Though no longer in the local political spotlight, Jim Gillis continues to involve himself in the community in various ways. For instance, the 73-year-old volunteers with Project Watershed (PW), and engages in blind taste testings with his buddy and PW chair Paul Horgen.
“We make it perfectly clear that we’re not interested in any free meals,” Gillis said. “We’re having fun with it. It’s just one more way of promoting Project Watershed.”
The former Area B director of the Comox Valley Regional District is also a member of the Comox Valley Environmental Council, which is looking to host a fall workshop on water.
“Water, of course, has become a big issue. You can’t manage water without having a meter on it. We should even have meters on wells, just so people know how much water they are using. We’re so rich in water that people think it’s free.”
Before he was elected as the Lazo North representative, Gillis had a brief career with the RCMP, worked with airlines and colleges, and had visited a large chunk of the planet. The self-described “air force brat” lived in various parts of Canada. As a teenager, he joined the RCMP in 1961 but resigned in 1964.
His travel days began after working as a postmaster at the Cassiar asbestos mines. Gillis has crossed Canada, travelled throughout Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Latin America, Australia, Southeast Asia, India and the Far East.
He has worked at Dan Air in England, Ward Air and at CP Air, where he was a salesman in the late-’60s.
In 1973, Gillis worked for the National Film Board’s Challenge for Change project at Douglas College in New Westminster. He later became dean of continuing education at Kwantlen University College, where he served as faculty association president.
Upon retiring in 2002, he and his wife, Gloria Balazs, moved to the Comox Valley. When it appeared his new home was to be paved over with development, Gillis felt it was important to protect the lifestyle that attracts people like himself to the Valley. So he ran in the 2008 municipal election and narrowly defeated then-Area B director, Barbara Price. He retained his seat by acclamation in the 2011 election. He lost his seat in the last election to Rod Nichol.
Gillis has two adult children, as does Gloria. He also has a granddaughter while Gloria has four grandchildren.
This month, he travelled to Boston for a Commission for Environmental Cooperation (NAPECA) session, where he discussed PW and other Valley happenings.