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Former Morinville mayor Code remembered

Ted Code known for fiscal prudence
TED CODE 1953-2022 — Ted Code, shown here on his farm near Tawatinaw, died Nov. 29, 2022, at age 69. Code was mayor of Morinville from 1995 to 2001. TABITHA HEPPLESTON/Photo

This story originally said Ted Code died on Nov. 30, based on information from Peter Code. Peter has since clarified that Ted's official time of death was shortly before midnight on Nov. 29.

A former mayor many Morinville residents knew as a friend, mentor, and, in at least one case, a “hippie,” has died.

Former Morinville mayor Ted Code died shortly before midnight on Nov. 29 surrounded by friends and family at the University of Alberta Hospital, his brother Peter reported. Code was 69.

Code was elected to Morinville town council 1993 and served as the town’s mayor from 1995 to 2001.

Code was a level-headed, thoughtful leader who turned the town’s finances around, said former Morinville mayor Barry Turner, who served on council with Code.

“He had what seemed to be limitless knowledge,” said Turner, and could talk for hours on end about the future of Morinville.

Ryley chief administrative officer Ron Cust, who was Morinville’s deputy fire chief during Code’s time in office, described Code as “bohemian” and a “hippie.”

“He wasn’t in-your-face aggression,” he said, calling Code the type who would often sit down with residents to talk about the town over a beer.

“He was kind of more of a Ralph Klein of the people.”

In an email, family friend Tabitha Heppleston said Code was a mentor, friend and unofficial uncle to many.

“Ted made it known to all of us that we mattered, our education mattered, our community needed us and valued our contributions.”

Scientist, leader

Born in London, Ont., Code was a trained biologist who specialized in river otters, Heppleston said.

“Ted was the only adult I’ve ever known to keep a collection of otter poop,” she said.

Peter said his brother had many tales of moose, bears, and otter encounters from his time in the field. A rugged outdoorsman, Code would live for years at a time in off-grid cabins to study otters, sometimes tracking them by radio from an old canvas-covered plane.

Code came to Morinville around 1986, said Beverly Lussier, his long-time neighbour.

“Ted was a very real person,” Lussier said, and a “walking encyclopedia” of nature knowledge.

“He was very blue-collared. The only time we ever saw him in a jacket and ties was when he was going to be on council business.”

Code was an environmentalist and would do whatever he could for his community, said former Morinville mayor Mary Anne Balsillie, who served with him on council. In the early 1990s, Code and a small group of volunteers started the town’s first recycling depot at the local public works yard, hand-sorting materials and hauling them off for recycling.

Code kept taxes flat in Morinville for much of his term as mayor and stamped down the massive debt the town had taken on to build a water line in the 1980s, Turner said. Those efforts allowed later councils to build the town’s community cultural and leisure centres.

Code was an active member of the Morinville Legion and started Morinville’s Cadet Corps, Lussier said. The Gazette’s archives show that Code was part of a delegation of regional mayors that went to Bosnia in 2000 to witness peacekeeping operations.

Code’s term as mayor saw the town gain walking trails, its first temporary skatepark, and bus service to Edmonton, The Gazette archives show. Turner said Morinville gained its first traffic lights while Code was in office, and also switched from angle to parallel parking.

Code also oversaw the relocation of the town’s settler’s monument. Now located in St. Jean Baptiste Park, the hulking stone monolith used to stand in the middle of Hwy. 643 just west of where it met 100 Street.

The monument was at one point at the edge of town, but it became a traffic hazard as Morinville grew westward, Cust said. He recalled debating with Code over a beer about moving the monument, with the two of them wandering into the street half-drunk to look at it.

“Does this make any sense to have this in the middle of the street?” he recalled Code asking him.

“It doesn’t make any sense from a safety perspective.”

Code left Morinville following the death of his wife, noted environmentalist and biologist Louise Horstman, in 2017, and retired to raise sheep at the family cabin near Tawatinaw, Peter said.

Code is survived by his adopted daughter, Sabrena, and his brothers Robert and Peter. The family has planned a small service in Morinville this Dec. 11 at 1 p.m.

Kevin Ma

About the Author: Kevin Ma

Kevin Ma joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2006. He writes about Sturgeon County, education, the environment, agriculture, science and aboriginal affairs. He also contributes features, photographs and video.
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