By Merv Unger
0503 - When Don Hubbard sees a problem, he does something about it, he tries to fix it. He sees a problem with City Hall and he wants to do something about it,
that’s why he decided to run for mayor in the Oct. 20 civic election.
Like many others, he was on the sidelines watching the ongoing problems at city hall, and didn’t like what has been happening. Identifying issues and finding solutions
has been his approach all his working life in business and boards of directors.
“I didn’t see any prominent local leaders stepping forward. The city needs to get a feeling of good leadership”, he says. “The challenge is to recruit
new people with a history in the community, and they are out there. I have already talked to a number who are willing to step forward”, he says, confident there will be a good field of candidates in the election.
He is no stranger to boardrooms
– in community, business, and government boards. He says his leadership ability has been honed through chairing these boards and the businesses he had led.
Hubbard chaired the Island Health Board of Directors for almost seven years
until 2017 and Malaspina University College (now VIU) Board of Governors from 2001-2007. He is a director of VIU’s international high School, past director and chairman of the Vancouver Island University Foundation.
In an interview, he said for
years he’s been meeting with representatives of other communities and always noted that Nanaimo was viewed negatively as having problems, especially at the city level.
“The final straw was the event centre and Hometown Hockey debacle.
Who knows how much money was actually wasted on that”, he says, pointing to the 80-per-cent rejection of the project by voters in the referendum.
There are challenges ahead for a new council, and Hubbard sees the city like an iceberg. You see
only the top, only a small portion of the over all problem is visible.
“It’s hard to imagine what it’s like to work there right now,” he says.
The biggest objective is for council to work as a group.
the most from boards made up of volunteers. There are always differing opinions, but there is always respect”, he said. “That is lacking now.”
“A good council has to be a mosaic, represented across the community. Some people
now feel they are not represented at city hall”, says Hubbard.
That means there has to be a chain of command, due process that has not been evident. He says he knows where the director’s role stops and what the staff’s role is.
Big issues in Nanaimo are affordable housing and homelessness, partly created by the city due to the cumbersome approval process.
“Restricting land availability makes prices go up. All costs and delays are passed on to the cost of housing.
Each delay in the process cost money. It’s particularly tough for young families with the fluctuating market, which is also affected by economic slowdowns. When a bare lot in Harewood is $250,000 it is not reasonable to expect affordability. We have
to clear a path to create family housing by removing some of those obstacles”, he adds.
Hubbard also wants to see a long-term infrastructure inventory – streets, sidewalks, and overpasses. The intersections with the Island Highway are a
real concern, he says. The next council needs to know what it has and what is needed in the long term.
Another challenge he sees is the growing wave of seniors, both locally and from across Canada. His experience with the Health Authority has given
him a picture window on what lies ahead as people live longer and require more services. All levels of government have to play a strong role – federal, provincial and municipal.
“It’s exploding right now, and we have to be ready,”
WHO IS DON HUBBARD?
Hubbard operates a resource and construction industry consulting company and is Chairman of Atlas Engineered Products Ltd., a publicly-traded local company. All those roles will take a back
seat if he becomes mayor, Hubbard says.
He spent most of his 44-year career working in Nanaimo for Lafarge Canada Inc. and Warren Materials Group, retiring as General Manager of the Lafarge Canada, Vancouver Island North West Division in 2009.
In 2007 he was Nanaimo’s Citizen of the year, and in 2016 received the B.C. Achievement Award for public service from the province.
He works with Nanaimo Haven Society, Rotary, Ducks Unlimited, and is a director of the Queen Alexandria
Foundation, better known as the Children’s Foundation. He is an adjudicator for the B.C. Premier’s awards.
He was born in North Vancouver but grew up on a dairy farm in Chase River and went to school and university and
graduated here. He and his wife raised their family here.