Port Alberni has lost a gentleman, statesman and its staunchest advocate.
Alberni Clayoquot Regional District chairman Glenn Wong passed away suddenly in Victoria on Friday.
“Glenn’s life epitomized dedication to community, he contributed in so many ways – his public service on the regional district was only a part of his contribution,” an ACRD press release noted. “He was passionate and worked hard for Cherry Creek, the Alberni Valley and the entire region.”
Wong was an ACRD director for Cherry Creek since 2002. He was also a School District 70 trustee. Wong was attending the Union of B.C. Municipalities meeting in Victoria when he passed.
“Glenn was highly respected throughout the Union of BC Municipalities and was recognized for many accomplishments,” the release noted. “He loved the region and always expressed the values and virtues of our communities to the rest of the province.”
City Councillor Cindy Solda served as the city’s representative to the ACRD with Wong, and the two co-chaired the ACRD Hospital District. But she remembered him from before that.
“I remember when he worked with his mother at the old Sweet Shop in Alberni more than 30 years ago,” Solda said “We all change with time but he stayed polite, diplomatic and he kept a good sense of humour.”
Solda last saw Wong at the UBCM banquet in Victoria on Thursday night. “He seemed in good spirits and was being Glenn. I had no idea that would be the last time I’d see him because I didn’t see him on Friday.”
Wong loved the Valley and wanted to be a part of making things better for its citizens, Solda said. His diplomatic demeanour enabled him to cross political boundaries, she added. “In politics people either love us or hate us. But Glenn was held in high regard. He just had that way.”
Wong was diplomatic, knowledgeable and prudent but would wade into the fray when it was necessary, Solda said. “He wasn’t afraid to speak his mind and he was a big believer in not spending money if we didn’t have it but investing it with a mind for the future if we did,” Solda said. “He also believed in informing Cherry Creek residents and getting feedback about issues before making a decision.”
The loss brings to mind the death of another Valley statesman in 2011. “It’s going to be like when we lost Ike Patterson in 2011,” Solda said. “People are going to feel it because he was such a part of the community and cared for it.”
Wong was also a trustee with School District 70, where his loss will be felt profoundly, trustee Rosemarie Buchanan said.
“It was just such a shock when I heard about it this morning. His passing leaves a big hole to fill,” Buchanan said. “We didn’t always agree, that’s the nature of a public body, but I respected him.”
Wong was a staunch advocate for public education, especially for those who needed it most. “He lobbied the former forest minister (Pat Bell) to get wood for a woodlot program,” Buchanan said. “And he had a real soft spot for kids who didn’t fit in with mainstream classes. He wanted them to stay engaged and get an education.”
Wong was also a proud father who often lauded his daughters’ accomplishments to trustees, Buchanan said.
Wong was at the UBCM and didn’t attend trustees meeting on Tuesday night. “I remember his name plate was in front of his empty chair. That’s what I keep seeing,” Buchanan said.
Wong is survived by his two daughters, and by his partner Leanna and her two sons.