Milobar wins B.C. Liberal nomination in Kamloops-North Thompson

Milobar hopes to become second mayor in a decade to represent Kamloops-North Thompson in legislature

Peter Milobar speaks to party members on Saturday afternoon after winning the B.C. Liberal nomination in Kamloops-North Thompson. Milobar received 53 per cent of votes to best challengers Steven Puhallo and Mike Grenier. Milobar will carry the Liberal flag in the May 9

Peter Milobar speaks to party members on Saturday afternoon after winning the B.C. Liberal nomination in Kamloops-North Thompson. Milobar received 53 per cent of votes to best challengers Steven Puhallo and Mike Grenier. Milobar will carry the Liberal flag in the May 9

By Cam Fortems

Kamloops This Week

Peter Milobar is hoping to become the second mayor in a decade to represent Kamloops-North Thompson in the legislature.

The new B.C. Liberal nominee was congratulated at about 5:30 p.m. Saturday by current Kamloops-North Thompson MLA Terry Lake, who called from the Vancouver Airport.

Milobar was also congratulated by nomination challengers Steven Puhallo and Mike Grenier.

“It’s been a hard-fought nomination,” Milobar told reporters after the announcement by the party. “It’s been very respectful and team-building for the whole party and riding.”

With Milobar’s nomination, all three parties in the legislature have named candidates for both city ridings. Milobar will face the NDP’s Barb Nederpel and the Green’s Dan Hines. Also running is Peter Kerek of the B.C. Communist Party.

Lake first won the seat in 2009 for the B.C. Liberals after spending one term as mayor of Kamloops. He decided in September not to run for a third term as MLA.

The B.C. Liberal party does not release membership and voting information.

But a party source speaking on condition of anonymity said Milobar won 53 per cent of the first-ballot vote, meaning second choices on the preferential ballot did not need to be counted.

About 60 per cent of the riding’s 880 members cast a ballot Saturday at one of four locations: McArthur Island in Kamloops, Sun Peaks, Barriere and Clearwater.

Speaking to about 200 members on McArthur Island before the vote, MIlobar gave a rousing endorsement of natural-resource development.

“We need to return a party to Victoria that values the benefits of human resources, but also understands the benefits natural resources bring to our region,” Milobar said. “We can’t allow four years of a party that only says ‘no.’”

But he cautioned later his statement was not an endorsement of the proposed KGHM Ajax mine south of Aberdeen.

“As soon as you mention natural resource in Kamloops, everyone jumps to KGHM,” Milobar said.

“First of all, it’s not even in the Kamloops-North Thompson. Secondly, it’s a massive riding geographically: there’s the Yellowhead mine just outside of Clearwater . . . It was mentioned around trees, rocks, Kinder Morgan, all of those types of projects.”

Milobar nothing will change short-term in his approach as city mayor.

“There’s a city budget we’re working on,” he said. “That’s not interrelated with the province in any way, shape or form.”

He said he expects to “step away” from the mayor’s job at some point before the writ is dropped for the May 9 provincial election.

“That’s historically what happens.”

Kamloops-South Thompson MLA Todd Stone was one of the organizers Saturday. He said he was excited to have a running mate with long experience in civic politics, including as chairman of the Thompson-Nicola Regional District.

“They all brought a whole bunch of new people into the party. At the end of the day, Peter came out on top,” Stone said. “He and I have five months to really get ready for this campaign.”

The B.C. Liberals have held both Kamloops ridings for 15 years.