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Ryan Nitchie resigns Armstrong council position
Armstrong city council is losing a valuable member.
Coun. Ryan Nitchie has tendered his resignation, effective the end of July, after accepting a full-time position with the Columbia Shuswap Regional District in Salmon Arm.
“I will be the team leader of community services,” said Nitchie, currently a clerk at Askew’s Foods, where he’s been employed in a second stint with the grocery store since 2007. He also worked for Askew’s from 1991-99.
“The job will involve facilities contract and fire services contract management, and there are some other contracts involved.”
Nitchie starts with CSRD July 2. His last official council meeting will be July 14.
First elected as a 22-year-old to council back in 1996, Nitchie, 41, has served six consecutive terms.
He was persuaded to join council while working at Askew’s when then-councillor, the late Betty Atkinson, convinced the then-Okanagan College political science student to let his name stand.
“All of my educational career I was interested in politics,” said Nitchie, married to Tami and father of two daughters, Kaia and Abby. “(Fellow Askew’s clerk) Jim Maundrell saw Betty in the aisle and said, ‘Hey Betty, you should get this guy.’ Betty said I should run and I said ‘Why not?’”
A former Armstrong Shamrocks lacrosse player and executive member, Nitchie said the best thing about being a politician in his hometown is that the role is never about politics.
And he credits that to the team-like atmosphere of every council he’s served with.
“It is always about the community,” said Nitchie.
“Every single council and mayor didn’t politic. Ever. All we did was work as a team to move the community forward. It’s so refreshing not to worry about internal politicking. We have a common voice when it comes to speak for the community. And that comes from good leadership.”
The current leader of council, Mayor Chris Pieper, was a councillor when Nitchie was first elected, and also coached the five-year-old Nitchie in T-ball.
Pieper said Nitchie’s youthful exuberance will be missed.
“He was first elected at about age 22 or 23, and he really had a different perspective to a lot of things,” said Pieper. “He learned extremely fast and extremely well through all of his years on council.”
Pieper pointed to Nitchie’s passion for the community when he spearheaded the drive in 2011 to bring the TSN Kraft Celebration Tour to the city. Win the B.C. portion of the tour, and the city would get $25,000 which would go toward upgrades to the aging Hassen Arena.
“He went in the TSN thing to win it and he won it,” said Pieper of Nitchie’s effort. “It brought a lot of people to town and a lot of recognition and exposure not only to Armstrong, but to then-TSN SportsCentre anchors Jay Onrait and Dan O’Toole.
“Ryan had them milking cows and catapulting pumpkins.”
As per provincial rules, as this is an election year there is no need to replace Nitchie’s seat with the municipal votes set for Nov. 15. Council will continue with five members and Pieper.
For Nitchie, it was hard to tender his resignation from council and from Askew’s.
“During my interview process, one of the panel questions was what’s one of the most uncomfortable situations I’ve been in or biggest challenge I’ve face,” he said. “I said, ‘Sitting here in front of you.’ It’s hard to let go where you feel comfortable.
“I could stay in my position at Askew’s where I do a good job and know what I’m doing, and I could stay on council. But, eventually, you have to challenge yourself so I’m branching out and trying something new.”
Nitchie, a former insurance broker and manager in between Askew’s stints, will also resign his positions as second vice-president of the Southern Interior Local Government Association and director with the Municipal Insurance Association of B.C.