End of an era for Murray Coell

After 16 years representing Saanich North and the Islands, and 28 in politics, Murray Coell won’t run for re-election

MLA Murray Coell poses with his wife

After years of public service, Central Saanich resident and MLA for Saanich North and the Gulf Islands Murray Coell announced last Wednesday that he won’t be seeking re-election in 2013.

“It has been my honour to serve the people of Saanich North and the Islands for the past 16 years,” said Coell in a press release. “I will be leaving this post with a deep appreciation of the strength and vibrancy of the communities that make up this riding, and the generosity and involvement of its citizens.”

Coell began his career in 1984 as a councillor in the District of Saanich. He moved on to becoming mayor of Saanich for six years before he was elected to the legislature in 1996. Since then, Coell was re-elected three times in the Saanich North and Gulf Islands riding.

“Looking back on how much has changed around the Peninsula and the islands since I’ve been around makes me realize how long I’ve been doing this,” he said in an interview.

During his time in the legislative assembly, Coell served as minister of advanced education; minister of labour; minister of community, aboriginal and women’s services; minister of human resources and minister of environment. Through the positions he’s held, Coell said he’s learned a lot.

“One of the biggest things I learned, and very quickly, is that in this job, if you can put together a strong partnership, you can do almost anything.”

Some of Coell’s notable projects that involved partnerships between municipal, provincial and federal groups are the Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre, the Stelly’s Boulders climbing gym, Iroquois and Tulista parks, Saanich Peninsula Hospital operating rooms and North Saanich and KELSET schools.

Coell said some of his favourite projects were the recreation centres.

“I have a thing for pools,” he laughed. “Since I’ve been involved here I’ve worked on Commonwealth Place, Panorama and most recently the new pool on Salt Spring Island.”

Although Coell said he is looking forward to having more time to spend with his wife, Corinne, and family and friends, there are things he will miss about his job as MLA.

“I’m going to miss the day to day. I really enjoy meeting with constituents on an everyday basis and hearing what they have to say,” said Coell. “But this position needs someone fresh who has more energy. I started this position when I was much younger, I was just into my 40s, so it’s been a long time.”

Coell’s wife Corinne is also looking forward to him having more time on his hands.

“I’m very proud of Murray for the work he’s put in over the years. His ability to bring people together and create partnerships that work is amazing, but it will be nice to be able to spend more time with him come next year.”

Coell, who used to be in a band, and his wife, who is a singer and dancer, mused about the things they might do now that they’re both retired.

“Maybe we’ll start a band, Murray’s good on drums and I can sing,” joked Corinne.

Coell’s announcement that he will not stand for re-election in 2013 follows criticism of the MLA pension plan by the Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation, which estimates Coell’s pension will kick in at $89,000 a year.

Coell has eight months left in his term, but although the Liberal Party began their nomination process last week, there is no word on who may run as his successor.

According to Coell, the party is planning a nomination meeting in the fall to select the Liberal candidate for May 2013 elections.

reporter@peninsulanewsreview.com

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