Longtime mayor honoured for lifetime of service

This Saturday, the Cowichan Valley will honour Duncan’s Mike Coleman with a Lifetime Achievement award as the Duncan-Cowichan Chamber of Commerce holds its 18th annual Black Tie Awards.

Coleman has practiced law in Duncan since 1969.

He primarily practises in the Supreme and Provincial courts of B.C., he said, and in fact was duty counsel the week the Citizen contacted him.

He served as Mayor of Duncan for more than 20 years, as well as being elected President of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.

He also served a long term as trustee of the B.C.’s Municipal Finance Authority and has held many posts connected with the legal profession.

Coleman was awarded the honorary designation of Queen’s Counsel, and is also a Freeman of the City of Duncan.

He said he’s "delighted" to be recognized by the Chamber but, still active in his profession, doesn’t look on it as an award to crown a career that’s drawing to a close.

"There’s no rearview mirror here," he laughed, "Actually, it came out of the blue. I was surprised but it was very pleasing." Coleman was also part of the group that started the Cowichan District Hospital Foundation and he’s been active in trying to get a permanent memorial for the Valley’s famous painter, E.J. Hughes.

"That’s still ongoing. We’ve got a number of applications out to various foundations. We’re waiting for them to come in," he said, adding that he thought Hughes and Emily Carr and Jack Shadbolt and Tony Only are probably the top recognized B.C. artists internationally.

Coleman also likes to look back on his work in helping get the Hiiye’yu Lelum Friendship Centre going.

"The development of that has made a significant difference," he said.

"Also, in terms of municipal government, the local bus service was pretty significant, too. That took a lot of work to get in place and it was an uphill battle against some pretty entrenched positions," he said.

"But we finally got it done. I think that was a really progressive move. Those are the things that I look at and I’m most happy happy about."

At the national and international level, he’s also proud of his work over the years.

"From this small perch on Vancouver Island, I’ve been able to make a difference. That’s what I think public service is all about: making a difference," he said.

Coleman is also known for his interest in politics and poetry. He and his wife Barbara have three adult sons: Charlie, Ted and Jamie.

The Black Tie Awards also recognize excellence both in business and volunteerism.

Winners will be announced in the categories of business achievement of the year in companies with 20 or more employees, 11-19 employees, and one to 10 employees plus customer service, young entrepreneur, art in business, green business and volunteer of the year.

Adding to the excitement, the glamorous affair is being held at Brentwood College’s Crooks Hall this year.

The elegant evening begins at 5:30 p.m. and includes a banquet and a silent auction as well as the awards ceremonies themselves.