Family, friends and co-workers are mourning the loss of a man described as a passionate outdoorsman who lived life to the fullest.
The body of Mark Taylor – the general manager of the City of Abbotsford’s parks, recreation and culture department – was recovered by search and rescue crews late Tuesday afternoon in Yoho National Park.
Abbotsford Deputy Police Chief Rick Lucy, a close friend, said Taylor has many close, life-long friends who are mourning his loss.
The pair met through their involvement in community matters and learned that they had a common interest in the backcountry.
“I was one of the many people who was fortunate to have travelled in wilderness locations with Mark. He was passionate about the outdoors and knew his stuff. He was a great person who loved living life to the fullest. He will be missed,” Lucy said.
Mayor Bruce Banman said the city is devastated by the loss.
“The city of Abbotsford has lost a dedicated and loyal public servant. Mark Taylor has provided passionate and dynamic leadership in his role … Mark managed a team of 300 staff and was always quick with a smile and hello for everyone that he came across.”
Taylor had been on a five-day ski excursion with his daughter, in her 30s, and a man in his 60s on the Wapta Traverse, located northeast of Golden on the B.C.-Alberta border.
Just before midnight last Tuesday, March 12, the trio were caught in a blizzard on the B.C. side of the traverse, and Taylor fell down a crevasse. His companions survived, built a snow cave to stay warm, set off an emergency beacon, and were rescued on Friday, March 15.
But continuing harsh weather prevented rescue crews from reaching Taylor until this week.
Omar McDadi, a spokesperson with Parks Canada, said the weather cleared on Tuesday, and two rescue crews made up of a total of seven people were able to get to the scene.
Once they entered the crevasse, they came across a “snow bridge” about 15 metres down. This required them to shovel through about six metres of snow before reaching Taylor, who was located at a depth of about 30 metres.
“The thoughts of the rescue team and all Parks Canada personnel are with the family,” McDadi said.
Taylor, a Langley resident, had been with the city of Abbotsford for 12 years, spearheading projects and events that included the city hosting the 2004 BC Summer Games and the 2006 BC Senior Games.
Earlier this year, Taylor was an integeral part of the bid that landed Abbotsford the 2016 BC Summer Games.
Major projects that also took place under Taylor’s leadership include the renovation of Centennial Pool; improvements to the city’s trails system, including the expansion of the Discovery Trail throughout the city; and the three Plan A projects.
The Plan A projects included the major renovation of the Abbotsford Recreation Centre, the creation of the Reach Gallery Museum Abbotsford and the construction of the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre, which became the home to the Abbotsford Heat hockey team.
Most recently, Taylor was working for the city to examine a possible partnership with the YMCA to create a new facility in Abbotsford.
Details on his memorial service have not yet been finalized.