A councillor, mayor and MLA, John Slater was first and foremost a farmer.
Kind words from politicians and colleagues followed after Slater passed away Tuesday night.
“I am deeply saddened to hear John Slater has passed away. John was a caucus colleague and a friend,” said Premier Christy Clark in a statement issued from the premier’s office.
“John was passionate about his home, and the people who make Osoyoos special. That passion led to 30 years of dedicated service to the community he loved,” Clark said.
Clark said Slater, who at one-time was the mayor of Osoyoos, previously sat as a city councillor and as the Boundary-Similkameen MLA, lent his time to everything from coaching sports to volunteering with the chamber of commerce.
“But no matter what his official title was, John always thought of himself first and foremost as a farmer,” Clark said.
The premier noted Slater’s long list of achievements in the area including the modernizing of century-old legislation to protect B.C.’s fresh water which culminated in the Water Sustainability Act. He was also instrumental in the creation of a new high school in Oliver, the Horizon Health Centre in Osoyoos, the expanded Midway Arena as well as improvements to the highways and public walkways.
“Like everyone who knew him, I will always remember John’s quick smile, good humour, and infectious laugh,” Clark said.
A long-time friend of Slaters, and current Oliver town councillor, Jack Bennest said he was sad to hear the news.
“John and I were fairly close and we had known each other well for 10 years,” Bennest said.
He said they first met up at a Union of B.C. Municipalities convention.
“He had fun. We had fun. John had a warm handshake and a smile,” Bennest said.
Slater was always very involved in every level of contribution, political or not, in the area according to Mayor of Osoyoos Sue McKortoff
“John was a great supporter of this town, (he) had been on council as a councillor and a mayor for about 15 years,” McKortoff said.
“I found him to be very approachable and he always had a positive attitude,” McKortoff said.
Before she was on town council, McKortoff was the chairperson of the Cherry Fiesta festival in Osoyoos. She said Slater was a big help getting the community services together for festival meetings.
“He would organize it and I would walk in as the organizer and we’d all sit down and he would say ‘OK Sue, go’ and we’d all have a good laugh,” McKortoff said.
“He was very supportive of anything that went on in the town. He was always from my point of view very cheerful, very positive, very accommodating.”
McKortoff said she connected with Slater as a parent as well, having taught his son in school.
“He is going to be missed for sure,” McKortoff said.
Slater continued to be involved in politics after serving one term as MLA, and ran for city council last November.
“Just to show how keen he was to be involved in the town he even decided to run for council again in November.”