Sandspit’s Duane Gould: half a century of public service

  • Nov. 19, 2008 7:00 p.m.

After 50 years of public service, Sandspit resident Duane Gould is stepping aside to let new faces in. Mr. Gould says he came to the islands in 1952 to work in the logging industry and by 1954 he was living in Sandspit and serving on a recreation committee that put on a movie every week and dances every month. In 1958 he became a Justice of the Peace and by 1961 he was elected as a school district trustee, a position he held for 25 years. He later held the position of regional district director for 15 years and various other positions in between. Throughout his time as an elected official, Mr. Gould says he took his role very seriously. He represented the entire community, even those who voted against him and with so many varied positions in the community, this is not as easy a role as some might think, he said. Mr. Gould, who had his 80th birthday on election day (Nov. 15), says he is pleased to see young people getting involved. But nobody does it alone, he says. “If you can’t solicit support from others, then forget it.” Elected people have to be responsible to taxpayers as well. “It’s all well and good to have ideas, but how you make them come to fruition is the thing.” Mr. Gould’s has seen a lot of changes in Sandspit. “It’s tough times. We’re down to half the population we once were,” he said. The community used to be an airport/logging town and now the airport is down to 5.5 employees and logging is barely holding on, he said. But the biggest change came in 1988 when South Moresby was turned into a park. That’s when the population of Sandspit really began to fall, he says. Mr. Gould remembers the work the community did to build things in the past. For example, he borrowed a Cat from the logging company he worked for and cleared the school ground. The community pitched in to build the school and the gymnasium and fought hard to get a health clinic built. Other Sandspit milestones he’s witnessed include the advent of BC Hydro availability in the 1960s, better telephone service also in the 1960s and the paving of the highway to town. He escorted her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth, the Duke of Edinburgh and Princess Anne around town on their visit to Sandspit in 1971, talking them into presenting trophies to winners in the local track meet. He also met Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau, Premier Bill Vander Zalm and ran into former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, by chance while he was fishing on the Deena River. More recently, he helped bring in the water system, the Coast Guard and the Sandspit harbour. Getting involved in local government has been very rewarding, he said. “It gives you the opportunity to get involved in things you’d never get the chance to be involved in a larger centre,” he said. “Mark me down as being dedicated to the democratic principle,” he says. He read the candidate’s submissions to the Observer with interest and is looking forward to seeing how the new committee works together. He’ll be watching to see which ones “rise above and steer a consistent course for the community.” He foresees more changes for Sandspit and anticipates even more absentee homeowners in the community, which will be a whole new challenge for leaders. Especially for a man who describes himself as being for “giving people decent jobs so they can buy a house and make a commitment to the community.”