Princeton mayor’s vision not realized

Princeton Mayor Fred Thomas’ goal of a 24/7 emergency department never came to be before he died at home May 4.

Princeton Mayor Fred Thomas.

Princeton Mayor Fred Thomas.

UPDATE: Mayor Thomas was 70 years old, not 69 as originally reported. He died at Princeton Hospital.

When Princeton’s Mayor Fred Thomas died of prostate cancer early May 4 at Princeton Hospital, his goal of a 24/7 emergency department hadn’t become a reality.

Interior Health had sent out notices of hospital closures while Thomas was still mayor but he had already stepped down when it was announced the emergency department would close from midnight to 8 a.m. for at least a year.

He believed the hospital’s declining service was a major reason why Princeton’s population dropped two per cent in the last four years.

In search of better medical coverage, the influx of mine workers settled in neighbouring communities instead of Princeton, said Thomas in a previous Spotlight article.

Warnings of limited physician availability in Princeton damaged the town, especially with a new mine opening, he said.

“We lost out on the natural growth that should have occurred with the mine opening. Getting that growth back is going to be extremely difficult and time consuming,” he said.

Thomas, who was 69 and mayor for four months, was dedicated to Princeton even when he had to give up his duties when he became too sick, said Area H director Brad Hope.

“He was determined to get things done. He phoned me every night, until he got too sick, to ask what was happening in Princeton, and what needed to get done,” he said.

Earle said he would have liked to have seen some of Thomas’ ideas turned into a reality.

“I enjoyed working with him, and am saddened that he is no longer with us,” he said.

Deputy mayor Jason Earle was appointed deputy mayor in March when Thomas’ battle with cancer made him unable to work.

The Town must now hold a by-election, according to the Local Government Act.

A chief election officer must be appointed as soon as possible. An election must be held within 80 days of the election officer appointment.

The new mayor will hold the position until the end of the term.