In celebrating their 25th year, Greenways Land Trust had a lot of good to look back on, however last year they also had to say goodbye to one of their own.
During the 25th anniversary Annual General Meeting, the Greenways board took a moment to pay tribute to their long-time president and founding member Ron Burrell.
“This year, we lost one of our guiding lights, Ron Burrell,” said Chuck DeSourcy during the March 17 meeting. “Ron was one of our early presidents, and was instrumental in getting Greenways firmly established as the environmental voice it is.”
Burrell worked as an operational manager at the Campbell River Forest District, but he was also one of the main faces at the Greenways Land Trust table for over half of it’s existence.
Board member Bob Dice said that “by my count (Burrell) was president for the first 12 years. At the same time he was chair of the Beaverlodge Trust Committee and for a short period he was the Rotary president. If he didn’t have enough to do, he ran two successful elections for mayor for both Mayor Nash and Mayor Cornfield. Ron was everywhere involved.”
Burrell’s skills as a facilitator were well used in the early 1990s, when the community was divided around the use of the Beaverlodge Forest Lands.
“His skills were honed when the excrement hit the fan after the city discovered that they were building roads and subdivisions on the Beaverlodge Trust Lands,” Dice said in the meeting. “The newspapers at the time reported an angry divided populace, some like the Friends of the Beaverlodge were for, but powerful interests were against recognizing the legality of the trust lands. Ron was instrumental in diffusing and resolving the situation.”
In more recent years, Burrell was instrumental in starting the work on the Greenways Loop, as well as starting up many of the programs that define the group’s work today.
Dice said that Greenways’ current president Sandra Milligan spoke when Burrell passed away in October, saying at the time that “He inspired me, but he also kicked my ass and said ‘we need to do something about that’, and so we’ve tried, and we tried, and now we keep on trying because he wouldn’t stop trying. For me, he’ll never be gone.”
The city recently announced it was naming a wetland near Jubilee “Burrell’s Bog” and Dice said that Greenways would be working on a “little outdoor education centre for kids” in the Beaverlodge Lands, which will be coming in the next few months.
“Greenways’ mission continues, and Ron has passed the torch to a new generation of inspired people. He’d be very proud of us. His was a life well-lived and he’s an example that is very much missed,” Dice continued. “He meant so much to the community and to our little organization, which is now a bigger organization.”