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It’s nearly two weeks since Robin Smith filed his nomination papers to run for Port Coquitlam mayor and he’s excited to get out door knocking for the first time.
For his inaugural round, he has picked his own neighbourhood around Blakeburn elementary school, where he already knows many residents, their children and dogs.
Smith, 58, has a stack of photocopied papers ready to hand to them, explaining his reasons for seeking the top job, including:
• He doesn’t like how much PoCo politicians and bureaucrats get paid.
• He doesn’t like the transition allowance the mayor is able to collect — something, he points out, mayoralty contender Coun. Brad West voted for.
• And he really doesn’t like the utility bill.
In his view, the price for water, sewer, and garbage and recycling pick-up is too high.
But Smith — who said he has never attended or watched online a city council meeting or been part of any community event — has an idea to bring the levies down.
As mayor, Smith wants to charge every international student who lands in PoCo a fee up to $1,500.
He’s asked how he would do that given that the municipality doesn’t have such powers. “I don’t know,” he said, shrugging. “I’m new to this and people have to realize that. I think if the foreign students don’t like it, they can go back.”
Smith said he’s also unhappy about international investors snapping up PoCo properties. He contends they’re driving the cost of real estate and making the city unaffordable.
As mayor, Smith said he wants to enact the same concept as in Vancouver, implementing a tax on empty homes to make more housing stock available for Canadian citizens.
He’s reminded Vancouver has its own charter to create such measures. “Oh, I didn’t know that. Really, I just don’t want the fly-by-nights taking our property,” he said.
On local topics such as Burke Mountain traffic and RCMP hires, Smith is also unclear. He wants the number of lounge seats in microbreweries to be more than 50 (it’s now 25 seats) and he’s unsure how the city will deal with nuisance complaints once cannabis is legal starting Oct. 17.
“Well, you’re talking to an ex-pot smoker,” he said. “I have no answer if it’s on private property but, if anybody does, they should come talk to me.”
Campaigning isn’t anything new to Smith. About a decade ago, he said he lost by 42 votes for a director’s seat on the Cariboo Regional District (the district was unable to confirm his candidacy).
Four years later, the Centennial secondary graduate returned to the Tri-Cities — this time, making PoCo his home with his wife and their son.
He’s been a volunteer for most of his adult life (30 years ago, he was in a serious car accident) and he now works reception twice a week for St. Paul’s Advocacy in Vancouver.
He plans to continue if elected mayor.
“I want to work with people and help people,” he said. “I don’t care about the salary. I just want to give people a choice when they vote.”