A Saanich entrepreneur has ruled out running in the 2018 municipal election, but won’t close the door on future runs.
“I’m saying no, but I’m not saying never,” said John Wilson, president, chief executive and principal owner of the Wilson’s Group of Companies. “It just don’t make sense at this stage in my career right now to run. But I’m certainly willing to put my name forward in the future.”
Wilson, who holds a long list of professional awards and currently serves as vice-president of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce, made these comments in an interview in which he discussed the upcoming municipal election and budget talks among other issues.
“I’d love to [run], and I have been asked in both Saanich and Victoria by business-people to run for various positions,” he said. “At this point in my career, our company is at a point, where it still needs me.”
This said, Wilson believe council would benefit from fresh views.
“I think we have some staleness on council, not just Saanich,” he said. “I know Mayor [Richard] Atwell has talked about a little bit of a change on council in Saanich. That can be easily fixed.”
The remedy? Term limits that would limit councillors to two four-year-terms.
“Your family is your life, your job is your income, and being a councillor or in municipal politics, should be your community service,” he said. “And it has turned into peoples’ jobs. We have to get away from that.”
Wilson believes that the professionalization of politics has changed political decision making, with personal political calculations trumping community interests, said Wilson, who would also like to see more entrepreneurial perspectives.
“The politicians, who are in place, I don’t think they are bad people,” he said. “I think their heart is in the right place. There is some staleness. The job has become so enormous, that there are may be some people, who don’t have the aptitude or skill set to make multi-million dollar decisions that they need to make.”
Wilson stressed he does not want to see a council full of entrepreneurs. “I’m not saying that we all need business people,” he said. “But we need a little bit more that view point and skill set to help with some of the things I just mentioned.”
They include among other housing, transportation, governance and public safety.
Wilson — who has in the past criticized Saanich for its approach towards affordable housing — said council has taken some positive steps towards addressing the issue, pointing towards Saanich’s decision to study garden suites.
Garden suites are detached dwellings found in backyards of single-family homes. While they tend to be at the “higher end of the housing affordability spectrum,” they expand “housing choice, offer potential for ground-oriented family housing within established neighbourhoods, and provide other social benefits such as the opportunity to age-in-place,” said Pam Hartling, planner, in a memo to council, when Saanich approved the initiative.
He also praised Saanich’s leadership on issues such as amalgamation and the creation of a regional police force.
Wilson would also like to see municipalities including Saanich improve public safety. “Victoria has more of a concern around safety than Saanich, but I do feel it flowing into our community as well,” he said.
Wilson here also speaks from personal experience.
“One of our vehicles got stolen right off our property last week,” he said. “It was found downtown with a guy sleeping in it.”