‘Whatever was going on, Wayne was in’: Reflections on Wayne Elliott’s legacy

·4 min read

Ask anyone in Pincher Creek about Wayne Eliott and invariably they will mention his absolute commitment to his community and how he always brought a smile to those he worked with.

The town is coming to grips with the sudden passing of Coun. Elliott on July 9 while camping with family in Saskatchewan. He was serving his fifth term on council after being re-elected last October.

Mayor Don Anderberg, who served with Coun. Elliott for all five of those terms, says Wayne’s political career started from a desire to do what was needed to help his community.

“Back in 2004, we only had one nomination for mayor and two nominations for council,” the mayor recalls. “So actually, Wayne stepped up to be a councillor — Wayne stepped up to volunteer and fill a void. Even before he was on council he was pretty involved in the community, especially in hockey and sports.”

“The big thing was he was always willing to volunteer,” Mayor Anderberg continues. “Pancake breakfasts, dunk tanks, coffee with the seniors — whatever was going on, Wayne was in. Wayne was a champion for the community. He was there and willing to do his part, however or wherever was needed.”

“He’s always been a solid member of council,” adds Coun. Mark Barber. “I was always so impressed with his dedication to the youth of our community and making sure the proper sporting facilities were available to our youth. Even before council, he was a solid community member. He was just one of those foundational members of our community.”

One of Wayne’s strengths was the optimism he brought to council discussions, which sometimes involved challenging topics.

“He was always a very positive influence on council,” says town CAO Laurie Wilgosh. “He always would take the positive opinion — he was never negative. That was one of his strong qualities.”

Wayne also made a point of getting to know the office staff, she continues, which usually involved coffee visits and dropping off candy and fudge he had made himself. His knowledge of the community and residents was also unparalleled.

“I don’t know how he knew what was going on in the community or who was involved, but he always did,” says CAO Wilgosh.

Some of the major initiatives Wayne championed in the community were the annual Jersey Day in February, representing the town at parades and events, and getting the Canadian Pacific Rail Holiday Train to add Pincher Creek to its list of stops.

“I don’t know how he got his contact, but he convinced CP to stop here,” Mayor Anderberg says. “We weren't a regular stop, but Wayne was pretty involved in getting that to happen. The reason Wayne was doing it is they provide money for the food bank. That’s why he did it — it was an avenue to take care of the community.”

Behind the scenes, the councillor was dedicated to being the best municipal official he could be, taking extensive training for the assessment and development review boards and serving as a panel member for the Oldman River Regional Services Commission.

Notably, he was one of the few officials in the province to have completed certification for the municipal official designation.

“A side a lot of people didn’t see was Wayne was pretty dedicated to the process,” says Mayor Anderberg. “I don’t think there’s many people in the province that have the municipal official designation — that took a lot of work for him to get. It’s like a university degree.”

Knowledge in both areas of community and government process made him a valuable member of town council over the years, though the mayor says it is Wayne’s personality and upright character that will be missed the most.

“Working together for close to 18 years, the basic thing about Wayne is that he’s honest with total integrity,” Mayor Anderberg says.

“The big thing was he never put Wayne before the community. He was a councillor but that’s just a title — he enjoyed the title but it wasn’t him, it was Wayne doing his thing for the community. And I never saw that waver over the years, ever. He always made sure we were taking care of people.”

From all of us at the Breeze to the Elliott family — our deepest condolences, and thank you for sharing your husband and father with the community. He will be missed.

Sean Oliver, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shootin' the Breeze

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