Former Courtenay councillor dies in sleep

Mike Holland was a community-minded lawyer who ran in the 2011 federal election

Mike Holland, a community-minded lawyer and former politician, died in his sleep late in the night on Easter Monday, April 2. He was 64.

Holland had lived in the Comox Valley since kindergarten when his air force family moved to town, though he spent his intermediate school years in Halifax. He graduated from Vanier Secondary, studied at UBC and opened a law office in Comox in 1985. He later ventured into politics, at the local and federal level.

Holland’s wife Carol has been “deeply touched” by calls and comments she has received. Many people have stopped to chat and give her a hug.

“I didn’t realize, and he certainly didn’t realize, the connections that he had made in the community,” Carol said. “It’s really been so wonderful and heart-warming. He would have been so pleased. That’s the very sad part – that he doesn’t know the impact that he had.”

Holland served part of a term on Courtenay council in the 1990s, after which the local Liberal party asked him to run as a candidate. In the 2011 federal election, he placed a distant third in MP voting for Vancouver Island North behind Conservative incumbent John Duncan — who retained his seat — and then-NDP candidate Ronna-Rae Leonard.

Carol said her husband’s proudest achievement, likely, was helping to lead a fight to save Glacier View Lodge and its complex care beds.

“He initially volunteered his time to find a way to stop the government of the day from taking over their assets without compensation, and attempting to get rid of the volunteers,” she said. “He just simply felt it was wrong. Because he took that step, that process was stopped, and they backed off.”

“He saved Glacier View,” said Starr Winchester, who was mayor of Courtenay when Holland served on council for part of a term in the ’90s. “Health care was the top of his list. He always felt we were not getting our fair share of the dollars, and he fought hard for that.

“He was such a kind person with a heart as big as a house,” Winchester added. “He demonstrated absolute integrity in all his dealings with people.”

She notes his “wicked sense of humour” could always make her laugh.

Carol recalls her husband taking daughters Laura and Rosemary door-to-door when he campaigned for Courtenay council.

In January, the couple became grandparents when Laura and husband Ian gave birth to a boy.

Holland’s involvement in the community was extensive. Along with council, he was active with the crisis centre, Rotary, Kinsmen, Glacier View Lodge and numerous boards. He received the George Muir award for courage, a citizenship award from the Town of Comox, a volunteer-of-the-year award from Glacier View, and a Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee medal.

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