The former mayor of Cumberland, Fred Bates, has passed away.
Bates was the mayor of the village for three terms ending in 2011, and previously served as councillor for the municipality for two terms.
He also served as a director on the Comox Valley Airport Commission, and as president of the Courtenay and District Fish and Game Protective Association.
His passing was announced in a Facebook post by his daughter Tracy Lavoie who said: “He was in a league of his own in every aspect and will be deeply missed by many.”
Former Comox mayor Paul Ives – who worked with Bates – said he was “a very kind, thoughtful and principled gentleman throughout.”
He added he enjoyed working with him and former Courtenay mayor Greg Phelps in their roles as mayors in the Valley from 2008 to 2011, particularly in work around developing the Regional Growth Strategy.
As one of the vice-presidents of the Fish and Game Club, Gail Eggiman worked closely with Bates for the last two years of his tenure as president.
“Fred was a great listener and receptive to opinions of others,” Eggiman said. “He was always ready to ‘meet for a cup of coffee and chat’.”
She said his goal was to enhance the club’s footprint by way of conservation projects, and through outdoor education and recreational sports. He had a vision of working with schools and colleges to create more involvement with youth. This year, the association worked with School District 71 to involve students in archery and fishing.
Bates was also the chair of the regional district and the regional hospital district. He received the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medal in 2012 for his work in local government, and for promoting stronger economic relations with central Vancouver Island and China.
Born in Cumberland in 1944, Bates left his hometown in 1969 to pursue a career in emergency medical services before returning in the early ’90s. He worked as a first aid attendant at logging camps, then became an ambulance attendant in Vancouver before going into management with the ambulance service.
He was inducted into the St. John’s Order of Canada in 1991, the same year he returned to Cumberland and became involved in local politics.
-With files from Scott Stanfield