Ron Toyota is the first to announce an intended candidacy in the October 20 local government elections.
First elected in November 2008, Toyota is in his tenth year as mayor, and he says the job continues to be exciting and fulfilling.
“My strength for the past three terms has been the ability to lead three great Councils and a strong, future-oriented management team,” he said on Sunday.
Since 2008, he said, the Creston Valley has been the recipient of more than $20 million in grants, largely because of a Town Council and regional directors who work together with their respective staffs to have grant applications ready for when they are announced.
Among the highlights, he cites the 2009 wastewater treatment plant upgrades grant of $5 million, a $2 million grant for the Community Complex, nearly $7 million in 2014 and 2016 to complete the Arrow Creek Water System mainline replacement project, $2.8 million in 2018 for a bio-solids handling system upgrade at the wastewater treatment plant and a $3.1 million for a community park at the Community Complex.
“With Town Council and staff working closely with our three Regional Directors and RDCK staff, we have been very successful with our applications,” he said. “And, while it is true that grant money is also from tax dollars, without our co-operative approach those funds would have gone to other regions and municipalities instead of our own Creston Valley.”
Toyota said he is especially pleased with the closer relationship that has developed between the Lower Kootenay Band and the Town of Creston.
“Our joint inauguration of councils was a personal highlight for me,” he said.
The 2014-2018 Town Council has directed an award-winning Official Community Plan process, and remains committed to seeing the Highway 3 realignment to Cook Street between 16th Avenue and Northwest Boulevard, he said.
“It has been a busy and productive term. We saw the completion of the Pine Street crossing at Highway 3, the addition of public art displays and the construction of downtown public washrooms, which had been a part of public conversations for decades. Working to purchase the Creston Education Centre so that all programs can continue was a very important team effort.”
With last year’s defeat of a borrowing referendum for the construction of a new fire hall, Council turned the process over to an appointed Fire Hall Advisory Select Committee that volunteered countless hours to make recommendations.
“I am pleased at their dedication and support their efforts to seek voter permission to borrow funds for a new fire hall.” A second referendum will be held at the same time as the local government elections.
With a small building boom in the process, Toyota points to housing developments near the downtown core that add planned density to the town centre, the Columbia Basin Trust purchase of the grain elevators and the continued success in recruiting physicians as signs that Creston is a vibrant and growing community.
He said he continues to enjoy working to engage the public in local issues, and has maintained a 3-day office week and has held quarterly coffee talks.
“The joy of small-town life is that residents have the opportunity to stop and chat with their elected representatives regularly on an informal basis,” he said. “I have attended many hundreds of meetings and events in the last decade and learned a tremendous amount about what people want their community to be. Most often, we share that vision, and as a community, we can point with pride to our accomplishments.
“I truly believe that we have made great strides in making Creston and area a stronger, more vibrant and forward-thinking community, one that is more pedestrian-friendly, thanks to our walking paths and trails, and one that embraces change that we know it will make us stronger in years to come.”