The 2022 municipal elections are just under a month away, but Lake Country already has its first new mayor in 17 years.
Former district councillor Blair Ireland has been acclaimed to the position after the only other candidate, Barry Rhodes, withdrew from the race.
“Barry has some issues he’d like to bring forward and it’s always best to air those in the public and talk about them,” said Ireland. “And to that point, Barry called me when he put in his papers to withdraw and we had a long conversation.”
He added it’s not easy to run for local government.
“It’s a commitment and people do it to better their community. I think that Barry would be doing it for the same reasons.”
Ireland has been on council for the past eight years, representing Okanagan Centre. Current mayor James Baker announced in April that he would not run again. He said the issues Lake Country is facing are the same ones other communities in B.C. are dealing with.
“Roads, drinking water, infrastructure and local government keeping up with the pace of growth. For local government to keep up with growth it’s going to cost taxpayers money. We have to be very cognizant of that.”
Ireland added there may be some residents who, given his time on council, might think things will be the same as they were.
“Whilst I would not want to criticize mayor Baker, he’s been mayor for a long time, and did a great job for this community over the years. But I’m not him, so absolutely there will be changes.”
Two councillors have also been acclaimed, Cara Reed in Carr’s Landing and Todd McKenzie in Oyama. Seven candidates are vying for a councillor-at-the-large position as well as Okanagan Centre and Winfield.
General voting day for municipal elections is Oct. 15.