A council candidate who has celebrated the City of Nanaimo’s past wants to help lead its future.
Peter Urquhart, organizer of Nanaimo Heritage Days, is one of 40 candidates running for city council in municipal election Oct. 20.
While heritage days honour Nanaimo’s history, Urquhart hasn’t liked some of the recent history at city hall. He said there’s been “backwards progress” in some areas that he considers priorities, including governance, economic development, innovation and growth, and affordability.
“I think I can help move things forward in a much more positive direction,” Urquhart said.
For example, the software developer said he thinks “there’s been a lot of harm done” to economic development and connections between the city and the business community.
“Nobody’s being heard and I don’t think that’s good,” he said. “[We need to] really start focusing on encouraging connections, build those kinds of consultations and opportunities for people to collaborate to actually start leveraging that collaboration.”
He said new energy is needed on the file and suggests an economic development task force.
“What they would be tasked with is connecting all the business people, stakeholders, community and really start moving toward what [a] corporation might look like and how can we move it forward in ways that basically help accelerate business, increase investment and attract talent,” he said.
Urquhart said he’s interested in talking to people about all kinds of topics on the campaign trail. He said he puts a lot of focus on the city’s “foundation,” recognizing projects can’t always move forward quickly but hoping for improvements to transit, sidewalks and other infrastructure.
Affordable housing is something he gets asked about, and noted that with almost half of renters facing challenges with affordability of their homes, the city needs to look at bylaws and policies to open up new options and increase housing stock.
Urquhart said he sees a good base of city council candidates to choose from and he senses “a huge era of change” for the city. He said he’s been enjoying campaigning and its fast pace, with things coming up on the fly.
“There’s a lot of stances that need to be made, there’s a lot of hard questions that come along and for me, this is one of my skills,” he said. “I have no adversity towards answering questions. I love answering questions and love listening to people, so this is one of my strengths.”