Dave Dickson plans to retire at the end of 2019, something most people have said they will believe it when they see it.
As the city’s manager of community safety, Dickson has been active co-ordinating community policing, restorative justice, emergency support services and most recently pushing for a situation table and community safety and well-being plan for Williams Lake’s most vulnerable.
That love for the area is why he plans to remain in the lakecity after he retires.
“This is home,” he said. “It’s pretty hard to beat Williams Lake.”
He and his wife Sandy like the lifestyle, have many friends in the community, and they love the outdoors for hiking, biking, canoeing and kayaking.
“We are in a mecca for that and I enjoy doing photography. I treated myself to a drone and when I retire it will give me time to practice.”
Their sons live in Kamloops, Abbotsford and Linden, Washington and they have nine grandchildren — five boys and four girls from age 4 to 12.
“Our whole family is healthy and it’s not too far to travel to see them. If we were to move to the Lower Mainland there’d be all the traffic, a mortgage. We live a simple life.”
Born in Regina, Sask. his parents had a farm near Oxbow.
They moved into Oxbow, Dickson finished his schooling there and then joined the RCMP.
After depot he worked as a police officer for 13 years, stationed in Chilliwack, Terrace, Queen Charlotte City, Tofino and Shawnigan Lake.
He said he left because it was a time for change. Sexual assaults were coming out of the woodwork and the courts didn’t know what to do with them, he added.
“I had three little boys, I needed to be at home, and ICBC was hiring so I went with them.”
He spent 25 years with ICBC working in Shawnigan Lake, Campbell River, Cranbrook, I was the centre manager here in Williams Lake for four years and then he became the regional manager for road safety for the North.
He retired from ICBC and in February 2009 went to work for the City as the community safety co-ordinator as the position was vacant.
“I was embedded in the police office and the rest is history. Since then the job has kind of evolved. “
Their sons, Martin, Gord and Andrew all graduated in Williams Lake. Martin lives in Kamloops and works for the Thompson Nicola Regional District as a planner. Gord works as a project manager for Diverse in Abbotsford and Andrew is a school teacher inLinden, Wash.
Dickson said it is unfortunate Williams Lake takes a negative hit on some of the crime that happens.
“If you look at a population of 10,000 or so in the city or 25,000 in the regional district, a huge percentage of the people are outstanding. It’s just a few bad apples that spoil the barrel. We need to work with that because unfortunately many of them are vulnerable and that’s why I’d like to see us going with the community safety and well-being plan.”
He sits on the Canadian Municipal Network on Crime Prevention executive that meets regularly with more than 30 communities from across Canada represented.
“This is the direction the cities and towns are going. Let’s address the vulnerable. Putting people in jail is not the answer and for every dollar you invest in proactive activities the savings start at four dollars. In Scotland they’ve seen it as high as $80 for every dollar they’ve invested.”
For eight years Dickson rode with Cops for Cancer.
“I’ve certainly been the grandfather on all of the rides. I enjoyed them and the neat thing was that we raised money for children.”
One year he raised $11,000 and rode for Nicholas Paul from Esket.
A photograph of Nicholas sits on his deck at work and there’s not a day he does not think about him.
“A 15 year old boy loses his life to cancer — it’s heartbreaking. He was such a dear young boy. We can put a man on the moon but we can’t solve cancer? I just don’t buy it anymore. I’m suspect.”
He does not plan to ride with Cops for Cancer again, but said he has been riding his bike to work everyday since 2014.
“At our age we cannot afford not to be healthy. You have to be healthy and so you have to move. And when you are out and see someone that needs help, stop and help them or if you see some garbage, pick it up and put it in the garbage can.”
Dickson said he used to go for breakfast with the City’s former CAO Darryl Garceau every Thursday and as they walked Garceau would stop and pick up garbage and he was inspired.
Sure that he will continue volunteering in the community when he retires, Dickson said he does need to slow down and has already begun saying ‘no’ to some things.
His passion is emergency support services, something people saw firsthand during the 2017 wildfires.
“I’d like to continue helping with that. I’ve taught disaster management courses for Canadian Red Cross across Canada for a number of years.”
Volunteering is in his family genes.
“I’m a Rotarian and “service above self,” is the motto. That’s what it’s about, helping people. Our family has been blessed with good jobs, good health and good homes. If I can help somebody I’m interested in doing that.”
Whoever takes over his position, he hopes, will continue to deal with vulnerable people.
“If we could get the vulnerable healthy, can you imagine what we would have?”
Since the publication of this article in June, city council during a regular meeting on July 16, unanimously approved nominating Dickson for a Community Safety and Crime Prevention Award to honour his many years of service to the community.