Upper Valley Aviation founder Ken Smith is running for a seat on council.
He is the ninth person to announce intentions to run for city council in the October election.
Smith was born in Chilliwack, the oldest of seven children, and grew up in Rosedale, where his mother owned and operated a gas station. He became a fully-fledged pilot at the age of 16 from the Chilliwack airport, and later turn his passion for flying into a career in aviation.
Smith admitted he’s been a “critical bystander” of city hall for years.
He has always been “a passionate person with strong opinions,” and Smith feels the time is right now to do something about it.
“I believe that we as a city can do better, and I want to be a part of that change.”
Chilliwack’s municipal leadership has become “stagnant and resistant to change” and new ideas, he stated.
“Chilliwack is falling behind the progressive improvements that many other similar sized cities in Canada are making,” Smith said. “New people with exciting ideas are often stifled and quashed by upper management. As a long-time business owner I know what it takes to keep a company thriving. A large part of that is the development of new people with fresh and vibrant attitudes. This is not happening at our city.”
He vows to advocate for attracting new talent and ideas that will bring improvement and new prosperity to Chilliwack.
Smith founded Upper Valley Aviation in 1985, which at the time focused on recovery of small aircraft after a crash or unplanned landing. UVA later shifted to aircraft sales, brokering, maintenance and painting. Today it’s the largest employer at the Chilliwack Airport and services aircraft from as far as New York, Florida, and more.
Smith still works at UVA with his son, Jesse, and has more free time these days to pursue his interests.
Over the past several years, he’s watched “over development without supporting infrastructure” go through on the south side of the city, major deterioration in the downtown core, and Public Private Partnerships (PPP) that have been to the “detriment of the city.”
“While there have been many positive changes in Chilliwack, there have been too many decisions that lacked common sense and foresight.”
Smith served as the first Chilliwack Flight Fest president for its first two years of operation and volunteered subsequently. He was the president of the Chilliwack Flying Club and is now involved in Canadian Owners and Pilots Association (COPA). Smith also served on the CEPCO board, and was on the Aviation and Aerospace sub committee of CEPCO.