Duncan McMaster

Tofino honours local with Volunteer Service Award

“I’m honoured because this is a town that is full of volunteers,” Tim Webb told the Westerly.

A local lifesaver is Tofino’s most recent Volunteer Service Award recipient.

Westcoast Inland Search and Rescue members packed council chambers on Sept. 13 to see their society’s president Tim Webb honoured with the community’s highest volunteer accolade.

“It’s always a pleasure to have another community member join our esteemed volunteers that are recognized,” said Tofino Mayor Josie Osborne.

“We seek community nominations for people to be recognized for their hard work and dedication to the community and I’m very pleased to see Tim Webb in the audience as the recipient today…and it’s really lovely to see a lot of his colleagues in the audience as well.”

Webb joined WISAR in 1998 and has served as its president since 2000.

“He has contributed as a ground searcher, a rope rescue team leader and in grant writing and fundraising and other society administration,” Osborne said.

“He’s been a searcher or manager in numerous searches, rescues and recoveries in the last 18 years on the Coast as well as mutual-aid calls on the rest of Vancouver Island.”

Osborne read a portion of Webb’s nomination letter which, she said, captured Webb’s commitment to the cause and the benefit he’s brought to the West Coast.

“I can’t say it any better, so I’m going to read straight from the nomination,” she said.

“‘Tim is a methodical and patient mentor and teacher. For groups like inland search and rescue to function, it’s necessary to have steady, focused leadership and that is what he does. Tim works behind the scenes doing a lot of the unglamourous stuff while being a true leader who’s a humble and good humoured guy. It is an honour and privilege to work alongside Tim in this professional volunteer organization.’”

Osborne shared the letter’s sentiment and thanked Webb on behalf of council.

“Tim, it’s also an honour and a privilege for Tofino council to thank you and present you with a Volunteer Service Award,” she said. “Thanks for all your hard work and dedication.”

Upon receiving the award, Webb thanked his WISAR team, many of whom were in attendance, and said nothing he does with the organization is done alone.

He told the Westerly News after the ceremony that he was proud to hang the award in his office.

“I’m honoured because this is a town that is full of volunteers,” he said. “Everybody I know volunteers for two or three different things so to be recognized is special.”

He added Tofitians are quick to involve themselves in volunteer pursuits because they understand that, if they want something done, they need to get on it themselves.

“You have to really get in there and help make it happen,” Webb said. “And, once people start volunteering, they get a real community feeling about doing it. People feel good about volunteering.”

He said he’s enjoyed his time with WISAR, a non-profit society that provides search and rescue assistance throughout the West Coast and was just starting out when he joined in 1998.

“It’s a really good crew of people and it’s a lot of fun working with them,” he said adding the team has grown from about 12 to 30 members during his tenure and its membership crosses communities with volunteers from throughout the West Coast.

“Some organizations end up being very political. We don’t. We have a pretty simple mission. People want to do what they do in terms of helping people who get lost or hurt in the outdoors and we just get on with it. It’s a very practical, very down to earth, great group of people to work with.”

While WISAR is a big part of Webb’s contribution to the Coast, he also volunteers with Tofino’s emergency management program and spent six years on the Clayoquot Biosphere Trust’s volunteer board of directors.

He said the West Coast attracts and fosters locals who want to help their communities and everyone from lifelong residents to newcomers shares a willingness to contribute.

“Those sorts of people are attracted to where we live,” he said. “It’s a beautiful place and a special place at the end of the road [and] it goes across all members of the community; people that were born here and families that have been here a long time are the same as people who moved in more recently.”

Tofino’s municipal council launched the Volunteer Recognition Award program in April 2013 as part of a broader effort to recognize and reward locals who dedicate their time to bettering their community. Webb is the award’s 12th recipient since its inception.

He commended council for its effort to honour and encourage volunteers and said the award program increase’s the town’s visibility as well as the visibility of the various volunteer groups its recipients serve.

“It profiles volunteers in general in Tofino, which is great,” he said. “It’s good to recognize the people doing all these different things in the community and it also goes outside the community.”