On behalf of all the Board, staff, volunteers and participants at Providence Farm we congratulate you Jim for your life-time achievement award. As the Chairman of Providence Farm we rely on your incredible administrative experience and insight, to keep us moving forward and we are deeply appreciative of your compassion for our participants and for the work we do.
This is a great honour and the community in North Cowichan is a wonderful place because of your efforts over the years.
The Duncan Cowichan Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce that the Lifetime Achievement Award for 2016 goes to Jim Dias. Mr. Dias is being honoured for significant and lasting contributions to Cowichan during his time as Chief Administrative Officer for the Municipality of North Cowichan, and for his volunteer work in the community.
Jim Dias was central to negotiations to acquire land for Chemainus Lake Park, Cowichan Sportsplex, the site for a new secondary school, Vancouver Island University, and Evans Field on Somenos Road. He was also involved in negotiations to relocate the Cowichan Exhibition to Mays Road. He and his staff oversaw the construction of the new Aquatic Centre and Evans Field. He helped found the Cowichan Old Hustlers Hockey Association, coached kids’ sports, is an active Rotarian, and a Director of Providence Farm. “Jim worked with multiple parties to build, shape or improve many public facilities throughout North Cowichan,” says Chamber President Julie Scurr. “As a result, thousands of people enjoy accessible, modern facilities every day. He’s been a longtime volunteer and leader in non-profit organizations and in sports. We’re delighted to present him with the Lifetime Achievement Award.”
The Award will be formally presented at the 20th Black Tie Awards Banquet and Auction on April 9, 2016. Lifetime Achievement Award recipients are selected by the Chamber President in consultation with the Board, and the previous year’s recipient. Bill Keserich received the Award in 2015, and will introduce Mr. Dias this year. Awards in all other categories will also be announced and presented that evening. (Scroll down for a biography of Mr. Dias.) The Black Tie Awards celebrate excellence in business, volunteerism, environmental practices, and art. To see the criteria, to nominate online, or download a nomination form to print, go to www.blacktieawards.com. Nominations are open until midnight January 31, 2016. Ken Lavigne and Daphne Goode will co-host the 20th Black Tie Awards on April 9, 2016 at Brentwood College School.
The strength of a community is the diversity it brings … from young to old, married, or single. And a vibrant local economy is critical to attracting young families. Jim Dias Jim Dias and his family moved to Cowichan in 1961 and Mr. Dias graduated from Cowichan Secondary in 1967. He worked for a year, before moving to the Lower Mainland to attend the British Columbia Institute of Technology. Despite having his initial application turned down, Mr. Dias persisted. After three meetings with the Dean, he was accepted into the Business Technology program. “I think I wore him down,” smiles Mr. Dias. But his instincts were correct, and in 1970, he graduated at the top of his class and was awarded the T. Eaton Award for outstanding academic achievement. Mr. Dias married Maureen in 1971. She is a retired Registered Medical Laboratory Technologist. The Dias’ have two sons. The oldest, Ryan, lives in Mill Bay with his wife Holly and their three children. Ryan is the Parks Operations Superintendent with the Cowichan Valley Regional District (CVRD), and his wife Holly is a private business owner. Son Shawn lives in Morden, Manitoba with his wife Megan and their two children. Shawn is the Parks Manager for the City of Morden and Megan is an Educational Assistant. Jim and Maureen moved to Victoria in 1971 where he worked in sales and the banking industry before taking a job with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs. While there, he connected regularly with municipalities throughout the province. However, he felt a disconnect between the policies he was delivering, and their on-the-ground impact and implementation. So in 1974 he applied for, and was hired as, the Purchasing Clerk with North Cowichan. Shortly after, he became the Deputy Municipal Clerk, was promoted to Municipal Clerk in 1985 and in 1991 became the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO). Mr. Dias’ career spanned 36 years at the Municipality of North Cowichan, from 1974 until his retirement in 2010. In 2011, he was conferred with the title of Freeman of the Municipality of North Cowichan for “playing a role in the shaping of North Cowichan”. In particular, the title recognizes Mr. Dias’ work in Cowichan Place negotiations that resulted in the new location for Vancouver Island University (VIU), the Mays Road location for the Cowichan Exhibition, the Evans Park sports field on Somenos Road and a location for the potential new Cowichan Secondary School, adjacent to VIU.
