Letter: Shelagh Huston’s Contribution to Gabriola and the Commons

Tuesday, October 27 2015

As many Gabriolans know, Shelagh Huston, along with her husband David Soy, have recently moved from Gabriola to White Rock. What a loss for our island. Shelagh has positively contributed to our community’s life in many, many significant ways, not the least of which includes church, People for a Healthy Community (PHC) and the Commons.

It is therefore important and timely to acknowledge Shelagh’s contribution to establishing the Gabriola Commons. In 2005, while she was actively involved with PHC and it was needing a home, the goat farm on North Road went up for sale. Simultaneously, Heide Brown was dreaming of a place to foster the establishment of an Elder Eco Village using a legacy of Jay Mussel who had died the previous year. Together they established the Amazing Grace Ecological Society (AGES) named for granddaughter Grace, cobbled together everything they could for a down payment for the goat farm, applied to the Coastal Community Credit Union for mortgage approval, and made a successful offer for what is now the 26 acre Commons property. 

Many others helped get this precedent-setting concept off the ground of course. Community meetings established priorities, a vision, and the teams and workers that were needed to turn the idea into the community resource it is today. But Shelagh and Heide were there providing consistency through it all – becoming a society, obtaining registered charity status, establishing a board of trustees, and serving on that board. Shelagh even lived in the farmhouse on the Commons during some of the early months. She has served on many of the teams that currently steward the Commons for the community.

Now 10 years old, unique in Canada, the Commons has “grown up” since these significant early efforts. It is independent of AGES and functioning admirably on its initial principles. 

But it would not be the ecological, agricultural and cultural hub it is today without Shelagh’s vision, leadership and financial assistance. 

Gabriola thanks you, Shelagh!

~ Virginia Hayes on behalf of the Gabriola Commons