Bill Beard doing trail maintenance on the historic Athabasca Trail for the Alpine Club of Canada. (Photo by Trevor Willson)

Bill Beard doing trail maintenance on the historic Athabasca Trail for the Alpine Club of Canada. (Photo by Trevor Willson)

Revelstoke Senior Life: Building community by volunteering

Inspiring Senior: Bill Beard

Laura Stovel

Revelstoke Senior Life

While hiking up the Mount Begbie trail earlier this summer I crossed paths with Bill Beard and other Alpine Club of Canada volunteers. They had been assessing work that needs to be done at the Mount Begbie campsite, work that Bill will help with later in the season. Later, having tea with a friend in her late 80s, Bill’s name came up. She mentioned that he put up her Christmas lights and rebuilt a railing along the stairway off her back deck. “He’s very efficient and trustworthy. I was so thankful to have his help,” she said.

That’s just what Bill is like: lending a hand where needed, giving back in practical ways. This is his ethic and vision for a good community.

Bill was amongst the first volunteers to step up when the Revelstoke Community Response Network partnered with Revy Unstuck and the Revelstoke Women’s Shelter to form Revy Helps during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020. Revy Helps volunteers delivered food from the Food Bank, ran errands, shovelled snow and did other practical things for vulnerable residents. When the Better at Home program started up at Community Connections and Revy Helps folded, Bill continued to deliver Food Bank packages and is now a Better at Home volunteer.

He also serves on two boards: at the Revelstoke Museum and Archives and at the Revelstoke Community Forest Corporation (RCFC), a City of Revelstoke-owned enterprise established in 1993. As a retired forester, he is excited to see how the forest sector is adapting to new realities.

“RCFC has always been near and dear to my heart,” he said. “I had reviewed their management plans and was always impressed so when the opportunity came to join the board, I jumped at it.”

“I think that we’re in a big time of change with forestry here,” he said. “We’ve definitely moved away from the old growth dependency that’s been driving the forest industry for years. I’m encouraged by a lot of the younger plantations and younger forest types that have been reestablished after logging. The amount of growth in those areas is unbelievable, far surpassing anything I thought would happen. I always thought trees would be ready to log at 80 to 100 years but it’s a lot sooner than that. When we’ve gone out with RCFC foresters it boggles my mind how big some of those trees are after 50 years, even 40 years,” partly due to thinning practices.

“I hope that we always have a forestry sector here to some degree. We have a lot of potential here to create a different type of forestry than we had in the past. We have a lot better knowledge of what the caribou and other ecological needs are. Forestry can also coexist well with recreation by keeping the access open. It would be a shame for the forestry sector not to be there. I hope our community can see that and work towards that future,” he said.

For Bill, the volunteer spirit is part of what makes Revelstoke special. “One thing that has always attracted me to this community was the fact that it was a community. People are always looking out for each other. Revelstoke has changed a huge amount in the last little while. Some changes have been good. Some of the people who have come are really wonderful people, but others don’t give back as much as they could. I’m fearful that the community spirit is going to vaporize. That’s why I think that it’s important that people volunteer and help each other out. I hope we can keep that community spirit alive. That’s one of my wishes for the future,” he said.

READ MORE: Revelstoke students enter second year of Tourism Management program


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