As Ladysmith prepares to see many initiatives either move forward or completed, Mayor Rob Hutchins has decided to let his name stand for the town’s top spot again.
The 18-year veteran mayor said the community’s drive and enthusiasm makes Ladysmith a great place to be mayor.
“We are so fortunate to be served by so many different volunteer groups, organizations and individuals,” said Hutchins, adding that passion is equally shared between new and long-established residents.
Some of the projects Hutchins wants to continue to be a part of include the reinvestigation of the waterfront development plan, the next phase of the Lot 108 development, adding secondary treatment to Ladysmith’s sewage treatment, building of the new pipeline from Arbutus Reservoir to the South End and merging the economic development and environmental commissions.
“All of those are challenges and opportunities for us in the next term and term after that,” said Hutchins.
“We have such a wonderful opportunity that we didn’t have, or didn’t aspire to, even six or ten years ago,” said Hutchins about developing the waterfront.
The new developments at the north end of town offer the chance for a lot of new residential developments, meaning the town could look at different uses for the waterfront plan, which had included a mix of commercial and residential buildings as well as community spaces.
“Maybe the waterfront shouldn’t be a residential development,” said Hutchins, who is thankful they did not proceed with the waterfront vision plan in the ’90s. “It should be a people place.”
This could include restaurants, board walks and perhaps a hotel, Hutchins mused.
“Why would we sacrifice a unique parcel of land for private development such as residential development?”
In terms of the new joint economic and environmental committee, Hutchins said they have commissioned a report on sustainability that they are hoping to bring to the group in August or September.
“It’s a new way of thinking, a new way of doing business,” said Hutchins.
Climate change and food security are two issues that concern Hutchins and he wants to see the region addressing the rising cost of energy and food.
Affordable housing is another issue of increasing urgency Ladysmith needs to deal with in the near future.
Hutchins said the amount of people running for office is usually correlated to the number of issues on the table, but he did not speculate as to how many people may run against him this November.
“I would not be surprised,” said Hutchins when asked if he expected any competition.
“Democracy works best when there’s choices.”
Hutchins said the town hosts a meeting in late-August or early September to speak to people interested in running for public office.
“What we do is give them all the challenges and all the opportunities,” said Hutchins.
“We invite them to do their homework.”