Squamish council candidates spring up 

Lalli to attempt political comeback

Another candidate declared his intentions to run for Squamish council this week, ending a few months of speculation.

Paul Lalli joins a growing body of could-be councillors, from Squamish Nation’s Donna Billy to lawyer Doug Race, as well as a host of incumbents.

Greatly inspired by this year’s property tax hike, Lalli’s platform hinges largely on economics.

“The last property tax bill — we had a 10.5 per cent increase,” he said in a phone interview with Pique . “I think that’s totally unacceptable. What I’d like to do is bring predictability back to people’s tax bills.”

To do that, he’s proposing a set of revenue-generating ideas. One idea would see council lobbying the province to set up a municipal lottery. Even without these ideas, however, Lalli said the tax hike could have been avoided.

“Potentially. We’ve had a huge amount of growth, building permit revenues and assessments. Typically, when our assessments go up, your mill rate should go down. I realize we’ve lost a lot of industry in our community, but, in today’s economy and global market, we’ve got to recognize that there’s only one taxpayer. Sometimes, you’ve got to do more for less.”

Lalli supports mixed use developments and would like to see them included in the planning process underway with the Squamish Oceanfront Development Corporation, of which he is a director. More commercial growth, he said, will benefit the district’s bottom line, as would the fruition of development proposals like Garibaldi at Squamish, which he supports.

Transit and homelessness also factor into his campaign. The district should look to Squamish Nation for ideas on the latter issue, Lalli said.

Another key topic in his campaign will be the Regional Growth Strategy (RGS) in the works at regional government level.

“I want to concentrate on the RGS,” he said. “I’ll be lobbying really hard again. There’s an issue where Squamish is the largest community in the regional district and has the most to lose or gain from this. The RGS we have in front of us will put us in a position where we lose autonomy. Communities like Whistler, Pemberton and Lillooet will have a say on land use issues in our community. The plan in front of us is not good.”

A family man born and raised in Squamish, Lalli has previous council experience. He was elected to council in 1996, when he was just 23. He once harboured mayoral ambitions, though he lost to outgoing mayor and federal Liberal candidate Ian Sutherland in 2002 by 570 votes. In addition to his position on SODC, Lalli is chair of the South Asian Diabetes Action Committee, as well as a former chair of the property assessment review panel. He also coaches soccer.

Lalli’s announcement comes in the wake of several others. Donna Billy of Squamish Nation recently announced her candidacy. Billy, who works with the Howe Sound Women’s Centre, is running a campaign based on social values and bottom up governance.

Bryan Raiser, a local writer who has come within 37 votes of a seat on council, is entering the race. His campaign is in the works.

Doug Race, a retiring lawyer and Greg Gardner supporter, is also unrolling a campaign, as is Catherine Jackson of the Squamish Environmental Society. Dave Clarkson, who has run for council before, is also expected to announce his candidacy in coming weeks.

Patricia Heintzman, Mike Jenson, Jeff McKenzie and Corrine Lonsdale make up the incumbents seeking re-election.

The only declared mayoral candidate is Greg Gardner, though Ron Bahm, who has run unsuccessfully in the past, has publicly pondered entering the race.

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