Former MLA and Smithers city councillor, Bill Goodacre, who died Sunday in Smithers was known across the north for his big heart and desire to help constituents from all walks of life.
Goodacre, 67, served in politics in northern B.C. for more than two decades.
“All across Highway 16, people will remember him with a great deal of a feeling of loss because he was such a northerner and such a Smithers man,” said longtime friend and former Hazelton mayor, Alice Maitland.
“He he was totally open-hearted and open-minded, and people across this community valued him,” Maitland said.
The cause of death was not immediately available.
Goodacre was in politics for more than 20 years when, last October, he announced he was retiring from Smithers council for health reasons.
In 1996, he served one term as an NDP MLA for the Bulkley Valley-Stikine, and he was a city councillor in Smithers for 19 years.
“He just needed to be helping people. He has had a strong hand in building our communities here in the north,” Maitland told Daybreak North host Carolina de Ryk.
She said Goodacre was known for his accessibility and for advocating for his riding when he was in Victoria.
“While he was down there, we saw more ministers than we had seen in my lifetime,” Maitland added.
“I always say they don’t even know we’re alive up here, down there. But Bill Goodacre changed that picture.”
Flood of tributes
Tributes have flooded in from politicians and community members across the north.
Smithers Mayor Taylor Bachrach described Goodacre in a Facebook post as “a tireless ally for Indigenous people.”
“He stuck up for those on the margins, those without homes, and those among us who were suffering. He held a vision of community based on compassion and most of all he wanted people to be kind to each other,” said Bachrach.
Stikine MLA Doug Donaldson also posted about Goodacre, describing him as a “good man, dedicated to social justice.”
Last September, Smithers city officials recognized Goodacre for his years of service with the Freedom of the Municipality. In November, he was awarded an honourary lifetime membership with the BC NDP.
The city’s new supportive housing development is being named in Goodacres’ honour.