Since his lengthy stint on the Kamloops-Thompson board of education and since running for city council in 2018, Gerald Watson is now focusing on his legal practice and family, with a couple of volunteer gigs on the side.
“I’ve stepped back for a while, just to focus on business and give my wife a little more time that she can work on her business,” Watson said. “I’m trying to pick up some of the driving around. I’ve got a girl in South Kamloops [secondary] and so I’ve sort of taken on more of a role with her and her sporting events.”
Watson works primarily in real estate law and said it has been incredibly busy over the past year, due to the volume of sales occurring in Kamloops despite the COVID-19 pandemic. He has continued to work at the eponymous downtown office, Watson and Haines, as an essential service. Watson has noticed the downtown core had seen less vehicular and foot traffic amid the pandemic, but noted it did pick up during the Christmas season. His office did not close and staff rotate between the office and working from home. Like all businesses, his has made adjustments.
“I gown up like a doctor before I see the individual clients that come in,” he said.
Outside of work, Watson is vice-president of the Kamloops Hospice Association’s board of directors. In Delta, the hospice has been embattled with the province over the issue of medical assisted dying. The issue did not flare up in Kamloops, but the board was “quite worried about it,” Watson said.
Hospice finances were of concern this year, as a thrift shop that helps fund the association shuttered temporarily amid the pandemic.
Asked if he misses his role as a school trustee — he served for 16 years — Watson said he is happy to have moved on. He liked his time on the board, but he said he does not have an inclination to return. As for another city council run in 2022?
“At this time, I’m not really inclined. I’m sort of enjoying focusing on work and family at present,” he said.
The same applies to provincial and federal politics, though Watson said he has some interest and has been known to help out come election time.
One other volunteer board Watson joined following the 2018 city council election was the School District Business Company.
“It’s a wholly owned company by the school district that administers online courses to international students, mostly Chinese,” he said.
Watson said he is on the board of directors and directs staff, deals with the provincial government and keeps his eyes on the changing landscape. He said it has been a “pretty good year,” with the school district picking up slack of other school districts that cannot handle online classes.
Canada-China relations have taken a hit, but Watson said no immediate change has been noticed at the school district level. He cited an article in the Globe and Mail recently about censorship of curriculum.
“We’re aware there are issues,” he said. “So far, it hasn’t affected the business model.”