A former Sooke RCMP officer who died in the line of duty will have a memorial street blade named in his honour on Maple Avenue South.
Const. Reg Williams, 21, was stationed at the Sooke Detachment following his graduation from the RCMP Depot Training Academy in Saskatchewan in 1964.
Williams had served only 15 days in Sooke at the time of his death.
At approximately 10 p.m. on Dec. 19, he was on routine patrol when his police car slid off the end of the government wharf in icy conditions, into the frigid waters below.
Williams was unable to free himself from the vehicle and drowned.
The local RCMP detachment wanted to create a memorial of “significant recognition” for Williams. He’s the only police officer killed in the line of duty in Sooke.
Last December, Sooke RCMP marked the 50th anniversary with the unveiling of a small memorial plaque at the local detachment.
Placing a memorial street blade came at the urging of Coun. Rick Kasper.
In agreeing to the signage, some district councillors wanted Williams full name and rank attached to the sign, but that contravenes the municipality’s own policy on naming streets after veterans, council heard.
“I still have problem putting the rank on it because we have a policy in place for all of our veterans,” said Coun. Brenda Parkinson. “It should be the same for all of them regardess.”
Added Coun. Kerrie Reay: “It’s important that we treat everyone in the community the same, especially when they’ve given their life in the service whether it’s their country or community.”
The street signage may only be the first step in setting up a memorial for Williams.
The Maple Avenue South initiative is considered a “symbolic gesture,” as Williams family arrives next month to take part in a memorial ceremony.
Municipal staff members who met with RCMP Staff Sgt. Jeff McArthur, who requested the memorial, came up with several options, including:
Municipal road – possibly a re-naming of an exisiting road
Municipal trail (Wadams Way)
Municipal Park (Sooke River Road)
Municipal meeting room
CRD skateboard park, trail, meeting or fitness room at recreation centre
Acting mayor Kevin Pearson said he liked the idea of naming a trail along Wadams way after Williams.
“The reason I like Wadams Way trail is that he [Williams] was a young man when he came to his unfortunate demise. He would forever be young. The trail indicates to me youth and walking, things like that. It still preserves the area’s heritage because it’s Wadams Way and the trail on its side that would be appropriate for a young man who ended up that way in our community.”
Pearson also suggested that Williams’ name be put into a mural that is expected to be created for Canada’s 150th anniversary celebration.
Williams’ memorial street blade will be underneath the street sign on the corner of West Coast Road and Maple Avenue South going to the government wharf with the name Williams. The RCMP and District of Sooke logos will be included on the street blade.