Tom Shypitka (left), newly-elected MLA for Kootenay East, and his mentor and campaign manager, retiring MLA Bill Bennett.

MLA Shypitka resigns from city council

MLA responsibilities a full time job, while city council duties could create conflicts.

Kootenay East MLA Tom Shypitka has announced his resignation from Cranbrook city council in order to focus on his provincial legislative duties.

Shypitka recently claimed victory for the BC Liberals in the riding during the provincial election, stepping up to run in the place of Bill Bennett, who retired after deciding not to seek a fifth term.

In addition to serving on city council, Shypitka is also one of Cranbrook’s representatives at the Regional District of East Kootenay and the Kootenay East Regional Hospital District Board — two roles he will also relinquish.

“Although there is no rule that states I must give up my city council seat since being elected as MLA for Kootenay East, I have always stated that I will do what Mayor and council decide,” Shypitka said. “Since the provincial election on May 9th it is apparent that the city Mayor would prefer that I step down and make available the position to another qualified citizen.”

“An MLA position is very much full time work and there could be some conflicting issues that come up between the city and province on a City’s council agenda so I do understand and agree with the Mayor’s sentiments”.

Shypitka first entered politics through his election to city council in the 2015 municipal race that brought a new mayor and slate of councillors to the city.

Following his election as the regional MLA, Shypitka continued to carry out his duties as city councillor, as there is nothing within Local Government Act that prohibits him from carrying out both responsibilities.

Cranbrook Mayor Lee Pratt says city council will miss Shypitka’s input and influence in municipal affairs.

“I think it’s best he resigned, but I’m going to miss him,” said Pratt. “I really liked working with him. It’s going to be hard to find somebody to replace him who had the same dedication and passion that he had for it.”

Pratt credited Shypitka’s preparation and research into local issues and his ability to listen to fellow councillors, staff and the public.

“His heart was in the right place,” said Pratt, “and he was there for the right reason and shared the same vision that we shared and I think it was a big positive for all of us to have him there.”

A by-election to fill the vacated council seat will likely be called in October, said Pratt, who expressed reservations with having an election in the summer months.

While Shypitka is excited for his new role as the regional representative in the legislature, he also said he wished he could fulfill his obligations as a member of council and RDEK director.

“I thank the constituents from the municipality for giving me the opportunity to serve them, and I sincerely believe that my new role will allow me to extend my public service work to not only the city but the entire Kootenay East region,” said Shypitka.

“I also want to thank Mayor and council, RDEK directors, as well as all staff for being the best team mates a person could ever ask for. I am very optimistic in regards to Cranbrook’s and the region’s future. We have a great team. I look forward to working with all of my Cranbrook friends as well as the entire Elk Valley in my new role.”

Shypitka was born and raised in Cranbrook and has been a small business owner before moving into a career as a financial advisor with Sun Life Financial. He is also a competitive curler, having represented the province twice at The Brier — the men’s national championship.