View Royal Fire Chief Paul Hurst sits on a bench in a green space at the corner of Helmcken Road and Island Highway

Dedicated View Royal parks man honoured

George Hurst was instrumental in securing land for the park that will bear his name

In the 20 or so years George Hurst worked for the Town of View Royal, he was responsible for the development of a number of parks within its bounds.

So it seems fitting that the very last piece of green space that Hurst helped create will soon be officially designated as a memorial in his honour. View Royal council has approved the naming of the park at the northwest corner of Island Highway and Helmcken Road as George’s Corner Park. It has been unofficially known as George’s Park for some time, but the move makes the name change official.

“It’s great recognition,” said View Royal Fire Chief Paul Hurst, George’s son. “As painful as it is to lose your father, it’s great to drive by that intersection every day and see the sign. It’s a pretty big honour for the family.”

George Hurst passed away in July 2015 and was celebrated afterward with what Coun. John Rogers recalled as a “significant memorial service” at the Four Mile Pub.

The man who, as parks foreman, took parks into the Town’s realm after its incorporation back in 1988 was also a volunteer firefighter and had many friends and acquaintances.

“He connected and interacted with so many people in the community,” Paul said. “I talk to people all the time who say they knew dad or worked with him. He was the kind of guy who would give you the shirt off his back – he was tough as nails, but he was also full of compassion for people.”

While serving as parks foreman for the Town was his last official job before he retired, George Hurst served 25 years in the military, including stints overseas and in Vietnam. He later was a B.C. sheriff and also looked after fire security at Victoria General Hospital.

Rogers said it made sense to declare this previously nameless park – it is roughly 10 years old – as a living memorial to the longtime dedicated staffer.

“The whole relevance is that he took the initiative and recommended that we acquire the lot, as it had fallen into significant disrepair,” Rogers said, noting the lot was formerly home to a group of businesses including a barber shop and the Betty Ann Bakery. “We wanted to do something to mark his contributions to the Town and the parks department.”

Paul Hurst, who wears his father’s dog tags around his neck as a reminder, said the intersection also has relevance in that George bought his first home in View Royal kitty corner from the existing park.

“I think he’d think it was pretty cool,” Paul said of the park naming. “He was the kind of guy who didn’t seek out recognition, he just quietly did his thing.”

As someone who knows the layout of the View Royal community like the back of his hand, the chief said he gets a kick out of passing by certain trees and plants that his father personally placed in ground. The care George took in beautifying the community will always be remembered this way, he added.

“This is a nice gesture by mayor and council,” Paul said. “People retire and they get their (going away) lunch, but to have your father’s name on a signpost, it’s locked in, there it is.”

editor@goldstreamgazette.com

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