Par for the course: Bruce Russell is this year's Citizen of the Year

Bruce's history on Bowen goes back seven decades, but he's best known on-island for being the driving force behind the golf course and the effort to clean up Mannion Bay.

This Bowen Islander has made some very big differences and many little ones. 

The roots of Bruce Russell’s family run deep on Bowen. 

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His family first summered here in 1942 when Mannion Bay was pristine and crystal clear. In Bruce’s eyes, as each year passed, he sensed a slow deterioration of their bay. Each boating season the bay seemed to grow more disagreeable. 

As Bruce saw it, Mannion was becoming a virtual garbage dump. The most apparent causes were proximity to the city combined with the desirability of Bowen’s finest anchorage.

Mannion Bay provided near-perfect protected moorage and it was free! Some people weekended there, some wintered, some moored permanently, some lived aboard. Some boaters were responsible, some inconsiderate. Bruce watched bay residents’ behaviour, dismayed by those who chose to dump trash and worse. 

Much more troubling were those who chose to abandon a vessel permanently leaving the inevitable shipwreck to deposit oil, debris, even electric batteries and toxic chemicals. Fecal counts had soared in summer, and three of Bowen’s most popular beaches became unswimmable. 

Over a decade ago, Bruce decided to do something about it. As the driving force behind Friends of Mannion Bay, a group dedicated to waterfront restoration, Bruce was a man on a mission. 

As strongly as he felt, Bruce did not resort to protest or aggression. With undaunted focus, he  approached this task with remarkably tempered patience, persistence and above all, the skill needed to negotiate arcane bureaucracy across complex jurisdictions and seemingly endless paper trails. Finally, this year, words became actions, and derelict boats are being salvaged from the bay. Having led the efforts of many neighbours and the municipality itself, Bruce’s accomplishment is unmistakeable. Mannion Bay is back!

The intrepid local has carried the day elsewhere on this island. 

In 2003, the first sod was turned for Bowen’s new golf course. Much of the credit for that moment went to the club’s president and director Bruce Russell. Again, through reasoned dialogue (and a few good breaks,) Bruce led a skeptic-confounding team to realize a 77-year-old dream (for nearly eight decades there’d been attempts to building a golf course.) 

Bruce is a true leader and a major Bowen asset because he is the kind of guy who knows how to get things done by playing by the rules but with perseverance.

Besides heading the Mannion Bay and golf groups, he was the island’s adept representative on the West Vancouver Chamber of Commerce. He is an enthusiastic supporter of the Cove Commons and the Outdoor Adventure Show. 

Bruce has a relaxed side too. So what does he do in his down time? Oh, perhaps pop over to wash down the cenotaph or mow some public lawns grown unkempt. Bruce is the perfect definition of one of our wide spectrum of volunteers. He is the good citizen.

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