Former Duncan Mayor Phil Kent presented with Freeman of the City Award

Former Duncan Mayor Phil Kent, left, is presented with the rare Freeman of the City Award by Duncan councillor Tom Duncan at a ceremony at City Hall on Dec. 2. (Robert Barron /Citizen)

Phil Kent, who served 13 years as the mayor of Duncan, was presented with the rare Freeman of the City Award at a ceremony at City Hall on Dec. 2.

The Freeman Award is given to individuals who have made a significant long-term commitment to service to the City of Duncan and its citizens.

Kent was one of many city citizens who were honoured for their work in the community at the annual awards ceremony.


“This Freeman Award recipient has given unselfishly to his community for nearly two decades, not only through his service on Duncan city council, but also well beyond his associations with the city,” Duncan city councillor Tom Duncan said when presenting Kent with the award.

Kent was first elected to Duncan council in 1999 and was the city’s mayor from 2005 to 2018.

He served on the board at the Cowichan Valley Regional District from 2005-2016 as a director and then as vice-chairman, and was also chairman of the CVRD’s Regional Services Committee and served on the Economic Development Commission, the emergency-preparedness committee and transit committee.

During Kent’s tenure on city council, many accomplishments, with collaboration and partnerships, were completed, and he also has a long history of community involvement, including taking the chairman position at the Island Coastal Economic Trust from 2008-18, and he continues to serve as vice-chairman of the Island Corridor Foundation.

“I don’t think I’m old enough to receive this award,” Kent joked.

“The word that comes to mind here tonight is service, and I have had the distinct pleasure to work with the firefighters, RCMP officers, members of St. John Ambulance and all the other groups represented here in this room over the years.”


Paul McCoy, chief petty officer second class in the Canadian Pacific fleet, was presented with the St. John Ambulance Life Saving Award by Mayor Michelle Staples at the ceremony.

McCoy is in his 33rd year with the navy, but he also works as a part-time first-aid instructor for the St. John Ambulance training centre in his hometown of Duncan.

On March 10, 2018, one of his students, 66- year-old Earl Morris , suffered a cardiac arrest during one of McCoy’s classes.

“It happened to Earl at the right place at the right time,” McCoy said.

“If you are going to have a heart attack, have it in a class where there are people fully trained and willing to help.”

The incident occurred as the class was taking a break and McCoy was in the hallway.

A student rushed up to him to say Morris had collapsed in his chair, was unresponsive and not breathing.

McCoy, with the help of another instructor and student, sprang into action and used their training and equipment to save the heart attack victim’s life.


McCoy, who received his first-aid instructor certification while serving on HMCS Calgary in 2007, has also used his training to save the lives of others during the course of his life and recommends first-aid training to everyone.

“The training gives you the tools and confidence to properly perform first aid,” he said.

“It could be you or someone else lying there the next time. If you knew what to do, you will be able to jump in and help.”

Reta and Otto Lachman received the 2019 Scroll of Honour at the ceremony.

The couple are well known at Providence Farm where they help out with the Farm Fashion program in which donated clothing is, for the most part, given to people in need.

Otto also helps with repairs around the building and does other odd jobs as needed.

The couple are also heavily involved in the activities of their church, helping with its meals programs and other events, and are active in many of the church’s renovation projects.

Otto has also been a Speed Watch volunteer and worked with Citizens on Patrol.

The couple also volunteers their time to wrap several gift baskets for many different organizations throughout the Valley.

Gerry Rees was awarded the Perpetual Trophy for Excellence & Sportsmanship 2019 at the ceremony.


At a young age, Rees was involved in various sports that included rugby, cricket and tennis.

He played rugby at a high level in Wales and, upon arriving in Canada in 1976, Rees became a prominent player for the Cowichan Rugby Football Club.

Rees was noted for his kicking abilities which earned him a tryout with the BC Lions.

In 1976, Rees began coaching and managing the Village Green slo-pitch team, and began coaching competitively in 1986, starting with the Silver Bullets, Meridian Foods and the Oak & Carriage Pub.

These teams reached unparalleled success under his leadership, and won provincial titles in 1992, 1993 and 1997.

Rees was the league president of the Cowichan slo-pitch league for 16 years, umpired for more than 30 years and was chief umpire for 12 years.

He also served on the board at the Cowichan Sportsplex and was president of the Cowichan Rugby Football Club for six years.

Judy Brayden was the recipient of the Perpetual Arts Trophy 2019.

Brayden’s main contribution to the Cowichan Valley arts community since she and her husband moved to the area in 2007 has been her support of local visual artists through the Cowichan Valley Arts Council.


Her passion and leadership saw CVAC rise into the top 25 per cent of art councils in B.C.

Brayden served in the position of president and past president many times from 2011 to 2018 and, during that time, she organized, installed and supported countless art shows.

She also was instrumental in helping arts and culture become a line function item in the Cowichan Valley Regional District’s annual budget in her time with CVAC, and spearheaded changes to CVAC’s annual youth scholarship program, helping it become a flagship program for the arts council.

“An artist and designer herself, Judy always led by example, always thinking and creating ‘outside the box’,” said Coun. Carol Newington.

“This passion, combined with her energy and enthusiasm, has significantly impacted the richness of the arts community.”

Six members of the Duncan Fire Hall, along with a number of their wives, received Long Service Awards at the ceremony.

They include retired captain Rick Starke and his wife Cathy for 35 years of service, Chief Mike McKinlay and his wife Tina for 30 years of service, Assistant Chief Wray Watson and his wife Kathy for 30 years of service, Deputy Chief Ron Olaussen and his wife Diane for 25 years of service, Captain Corky Adams for 20 years of service, and Chaplain Art Anderson for 20 years of service.

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