Longtime city councillor Bruce McDonald was named Citizen of the Year at this year’s Delta Chamber of Commerce Hats Off to Excellence Awards.
McDonald was among the seven winners honoured during the 71st annual awards gala at Tsawwassen Springs Friday night (Nov. 18). The awards, which have been presented since 1951, highlight the outstanding contributions of the business community in Delta and the Tsawwassen First Nation, and recognize business and community leaders from a wide range of backgrounds.
McDonald was first elected to Delta council in 1988 and went on to serve nine terms before retiring last month. Over his decades in office, McDonald worked on every municipal committee and commission and served as Delta’s representative at Metro Vancouver on a number of occasions.
McDonald and his wife, Barbara, have been Delta residents for over 50 years, raising their three children in North Delta. In addition to serving on council, his professional experience includes 41 years in air traffic control, both as an operational controller and senior manager.
“When our nominations committee received Bruce’s name back in September, highlighting the accomplishments he has accrued and the number of ways in which he has served throughout Delta, the committee members recognized Bruce was an excellent choice for this award,” Delta Chamber of Commerce executive director Jill McKnight said in a press release.
In a video shared with gala attendees, Mayor George Harvie described McDonald as having enjoyed a “phenomenal political career” in addition to his active volunteerism in Delta’s sports community as a football referee.
“When you look at major happenings in Delta, our things that we’re so proud of, when you look into the history of how those actually got formed and approved and worked on, Bruce McDonald’s name has always been there,” Harvie said.
“Bruce is well known for his common-senses approach to everything and working hard to achieve what is best for the City of Delta.”
Coun. Dylan Kruger described McDonald as “capable, compassionate and a real leader” who made time to mentor his fellow councillors.
“Bruce is an incredibly insightful individual, a walking encyclopedia. I can’t remember how many times we’d be sitting in council meetings and an idea would come forward and Bruce would be able to say, ‘Well, you know, we tried that in 1988 and it didn’t quite work out so well and here’s why.’ [He is] very quick of the cuff, knows his history very well, and really brought that depth of experience to his role on council.”
Kruger said McDonald’s legacy includes several decades of good governance, voting in support of Delta residents and community service groups, and of “really having that compassion for people in need in our society.”
Former school trustee Laura Dixon, who also recently retired after five terms on Delta’s board of education, spoke of meeting McDonald in 1999 while advocating for the North Delta Family Resource Centre and praised his longtime commitment to supporting children, youth and families throughout Delta, noting his “impact on the community will be long-lasting.”
“I went to Bruce because he was always the councillor with the most common sense,” Dixon said. “Being an air traffic controller, he knew how to stay calm in a crisis and he knew how to keep an eye on many moving parts, but what was most evident was Bruce’s caring for people in the community.”
In his acceptance speech Friday night, McDonald said he was grateful for the honour, joking, “I don’t really know who you were talking about [in the video].”
“I have had an opportunity that very few people have, over many years,” he said. “I really appreciate the fact that the people of Delta opted to keep me on board and not let me retire, but this year I’ve had a few challenges and as much as I would really love to be part of Mayor Harvie’s team, it wasn’t possible for the next four years to make that choice.”
“When we first came here, I said, ‘I believe that Delta is the best part of the best part of the best part of the world, and we have an obligation to keep that.’ And I believe we have,” he continued.
McDonald closed his speech by again thanking the gala’s attendees and organizers before wishing good luck to the new city council elected last month.
“If you want any advice,” he said laughing, “you can give me a call.”
Awards were also handed out in six other award categories: Rising Star, Small Business of the Year (one to 10 employees), Medium Business of the Year (11-49 employees), Large Business of the Year (50+ employees), Community Impact and Business of the Year.
Winners of the 71st annual Hats Off to Excellence Awards were WenPlastics (Rising Star), Tsawwassen Wellness Centre (Small Business), Raven Excavation (Medium Business), Ideal Welders (Large Business), Delta Farmland and Wildlife Trust (Community Impact) and Evolution Group of Companies (Business of the Year).
Other award finalists were No BS Repairs Technologies Inc. and Ladner Village Arts & Crafts (Rising Star), Sonia’s Flowers and NoMiNou Designs (Small Business of the Year), Jordair Compressors Inc. and Vancouver Mobile Dressing Rooms Ltd. (Medium Business of the Year), Pure Sunfarms/Village Fresh Farms and Que Pasa Foods (Large Business of the Year), Delta Community Foundation and Hummingbirds Rising Consulting (Community Impact), and Luxton Construction Inc. and Walker Heavy Duty Ltd. (Business of the Year).