Richard Mennie likes living in Qualicum Beach. The retired banker moved to the community 13 years ago with his wife, Jan and since then he said he has been happy with the direction he sees the town going.
In a bid to keep the town on the track of what he calls slow, thoughtful, sustainable growth, Mennie this week filed his papers to run in the upcoming municipal election as a candidate for council.
“In my banking career we moved fairly frequently and we lived in a lot of communities,” he said. “This is the longest either of us have lived in one community and we really like it here. I like the direction the town has been going, and with the number of vacancies that have come up on council, my approach was to see if I could get one of those seats and carry on in the same direction.”
Mennie said his platform includes three main planks: holding the line on property taxes, development of the uptown core and support for local businesses.
“I’m encouraged when someone like Dolly’s is able to open a large, new store,” he said. “It keeps people here instead of going to Nanaimo.”
Mennie said he would like to see proper development at several mothballed sites around the community.
“I get troubled when I see the number of things that sort of got started and then died and are an eyesore, like Crystal Terraces and the old Qualicum College Inn,” he said. “I would like to see undeveloped properties developed. I don’t know what that would look like, but I would want it in the same motif as the rest of the town.”
Mennie said he’s hoping for a civil campaign in November, one that avoids personal attacks.
“I believe everyone on council has the best interest of the community at heart,” he said. “It takes a lot of time to be on council and people are not doing that so they can be attacked. You can disagree with people in a way that’s positive, not confrontational.”
Mennie said he offers a solid financial background, experience serving in local government — he served as a school board trustee — community involvement — five years as a volunteer with the Oceanside Hospice Society — and a good knowledge base about the community.
“I have a co-operative attitude and work well with people,” he said.
Mennie’s vision for Qualicum Beach is as a distinct community that offers a certain lifestyle that other places do not.
“The slogan of the chamber of commerce is ‘The beauty of small,’ and I think that’s an option to maintain,” he said.
“We have people from the regional district and Parksville shopping here and we sometimes shop there. We don’t have to be everything to everybody. If you want to live in the mid-Island, from Nanaimo to Fanny Bay, you can find anything you want. We offer an opportunity for people who like this lifestyle. People who like another lifestyle have the opportunity to find that elsewhere in the area.”
Mennie stressed he is running his campaign on his own, with no donations from anyone.
“Nobody is financing me, so I have no accountability to anyone except the taxpayers,” he said. “This is not Vancouver or Victoria or even Nanaimo. I plan to keep it small and keep it within my minimal budget.”