He may be accepting the award, but it’s the community of Smithers who should be honoured.
Those were the modest words uttered by Jim Davidson last week, on finding out he’s one of the recipients of the B.C. Community Achievement award.
Davidson, a former mayor and councillor, was chosen for the award for his works at enhancing the economic viability and sustainability of the town of Smithers, according to the B.C. Community Achievement foundation release.
“It’s quite the honour, but I think it starts with this community,” Davidson said of receiving the award.
But his dedication to volunteerism started long before his time on council, he added.
“The things that you do, there’s always other people involved. There’s always other people to give you the impetus, or the idea, or part of what you’re doing.”
For him, that person was his mother. Of anybody who deserves the award, it would have been her, he said, who’s done so much for this community, devoting hours and hours to volunteering.
“My whole family was into volunteering,” Davidson said.
Before his time on council, he was instrumental in organizing ties with the Fraser Valley Milk Grocers, essentially saving the dairy industry in the Bulkley Valley. Things were tough in the ‘60s, he said, but they made it through.
He was also very much involved in the Happy Valley School program. His son Ken had special needs and was unable to attend traditional schooling, Davidson said. Every morning Ken would watch his siblings get on a bus to go to school, while he remained at home.
“There just wasn’t any school for kids like Ken,” Davidson said. “So we created a school.”
Happy Valley School ran out of an unused classroom in Telkwa Elementary School with five or six students and was the precursor to the Smithers Community Services Association. Once that was established, Davidson began working with making it so Ken could hop on this bus like his siblings, as while he could still go to school he had to be driven in by his parents.
“Probably one of the big days of Ken’s life was when he was finally allowed to ride the bus,” Davidson said. “Can you understand the joy of being able to do what your brothers and sisters do? To go down, get on the bus and go to school, like the other kids do?”
That started his life dedicated to public service, Davidson said, who after that ran for council and later became mayor.
“I found council rewarding,” Davidson said. “That’s what gave me the opportunity to work with people. Council is really about your impact on people … what you do in this community.”
Some key decisions that Davidson said was afforded him on council was the sale of the ski hill. The hill, that Davidson described as a millstone, had debts, but it was also an integral part of the community. Another was the new town hall, that desperately needed replacing. Looking back on it now, he can proudly say that “we built that.”
But all those things aren’t about what he did, but what the community did, he said. The only reason they came to fruition was because the community wanted it and rallied for it, he alongside them.
More than anything else, Smithers is more than just a place to live, he said, it’s a community, and everywhere you look you find things going on that would be next to impossible without the scores of volunteers behind them.
“There’s a variety of things you can do if you wish, but there’s a core and the heart of it is the community,” Davidson said. “People are that community. It’s my community.”
This award truly belongs to the community, Davidson said, as Smithers is the kind of community that you can work with.
Whoever decided to nominated Davidson has decided to remain anonymous, BC Achievement Foundation Executive Director Nora Newlands said, who congratulated Davidson for the huge honour placed upon him.
It’s no small thing, she said, having your application put in front of a judging panel, alongside several hundred other similar applications. Being one of 36 in all of B.C. chosen for the award is quite the achievement, she said.
“It’s just phenomenal, the man has just been so great for our community, he has done so much,” Mayor Cress Farrow said. “He calls Smithers, ‘My Town’ and he really believes that. It’s like part of his family.”
The former mayor continues to come to council on occasion, Farrow noted, and council will be discussing the possibility of recognition from the town at a later date.
Davidson will be receiving his certificate as well as a medallion designed by B.C. artist Robert Davidson at a gala on April 20, along with all the other recipients.
“Each of these people has a remarkable record of enhancing the quality of life residents throughout the province,” Premier Christy Clark said in a statement. “Each truly deserves to be singled out and recognized by all British Columbians for their contributions.”