Gary Robertson, a businessman in Port Alberni’s Uptown, has thrown his hat into the mayoral ring for the 2018 municipal election. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Gary Robertson latest to join Port Alberni mayoral race

South Port businessman says he will run on five-point vision for the city

Gary Robertson says it’s time for someone to do something about all the potential Port Alberni has, and he’s the one to do it. Robertson on Monday announced he will be running for mayor of Port Alberni in the civic election coming up Oct. 20.

“Ever since I moved to the city, all I’ve heard about Port Alberni is the potential,” said Robertson, who has owned several businesses in South Port, most recently Alien Sports. “I’ve lived here for 15 years and people are still talking about the potential. We’ve been talking about potential and it’s time to realize it.”

Robertson has a five-point mandate for the mayoral seat, and a vision for Port Alberni. His five points are uptown revitalization, crime reduction, a long-term waterfront strategy, lower residential taxes and revamping bylaw enforcement.

Robertson said he will look at long-term strategies for the city’s waterfront, which includes the dormant Somass Mill, owned by Western Forest Products. “Nobody’s talking about what happens if that mill never opens again,” he said, likening it to the former plywood plant lands surrounding Canal Waterfront Park to the south.

Robertson said the mayoral seat is the best place for him to bring his vision to fruition. “The things I want to accomplish will take more time than a councillor generally puts in,” he said. “I think I have a clear enough vision that if I was mayor I could take (the city) in that direction. If I was a councillor…I wouldn’t have the freedom to do that, I wouldn’t have the influence to do that.”

Robertson ran for city council two terms ago, but was not elected.

He said this is an all-or-nothing vote, as far as he’s concerned: if the public agrees with his vision, they will vote for him, and if they don’t, they won’t. “If that’s their vision then I would be elected mayor.”

He said he will be closing his Uptown business at the end of September, so will have the time to devote to both his campaign and, if elected, the mayor’s job.

Robertson is the fifth person to state their intent to run for mayor in the fall election. Others include John Douglas, incumbent Mike Ruttan, Sharie Minions and Kevin Wright.

There are six people who have said they will let their names stand for council positions: Tali Campbell, Chris Alemany, Karrine Magnussen, Dan Washington, Ron Paulson and John E. Van Dyke.

Candidates have been declaring their intentions since May, but the official nomination period doesn’t open until 9 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 4. Nominations must be submitted no later than 4 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 14.

Potential candidates are invited to attend an information session on Thursday, July 19 at 6:30 p.m. in the Dogwood Room at Echo Centre (4255 Wallace St.). The session, jointly organized by city chief election officer Davina Hartwell and Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District/ School District No. 70 (Alberni) chief election officer Wendy Thomson, will provide information on candidate responsibilities both during and after the election.

For more information, e-mail Hartwell at davina_hartwell@portalberni.ca and Thomson at wthomson@acrd.bc.ca.

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