17-year RDEK Area A Director Mike Sosnowski will not be contesting the 2022 municipal elections. Pictured here in August 2022. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)

17-year RDEK Area A Director Mike Sosnowski will not be contesting the 2022 municipal elections. Pictured here in August 2022. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)

Mike Sosnowski to retire as RDEK Area A director

Sosnowski has been Area A director since 2005

Long-serving Area A director Mike Sosnowski is retiring at the 2022 municipal elections.

Originally elected in 2005, Sosnowski has re-elected in 2008, 2011, 2014 and 2018 to serve as the Regional District of East Kootenay’s (RDEK) Area A representative for the last 17 years.

“17 years is a long time,” said Sosnowski in an interview with The Free Press.

“I feel that Area A is in good shape, and it’s time for renewal … you need renewal, new blood and younger people that see things in a different light.”

Sosnowski said that Area A – which covers all parts of the Elk Valley not included in the three municipalities – had changed a lot in the last 17 years, but it also hadn’t.

“Other than more people and a little more development, I think it has retained its rural character very well.”

Sosnowski said he originally ran back in 2005 because he wanted to take advantage of opportunities for Area A that were slipping by.

He said that since then, he’d approached each election with a goal to achieve something big in the next term. “And I attained all those goals,” he said.

Many of the achievements took political gumption, will and patience to overcome opposition, secure funding and push them through.

Among them was getting Area A a larger slice of the mine tax sharing agreement which allowed the RDEK to buy four new firetrucks (with cash), finding and establishing a location for the Fernie Transfer Station, helping establish the Access Guardian program, getting West Fernie infrastructure upgraded to allow its annexation into the City of Fernie and finally getting the RDEK to fund Angel Flight East Kootenay in their search for a higher-quality airplane to provide medical transport services.

The success in securing the funding ($500,000) was a point of pride for Sosnowski, who highlighted Angel Flight’s successes since then in not having to cancel a single flight now they had an all-weather plane.

But what’s next for Sosnowski? With five grandkids, he said he looked forward to spending more time with his family, and said he’d be staying in the area to live his life.

“It’s a commitment, being a director,” he said. “In 17 years I’ve only missed three meetings. … I got a lot of satisfaction out of helping people, it’s a hard job to leave.”

He said that he had taken a lot of enjoyment in his time at the RDEK.

“I’ve had the occasion to work with excellent staff throughout my whole tenure they have been professionals and friends I want to thank them for all their help.

“I would like to thank the residents of very for having faith in me over these many years. It’s been a pleasure and an honour to do things that made your life easier and sometimes more affordable.”

Area A residents will elect a new director at the October 2022 municipal elections.

READ MORE: Editor’s note: Calling all local candidates

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