The campaign to represent Area C voters in the October 20 local government election has changed dramatically, with three-term incumbent Larry Binks announcing his withdrawal.
Binks, who had made it clear in recent years that he intended to vie for a fourth and final term as the Regional Director for Area C, said on Tuesday that recent events have caused him to rethink that commitment.
“I was at the UBCM meetings in Whistler recently, and when I got back I learned that people had been phoning my wife with unpleasant messages,” he said. “Susan has health issues, and she thought the calls were kind of funny. I didn’t.”
It isn’t the first time that Binks has faced personal attacks. In the past he has reported that his dog was killed and garbage was strewn around his West Creston property.
“I’m 76 and I put in 10 good years, but I can’t continue to do this job when it involves regularly leaving Susan alone,” he said.
Binks told his RDCK colleagues last week about his decision to step down from the race, and their reaction was supportive, he said.
“I am very disappointed that Larry feels he has to make this decision, but I fully support him in putting his family first,” Creston Mayor Ron Toyota said on Monday. “I have enjoyed working with Director Binks on the Local Services Committee and many projects. The last term was an especially productive one and he will be greatly missed in the future.”
Larry and Susan Binks moved to West Creston in February, 2006, and immediately became involved in their community. It was after attending a couple of Town Hall meetings in Area C that he expressed concerns about several issues, and was encouraged to run against incumbent Tom Mann in the next election.
“I have attended an average of 25 meetings a month, held 38 Town Hall meetings and have received probably 25,000 emails,” he said. “For the most part it has been a very satisfying experience, and I am sad to think that there are some things—the construction of a West Creston Fire Hall, for instance—that I won’t be able to see through to completion.
“Have I made mistakes? Absolutely. But I hope that people always have found me to be honest and straight forward, and responsive to their concerns.”
Binks points to the addition of fire coverage for parts of Area C, improvements to roads and signage, an upgraded West Creston Hall and a closer working relationship with the other Regional Directors, Town Hall and the Lower Kootenay Band as being among his accomplishments.
“We’ve had huge projects and small ones, and everything in between,” he said. “The last four years, working with Directors Toyota, Wall and Jackman, have been especially productive. We have really worked together as a team for the betterment of the Creston Valley.”
Binks first community involvement came at the invitation of Toyota, before either had elected positions. Toyota was involved with the airport society and when he learned of Binks’s history with the BC Ambulance Service and expertise in emergency services, he asked the newcomer to get involved.
“I did, and eventually we both got elected and had to leave the society, but there have been great strides at the airport since,” he said. “When I got involved there had been seven medical air evacuations in the previous year. Now we average 7-10 a month.”
His leadership and administrative experience has served him and his area well. Binks has been a member of the regional health board, been heavily involved in First Nations treaty negotiations and is a current director of Columbia Basin Trust.
Much of what has been accomplished in Area C has come as people became aware that “we can do lots with small tax increments,” he said.
Putting his political career behind him means not leaving his wife overnight so he can attend meetings, but remain involved in drug and alcohol counseling for the Lower Kootenay Band, and he said he will happily stay involved with CBT if asked.
“It’s been a good and very interesting decade,” he said. “And I think I can leave with the satisfaction that I have always done my best to represent the people of Area C. But right now I need to have the peace of mind that goes with putting my home life ahead of everything else.”
Area C voters will now have three candidates to choose from—Adam Casemore, Tony Mulder and Elvin Rempel.