One of Metro Vancouver's longest serving mayors will not have his name on the ballot for the first time in a quarter century.
Darrell Mussatto has announced that he won't be running in the 2018 City of North Vancouver election.
He's been mayor since 2005 when he upset the incumbent, Barbara Sharpe, with the support of civic workers, tenants, and environmentally inclined voters. A former paramedic, Mussatto also served on council for 12 years.
In some respects, Mussatto was like a North Vancouver version of Mike Harcourt: a friendly, approachable, green-minded, pragmatic, and extroverted NDP politician who enjoyed working with the business community.
During his tenure, the city won several honours for its planning and environmental policies. This included the Climate and Energy Award from the Community Energy Association for encouraging sustainable travel to and from schools.
"As mayor my primary goal was to make our community more environmentally sustainable and to leave our city in a better place," Mussatto wrote in a statement on the City of North Vancouver website. "Our overall greenhouse gas emissions are significantly reduced and we are on target to become GHG free within a generation."
Two highlights of the Mussatto era were the opening of a new library near City Hall in the Central Lonsdale area and the development of the new Polygon Gallery near Lonsdale Quay.
Mussatto also promoted more densification in North Vancouver. It was one of the first municipalities to embrace laneway housing and the first in B.C. to legalize secondary suites in duplexes.
Major developments in Lower Lonsdale and Central Lonsdale created a livelier streetscape and led to the arrival of new restaurants and shops.
These projects helped the city-owned Lonsdale Energy Corporation expand its footprint, providing heat and hot water on a district-wide and more sustainable basis than if these services were installed in each building.
As mayor, Mussatto made great efforts to make the city more inclusive, which made him popular with the large number of immigrants from Iran, as well as with First Nations and the sizeable Filipino Canadian population.
But at times, he was accused of being too close to developers, which resulted in a serious challenge to his mayoralty in 2014 from candidate Kerry Morris, who billed himself as an anticorruption crusader.
Mussatto was among a minority on council who wanted to lift a ban on gambling in 2015, which drew more heat from Morris and his critics on council.
Mussatto worked closely with District of North Vancouver mayor Richard Walton in advocating for a commission to look at solutions to traffic tie-ups, including mobility pricing.
But this didn't mollify those who pined for when the City of North Vancouver was a sleepier burgh with lower housing prices and didn't have to adhere to a regional growth strategy.
Near the end of his current term, Mussatto talked about developing rapid transit from downtown Vancouver to Lonsdale Quay, but this idea was never embraced by Walton, making it unlikely to come to fruition.
Mussatto advanced other out-of-the-box ideas as mayor, including putting an illuminated Ferris wheel at Lonsdale Quay.
At times, he also mused about creating a bike escalator to take people up the steep hill on Lonsdale Avenue. It would have been modelled on a similar lift in Trondheim, Norway.
During Mussatto's time as mayor, the city completed its part of the North Shore Spirit Trail, which is a fully accessible greenway being developed from Horseshoe Bay to Deep Cove.
He hoped that this trail might encourage more pedestrians, cyclists, wheelchair users, and in-line skaters to travel unimpeded through his city.
At the regional level, Mussatto spearheaded water-conservation efforts as less regular rainfall created longer summer droughts in the Lower Mainland.
He also helped secure funding from senior levels of government for a $700-million wastewater treatment plant on the North Shore and for the $101.6-million Low Level Road project.
Mussatto is the fourth major regional power broker to announce that he won't be running again. Earlier this year, Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson, Delta mayor and former Metro Vancouver chair Lois Jackson, and Port Coquitlam mayor and Metro Vancouver chair Greg Moore all signalled that they won't be seeking reelection.