When I put my name forward to run in the 2005 provincial general election, I did so with the intent that if successfully re-elected it would serve as my final term in public office.
However, as the 2009 writ date fast approached, many important projects for our region that had been in progress for, in some cases, many years, were close to becoming a reality but in a majority of cases had yet to reach the ground breaking stage.
Specifically in Penticton both the Okanagan College (now Jim Pattison) center for excellence and the Penticton pool project were not yet underway.
In Summerland an important project to upgrade the gateway entrance to the community along with improved lighting and sidewalks was in a similar circumstance.
Peachland also had a visionary and important project to help transform the waterfront and expand the public walkway.
In the south end of the valley Okanagan Falls was very close but still yet to receive final funding approval for the important sewer expansion and relocation project and the Skaha Bluffs Provincial park was still only an idea in progress at that point.
The final factor also on my mind at that point was the pending status of the West Bench water system upgrades that also has the long- term potential to help resolve outstanding issues with the Sage Mesa water system.
With so many important pending projects on the go I made the decision to run in the 2009 provincial general election that unfortunately became the nastiest of my entire political career.
It was a great honour to be re-elected in 2009 and, as it would turn out, the Province’s rapidly deteriorating financial situation and fragile global economic environment made it incredibly difficult to ensure that those projects moved forward.
The Okanagan College project in particular came very close to not reaching the ground-breaking stage.
Fortunately today those projects are all a reality and citizens are enjoying the benefits that will be an important legacy for our future in our amazing part of the province.
I would also like to make it clear that none of these projects move forward without a team of people who are able to work together on behalf of the communities we collectively represent. If there is any one point I would like to stress in politics, in government and in life is that people can do great things when they work together and the amazing quality of life we enjoy here in the South Okanagan is greatly related to the calibre of people who live here.
There also comes a time when it must come to an end and the torch must be passed on to the next generation of leaders who share the same passion to make a difference in the communities we serve.
I have enjoyed an incredible journey in my time as a Member of the Legislative assembly and watching the Okanagan transform over the past 16 years has been a great honour to be a part of it.
In roughly eight months British Columbia will have one of the most important elections for the future of the province in recent memory and I would like to announce officially that my name will not be on the ballot this time around.
I have never been one for staging press conferences or issuing media releases and preferred to share this information directly with you in my weekly report.
There are still many important projects I am currently working on and my weekly reports will continue.
In some of those weekly reports I will also pass on my own concerns facing the future of our amazing region and this great province.
Bill Barisoff is MLA for the riding of Penticton.