at the conference in St. John’s, Newfoundland.
He passed away at the age of 77. He was remembered also for his leadership and scholarship in the Saint John Jewish community. He was true gentleman and a credit to the profession.