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'Mr. Richmond' not ready to hang his hat

Coun. Harold Steves only hints at retirement after being recognized for 41 years of service to the city

The man dubbed "Mr. Richmond" dropped a hint this week that he may finally consider retiring after wading around waist-high in politics for more than half his 74 years.

However, Coun. Harold Steves - who was handed the Union of British Columbia Municipalities' (UBCM) Special Long Service award during a gala ceremony at the organization's annual conference on Thursday - isn't quite ready to pass on the torch of civic service just yet.

Steves said he's going to have at least one more shot, should he be elected after next month's election, at sitting on city council for another three-year term.

And he says he still, after 41 years, has many things on his "to do" list before he calls it a career.

"If I had everything done in three years, I may not run again," he said.

"This could be my last (election). I'm not saying it will be, I hope it's not.

"I wouldn't be leaving for any good reason, I just think I've been around for a long enough time now."

Looking back on last week's award, Steves said such accolades building up on his fireplace is not why he does the job.

More so, it's when he looks around the city he can call his own that he sees a sense of achievement.

"It's nice to be recognized, for sure. But what's better is when I drive around Richmond and I see something and I think, 'Hey, I was involved in that.'

"I'd like to think the award is more for accomplishments than longevity."

Speaking of accomplishments, Steves harkens back to 1968, when he first got elected to office, he was the vice president of the newly formed Richmond AntiPollution Association, the first of its kind in Canada.

"We were campaigning about sewage going into the Fraser River and campaigning to get a secondary sewage plant built," Steves recalled.

"We got our secondary plant and I got a great deal of satisfaction from that."

Steves has served on Richmond City Council for 41 years, continuously since 1977.

Prior to that, he served a previous term as a Richmond alderman from 1968-1973. From 1973-1975 he served one term as an MLA in Victoria and was one of the founders of B.C.'s Agricultural Land Reserve.

All nine members of Richmond Council paid tribute to Steves by attending the UBCM award ceremony in downtown Vancouver.

"Stretching back to the 1960s, Harold's service in public office now touches parts of six decades," noted Mayor Malcolm Brodie.

"He's shown tremendous commitment and dedication to making Richmond and our province better places to live.

"All of council was honoured to join in saluting him for his remarkable achievements."

A former Richmond schoolteacher, Steves operates the family farm in Steveston with his wife Kathy, raising purebred belted Galloway cattle.

Steves also assists his son, Jerry, operate a ranch in Cache Creek, B.C.

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