NDP MLA Michael Sather will be retiring from politics.
Sather, who has held the seat for the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows riding since 2005, announced Friday that he will not run again, but will remain as MLA until the next election.
“I love the job, actually, and it was a very, very difficult decision,” he said.
“I sweated about it a lot.”
A passionate environmentalist, Sather is known in provincial politics for standing by his beliefs, even getting expelled from the party caucus in 2007 for voting against the Tsawwassen First Nation treaty because it removed protection for more than 200 hectares of farmland.
Sather was also among a group of dissidents who opposed Carole James’ leadership of the B.C. NDP last fall.
He is impressed with the party’s new leader, Adrian Dix, praising his ability to build bridges.
“He is a bit of a risk taker. I kind of like that,” Sather said of Dix.
“If you are going to make a mark in this world, you’ve got to take a few risks. If you are not willing to take risks, it’s very difficult, in my mind, to be creative and to adapt to current realities. You have to have those nimble skills, especially in politics.”
Sather, who vied for position as mayor of Maple Ridge in 2008, has no plans to enter civic politics, either.
He intends to take six months off after the next election and reassess his life.
He will continue to keep an eye on land use and environmental issues, in particular Maple Ridge’s Albion area plan and Pitt Meadow’s vision for the North Lougheed commercial corridor.
“It will be interesting, on a personal level, to see what it’s like to be involved, but perhaps in a less partisan way,” said Sather.
The B.C. NDP caucus wished Sather the best for the future.
“From his beginnings on a family farm in Alberta to his experience as a teacher, biologist, wilderness tourism guide, small business owner and mental health therapist, Michael has demonstrated an abiding passion for the environment and for those who are most vulnerable in our communities,” Dix said in a statement on the caucus website.
“His contribution to our caucus and to his community has been significant and will be missed.”
The NDP’s Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows riding association has not yet picked a date for a candidate selection meeting.
Meanwhile, the annual general meeting for the B.C. Liberals Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows riding association is set for Sept. 15. No candidate selection meeting has been set.