Two and a half years after his downtown office burned down, a Nanaimo man wants to be involved in building the city’s future.
Rick Smith has announced that he will run for city council in the fall election.
Smith has lived in Nanaimo for 15 years and was a counsellor for 20 years until his office in the Jean Burns building burned down in 2016.
“I’m quite happily retired, but I have skills, I have experiences and what not and I couldn’t watch any longer the council that we have now,” he said. “I have the ability to do things, I have the creativity to think of different ideas, therefore, I felt the city needs me to be there.”
Smith questioned how some major files have been handled, such as the sports and events centre, the Colliery dams and the fire station No. 1. He would have preferred that the multiplex project be left to private investors, that the dam reservoirs be partially infilled to ease water pressure, and he asked if the $17-million fire hall price is right on property that is already city-owned. Smith said he’d generally like to see more discussion around some of the staff reports that come to the council table.
“How about we read it, how about we look at it, how about we ask questions,” he said. “There is nothing challenging about a job where you have to read the stuff and vote yes or no. The challenging part is to try and understand what’s behind what they’re writing.”
Before moving to Vancouver Island, Smith lived in England for almost 25 years and worked in food and beverage operations with breweries and military agencies there. As a counsellor, he helped clients with drugs and alcohol recovery.
“I can help anybody who wants to get off drugs. If they don’t want to, I can’t help a single person,” Smith said.
He said Discontent City got out of control because he said enforcement needed to happen the first day when campers first moved onto the locked site. Depending on the outcome from last week’s Supreme Court hearing, Smith said the site should be cleared with bulldozers. It shouldn’t be something greeting cruise tourists, he said.
As for the old Jean Burns property, it’s privately owned, but Smith suggested there could be opportunity to attract a hotel there.
He’ll talk about the environment during his campaign. He envisions a national initiative to take advantage of a warming Arctic and plant forest in Canada’s north beyond the current tree line, but tree planting on a smaller scale can happen in Nanaimo, he said.
Smith, who has a few different fiction and non-fiction writing projects in the works, plans to outline some of his ideas and costed plans in writing in the weeks leading up to the election. He wants to be on council so he can better contribute his ideas, but either way, they’ll be put forward, and that’s something that matters to the 69-year-old.
“My end of life is not really important, compared to the grand scheme of things,” he said. “Taking some of these ideas could be hugely important to my kids, grandkids. That’s where it comes from.”