Bill Reid received the Surrey good citizen award last week, and no one is more deserving.
He has been deeply involved in the communities of Surrey, North Delta and White Rock for more than 50 years, and at an age (78) when many people retire and spend time in other places, he keeps working to promote the community. He is currently executive director of Cloverdale Chamber of Commerce and sits on a host of volunteer boards.
In recent years, he has become Cloverdale’s unofficial ambassador, spreading the word about the community far and wide.
He is currently suffering from ill health and was unable to attend the event where the award was announced. His many friends hope this is merely a temporary setback, because his enthusiasm is infectious.
My first contact with Reid was when he was already deep into his community involvement. He had been the national president of the Kinsmen organization, a successful car dealer, and a Delta councillor, but in 1983 he decided to run for the Social Credit nomination in the two-member Surrey provincial riding.
He and Rita Johnston ran as a team. Johnston had been a longtime councillor in Surrey and was well-known, and had no trouble winning the nomination on the first ballot. It took Reid a bit longer, as there were several other candidates, but eventually he prevailed and took the second nomination slot. The meeting at the Cloverdale Community Centre was long and intense.
The two of them then waged a vigorous campaign in what was a pivotal election. The riding covered all of Surrey and White Rock, so campaigning was a challenge. The governing Socreds entered the election behind in the polls, to the NDP under Dave Barrett, but they ran a brilliant campaign and were able to capitalize on some voters’ doubts about the NDP.
Johnston and Reid were elected to represent Surrey, and defeated incumbent NDP MLA Ernie Hall and his running mate Carol Langford.
In 1986, the two of them and Jack Davis were the only sitting MLAs to support Bill Vander Zalm in his bid to become Social Credit leader and premier. He won, and both were named to the cabinet.
The Vander Zalm government had its share of problems, and Reid got caught up in some of them, and had to resign from cabinet eventually. But it didn’t stop him from pushing hard for projects in both White Rock and Cloverdale, the communities he represented (the riding had been split into three seats before the 1986 election).
He was instrumental in getting provincial funds for the White Rock promenade. It led directly to much of the development along Marine Drive, particularly in the area near the pier.
In Cloverdale, one of his projects was the B.C. Transportation Museum. Unfortunately, it didn’t remain.
Reid’s connections to Cloverdale led to involvement with the board of trade (now Cloverdale Chamber of Commerce ) and a host of community organizations, along with the antique mall. Everywhere he went, he promoted Cloverdale.
His wife Marion is an important part of his success. The two of them have made Surrey, White Rock and Delta better communities with their presence and their enthusiasm.
Frank Bucholtz is the editor of The Langley Times. He writes weekly for The Leader.