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Squamish mayor takes a bow

Ian Sutherland announces he won't seek reelection in November



After an eight-year slog, the last six of which carried the mayoral sash, Ian Sutherland is bowing out of Squamish politics.

In a press release issued Tuesday evening, Sutherland said he’d like to return to his book publishing and marketing aspirations. He won’t be seeking reelection in November.

“I did say two years ago that I thought six years was the right amount,” he told Pique Newsmagazine . “I’m done locally.”

Sutherland, who made his decision in January, spoke proudly of his tenure, and councillors Greg Gardner and Raj Kahlon concurred.

“Well, I think we moved a lot of work forward in acquiring the Nexen Lands and the Oceanfront lands from the province,” Sutherland said. “And Nexen, bought for three dollars, is a legacy that will carry on forever in Squamish. The Adventure Centre and setting up Squamish Sustainability Corporation, even though they’ve had growing pains — the community understands the benefits.

“We made huge progress in job creation and diversifying the economy in Squamish. There’s still work to be done in that area, but there’s been a massive transition from resource-based to knowledge-based and smaller employers.”

Further, Sutherland struck a note from Squamish’s live, work and play theme, saying the community’s progression towards self-containment — from Quest University to the Downtown Neighbourhood Plan — is noteworthy.

But there were also failures and unfinished business.

“I really wish we were farther ahead on the Oceanfront Lands,” he said. “We missed a fantastic opportunity two years ago. There was going to be a partnership with Qualex (Joint Venture). I wish that land was being better utilized then it is right now.”

The recreational referendum of four years ago, in which the community voted against borrowing $20 million for cultural and sporting facilities, is also something of a sore spot.

And rifts did surface in council chambers, often between Sutherland and former mayor Corrine Lonsdale, who could not be reached for comment. However, the two could salvage cordiality, as shown when Sutherland honoured Lonsdale in council chambers to mark her 25 th year in local politics.

“Unlike the mayor before, he brought Squamish from a have-not to a have-town,” Kahlon said, adding that Sutherland’s style can sometimes be dictatorial.

Councillors Patricia Hientzman, Jeff Mackenzie and Mike Jenson could not be reached for comment.

Gardner praised Sutherland’s time in office, but would not commit to his own mayoral ambitions, despite rumours to that end. “I haven’t made a final decision at this point. My attention is to make in the very near future.”

Kahlon remained similarly vague. If he runs for office at all, he said, it will be for mayor. “I have some homework to do,” he said. “And some family things to take care of.

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