After 17 years as Mayor of Lake Country, James Baker will not seek re-election this fall.
“We’ve accomplished a lot and I’ll leave it to some of the younger ones to complete our mission and our goals for the community,” Baker said.
He noted housing has been one of the main challenges while mayor.
“It’s hard to walk that line in keeping the rural atmosphere while at the same time providing development areas where people can get some sort of affordable houses or affordable rent. We are still lacking the affordable rent aspect, but we’ve had a number of projects that have been submitted. We haven’t succeeded in getting the senior governments’ assistance and grants that make these things possible.”
Baker, however, takes pride in how much more accessible the community is to those with mobility challenges.
“We’ve gone a long way toward providing more accessible buildings, and more buildings being built now are totally accessible,” said Baker, adding with an aging population in Lake Country these were necessary improvements.
As for what’s next for the Lake Country council, Baker said it will benefit the district to elect a new mayor from the current council.
“They all have the same vision and same mission because it’s a council vision and mission statement,” he said.
Baker moved to the area with his family in 1976 and has been involved in local politics since 1981 when he was elected to the Central Okanagan Regional District board.
Now he’s stepping back from politics and returning to an old love.
Baker plans on heading back into education with his free time, volunteering for secondary and post-secondary field trips. He previously taught anthropology and archeology. Upon retirement from teaching in 2000, Baker was named Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at Okanagan University College. In 2007, he was named Associate Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at the University of B.C. Okanagan.
Baker did not say if any councillors have expressed interest in the role but said they will have to decide amongst themselves who will run for mayor.
Municipal elections take place on October 15.