White Rock Mayor Catherine Ferguson speaks to the South Surrey & White Rock Chamber of Commerce Wednesday at Hazelmere Golf Course.

White Rock Mayor Catherine Ferguson speaks to the South Surrey & White Rock Chamber of Commerce Wednesday at Hazelmere Golf Course.

Ferguson to take over as executive director of Hospice Society

White Rock Mayor not running in municipal election

The mystery of White Rock Mayor Catherine Ferguson’s next career step is over.

The mayor – who has chosen not to run for re-election in next month’s municipal race – will instead become executive director of the White Rock South Surrey Hospice Society.

And she says she is looking forward to her new role guiding the organization, which provides emotional, practical and spiritual support to individuals, families and friends who are facing advanced illness or bereavement.

Ferguson’s appointment will be effective Feb. 1, on the retirement of current executive director Yvon Thibeault.

“He’s leaving some very big shoes to fill,” Ferguson told Peace Arch News Thursday morning, in announcing the appointment with Thibeault and society president Rick Singh at the Hospice House headquarters.

Ferguson paid tribute to the work Thibeault has done in three years as executive director, particularly in building awareness of the society, forging partnerships in the community and laying the groundwork for the 30 year-old organization’s next big step, building a planned hospice residence and supportive care centre adjacent to Peace Arch Hospital.

“I’m really excited to be going forward with the work that needs to be done,” Ferguson said, adding she feels she can use her own experience, and the many working relationships she has established in her time as councillor and mayor to the benefit of the society.

“We need to work with partners to be successful,” she said.

“I’ve always been a big supporter of the hospice movement since I first became aware of it in my mid 20s, when my mother died. I know first hand how important it is not just to patients, but also to families.”

The society now includes 300 volunteers, she noted, plus 10 paid staff, who annually achieve what it would take a private company millions to accomplish.

“It takes a very special person to care for people the way the volunteers do,” she added.

“I’m honoured to be chosen to be executive director – it’s important work,” she said.

“To be making a contribution to the community is something that’s important to me, because that’s who I am.”

Singh said Ferguson’s “profile, connections and commitment to the community” will be a great advantage to the society.

He said that although the board was aware Thibeault had been having discussions with a potential successor, they did not know who it was until this week.

“We were thrilled,” Singh said. “There was overwhelming support from the board. He was putting the society’s best interests first in terms of where the society needs to go, and we are very grateful for that.”

Thibeault said the appointment of Ferguson is particularly timely given the society is now moving into its 30th year with a major project – the residence and supportive care facility – on its agenda.

More details of that project will be released to the public at the society’s AGM, Tuesday Oct. 25, 7 p.m. at Mount Olive Lutheran Church, 2350 148 St., he said.

Although Thibeault told Peace Arch News “nothing is set in stone,” a verbal commitment from Fraser Health staff indicates that it plans to make land available for the project, which would allow the society to realize more capital from sale of its current properties on Russell Avenue.

An earlier plan to build the facility on the current three parcels was judged to be premature, Thibeault said,

“It’s a three- to five-year project that is going to require a lot of work,” he said, adding that he is passing on to Ferguson his vision of a hospice facility that provides a high profile focus to the organization, as well as maximizing usable space for more residential care and support.

“We don’t have the space,” Thibeault said. “This place is bursting at the seams.”

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Ben Tyler was working on a Nicola area ranch when he disappeared. File photo
Ben Tyler was working on a Nicola area ranch when he disappeared. File photo
Police believe missing Merritt cowboy was the victim of homicide

Two years after he went missing, Ben Tyner’s family makes video plea for information

A memorial remains near the site of where South Surrey mechanic Paul Prestbakmo was killed in August 2019. (Tracy Holmes photo)
Pixabay image
Surrey recovers 29,000 jobs it lost to pandemic

That’s according to Surrey Board of Trade’s fifth Surrey Labour Market Intelligence Report on COVID-19

Desmond Tompkins helped curate and host a youth art show at the South Surrey/White Rock Learning Centre. (Contributed photo)
South Surrey/White Rock Learning Centre art show highlights ‘diverse perspectives’

With COVID-19 protocols in place, youth art show underway

Crews with Discovery Channel film as an Aggressive Towing driver moves a Grumman S2F Tracker aircraft around a 90-degree turn from its compound and onto the road on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. It was the “most difficult” part of the move for the airplane, one organizer said. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: Vintage military plane gets towed from Chilliwack to Greater Victoria

Grumman CP-121 Tracker’s eventual home the British Columbia Aviation Museum on Vancouver Island

The shirts sell for $45, with 30 per cent of proceeds from each sale going to Battered Women’s Support Services in Vancouver. (Madame Premier/Sarah Elder-Chamanara)
Canadian company launches ‘hysterical’ T-Shirt to combat health officials’ use of word

A partnership with Tamara Taggart will see women broadcast the word on a T-shirt or tote bag

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

ICBC has seen savings on crash and injury claims in the COVID-19 pandemic, with traffic on B.C. roads reduced. (Penticton Western News)
ICBC opens online calculator for rate savings starting in May

Bypassing courts expected to save 20% on average

(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
16% boom predicted for B.C. real estate sales in 2021: experts

Along with sales, the average price of homes is also predicted to rise, by nearly 8 percent

The trial of Harry Richardson began Monday at the Nelson courthouse. File photo
Trial of man accused of shooting RCMP officer in West Kootenay in 2019 begins

Harry Richardson is facing five charges in a Nelson courtroom

FILE – Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivers his opening remarks at a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Tuesday, January 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine CEO ‘very, very clear’ that Canada’s contracts will be honoured: Trudeau

Trudeau says he spoke to Moderna CEO on the morning of Jan. 26

Brad Windsor has been an advocate for years to get sidewalks installed along Milburn Drive in Colwood, but to no avail. He wants city council to commit to making Milburn a priority lane for sidewalk construction in the future. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)
VIDEO: Dramatic crash caught on B.C. home security camera

Angry residents say video highlights need for sidewalks in B.C. residential neighbourhood

An independent review is underway at the Royal BC Museum after employees called out systemic, individual racism at the institution. (Twitter/RBCM)
Royal BC Museum faces allegations of systemic racism, toxic work environment

Formal investigation, survey and training launched at museum

Most Read