Gary Robinson, a former Surrey city councillor who turned his own battle with drugs into a crusade for addiction services, has died at the age of 57.

Robinson passed away in his sleep Saturday morning, according to his wife Susan Sanderson.

He served on Surrey city council from 1987 to 1999, battling cocaine addiction while in office but ultimately getting sober. In 2006, he founded The Realistic Success Recovery Society, a series of recovery houses which have helped hundreds of men overcome their addictions.

Sanderson says her husband also leaves behind a powerful civic legacy.

"Saving Surrey Bend. Building ice rinks in South Surrey — he urged everyone to really look carefully at whether a development proposal made sense in the long term. Was it just going to feather the pockets of somebody, or was it going to make the community a better place?"

Former fellow councillor and current Liberal MLA Marvin Hunt didn't always agree with Robinson but worked closely with him over the years. He points to the South Surrey arena as one of Robinson’s indelible legacies.

“He leaned over to me and said, 'You know, this should really be an Olympic-sized sheet of ice,'” Hunt recalls. “I said, 'Well, you move it and I'll second it,' And that's what we have today."

A celebration of Gary Robinson's life will be held in late November.

With files from CBC's Dan Burritt