These projects required deep negotiation and collaboration with multiple parties. “You have to drill down and understand [everyone’s] interests.” He strives for decisions that have the widest community benefit. “I believe I see the big picture and the consequences of actions. I strive to be more than a good listener, and actually hear what they are saying, and then integrate those things into the decision.” Mr. Dias assisted with the oversight of the construction of the Aquatic Centre. Completed in 2008, the Centre has earned three awards: - 2009/10 Recreational Facilities Association of British Columbia Bill Woycik Outstanding Facility Award for all round excellence; - 2010 Honoured by the British Columbia Recreation and Parks Association for fitness programming; and - 2011 American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers Technology Award for new buildings. Mr. Dias emphasizes the Aquatic Centre’s diversity and value to all age groups and interests, “The benefits the Aquatic Centre provide for the community are profound. Kids are learning to swim, fitness facilities are first class, there are seniors’ programs - it’s busy from morning till night”. Mr. Dias supported the Crofton Community Planning Committee during the development of the Crofton Waterfront Plan and oversaw the establishment of the first two phases of the Crofton Sea Walk. He also administered the transfer of ports ownership and management from the federal government to North Cowichan, which brought federal monies to the municipality. Mr. Dias oversaw the negotiations for, and construction of, the Chemainus Tri-Safety Building. Completed in 1994, it was the first facility of its kind - housing the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, BC Ambulance Service and the North Cowichan Volunteer Fire Department – Chemainus Hall. Mr. Dias notes “I have very high admiration for our volunteer firefighters. Their level of commitment to community is second to none”. When asked about career highlights, Mr. Dias thinks first of the people involved. “I strongly believe this – the strength of any organization is the people who actually deliver the work on the ground-floor. They have to be honoured and respected.”
Mr. Dias recalls it was “all hands on deck” for the snowstorm of 1996. “We had so much snow, we were phoning farmers – we knew they had tractors – and asking them to clear the snow. And that was how it worked.” Mr. Dias spent much of the night transporting staff from home to work – few could get out of their driveways. He had another long night a few days later when rain on melting snow washed out roads – this included working with crews to fill sandbags. “It needed to be done,” says Mr. Dias. Help came from all over Cowichan and the Island during the 2009 flood. Mr. Dias was one of the Directors of the Emergency Operating Centre that was set up at the CVRD. The office ran 24 hours a day, coordinating all efforts to handle the emergency. “North Cowichan was able to supply a significant number of men and women who were trained in emergency preparedness,” noted Mr. Dias. Now retired, Mr. Dias has a number of activities on the go. He has been an active Rotarian for 25 years, serving two terms as Club Secretary and has chaired the Scholarship and Bursary Committee for 19 years. Mr. Dias has been a volunteer at Providence Farm for more than five years, and has served as a Director at Large, Secretary, and most recently, as Chair. Mr. Dias became familiar with the organization while he was with North Cowichan, and working on negotiations to extend Donnay Drive through a corner of the Providence property. “I admire the kind of work that they do,” said Mr. Dias, “Providing meaningful opportunities for folks with emotional, physical and mental challenges is extremely important in our community.” Mr. Dias consults for the Island Corridor Foundation (ICF). He recently applied his expertise to realize a substantial provincial tax remission for the Foundation. He worked with local governments on long-term permissive tax exemption(s) for ICF property. Mr. Dias was also instrumental in agreements to allow community trails adjacent to the rail corridor. Mr. Dias is proud to be a part of the Cowichan Valley Oldtimers Hockey Association, an organization he helped establish in 1983. He has remained an active player and organizer ever since. In addition to keeping two teams on the ice, the Association has raised funds for the Cowichan District Hospital Foundation, Cancer Society, Heart and Stroke Foundation, and the Cowichan Valley Minor Hockey Benevolent Fund. Over the past eight years, the association has raised about $30,000 for ALS in memory of two goalies, Joe Dougherty and Rick Wilkinson. “There is no better way to honor these two fine guys. Our oldtimers hockey community really embraces our annual fundraising tournament in their memory,” said Mr. Dias.
When asked about his greatest passion, Mr. Dias says, “I have so many things that I really, really enjoy. I’ve got a beautiful family. My grandchildren are very, very special. I’m passionate about community – we live in a wonderful community of really caring and giving people.” As he did when he was North Cowichan’s CAO, Mr. Dias sees things in the broader context - that it’s important to balance the things that matter. While he values family above all, Mr. Dias likes to stay active and enjoys sports, volunteering, gardening and more. He believes in keeping a reasonable pace, “You need to save a little bit for yourself. If you’re healthy and well, then I think you can give more”