Jeet Manhas, councillor for two terms from 2002-08, announced this week he will be putting his name forward in the upcoming municipal election. HA Photography

Jeet Manhas, councillor for two terms from 2002-08, announced this week he will be putting his name forward in the upcoming municipal election. HA Photography

Former city councillor is coming back to the ballot

Jeet Manhas announces bid to re-join Nanaimo city council

A former Nanaimo city councillor was part of what he says was an “excellent council,” and now he wants to be part of rebuilding civic leadership.

Jeet Manhas, councillor for two terms from 2002-08, announced this week he will be putting his name forward in the Oct. 20 municipal election.

He said he ran for council the first time because he wanted to have a hand in realizing “a lot of exciting projects” that were in the works. In 2018, he said he still considers it “exciting times.”

“[That] means building a new team, building new atmosphere at city hall, building new relations with the public,” Manhas said. “You can call them concerns, but I call them opportunities and it’s exciting and that’s why I want to be a part of that.”

He said the city’s reputation has taken a hit and he also feels that there has been “brain drain” at city hall based on the volume and capabilities of staff members who have moved elsewhere. His knowledge of city hall can be an asset to a new council, he said.

“People want to see fresh blood and all that kind of stuff, but I think now you need some people with experience as well, not only to rebuild the trust with the citizens, but also to rebuild the city staff trust,” Manhas said.

Since his time on council, the business owner made a run for provincial office – as a Liberal candidate in the Nanaimo riding, he was runner-up to the NDP’s Leonard Krog in the 2009 election, about 4,000 votes back – and more recently served as chairman of the Nanaimo Port Authority.

Manhas said at the port, “we did have some challenges to deal with the present council” and he stressed the importance of strengthening partnerships with bodies such as Vancouver Island University, Nanaimo Regional General Hospital, the Port of Nanaimo, Nanaimo Airport and the Snuneymuxw First Nation.

“They all play a big role in what the city is and what the city is going to be. You need to work with all those parties…” he said, adding that finding aligning interests and co-operating is “what’s missing right now.”

Manhas said affordable housing will be a central issue in the election and says he has experience on the file from his council days in accommodating secondary suites and creating rental stock. Receiving funding from other levels of government for social housing, he said, will come with the right kind of planning and communication.

What stands out from his council terms are his interactions with citizens, he said. Another politician warned him once that he would receive phone calls at all hours, but Manhas said he enjoyed the Tuesday morning conversations following Monday night meeting and embraced being accessible.

“That was my best experience in six years on council,” he said.

And those sort of conversations and combined efforts are what city council’s rebuilding job will entail, he suggested.

“Collaboration, that word’s been overused, but that still works,” said Manhas. “Collaboration among councillors, collaboration between city council and staff and collaboration with the city council and port, airport, SFN. That’s what we need to get back on track.”

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Election 2018