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3-time Keremeos mayor leaving politics

Mayor Manfred Bauer won’t be seeking re-election after 17 years at village council
Current Keremeos Mayor Manfred Bauer will not be seeking reelection in 2022, after spending 17 years at the village council table.

After 17 years in municipal politics, Keremeos Mayor Manfred Bauer isn’t planning to run this time.

Instead, Bauer plans to step aside during the 2022 municipal election to take some personal time to travel with his wife.

“Seventeen years is a long service for the community, and I think it’s time to let someone else try,” said Bauer.

From his youth, Bauer had been interested in politics, and once his wife left her position as administrator for the village, he took the opportunity to throw his hat in the ring.

Looking back on his time in office, there were many projects and policies that he has been a part of, such as the work to make Keremeos the first official Age Friendly Community in the RDOS, improvements to the downtown through safety improvements and aesthetic projects such as the pocket park and the facade grant program and bringing fibre optic connectivity to the community to make it more appealing for businesses and workers, to name a few.

One of the largest projects that is currently underway is the upgrades to the sewer treatment plant, which has been 12 years in the works.

“That’s a big project for a small community like this,” said Bauer. “It takes a lot of planning, a lot of grant application, a lot of consulting with the First Nations and the province and a lot of endurance.”

The new plant upgrades are part of the village’s liquid waste management plan, and the current phase are aimed to keep up with demand for the next 30 years, depending on how quickly the community grows.

“It’s all teamwork. It only works if you have good support in council and good support in staff,” said Bauer. “The mayor can’t just sit and stare out the window, but without the support of council and staff and agencies like the Regional District, it’s basically impossible.”

READ MORE: Keremeos moving towards $3.9M new wastewater treatment plant

Bauer was also very proud of the village’s notification system, which emails residents quarterly newsletters, as well as emergency updates and non-emergency updates to residents.

“More and more people signed up and realized how important it is to be informed by someone who gives you facts, instead of what you read on social media,” said Bauer.

It will be the cooperation and all of the fellow elected officials that Bauer has worked with over the years, and the many staff in multiple levels of government and community organizations, that he said he will miss for certain.

“I will miss the teamwork with our administrator mostly, and certainly the work with my colleagues throughout the Valley at the Regional District, the people I met whether in health care, education, you name it,” said Bauer. “Working with the very different people in all the organizations and being able to help is very gratifying.”

It’s those connections and strengthening them with the shared services for the community, planning for emergencies and regional tourism are all important.

“We just put in a new liner for the pool that will keep it going for the next 25 years. We — along with Area B and G — bought a new fire truck and all the protective gear they need, the Info Centre, the trail from here to Cawston; those are all the kinds of things that make our community, but you can’t stand alone for them,” said Bauer.

With two candidates declared so far, Bauer said that he hopes they can keep up the pressure on other long-running issues that are critical to the community, including transit and flood mitigation.

He noted the many meetings with the provincial government following the closure of the Greyhound service to bring transit to Keremeos, and the need for more support for Keremeos and the whole Okanagan Regional Library system.

The last major policy change he hopes to see is to finally get the provincial government to add flood mitigation to the Emergency Response Act in order to deal with orphan dikes and flooding before it happens.

No matter what happens, Bauer will be keeping an eye on the election, and he isn’t planning to just take it easy.

“I think it will really depend on how things go with travelling, that in a few years from now I’m fed up and I decide to throw my hat in for another council run, I don’t know,” said Bauer. “Once we’ve done our travel, I could still join the rec commission, I’m already a member of the Lower Similkameen Community Services Society. If I’m bored I might go and take a course at the college.

“I don’t see myself getting lost on a bench and counting stars.”

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Brennan Phillips

About the Author: Brennan Phillips

Brennan was raised in the Okanagan and is thankful every day that he gets to live and work in one of the most beautiful places in Canada.
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