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Port Moody award winners help create a ‘strong community’

Civic awards were presented in a ceremony last Saturday

Port Moody is celebrating four new award winners who help make the city better.

Mike Arseneault and Tracey Schaeffer have been recognized with a civic award for their contribution to the arts, Dave Bennie is the winner of a civic award for his environmental work and Brianne Egeto is being honoured for her support of Port Moody’s heritage.

Arseneault, a retired brand marketing manager for Nike, is the founder of Ioco Players theatrical troupe that he started in 2021 to quench the city’s thirst for live stage presentations.

Since debuting sold out performances of A.R. Gurney’s Love Letters, Arseneault’s group has gone on to produce several other live shows and table readings including a review of music by renowned theatre lyricists Stephen Sondheim and Stephen Schwartz and a Christmas production of It’s a Wonderful Life. Next up will be presentation of 12 Angry Jurors and an as-yet untitled musical set for late summer.

Schaeffer was instrumental in the launch of Port Moody’s first Frantic Breeze fast film competition that grew from a desire to better showcase local talent in the City of the Arts. While her idea for a new outdoor arts festival ultimately didn’t move forward, a competition challenging young filmmakers to produce a four- to seven-minute film in 72 hours was realized with judges drawn from the movie and television industry.

The contest was complemented by a youth film workshop to help foster the next generation of creators.

Bennie might be a salmon’s best friend. The longtime volunteer with the Port Moody Ecological Society is a fixture at the Noons Creek Hatchery where he tends to the young fingerlings and smolts as they grow and gather the strength they’ll need when they’re released into the creek’s waters to begin their life’s journey to the ocean and back again.

Bennie is always ready to answer questions from visitors and he’s a director of school programs and various special events, including the city’s annual Fingerling Festival that celebrates the spring fish release. As well, he’s been a strong advocate for strengthening the connection between the hatchery and the local First Nations community.

Egeto is the friendly face that often welcomes visitors to the Port Moody Station Museum where she leads kids programming, trains summer students and helps build First Nations awareness through exhibits.

Egeto has also been involved with the annual Ioco Ghost Town Day festival and she was able to secure a grant to create interpretative signs to guide and educate visitors on a walking tour through the historical site that was once a company town for workers at the nearby Imperial Oil refinery.

All the winners received their awards at a ceremony last Saturday as part of the city’s annual volunteer appreciation gala.

“Port Moody is home to many creative and innovative people who believe that a connected community is a strong community,” said the city’s mayor, Meghan Lahti, in a press release.

There were no winners announced in three other categories, including accessibility, climate action and sport.

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