Prince George, B.C. mayor latest to announce he won't be seeking re-election in the fall

Prince George, B.C. Mayor Lyn Hall wipes away tears after announcing Monday evening that he won't be seeking re-election in the fall.  (City of Prince George - image credit)
Prince George, B.C. Mayor Lyn Hall wipes away tears after announcing Monday evening that he won't be seeking re-election in the fall. (City of Prince George - image credit)

Prince George Mayor Lyn Hall is the latest B.C. mayor to announce he will not be seeking re-election this fall.

Hall made the announcement at the end of a regular council meeting Monday evening.

"Today is bittersweet — there's no question that this has been one of the most difficult decisions I've ever had to make," Hall said in council chambers, his voice choked up with emotion.

Hall joins several other multi-term B.C. mayors who have announced they won't be running in municipal elections on Oct. 15, including New Westminster's Jonathan Coté, Abbotsford's Henry Braun, Kamloops' Ken Christian and Fort St. John's Lori Ackerman.

Hall has spent two decades in local politics, beginning on the Prince George school board before joining city council for a single term in 2011. He was elected mayor in 2014, and won re-election in 2018.

Spending controversies

Hall began his first mayoral term just months before the city hosted the 2015 Canada Winter Games, the largest sporting event ever held in the city at the time.

He also oversaw the 2017 and 2018 wildfire seasons, when thousands of residents displaced by evacuation orders in nearby communities had to shelter in Prince George for weeks at a time.

The latter became an issue in Hall's run for re-election in 2018, after it was revealed the city's nine-person senior management team were paid up to $235.72 an hour for working overtime to deal with the logistics of managing evacuees.

But Hall easily won the race after the sole challenger for the job, WIlly Ens, largely failed to campaign, including skipping several debates.

Hall's second term has been marked by new developments throughout the city as the population reached record highs, including major hotel and housing developments aimed at attracting new residents to the downtown core.

But controversies have marred these efforts as well, as the cost of a major condo and parkade built adjacent to city hall ballooned with little oversight, prompting an independent review of how the city manages its finances.

More recently, Hall joined the mayors of other major B.C. municipalities in demanding action on housing, mental health and addictions treatment, as the city struggled to deal with a growing tent city just outside the downtown core.

Last November, the City of Prince George demolished several encampments despite a court order that protected them.

This March, the city issued an apology for its actions, following criticisms from the B.C. Assembly of First Nations that the city's policy on homelessness is "counterproductive, cruel and inherently racist."

COVID-19 challenges

Hall said leadership has become more difficult over the past two years of the COVID-19 pandemic — and the city still needs to overcome more hurdles in the years to come.

"It was important for me to see Prince George grow into a vibrant, active [and] desirable place to live, making sure that we offer amenities to everyone — from our youngest to our seniors — to become an attractive location for development and investment. I believe we have done just that.

"Are there challenges yet to face and overcome? There's no question," he said. "That work will continue — and this is the tough one."

So far, no one else has announced their intention to run for mayor of Prince George in the upcoming municipal elections.

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