A name from Squamish council's past is stepping up to run for the mayor’s seat.
Former District councillor Paul Lalli announced his campaign on Tuesday evening at the Sea to Sky Hotel, joining three other candidates seeking the top seat in local government.
“I’ve certainly seen and helped shape the town's growth, and certainly I’ve helped shape it to where it is, and I’m excited to shape it even more,” he said on Tuesday in an interview with The Chief.
“The difference between me and my competitors is the experience. You need to understand how local government works, and how to get things done,” he said.
Lalli first took a seat on Squamish council in 1996 in a by-election, and served as councillor until he ran for mayor in 2002, when he was defeated by Ian Sutherland
He then returned for one-term as an elected councillor in 2008.
A number of major decisions were made during his time as councillor, including the approval of the Sea to Sky Gondola, approvals for the Squamish Oceanfront Development Corporation, Quest University and the construction of the fire hall, public library and RCMP emergency buildings.
Most recently, he said he has been busy renovating an apartment complex purchased in the U.S.
Lalli said he was prompted to return this year because of “a need for leadership” in the District.
“We certainly need a council that is going to work together as a team, that has a common vision, and more importantly, it’s the mayor's job to build that consensus,” he said. “I’m only as good as the council that gets elected. In the last four years we’ve seen a lot of infighting. My goal is to embrace a cohesive, transparent, accountable council that works together.”
Lalli released a specific platform alongside his campaign announcement.
Key items include amenity upgrades at Brennan Park Recreation Centre — including free swim lessons for young children; expanding transportation options in the corridor, including ride-sharing; and improving housing affordability.
“Squamish is one of the fastest growing communities in B.C., and as a result of that growth we certainly haven’t kept up with some of the amenities,” he said.
Economic development is also a priority, he said. He is proposing to speed up employment-based development permits, negotiate a “winning property tax deal” with Woodfibre LNG and create a new tax strategy.
“What I want to do is ensure that we have a clear four-year tax plan that the community can support — and afford to make sure that is a priority,” he said.
Lalli was born and raised in Squamish, and he and his wife Sarbjit have four school-aged children.
In the past, he served on the Squamish Lillooet Regional District, South Asian Diabetes Association and the B.C. Assessment Authority Review Panel (Sea to Sky Corridor).
He is also a former director of the Squamish Chamber of Commerce and presently serves as Director on the Board of the Squamish Hospital Foundation.