Affectionately known as “The Mayor of Rutland”, Ben served as City Councillor between 1973 and 1996 promoting parks, recreation and health care. He was instrumental in the assimilation of Rutland into the City of Kelowna when the City’s boundaries expanded in 1973, and he played a significant role in the development of the City’s Heritage Management Plan and Guisachan Heritage Park.
A devoted teacher by profession, Ben’s actions always reflected his genuine concern for youth and he championed many innovative programs, facilities and services for children of all ages.
A founding member of Kelowna’s Multicultural Society and Folkfest celebration, Ben’s valuable contribution to the preservation of cultural heritage was recognized provincially with the 1989 Public Service Award of the Vancouver Multicultural Society of B.C. His award marked the first time the award had been presented to anyone outside of the Lower Mainland.
As Chair of the Regional District’s Park Committee between 1983 and 1996, Ben was a strong advocate of parkland acquisition and was instrumental in the development of a number of regional parks. Over the years his community involvement also extended to his church, Kelowna General Hospital, the Athans Aquatic Centre and coaching youth sports.
Ben was also active in the provincial arena serving on the B.C. Folkfest Society, the Affiliation of Multicultural Societies and Service Agencies of B.C., the B.C. Canada Day Committee and the Provincial Government Advisory Committee on Cultural Heritage.
In recognition of Ben’s years of dedicated service, in 1996 the City of Kelowna named a new eight-hectare park in Rutland in his honour. Ben Lee Park officially opened on June 24, 2001.
A longtime resident of Rutland, Ben was born in Armstrong, B.C. and passed away in March 2016 at the age of 86.