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A fitting farewell to Pitt Meadows mayor

Korean Air Force veteran Chang Hong and Mayor Don MacLean hold a certificated officially recognizing Gapyeung-gun as a sister city of Pitt Meadows at a council meeting in October. - The New/Files
Korean Air Force veteran Chang Hong and Mayor Don MacLean hold a certificated officially recognizing Gapyeung-gun as a sister city of Pitt Meadows at a council meeting in October.
— image credit: The New/Files

The City of Pitt Meadows will be naming a park in honour of Mayor Don MacLean, who will retire in a matter of weeks after serving seven terms on council.

City council said farewell to MacLean Tuesday at the last meeting with him at the helm.

The two-hour long session ended with a standing ovation for MacLean, who has been mayor for the past 12 years and on council for a total of 21.

“Your worship, your shoes will, of course, be impossible to fill,” said John Becker, one of two councillors seeking to replace MacLean.

“What I’ve always found so remarkable is, after two decades of service, the fact remains, that your eyes are always firmly fixed on the future of this municipality. You have left us with a vision and a process that looks to a city for the children of our children.”

Born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1948, MacLean grew up in Toronto.

He moved out west in 1971, eventually landing a job at Sharpe’s Agency, an insurance broker owned by former Pitt Meadows mayor Danny Sharpe.

With a mentor like Sharpe, it seemed natural for MacLean to dive into city politics.

He was elected to council in 1990, knocking a sitting councillor off his seat by 100 votes.

Deb Walters, the other councillor vying to be the city’s next mayor, wished MacLean and his fiancée Diane a safe journey as they set out to explore the world.

“It is because of your commitment to the job that we live in one of the finest cities in Canada,” she added.

Gwen O’Connell, who has served on five councils with MacLean, acknowledged she was responsible for his grey hair.

“We did argue about things, but it never left the chamber,” said O’Connell, who intends to remain MacLean Starbucks’ companion.

“Thank you for giving me advice ... even when I didn’t want it. I think you are going to miss the ability to give lectures whenever you want.”

Coun. Doug Bing told MacLean he would be missed as a leader, colleague and friend.

“You leave behind a remarkable legacy that we will all remember. You are leaving Pitt Meadows a better place than you found it and that, in itself, is a lasting tribute to your 12 years as mayor.”

Never at a loss for words, MacLean told the room he pinched himself daily during his inaugural term as mayor.

“I never lost the honour that I feel to be able to represent the people in this community,” said MacLean, who went on to thank past councillors, mayors and city staff, calling them “the best in British Columbia.”

MacLean also offered advice to the next council.

“Keep your focus on what’s important in life,” he said. “The torch is going to be passed. Remember the simple things, remember to take time from yourself, remember to take time for your family.”

MacLean wished he could shake the hands of all 18,000 Pitt Meadows residents.

“Because most of us don’t do the glorious things that hit the front page of the paper. But we do do the things that matter – we volunteer, we help our neighbours ... and collectively, when you put all those things together, that’s what makes a community.”

 

MacLean Park

A new park at the west end of McMyn Road in Pitt Meadows will be named after Don MacLean.

“Oh, and I’m not even dead yet,” MacLean quipped, when he learned about the decision.

It is set to open in 2012.

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