Last Friday evening, Gala Milne stopped at her mother Morelea’s house in Metchosin to stay the night.
Gala wanted to see her mother one last time before she set off with her partner, Dan, to visit the ranch town of Rock Creek in the Okanagan. Moralea had decided not to run for re-election as a councillor with the District of Metchosin, after serving the last decade on it.
The couple were going to make a quick stop in the town where Milne raised two of her three children, before taking a road trip down to Mexico – the start of a new chapter.
The following morning, Milne woke her sleeping daughter with a strong hug and kisses before they set off.
But Milne and Dan never made it to Rock Creek.
Milne was killed during a fatal car crash in Surrey on Saturday. She was 68 years old.
“She was the most generous person ever. She was incredibly generous and would always open her door to anyone, particularly if they wanted to find a rare moss, lichen or insect on Camas Hill,” said Gala, adding her mother loved photography and identifying butterflies and moths, and often had plants and other species in her fridge that she was hoping to identify.
“She was the rock in our family … She was really passionate about the wonderful world of small things. She’s really passionate about her family and her kids and loved Metchosin … She was such a fun person and always down for adventure.”
According to police, Milne and her partner were travelling northbound on 184th Street at approximately 10:30 a.m. when their car was struck by a 37-year-old male driver, who was travelling eastbound on 40th Avenue. Police said preliminary evidence suggests the male driver ran the stop sign, causing the fatal collision.
The 37-year-old driver and Dan were transported to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
Now, Milne is being remembered as a mother, friend, and a fierce advocate of her community and the environment.
First elected to the Metchosin council in 2008, Milne served on many committees and boards including finance and administration committee chair, finance and environment committee chair and the environmental advisory committee, among others.
According to a release from the District, Milne was known for her diligence in financial matters, always with the goal of getting the best value for taxpayers as well as being instrumental in solidifying the relationship between the District and Beecher Bay Scia’new First Nation.
Mayor John Ranns said the District has lost a highly-respected and highly-effective member of the team.
“She was a good person and good spirit, really kind hearted, compassionate, hard-nosed and practical,” said Ranns, adding Milne was the best kind of councillor he could have asked for.
“She’s someone who would laugh easily, someone who loved the community intensely and would fiercely defend her position. But if she lost, she took it with grace, would fume for a couple of minutes and then it was right back to business and accepted the outcome. She had a significant influence on all of us … We reconciled losing her from council, but we never anticipated losing her from the community, which is a far greater loss.”
Aside from her duties on council, Milne dedicated hours to volunteer with various community groups. Every Sunday, rain or shine, Milne would head out to various parks in Metchosin and, along with a group of volunteers, would remove invasive species from the area.
She was also the driving force behind the Talk and Walk series, where once a month biologists give a talk on Friday night and lead a walk on Saturday morning.
Metchosin Coun. Andy MacKinnon has known Milne for several decades – a friendship forged through a passion for the environment. Together, alongside two others, they founded the Metchosin Biodiversity Project, which creates an inventory of species in the community.
“Moralea has really been a mentor and a role model for me in my council duties. But also in a more general point of view, working on all these environmental issues in Metchosin, she’s been such a valuable friend and colleague,” MacKinnon said. “We’ll miss her terribly … it leaves a big hole in the community.”
View Royal Mayor David Screech got into municipal office at the same time as Milne as a councillor, and they served together on the Capital Regional District Arts committee, the Greater Victoria Public Library board and the West Shore Parks and Recreation board.
“She was a special lady, she did a lot for Metchosin,” said Screech, noting he hopes there’s some way municipalities in the West Shore can do something to honour Milne in the future.
Milne’s husband, John Robert Webb, who also served on Metchosin council, passed away in March 2007. Milne leaves behind her three children Gala, Rian and Madeline, and two grandchildren.
A celebration of life will take place Sunday, Aug. 5 at 2 p.m. at the Metchosin Municipal Grounds (4450 Happy Valley Rd.) In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Metchosin Foundation.
***The location of Sunday’s celebration of life changed after the Gazette went to press with Friday’s print edition. The service is now at the Metchosin Municipal Grounds, 4450 Happy Valley Rd. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.***