Nanaimo Mayor John Ruttan wants to finish what he started in his first term as mayor, announcing Wednesday he will run again in November’s municipal elections.
Ruttan, 72, said he laid a strong foundation for two key projects he’s pursued since elected in 2008 – a foot passenger ferry from downtown Nanaimo to downtown Vancouver, as well as the completion of a hotel to complement the Vancouver Island Conference Centre – and wants to serve Nanaimo to see those come to fruition.
“To me this is a very important day and I’ve made a decision after a few weeks of anguish to decide that I will again seek another term as the mayor of Nanaimo,” said Ruttan, who chose the backdrop of the still-vacant hotel site to make his announcement. “There are a number of reasons for this, but the foremost in my mind is to continue with the work I’ve started. I came with two primary projects in mind and I was very anxious to see a fast ferry established and a conference centre hotel built and that’s the reason I need three more years.”
Ruttan said with the groundwork laid, one, if not both, of those projects can be achieved should he be re-elected. He said he had several meetings regarding the foot ferry with potential investors and earlier this week had conversations with two different groups interested in pursuing a conference centre hotel.
“I don’t want to walk away from something that is half complete,” he said. “I want to get there to finish the job and I feel very optimistic about it.”
One key project Ruttan has completed in the last two years was the establishment of the 17-member Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation, an independent body from city hall designed to improve marketing efficiencies and position Nanaimo in the best possible way for future economic development opportunities.
He said the most challenging issue over the past term was social housing, an issue he said he understood was difficult for neighbourhoods involved but added he felt council arrived at the best possible plan to provide shelter for those in need by deciding to build at the hotly contested Bowen Road site only if it was needed.
“It’s not a perfect fit but I think it’s a reasonable one,” said Ruttan.
Leading up to November’s election, Ruttan said he and his campaign team are working on his Vision Nanaimo 2020 platform, the details of which will be released as the campaign for the mayor’s office gets underway. Ruttan did hint, however, that part of his platform will include further economic development to improve Nanaimo’s prosperity and make it a more attractive place to live and work for Nanaimo taxpayers.