Metchosin Search and Rescue (SAR) has installed a new bench to honour those who passed away during active membership over the years.
The bench, which sits on the Sea Bluff Trail in Metchosin, offers hikers a chance to take a break and enjoy the scenic views overlooking Parry Bay. The two plaques that adorn the cedar bench highlight two members of the team, Gordon Reimer and Peter Beltgens, who passed away during active membership.
“We realized that we’ve had a lot of new members since 2002 and a lot of members with no real memory of Gord at all. Then we looked and realized we had another active member die much more recently,” said Andrew Spray, search manager with Metchosin SAR, who spearheaded the project.
“Then we said maybe we should make this a memorial bench to any person whose been a very active member in the history and passed away.”
Spray met Reimer several years ago through the local church, and together with a number of others founded the search and rescue team in 1988. The two became close friends over time, as they shared many similarities – Reimer had three daughters, while Spray had four; both loved the outdoors and had the same goal of helping people. Reimer was also the scout master of the Metchosin Scouts.
Reimer remained active with the team until his death in 2002, following complications with a surgery. He was 50 years old.
“He was a terrific friend, very active in the local church,” Spray said. “He was absolutely reliable. You could absolutely count on Gord for anything.”
After Reimer’s death, Spray and SAR members decided to honour him with a bench on the Sea Bluff Trail. Over the last decade, the elements took a toll on the wooden bench. Two years ago, residents pointed out that it had started to fall apart and that’s when Spray decided to take the lead on the project. And following a work party on Aug. 12, the bench was installed.
But Reimer is not the only Metchosin SAR member to pass away during active membership.
Beltgens, whose name is also on the bench, became a member of Metchosin SAR after he broke his leg while on a hike and needed assistance from the team one day.
“He said the feeling he got when he saw help walking towards him instantly gave him the drive to do the same for someone else one day,” said Ryan McGuire, a fellow Metchosin SAR member.
“Over and over again, Peter tried to live up to that commitment. In fact, in one search alone Peter spent three full days in a row climbing up cliff sides. He was such a dedicated guy and it didn’t matter what he was doing. He would always give it his all.”
Beltgens had a heart attack while he was mountain biking and died in 2014. He was 60 years old.
“He was always up for a day in the woods, on bikes or boots. His other passion, though I’m sure he had many, was for automobiles, particularly Volkswagens. He would spend a lot of his evenings in the shop. When he wasn’t in the shop he was spending time with family,” added Chris Supeene, a SAR member. “Peter was a huge family man.”